@SPorterEdu

Teaching, Learning & Research

Posts tagged ‘Modelling’

Why did I decide to do a micro-presentation about an ordinary pack of playing cards at the Never Stop Learning Hub Teach Meet last week? (which, if you missed it, was an amazing event!)  Well, similar to other educators, my motivation was a student.

A few years back, I had a student who was adamant that they could not multiply numbers (well, they said “I’m rubbish at Maths and I’m no good at timesing” which I occasionally hear…when did saying “times” become the norm? I digress…).  I wanted to find a way to help without the student feeling singled out AND I didn’t have loads of money to spend on resources.  An ordinary pack of playing cards was the solution.

An ordinary pack of playing cards

An ordinary pack of playing cards

I instructed the student to remove the aces, picture cards and all of the number tens.  Then we sat down in Maths Club and started practising…

  • 5 Hearts x 3 Clubs = 15
  • 9 Spades x 2 Diamonds = 18
  • 6 Clubs x 4 Spades = 24

…until we got through the pack of cards.  When we got to the end, we shuffled the cards and started again.  Not knowing what combination of cards would come up next, made both of us concentrate.  As we got through the pack of cards a third or fourth time, there was an immediate improvement; it worked!

Success

Success

Ever since that afternoon, I use playing cards with students who really struggle with multiplication (most households have a pack).  I tell them to practice at home with their families, in front of the TV with their friends or on their own.

Playing cards in lessons

At the Never Stop Learning Hub Teach Meet I made a quick demonstration of what I’ve discussed above, with some rather large playing cards and the help of two handsome assistants (the inspirational @MrOCallaghanEdu and the motivational @ActionJackson – thank you gents!).

As this was not a Maths event, I had to make sure that I had an Ace up my sleeve, some way of showing that playing cards could be used for more than arithmetic and probability in Mathematics lessons.  I showed the audience how they could use playing cards in MFL lessons…

…so, I say to the audience “…get the students to pick a card, for example, the 9 of Hearts and tell your student to say what they see or get them to make a sentence that includes that item.”  Easy!  It doesn’t take long to set up a grid like the one above, it’s just a matter of finding the right images.  The beauty of this is that you can use this grid across different subjects and key stages (e.g. Science, Psychology, Geography, Physical Education and so on)

So that was it.  That was my 5 minutes of fame…pow! amazing!

Don’t reinvent the wheel…Ideas for using playing cards in lessons

So instead of wasting time making lots of resources, adapt my blank grid, use one of the resources below or just search the internet.  Don’t bother buying new cards, just collect any old packs that you find; even if one or two cards are missing…it really doesn’t matter.

I hope you enjoy the resources and consider trying playing cards in your lessons this week.  If you find or make any resources for playing cards in lessons (any subject), please share this with me, via the comments below or on Twitter #PlayingCardLesson.  Thanks for reading.

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Writing in Mathematics as opposed to Literacy in Mathematics, is my focus here. This post is not a rant but instead a reflection on my expectations of students work.  Recently, I was observed with a particularly able Mathematics class and as a result, an area that I need to work on is feedback and bookwork; ensuring that my students writing is good or better! My aim is to share my thoughts and search out ways of improving writing in my lessons as well as the lessons of those teachers who I support in my home school and in the wider setting of our learning federation. “You write like a toddler!” Sounds like a comment that a student would teasingly say to a fellow student, right?  Wrong!  These were the actual words that fell from a colleagues mouth (or should I say, crashed into the room) and still reverberate in my ears today!  This response was given after a year 11 student bravely went up to the board to label a set of axes.  My first thought was this, ‘give the kid a break!’ and the second was ‘does it really matter as we can all read it?’.  I know that I would not have made this statement, even if that was what I was thinking but does this mean that I have low standards? Has my level of tolerance changed since working with children? Are my expectations of writing lower because I teach Maths and not English? I’m going to consider this and and break down my thoughts for you. Research – Students thoughts on writing Some students struggle to write and I’ve witnessed pages in Maths lessons where the writing is oversized or ridiculously small.  “What is the research evidence on writing?” by the Department for Education is a good read and looks at whole school approaches, intervention and gender differences too.  The following table is from this report. DfE Research Report Nov 2012 The fourth item was of particular interest to me as a teacher of Mathematics “A pupil who writes well gets better marks than someone that doesn’t“.  I tell students that the examiners don’t know them and that they need to ensure that their writing is clear but they don’t all listen.  I’m starting to think that they do listen and they just can’t help themselves; this is their best writing.  But should I or an examiner be marking them down for the way that they form their ‘a’ or their ‘9’?  I hate to say it but it is going to happen if the work is not legible. Do you really hold your pen like that? I’ve seen students holding their pens as though they were in the midst of hollowing out a pumpkin or stirring a bowl of soup but they are still able to write legibly. So does it really matter how you hold your writing implement? Having thought about it over the past few days, I’d say yes.   I say it matters because this may lead to problems and injuries with these students hands, arms (and posture) and could lead to students not being able to sit through the marathon exams (1 hour and 30 minutes or more, of diehard writing).  Poor writing technique has got to be similar to the effects of having poor posture, which most of us correct in students “don’t slouch”, “try to sit up straight”, “…don’t bend like that or you will hurt your back!”.  I can’t remember saying “don’t grip your pen so tightly!”, or “make sure you thumb is lined up with you forearm”, to a student.  Should I, as a teacher of Mathematics be looking out for these things or even making students aware by mentioning this to them?  To be honest I don’t know.  If you are interested,  RJBlain provides photographs and details of what you should look out for.

Tools to help children write well.

Tools to help improve writing.

I remember having handwriting lessons when I was at junior school but nothing at secondary.  I imagine it’s the same now (primary teachers please correct me if I’m wrong), where students are taught how to hold a pen in KS2 but by KS3 if they have not mastered it, not much time (if any) is allocated to this skill.  If you have students (or your own child) that struggle to hold a pen/pencil comfortably and you don’t know how to help, visit Draw Your World.  They have useful information on what to do as well as tools to help improve writing. Modelling When I first started teaching, one of the things that really let me down was my board work; it was a mess!  Whatever, I was thinking and deemed important for students to get into their books, I would add to the board …”don’t forget to put this down too”.  I remember clearly when things changed. My university mentor (an amazing lady and educationalistLaurinda Brown) had visited me at one of my placements to observe a lesson.  We were reviewing the lesson and she asked me to get a few books. I didn’t see where she was going with this until I looked at the books and then looked up at the board…you guessed it. The students had copied the board to their books and it was not good.  Consequently, I regularly step back from the board to ensure my work looks tidy and on occasion will sketch out what I intend to write if I’m using two boards (whiteboard and projected images). By ensuring that my board work looks good, I expect my students to follow my lead, but my recent observation flagged this.  How can I get my students to write better and make their work more presentable?  Should I really push for all students to have the same style of writing?  Some primary schools insist on students taking one square per digit / letter in their Maths books.

Each digit and letter needs to be two squares high please, anything else is unacceptable…I will be checking and measuring this with a ruler!

I will continue to request and expect a high standard of layout and presentation from my students but I may have to steal/photocopy a few pages of work to display as exemplars.  Hopefully this will prompt other students to get their work to a similar high quality. So to conclude… Practice makes perfect; students need to write daily.   I will make writing an integral part of my lessons and persevere when the class moans and groans “…but Miss, this is a Maths lesson NOT an English lesson!”.  I need to practice (or should that be practise with an s?) my writing on paper and guarantee that when I give any written feedback in my students book, it is legible, even when I am tired.

Wish me luck in my next observation; I expect my students books to be…

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