I have been known to doubt my own maths ability, but after Day 1 of the TAM course I feel reassured that I know much more than I thought. I was pleased that I was able to get involved with discussions and even lead the way with some tricky problem-solving questions.
Moving forward I look forward to implementing what I have learned with my own A Level class. When teaching KS3/4 I use games, puzzles, mini whiteboards and discussion, but my lessons are decidedly “dry” when teaching A Level. I think my concern for timings within the course has impacted on what I have prioritised: exam questions every lesson with very little investigation or teaching for understanding.
I was taught A Level with a few example on the board and then just through practice questions in a textbook. I think I have just replicated this method in my own teaching, despite it not feeling comfortable! Just by adding a group work element to exam practice, it can become more engaging, easier for the students and definitely more beneficial! We spoke at length yesterday at TAM about the opportunity to struggle, and how we benefited from this as teachers. So often students see being stuck as a bad thing but it’s our duty to turn that around – being stuck develops further opportunities for discussion and collaboration so it’s definitely a good thing.
Being keen to put some of this into practice straight away, I used a Standards Unit resource that fitted perfectly with where we had got to with coordinate geometry. Students had spent one lesson looking at parallel and perpendicular graphs to recap on GCSE content so this seemed just right. I explained to my students that they had to work together, and that splitting the questions up did not count as working together. Each member of the group should be able to answer any question about any of the equations throughout the lesson. I was pleased by how well they did work as a team and very impressed the clear explanations that were being shared.
Tomorrow in my next lesson with them I’m going to try some exam practice, but with six problem-solving questions that are not split into part a, part b, etc. Students will have whiteboards to work with and these are going to become a common feature of my A Level teaching too.
Mastering Geogebra is my next big task. I’ve used it briefly before but was blown away yesterday by what it can do! I’m going to download it to my home computer this weekend and hope to spend a lot of time playing with it and using YouTube to help.
I honestly can’t wait for Day 2 – I’ve learned so much already and am looking forward to experimenting over the next few weeks with my A Level group.