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Mixed Attainment Maths Part 2: This Time It's Personal

I was brave today.

I asked a class for feedback. Anonymous feedback.

I told them I wanted to know whether they found the work too easy or too challenging and what more I could do to help them learn. I specifically asked them about the mixed attainment lessons with learning journeys and multiple tasks and asked them if they thought they were having an impact on their progress.

I was really pleased with the responses.

I’ve felt that my mixed attainment lessons have been better since half term, maybe because I’m finding my feet with it eventually or maybe because I understand the process better after planning several of my own units. I have tried to tailor the resources in the tasks to the classes they are for – more independent work for the quieter classes and more opportunities for discussion for those who like a chat. I’m still finding sourcing these tasks challenging.

Several times I have designed a lesson only to look at the tasks and realise they are all just boring ‘worksheets’ with questions. I’m trying to branch out with different ideas – codebreakers, spot the mistake, matching tasks, odd one out, fill in the table, complete the sentences, and so on. But it’s sometimes hard to find that many resources for such a small area of a topic.

Some of the feedback from the students was that they would like the lessons to be more fun (More fun?! But maths is already so much fun!) and others that they would like more group work. I’ll aim to include more group work in the next unit I plan for this class, but obviously this is difficult in current circumstances with students all forward-facing.

The only real negative the class had about the mixed attainment lessons specifically was that there are lots of sheets and sticking them in makes their books seem untidy. They are right – there are lots of sheets, but usually only one per lesson. This is far more than I would have had pre-MA teaching, but I still think relatively few. I tend to print four tasks onto one sheet of A4 (two-sided and two to a page) to limit printing. I don’t know how else I could do it without printing all the tasks out… Any suggestions would be gratefully received!

Some students wanted more simple tasks available in some lessons. This again is difficult when the aim is to move students on in their learning journeys, but it’s something I’ll consider with the next unit.

The comments from students were largely positive about having autonomy over task choice. I selected a few below. They appreciate being able to choose a task to begin with and being able to change task if it is too easy or too challenging. Despite a few groans every lesson when I say “look at your learning journeys”, some have expressed satisfaction in lessons at being able to highlight another objective at the end of a lesson. I make it clear that I don’t expect them to highlight a new objective every lesson – some topics are hard and require more practice than that.

Overall I’m really pleased with the feedback from this class. I was a little daunted by the prospect of asking them to ‘review’ their lessons, but who is better to tell me how I’m teaching than students who see it every lesson? I’m pleased that they are finding the lessons are working for them and hope they continue to make progress.

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