Blog: Sahar Shillabeer, Secondary Development Lead
From the Partnership to the Classroom
Posted: 15/05/15On Wednesday 6th May, secondary school Mathematics Mastery School Leads (MMSLs) from all over the country gathered for the final National Collaboration Workshop of the year to collaborate, reflect, share...and to do lots of maths! The agenda, as always, was driven very much by colleagues’ requests at following our last gathering in March.
With the General Election only 24 hours away, we couldn’t help but start with this excellent task from nrich which stimulated lots of discussion, many different strategies and a bar model or two. We’ve also chosen to include this task in our Year 7 “Depth” materials so we also used this opportunity to remind our partners of our work in this area.
Much of the morning (and some of the afternoon) was spent exploring how to use geoboards to develop students’ conceptual understanding of a variety of topics. Many colleagues admitted that they had sets of geoboards but that they tended to live at the bottom of their cupboards, never to see the light of day – the “forgotten manipulative”! Not after this session! We explored using geoboards for more than just making shapes: we explored area, perimeter, angles, algebra, transformations, fractions and general arithmetic. Some MMSLs couldn’t wait to use them to explore similarity and introduce trigonometry and, for those with post-Pythagorean skills, use them to teach surds and vectors.
Race to 1!
Another highlight was the fraction race that had every person in the room (Mathematics Mastery staff included) totally engaged and competing enthusiastically to move their counters from 0 to 1 by decomposing fractions into smaller components. Many cheers of excitement were heard and even a photo or two taken of winning game boards! The game was enjoyed so much that MMSLs already planned to use them with their students the following day.
What does it mean?
Language is a key principle of the Mathematics Mastery approach so we spent some time in the afternoon exploring some key words. MMSLs were asked to define ‘mastery’ – a task much harder than it seems at first, but one which led to brilliant discussions on all tables. We heard some greats words/phrases used: flexibility, different representations, different contexts, bringing together different concepts, fluency and deep understanding, to name but a few.
Differentiation through depth
Differentiation always proves a popular point of discussion so in the afternoon MMSLs focussed on a small number of tasks and explored how they could be both scaffolded and adapted to challenge students of differing prior attainments. We heard so many fantastic ideas being shared and spotted lots of frantic note-taking as teachers jotted down ideas to use in their upcoming lessons.
Thanks to all!
We’d like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone for taking the time to travel to London during a busy school season. And extra thanks those who contributed to the day – Becky Donaldson (Bolingbroke Academy) and Alice Cairns (Oasis Southbank) for sharing their planning tips and ideas and Hannah Whittenham (Reach Academy) for sharing her department’s tracking and assessments methods, including how their students are trained to lead and teach their peers, and to Gemma Clegg (Ark All Saints) for a brilliant and frenetic “All pens moving” activity that will no doubt be replicated in classrooms up and down the country.