Since our year 7 classes are being taught in tutor groups until half term our department has been looking at finding good mixed ability lessons. We came across Jo Boaler’s (@JoBoaler) Week of Inspirational Math from the Youcubed website which has lots of tasks and resources relating to growth mindset and encouraging everyone to try their best in maths lessons.
This ‘Week of Inspirational Math’ consists of five lessons (and lesson plans) based on both thinking and group work tasks. Here I include a brief summary of the tasks involved.
The first lesson challenges pupils to share their ideas about what good and bad mathematical group work looks like before then tackling the four four’s problem (finding numbers 1-20 using four four’s only). Lesson two is called ‘number visuals’ and asks pupils to look for, share and discuss patterns in the visualised numbers provided. The third lesson encourages pupils to challenge each other through questioning and tries to help them develop their explanations and justifications. In the fourth lesson pupils are invited to look at Pascal’s triangle (with gaps) and to try and work out what is going on. They are also then expected to try and identify other patterns in the triangle. During the fifth and final lesson of the ‘week’ pupils must first think about what they see happening with the growth of a certain shape structure before then discussing ideas in their groups and then attempting to create generalisations.
I have done up to the third lesson with my year 7 classes so far, and the ‘number visuals’ lesson was particularly successful with many students coming to the front and explaining the patterns they had noticed (primes in circles, times tables, factors, etc.). These lessons seem to have been really engaging for the groups of student so far and all have been able to access it, as well as challenge themselves mathematically.
It has certainly been challenging, teaching mixed groupings, but it has also been really enjoyable to be able to support students in the same class with different aspects of the same problem.
Whilst I have used this with year 7 it is suggested on the lesson plans that it could be used right through to with year 10 groups and I can imagine it would be quite interesting to do that!