Having moved on to the topic of probability with my year 8 classes this term I was reminded of my final university tutor observation of a year 8 probability lesson last year, which happened to be one of my better lessons during my PGCE. I had decided to ‘be daring’ and conducted the ‘Evaluating probability statements’ Standards Unit task (link courtesy of @mrbartonmaths) with the class. The feedback was good and I was able to get really fruitful discussions from the class.
The structure I re-used with my two year 8 classes last week, with some tweaks, which resulted in both classes being more engaged with mathematics and ‘real’ mathematical discussion than before!
The task encouraged students to, in pairs, discuss the validity of a number of probability statements. They were asked to ensure that following their discussions they wrote down their thinking in order to refer to it in a later whole class discussion. Some students found some statements difficult to interpret and these were left until the end where pairs were able to join together into a small group to discuss the leftover statements.
After the discussions I wanted to have some class feedback. Using iDoceo’s random student picker I was able to select a student to chose a statement and explain their reasoning as to why they had decided that it was true or false. This then allowed the opportunity to open up a discussion with the class as in many cases there was conflicting opinions or reasons behind pupil answers. It really helped to meet the task’s criteria of clarifying the misconceptions in the statements, and for almost every statement I was able to take a ‘back seat’ listening to my students argue their points and eventually reach an agreed conclusion through their discussion.
The Standards Unit tasks are probably some of the best classroom activities I have come across. They are challenging, promote mathematical thinking and engage all learners in the task. In addition to this they all contain a preamble with a suggested approach to the task which has been helpful on many occasions. If you haven’t used them yet, you should consider it!
You can find all of the Standards Unit tasks on mrbartonmaths.com.