‘Evaluating probability statements’ Standards Unit task (S2) with year 8

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.

First two weeks as an NQT

So the second week of full time teaching has come to an end. I have had an interesting start and as a result of timetabling issues at my school I will be gaining (and losing) a number of classes. These changes result in me losing KS4 contact this year in favour of teaching classes in both year 12 and 13. I am looking forward to a tough and interesting year!!

This far I have managed to make use of a small number of ideas and resources which have, more often than not, been sourced through Twitter. The idea of this post is to share some of these ideas.

The first was immediately a revolutionary change to how I functioned during my PGCE year. Suggestions for use of the iDoceo app for iPad came up on Twitter towards the end of August and ‘how to use’ guides by @missradders and @MathedUp have made using my iPad at school incredible. Keeping track of ideas and planning has become easier and it has also given flexibility to quickly edit seating plans.

@missradders – My Favourite Resources: iDoceo Teacher’s Assistant App

@MathedUp – iDoceo ideas

Another idea, which I incorporated with the year 11 class I was teaching, was the #requestaworkselfie idea, also from @MathedUp. They enjoyed this and almost immediately book presentation and work quality/quantity went up – it is a shame I can’t continue working with this class, however I am considering using the idea with my KS3 classes later on in the term. I hope that I can spend some time making this easier by following some tips by @solvemymaths on this!

@MathedUp – Request a work selfie

@solvemymaths – My Classroom

During a #mathsTLP session before the first full week I asked for some place value lesson suggestions for year 7 with @DrBennison pointing me in the direction of inquirymaths.com. The website has a wide ranges of mathematical statements and prompts to engage pupils in an exploratory inquiry based lesson. After finding this website I also came across growthmindsetmaths.com which has a selection of pre-prepared mixed ability lessons which I will be making use of with our mixed ability year 7 classes until half term. A colleague at school also suggested youcubed.com which also has a selection of resources for growth mindset in the classroom.

Finally @mathsjem gave me some good suggestions, again during #mathsTLP, on how to start off with year 12 and it seemed to work very well with the class which was 35 strong due to our timetabling issues! The class size has now been resolved thankfully!

@mathsjem – Kicking off Year 12

I am very much looking forward to getting to know my new classes, and am particularly excited to be teaching year 13 first thing on Monday morning!