Saturday, 23 November 2013

Year 11 revise - retain - recall arghhhh!!

Should I apologize now or latter for my poor grammar and spelling – that’s why I teach Maths!
My first tentative steps into blogging – inspired by @sltcamp and @kevlister. I only have two worries about this 1) will anyone care, 2) will any read it!
Here is goes anyway.
Improving Year 11 Maths Scores

My Year 11's don’t retain information, they just don’t know how. This hit me when I was teaching them direct proportion; every one of them had covered it in Year 10 with their previous teaching in the summer term , she had ignored the SOW and covered topics ad hoc. Here I was 3 months later going over the same material and not one of them remember a thing from June. They didn't even say Sir we have done this before!

How can I expect them to get Bs in their GCSE exam, which covers topics from the last 5 years, when they can’t remember topics from 3 months ago?

The phrase “nothing has been taught until it had been learnt” came into my head.

I struggled with this for a while and came up with a plan.

Test – Test - Test !!!

Getting an A or B in GCSE Maths is about mastering about 20 key topics. I was going to test the pupils once a week (Friday period 5!!) on 10 topics for the next six weeks. The test would have the same 10 topics every week, the same order but different numbers.

Students would complete the test in 45 mins , mark their own test for 12 mins and then 3 mins collecting scores into a central spreadsheet.  I didn’t care what mark they got first time around.  What I cared about was that their mark improved next week.

Getting something wrong once is fine – but get it wrong twice is stupid! Especially when you know it’s coming.

It is no surprise – they got better! But they should get better shouldn't they? The difference is they can now do Simultaneous Equations, Cumulative Frequency, and Standard From, Factorize Quadratics etc. Why? The test is forcing them to revise.

They like it – they like getting better at something – they like the routine!

We all agree we can now do Cumulative Frequency – so next week we are adding vectors into the mix and taking out CF. (it will make a special appearance every once in a while!)

Right lefty teachers who tell me I should be teaching through deep learning etc. can get lost!! They are learning, improving and enjoying Maths because of a test. 

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