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Changing Mindsets – Teachers as Action Researchers

The following blog is proof positive of how teachers as researchers in their classrooms are a force to be reckoned with.  Three of our advisers, Gill Shearsby-Fox, Nicola Randall and Louisa Ingram worked with just such a group and we’re thrilled that research from 17 schools is now ready to read as case studies on the Herts for Learning site.  Thanks to Jasleen Dhillon HfL researcher also for her support. The following blog by Gill shows how our advisers approached the project. 

The Great Maths Con Action Research Project

On Friday 18th September 2015 the Herts for Learning maths team hosted a national conference with Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University, as the key note speaker. Many Hertfordshire teachers attended the conference to find out more about developing mathematical mindsets and be inspired to continue improving opportunities in mathematics for their pupils. Continue reading “Changing Mindsets – Teachers as Action Researchers”

Greater Depth at KS1 is Elementary My Dear Teacher

Rachel Rayner is a Mathematics Adviser at HfL and is one of the KS1 Number Sense and Fluency project leads in Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire.  The project aims to support teachers to develop pupils’ retention of facts and how we can help them use learned facts flexibly.  The project has been hugely successful and findings have been presented at conferences and journals. In this blog, Rachel turns her attention to what the greater depth judgement actually means and what kinds of opportunities can be used to foster it.

I’ve spent a lot of time in schools recently considering with teachers whether they have pupils working at greater depth in Year 2 but also what that might look like in Year 1.  Part of this work has, understandably been with schools who are fully expecting to be moderated this year and would like their books to reflect evidence for pupils they suspect could achieve the greater depth tag.  Why so nervous?  Well the landscape for maths has shifted in terms of expectation, whereas before L3 might be judged by acceleration into new coverage, speed and accuracy which seem easier to tick off, now ‘Greater Depth’ seems a little hazier, perhaps just out of reach. Indeed the language of judgement gives us the weightiest indicator with the change from high attainer to working at greater depth.  In terms of scaled score versus Interim Teacher Assessment Framework (ITAF), there seems a difference in expectation too. This has left schools feeling uncertain about their own judgements.  I have plenty of sympathy for schools and the greatest respect for the teachers who are questioning their judgements and recognising the shift. Continue reading “Greater Depth at KS1 is Elementary My Dear Teacher”

Tried and tested: Diminishing the difference at UKS2

Nicola Randall is a Primary Mathematics Adviser for Herts for Learning where she has been working on closing the gaps projects with disadvantaged learners, working with schools to champion their needs.  She has worked on behalf of the Virtual School.

Over the past few years, I have been working with schools across Hertfordshire to accelerate the mathematical progress of pupils in receipt of the pupil premium funding. The DfE research paper (November 2015) suggests that the 3 strategies which have the greatest impact on the attainment of disadvantaged pupils are: paired or small group additional teaching, improving feedback and one-to-one tuition. Whilst these are clearly helpful for closing gaps in understanding or knowledge, sometimes it’s the small tweaks to whole class practise that can make the biggest difference. Having worked alongside teachers, I have looked in great depth at many pupils’ work and together with teachers we have reflected on how the pupils conduct themselves during maths lessons.  What is clear, is that each individual pupil comes with their own experiences, strengths and areas of difficulty yet interestingly, through this approach, I found there were some common barriers holding this vulnerable group back in mathematics. Continue reading “Tried and tested: Diminishing the difference at UKS2”

Times Tables Tests: A little bit of history repeating

Our advisers at Herts for Learning are privileged to work in many schools in and beyond Hertfordshire and on our travels meet real gems. One of these chance encounters was with the writer of this hugely interesting guest blog.  Alan Parr contacted us after reading our blog ‘When Timestables get Political‘  where the following comment resonated strongly for him

Those halcyon days just did not exist; it has ever been true that some pupils find learning their tables harder than others…

Alan let us know that he had made some pretty intriguing finds about the learning of times tables from school log books…it seems some things really never change. Read on for the shocking truth.  Continue reading “Times Tables Tests: A little bit of history repeating”

When Mathematics Gets Political – Times Tables

Times tables have been a hot potato politically for a long time, there seems to be a slightly rose-tinted view that once upon a time every child in Britain learned them by heart and still remember every fact today. Yet clearly not, if the famous example of politicians such as Stephen Byers and George Osbourne are anything to go by then even the great and the mighty parliamentarians  have a wobble now and then.  Those halcyon days just did not exist; it has ever been true that some pupils find learning their tables harder than others – we can give you roomfuls of teachers, teaching assistants and parents from all walk of life who can bear testament to this, most of whom can name the fact that remained a blindspot. Last week Nick Gibb announced that there would after all be a times table test for Y6 pupils beginning in 2019.  Inevitably this is likely to increase the emphasis on the learning of these facts – no bad thing as recall of these facts reduces the cognitive load enabling the focus of learning to be attended to, but it pays to be mindful that we build in meaningful learning sequences before we introduce the low stakes tests that allow teachers and pupils to identify gaps in fact recall and teach for them.  

The following blog considers one such possible approach.

Kate Kellner-Dilks is a Primary Mathematics Adviser  at Herts for Learning

In many of the schools I have the opportunity to visit and work with, the age old questions of multiplication facts comes up. Lots of schools have a ‘times tables challenge’ or variation of, which usually equates to some level of weekly testing. In my last blog ‘Are the boys really better at mathematics?’ I questioned whether multiplication facts (times tables) needed to be tested before they are learned, particularly against the clock, because of the anxiety you see in those pupils who don’t (yet) know them. These children often end up using inefficient strategies based on counting, to figure them out, rather than the intended memory recall. The test does not necessarily help build their memory recall and often, in my experience, reinforces their counting strategies, (a child said to me her ‘mind goes blank’, so she panics and counts up rather than using memory). Continue reading “When Mathematics Gets Political – Times Tables”

SATs chat: Why did my children revert to written methods on Paper 1?

 

Rachel Rayner is a Primary Maths Adviser at Herts for Learning

It’s a good question. In my experience working with schools nationally, pupils default to the written method often unthinkingly.   See the lovely examples here of just that happening.

As teachers we value mental fluency and we want our pupils to have it.   But are we working in the right way to engage our pupils over a sustained period of time, out of unthinkingness and into causing pupils to think deeply enough about the facts and skills they are adept at and how they might use them to form a strategy?    Continue reading “SATs chat: Why did my children revert to written methods on Paper 1?”

Subject Leaders and SATs – Where now?

David Cook is the Lead Teaching and Learning Adviser for Primary Mathematics at Herts for Learning

Recently he collated everything he and the team had found after analysing the scripts of both KS1 and KS2 tests and fed this back to Hertfordshire subject leaders and then gathered their experiences together.  This blog reflects that presentation and subsequent work with subject leaders. Continue reading “Subject Leaders and SATs – Where now?”

Why dodecahedrons hate CPA.

Rachel Rayner is a Primary Mathematics Adviser for Herts for Learning

For a blog about the CPA approach click here.

Yes, teachers do label their fixed ability groups by shapes…still. Yes, pupils do end up in the circles group from the age of five and in some cases in the teacher’s head, younger.  And yes, it damages.  We are all by now familiar with the work of Carol Dweck and the idea of fixed and growth mindsets.  But in maths at least this fixed ability grouping or setting persists in Primary, despite the evidence that it can be detrimental to those pupils designated ‘circles’ or ‘triangles’.   Continue reading “Why dodecahedrons hate CPA.”

‘It’s differentiation Jim, but not as we know it!’

Nicola Randall is a Primary Mathematics Adviser at Herts for Learning

Over the past year I have worked with several schools developing a mastery approach to teaching and learning in Mathematics. The approach fits well with the new curriculum and enables both teachers and pupils’ depth of learning. From my conversations with teachers and leaders, one question that is on everyone’s mind is ‘what about differentiation?’ Continue reading “‘It’s differentiation Jim, but not as we know it!’”

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