When is a a worksheet not a worksheet?

Hi, I now blog so infrequently about my teaching that I feel I need to say “hello” … part of the reason, if I’m being BRUTALLY ( I don’t think I have a “non-brutal” honesty button) is that it feels weird when people I work with acknowledge the fact that I’ve written a blog post. It never used to bother me – actually …  previously it was never even mentioned to me .. almost ignored (and I liked it!) Sometimes, I also think that peoples perception of someone that blogs about their teaching means that they think they have teaching “nailed” or that I must have delusions of grandeur about my teaching (I have no perceptions at all apart from knowing that the pedagogy is sound but I still struggle with behaviour management with some classes but that may be the context I am in … who knows? Maybe one day I’ll write more about the importance of whole school behaviour policies and how without good behaviour for learning and a culture of success you can plan the best lessons in the world but they’ll still bomb! I also worry that maybe people think that the idea/thing I am posting about is ground-breaking – again, not the case … sometimes I just write about stuff that I’m thinking about and the feedback I get shapes the idea further … which is ace! Maybe I’m having a crisis of confidence about what constitutes good teaching …

The other part of the reason is that I’ve been ridiculously busy since September and lots going on recently (but I wont bore you). Anyway, this weekend I’ve spent some time thinking about my “Transformations” lessons next week with year 11 (it’s a topic they will have probably seen previously and I know some of you will say that they shouldn’t need teaching it again ( I disagree)  but hey! I’m gap filling and maybe I could accept that to be the case if I’d taught them for the previous 4 years, and there had been some intelligent spaced retrieval). There are a couple of students for whom getting them to complete the required amount of work and getting stuff written down is an issue. Maths “osmosis” is not a “thing” – you need to engage in the work and won’t learn just by being in the same room as others doing maths. I know the response will be that I should follow the behaviour policy- I do but it becomes painful having to remind them of the expectations every single lesson and any threats to complete the work in their own time is hardly conducive to good relationships (however this does have an impact!) I’ve also thought about whether trying to find ways around the lethargy/reluctance is pandering to them but I want to do the best by them and get them practising skills that they need to do in the run up to their next mocks (and the final exam) and the clock is ticking.

With year 11, I’m quite a traditional teacher (we just don’t have the time to hang around) so its very much .. ” here’s one – do one “. By that I mean that I will do a worked example with the group, asking questions and explaining bits but I expect them to be making notes and then they get to do a “similar” question themselves (usually different enough to force them to have to think about it and not just plug different numbers mindlessly into whatever we are doing to get their answer.). I’ll hopefully have given some thought to the progression through a topic so the next cycle of “I do – you do” will be with some increased difficulty. We may do this several times in a lesson or it may be just once with them doing some mass practice (of increasing difficulty) with me bringing the group together when they are facing difficulties that can’t be dealt with individually … it all depends on the topic.

I have soooooo gone away what I logged on to write about but I think it helps frame my thinking about why I want to try something with my groups. When I’ve previously taught transformations it usually involves having to print loads of questions for the students to either annotate or to have a go at, but its really difficult to tell which are the students work and which are the worked examples (for some students) so I’ve put together my whole lesson onto 4 pages for both enlargements and reflections (so 2 lessons in total and I’ll do more if it works) including the settler activity and also my RAG questions at the end that I use for them to rate their effort and understanding. I’ve played with the format and pre-populated the learning objective and also included some explicit information about the prior knowledge they need to know. Obviously for some topics this may only be 1 page with working out on paper/in books (which makes me think folders would work better for this – I know Jo Morgan trialled folders ( The Folder Experiment ) a few years ago and found it worked for her groups) but one step at a time and this may be something (Spoiler alert!) I start from day one with my new groups in my new school in January (more about that at some point!) … first I need to see how it works next week … have a look … would love to know what you think?

Below the images I’ve shown below of the document I’ve done for Enlargements, I have included the actual word documents and pdf of the two lessons if you want to adapt (the word versions are set with very narrow margins and you may lose some formatting when opening on your own PC, hence the PDF versions too).

A final thought for those of you that are now screaming “but where is the differentiation?” .. its all about context. Most of my differentiation from these groups comes through support and questioning rather than task or outcome. I expect them all to do the work … but with regards enlargements I’ll have a couple of negative and fractional scale factor questions ready for these lessons for those that need stretching!

2018-11-25T17:07:15+00:00November 25th, 2018|3 - Shape, Blog, Intervention, Resources|

3 Comments

  1. Lou November 25, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    Great stuff! I really enjoy reading your bloggs. Keep it up Mel

  2. Susan Oswald November 26, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Mel, thanks for being so honest as well as sharing all your excellent resources. I’m in my third year of retirement, after moving from a really well-run, albeit demanding school, to one which was working hard to move from “satisfactory” to “good”. At the first school, I was a consistently good teacher, I’d earned my reputation and while never Miss Popular, my classes did well on the whole. I moved to the new school with enthusiasm and confidence and was amazed to discover the difference. It felt like being an NQT again, with the added burden of higher expectations. I found the behaviour policy ineffective and where I agree with you completely is where you say, the best planned lessons won’t work if the behaviour isn’t conducive to learning! I am glad to have made the change but it was a very hard experience which very likely contributed to my decision to take early retirement. It’s good to see other teachers sharing that view.

  3. Eso November 27, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’ve changed schools and recognise the behaviours you describe in your pupils and it is tough when something you know will work well just isn’t given a chance. Thanks for your honesty

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