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A level taster lessons

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by PaulDG, Jun 18, 2013.

  1. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Never had to do one and at my current school we don't do them.

    But I'm wondering if we should.

    Thing is, that's about as far as I get.. I get stuck with what can we do in one, or maybe two lessons that would actually have any value (esp as the kids have just finished GCSEs).

    (And I don't really want to give a false impression of what the lessons will actually be like - I mean we could move into a physics lab and put on some mechanics practicals or showing how trig functions can be added to give complex waveforms - but it's not as if they'd really be doing that in y12/13.)
  2. swampyjo

    swampyjo New commenter

    Given that a lot of my potential A' level pupils couldn't do the last question on the Edexcel paper 4 last Friday(intersection of line and circle), I am giving the pupils the opportunity to brush up on their algebra skills. They will also be expected to complete the CGP Head Start to AS Maths booklets over the summer holiday.

    So they don't get too bored I may also introduce a bit of calculus from first principles ....... something which I am not expecting the wow factor that I certainly got when seeing it for the first time.
  3. adamcreen

    adamcreen Occasional commenter

    Do you mean Taster Lesson or Study Day?

    We do tasters in the spring term, using lessons from the blue box, usually on indices and arithmetic series, as there is plenty of algebra to put them off, and they are real C1 topics.

    However our study day in July is specifically on the GCSE topics they are unsure about. Compulsory for set 2 & 3, optional for set 1, usually focuses on all the algebra and also the sine and cosine rule.

    All students do the Alpha Workbooks Prep for A Level book over the summer
  4. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    A Taster Lesson.

    We have a lot of kids join from other schools. We can't do a study day as we don't know many of the kids and so don't really know if they'll breeze the Algebra with ease or if they'll look puzzled when we do "finding the gradient of a straight line".

    So I'm in two minds if we should actually try to teach them something or ... what?

    I did wonder about doing some statistics - introduce standard deviation or maybe factorials.

    (I'll look up those books you mentioned too, Adam.)
    GoldMaths likes this.
  5. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    I'm in a very similar position to you PaulDG. We have these 'taster' lessons arranged (for many students coming from other schools) but aren't really too sure how to use them.

    Our department currently seems keen to attract more 'lower attaining' students to do Maths A-level (because they seem to feel that even Grade C's, D's and E's in Maths are more useful to some students than other - possibly highly level - qualifications).

    So as well as using the 'taster lesson' to cover a bit of Maths, I was also intending to stress the style of work we do at A-level (a large amount of individual work answering questions) - and that if they're not prepared to work hard in that way they are unlikely to enjoy or get much from the course. I'll also use it to stress the importance of working on 'weak' topics (typically the whole of algebra!) over summer.

    For the more able students (who we find very, very difficult to identify from GCSE grades alone), there's obviously a deep stimulation to be derived from truly understanding the Maths too - but this tends to come much later, and to much less degree, for the 'weak' students on our course.

    I'm not sure I'm getting this right either.

    Scifihel likes this.
  6. It sounds as if some schools see students after they have finished their GCSEs and September. Lucky you.. Ours are nowhere to be seen ( except on the beach) once they have finished their exams. We have a straw poll of year 11 in March/April to get an idea of who wants to do what subject in the sixth form and I did try to get something to those who had suggested A level Maths. It was work based on practising Trig and Algebra for those who I reckon will only get a grade B. Officially, I am supposed to allow students to do A level Maths with a grade C!!!!
  7. m4thsdotcom

    m4thsdotcom Occasional commenter

    From memory the feedback we had was about the mechanics part not being relevant as the students studied did D1 in year 12.

    It's quite a balancing act. It has to be appealing yet realistic. It has to be challenging but not overbearing.

    I think the idea of pure maths coming through and some techniques where skills learned in A Level could have made GCSE questions easier.

    I brief intro to logs to find how many years it takes a savings account to double could be an option. Obviously it would be superficial but a nice idea.

    I also like the idea of graphing lines to find areas of triangles and shading regions.

    We want them to sign up but not sign up thinking its all fun and games yet at the same time not being like a rabbit in headlights.

    Good luck.
  8. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    I like those.

    In that vein, some of the series topics would work too. Interesting..
  9. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    I have seen the binomial expansion introduced in this type of starter lesson. It was very effective.
  10. m4thsdotcom

    m4thsdotcom Occasional commenter

    Yes and a nice way for pupils to look at Pascals Triangle.

    The activity can be linked to tasks with probability tree diagrams too which often gives rise for good discussion.
  11. vikki.marsh

    vikki.marsh New commenter

    Years ago, while training to become a Maths teacher, we were tasked with something similar: a taster lesson of A level Maths for the year 11s. We came up with introducing the equation for a the semi-circle, experimenting with transformations of the graph using graphics calculators, or Autograph, and then asking the students to work in pairs to create faces. Worked really well, maybe because they could see the progression from GCSE? The students also got instant feedback if their eyebrow wasn't where it was supposed to be etc. Bonus was it produced some great display work with some very entertaining faces!
  12. vikki.marsh

    vikki.marsh New commenter

    Of course, as PGCE students we weren't there to see if our taster had any effect (either way!) on the numbers of kids who took it up that September
  13. markricketts

    markricketts New commenter

    I was looking for some inspiration for myself for tomorrow - and the binomial lesson, with the 'bow and arrow' seems perfect - thanks. Mark Ricketts
  14. djgruffi

    djgruffi New commenter

    Hi Mark,

    What is this bow and arrow binomial lesson? Sounds interesting. Thanks!

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