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Help! 100 minutes Lessons!

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by pencho, Dec 24, 2010.

  1. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    Hi Mandy
    Just to let you know I seem to remember a thread on these a few months back (it might have been 120 minute lesson thoughs). I believe there were some good replies. It might be worthwhile doing a search.
    Best Wishes

  2. I would say its not ability per se, its outlook of the pupils and their attitude to learning.
    There is of course more scope with higher ability kids with more material but at the end of the, you have to cover a SOW.
    Ok, do you want the "Pass the PGCE" response or the teach the kids well and develop me for a realistic stint in teaching?
    If its the latter then I would say to lay down expectations on arrival, watch default behaviour and establish how to teach EACH cohort in front of you. My most painful time of the week is 120 minutes with set A and my best time is 120 minutes with their peers in the same year.
    Its all about the outlook of students IMO.
    If they ave had zero expecations and are generally lazy then 100 minutes of didactic teaching isnt going to work for long, if at all...This is not though a passport to turn to 'un' and having to keep them interested with methods of 'buying' learning from them.
    I personally would not set up a 'we will work hard for first part and doss for the second culture'
    With my 120 <strike>hours</strike>minutes of pain I have chopped the SOW to have very different topics in part one of the lesson, allow them 5 minutes of pure downtime whilst other lessons are changing and then back again hard at it on a different topic.
    No mini-mega-halfway-min-1/4-plenary or such like, just high expectations with support for that learning.
    Chopping and changing learning 'styles' can work but some may want the same book or worksheet for the full period and for you to leave them alone. Others may have to have shorter challenges that requre a specific outcome in a given time. Do NOT deviate though, that is time you will not get back
    The advantage of longer lessons are , IMO, that you can really allow pupils to have a long crack at a topic and get round to everybody in one lesson rather than the hectic shorter ones.
    I will stop rambling as it is all about whats in front of you...establish that and then devise a strategy for EACH and alter if it isn't going well....but dont go in soft and say "ohhh I know its a long time"
  3. "do you want the "Pass the PGCE" response or the teach the kids well and develop me for a realistic stint in teaching"
    that's a very good question. I have of course started PGCE with a view of trying to be a good teacher.In fact, I have already been doing a lot of informal outside school teaching/ tutoring with good results. But as I began my PGCE, I feel pressured into producing resources for the sake of doing so, and a lot of ticking boxes for the sake of QTS. I do not really know what I want now. I'm just hoping that my NQT year will be better and can really teach without feeling pressured into making resources for the sake of it.
    The thought of preparing 100min worth of resources is frightening the life out of me. Before I started my placement, I thought teaching method would be just the same as coaching 20 kids. I used to use text books and I pride myself in knowing how to make a boring topic lively, and to successfully persuade my students that textbook practices are worthwhile. We then usually finish with some practical games etc. Somehow though, the idea of textbooks seemed the worst thing ever and somehow not inventing my own resources seemed lazy.
    I do think it is important to talk about mathematical concepts and develop them. But IMO, it is no good to just mess about with reasoning and work things out from first principles. Kids need to practice and master the skills, and that means practice. Understanding how subtraction works does not stop you from forgetting to borrow, does it?
    In anycase, I still want to be an effective teacher - one that generates good exam results and abiltiy to apply mathematical knowledge to different real life situations. I know I need to take students' ability etc into account, but I'm not keen to reinvent the wheel just to satisfy some arbitary requirements.
    When I used to do 2 hour private teaching (Mathematics and Mandarin), I incorporated a lot of adapted text book work. My students did teacher-students role play and challenged each other. Sometimes, we used the questions as a template and made our own set of questions. Is this kind of text book based teaching activity acceptable?
    What kind of activities do you use? How do you break up the 100mins? I love quiz as plenary, it's exciting and it's fun! Any opinions?
  4. I dont envy your position as I am starting to cry at some of the things PGCE students are doing.
    Personally I think its a case of presenting what they want to see when they are there and then making this very real for you and the kids.
    In terms of activities from experience:
    More able and or motivated kids then longer stints of working on their own with your support
    Less motivated kids, shorter tasks, high expectation of outcome and bite size learning bits...example being 10 quick examples on the whiteboard to be completed in 12 minutes and put the timer on (smartboard stopwatches can be downloaded)
    Then get them to present their ideas.
    Swith the learning up with exam style questions you have done wrong opn purpose and allowthem 4 or 6 minutes to point ouyt what you have done...Never give them 1, 5 or 10 minutes as those are easy times to abuse and 5 minutes can mean 20..stop watch them and ask for outcome.
    Swith the topic again....and remember your bank of resources will be used again and again....so the hard work is done.
    With 30 minutes left set them a challenge to get you 40-50 exa,mples off a worksheet done and then they can go...this will allow you to get a chance to help the more motivated/less able ones in the class
    Have additional tasks...silly/funny maths question on the whiteboard to point pupils to to ensure there is always something to be doing and on task.
    Towards the end you may look for more interactive stuff.
    These classes are not what each are like but often your target groups.....WHATEVER YOU DO DON'T TRY AND MAKE LESSONS FUN MAKE THEM CHALLENGING AND ENGAGING
    There is a massive difference between the two. the former is a joke and not sustainable, realistic or helping kids
    High challenege, high pace and high reward through praise AND NOT BUYING LEARNING WITH SWEETS
    Get a whiteboard slide file and just fill it with everything you want them to know before they leave and just force your way through the lesson BUT ensure structure, control and outcomes of high work rates.
    text books can be awesome, past paper questions can help to show less motivated kids "we can do this" and interactive stuff can be great IF IT ADVANCES LEARNING.
    remember though all classes are different but one thing remains...teach them maths and teach them hard, otherwise you could be in for a long, tiring career!!
  5. Thank you so much...
    When you say ..."WHATEVER YOU DO DON'T TRY AND MAKE LESSONS FUN MAKE THEM CHALLENGING AND ENGAGING". I do agree with that. When I was at school, that's how it was, it was hard core learning and we took pride in our achievements. We were made to work hard and as such, there wasn't much need for the teacher to sy well done. We knew we have worked hard and learnt something new or gained deeper knowledge.
    My question is though, you do find lower ability groups enjoy being challenged? I tried challenging my bottom set year 8 in my first placement and got a lot of sticks for it. But I got the feeling that the kids enjoyed it and felt good about themselves.
    Also, I have relied quite heavily on IWB and more or less used it to structure my lesson.So, I will have slides for starters or links to prompt opening up an internet page.I will then have activity slides and links to other programs if needed. If I had planned for a Tarsia, I'd say so on the slides along with rules and expectations specific to the activityetc.I find that saves me from rambling and having to remember all the details. I was told it is bad practice because it is appareantly just a personalised version of a text book. I was very disappointed. The most important thing is it works for me and the kids don't seem to mind. (I do read/ paraphrase what's on the board and then quiz the kids to make sure all have understood though).
    I do like the idea of "High challenege, high pace and high reward through praise". The stop watch idea sounds great too. I'll have a search on the internet to download one.
    many thanks, you have been extremely helpful and I am greatly encouraged. Thanks a lot.

  6. Something 'fun' may engage students but may not necessarily have any educational benefit. Of course, it might!
    Something that is engaging and challenging may not be fun in the conventional sense, but may have educational benefit, and students who value learning will find this interesting and stimulating, even though it's not 'fun'.
    I think the argument is that pandering to students' demands for entertainment at the cost of education is undesirable. It's frustrating when students view 'fun' teachers as good, even though they learn little from them, and do not value truly outstanding teachers because they do not entertain them, but rather teach them.
  7. Correct
    In response to the difference between engaging and fun:
    <u>Fun</u>...poorly behaved sugar high kids rolling around on the floor as the teacher gives them sweets in each colour after a card sort...minimal learning, most pupils buying into the LESSON rather than Learning because its seen as play. Low output high edutainment and quite frankly a joke.
    <u>Engaging</u>. High challenge, reference to <u>some</u> real life applications that mean something to kids such as populations, wealth, market share. Promoting achievement in a room where pupils are challeneged to more forward, answer more and be praised by the teacher who is supportive, enthusiastic and expects a lot. The lesson can include examples of exam questions on the whiteboard with clear goals on what to expect and how close they are to that in the future. Fast pace, range of strong MEANINGFUL acitivies with a sense of we can do it in the room. Pupils given work suitable to them and lots of it to get through with clear goals and expectations for the end of the lesson. Teacher spending time and questionning pupils and pushing them on. An hour of good honest learning and the feel good factor of being better than before. Having an environment where pupils can be relaxed and respected and have a consistent time in lessons lerning. The teacher can back this up by offering support, links, material and time for pupils to enagage in learning and engage in YOUR ethos as a teacher. They don't ask "Have you got sweets today?"
    You dont have to engage in a topic per se, you become engaged by drivers wheteher it be success, bettering yourself, the love of learning, enjoyment of the subject or even the teacher.
    There are about 120 lessons a year with each of my classes.....find my 120 lessons of fun and Im in the wrong job...unsustainable, unfair on kids development
  8. So fun lessons are identified by lessons in which students are given sweets, specifically for minimal efforts?
  9. I think you've taken the comments too literally - 'fun' means different things to different people, but giving students sweets does tend to create an extrinsic reward for their efforts that gives them a feeling of fun.

    The point some of us are trying to make is that 'fun' lessons can often be shallow and not beneficial to students' education - of course, there are many ways lessons can be fun AND be educational, but the point is that a really great lesson tends not to rely on gimmicks like sweets - it fosters a feeling of achievement by engaging and challenging students as learners. Creating this environment where learners value the intrinsic reward of learning is something which I believe good teachers strive for, but which is not often recognised as being the hallmark of a good lesson.
  10. Let's flipthis around then:
    Can you provde a list/SOW for our resources That
    • Has 120 lessons (average for a year) for each Stage (GCSE higher/foundation/KS3 higher and lower ability)
    • Will cover the course entirely to ready pupils for their exams and puts them in the best position to do well against the (rightly or wrongly) standards set
    • Will have the MAJORITY of ALL kids you teach leaving saying "Tha was fun"
    • Is sustainable and doesnt take 2 hours of planning each time and is not costly
    • Has non tangible rewards to motivate all to work for intrinsic reason
    • Maintains on task activity for MOST of the class in comparison to what they usually do
    • Is differentiated
    I have sat in front of those who don't teach anymore telling a crowd how to make learning fun, roll out 2 wizzy lessons yet canot provide more than 2-3 more examples...what about the other 115 lessons a year that they couldnt spend 2 hours planning for?
    Our idea of fun and kids understanding of fun can differ and whilst you can have a laugh with kids and make it a nice environment to be in, the long term teaching of mathematics cannot be fun to ALL pupils EVERY lesson whilst maintaining optimum development, sustainability for the teacher and control of a class.
    Topics allow for pupils to have more fun than others, yet to try and make all fun just to avoid poor behaviour IMO is far from ideal
    Its all about bang for buck...I can spend 45 minutes of a lesson sticking post it notes on the back of kids heads saying "Guess what number I am?" with them really not cracking on with much work or I could educate them lesson in lesson out rather than edutain them to poor grades and me to an early retirement.
    Fun is subjective, watered down maths to factor in the non subscribers is not for me.

  11. Firstly, I'm genuinely trying to get my head around this, I'm not playing Devil's Advocate. I think I'm just challenging the use of the word "fun". It sounds to me as if you're describing, lazy teaching with gimmicky lesson activities that may or may not be "fun" to the students. The main place I've seen this is when the school has bought in a company to offer a day's event to a year group. The kids are excited for half an hour and quickly become bored.

    Also, I think there's been a back-lash against certain trends in teaching (collaborative work, use of multi-media etc). Whilst this is understandable to some degree I feel very uncomfortable with the idea that Solid, Quality Teaching means trying not to engage your students, making a point by creating a silent classroom with heads bent over textbooks. I have colleagues who actively don't want to include a 2 minute video clip "hook for learning" on principle. I have colleagues who don't use post-it notes or sugar paper on principle!

    I hear a lot of teachers say they want a return to the lessons we remember - the 3 Exs? Teacher Explains, students copy down a few Examples and then work for 45 minutes on a textbook Exercise. I don't think this is necessarily the right approach. The nature of our students and the world they live in (at least in the challenging comprehensives I have experience of as a pupil and teacher) have drastically altered. I don't think that what worked in the past could work now unless accountability was completely reversed.
  12. Sorry, to address one of Betamale's points. I don't have 120 fantastic lessons for any class. If I have two however, it doesn't stop me trying to create a third.
  13. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    In my opinion the number one thing that makes lessons fun, enjoyable (even a set of questions from an exercise book) is the person stood in front of them. You can have the most interesting activities in the world and put in plenty of variety, but it all depends on the teacher.
    I know teachers who can introduce a topic, do some examples and then do some questions from an exercise and the students enjoy it. The reason they enjoy is the teacher.
  14. I think betamale may also have in mind teachers who give students treat rewards like extra praise, something special, sweeties and so on in their classes?
    I remember reading a bit about this somewhere (I'm not sure where, it might have been in the OU MEd literature).
    The advice was (as I remember it - I may be wrong) that such 'treats' are useful in deliberately changing the culture of a class. They mustn't be used in a stick and carrot way at all. Instead the thinking is that when you're trying to to establish new norms of behaviour, it can be useful to unexpectedly praise/reward students who are 'caught being good'. This re-inforces the desired behaviour by linking it to the positive emotion felt due to the praise.
    Personally I generally prefer to use class rewards as I find rewarding one child can sometimes negate the efforts of the others. However if one child is trashing the lessons and needs individual attention to settle down, it's often okay to give them personal praise as the whole class understands its purpose.
    In extreme situations, or when I first meet a class I may use class rewards which are not about maths education (like funny youtube videos, getting out bang on the bell etc.) because doing something maths linked doesn't give them a good feeling. But as the classes begin to enjoy maths I use more relevant stuff (like great maths based youtubes).

    I find this issues is always at it's most toxic with withdrawal facilities, where the child gets a lot of personal attention and then decides to be deliberately bad in order to go there rather than back to class.
  15. There aren't two options for teaching - 'gimmicky, valueless fun' and 'heads down in silence doing qs from a textbook'. It is a spectrum, and as has been said, you can have genuinely fun lessons that are also very educational, but a really outstanding teacher is not concerned with 'fun', they are concerned with providing a worthwhile educational experience - and this will usually mean a variety of different types of activity which maintains interest rather than just trying to entertain. I have put a great deal of effort into creating resources like games to enthuse and educate students and they work well but wouldn't if I did them every lesson. However, students in my lessons know they're not going to have all-singing-all-dancing fun every lesson, but they also know I won't expect them to spend hours working from a textbook.
    It is possible to create worthwhile, engaging lessons without the use of a textbook at all, though personally I would never discard the textbook as using one is a valuable skill for most students going on to further forms of education later in life. But equally the best lessons I teach have a mix of different activities, and when you're in the swing of teaching lessons in this way, it becomes natural and doesn't require any more time in planning and preparation.
  16. I find the key to very powerful and engaging lessons is that you are responding to the progress of the students and adapting tasks or changing task depending on what you see.
    This 'response' is both 'in the moment' in that unexpected developments are accomodated capitalised on and 'longer term' in that your wider experience in how classes respond to the types of activites you are presenting informs they way you plan the lesson.
  17. I completely agree with this.
  18. Me too. I also agree with what pencho said about teachers who are just personable and engaging with whatever they deliver.
  19. DM

    DM New commenter

    My school is likely to move to 100 minute lessons soon as a neighbouring school operates this duration and cite it as the main reason for a significant upturn in their results. I can't say I am particularly looking forward to it.
  20. What, in my experience, students really properly enjoyable and rewarding is seeing that they are making progress over the long term (not some artificial "have you made progress in the last 10 minutes?"). Being able to look back weeks after doing fractions and say something like - "hey I could never add fractions with different bottom numbers but now I can do them."

    The hard part is getting to the stage where students will trust you to get them there 'in the long run' and go along with your planned activities; lessons; ideas etc. even when they might not be able to see the benefit in the very short term. That's where, as others have said, the trustful relationships built between student and teacher is so important.

    The key for me, when planning a lesson, is that any activity must be more effective at moving students understanding forward than the alternatives. I've seen some senior and very experienced staff shoehorn, for example, some ICT into a lesson because they feel that doing so will make the lesson 'fun' for students but acknowledge in discussion afterwards that it slowed progress. In the short term the students may like this but they'll resent it in the medium to longer term.

    Now I'm not saying that ICT, cardsorts, games, activities involving students running around the hall etc. are rubbish - I use all these and more from time to time. The key is that my decision to use them to 'enhance learning' and not to try and make lessons 'fun'.

    The danger is when colleagues put trying to make lessons fun as a priority over maximising learning.

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