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Setting at KS4/GCSE

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by Betamale, Apr 21, 2011.

  1. Sorry, I was so angry I botched that, I meant to say 'I think there is a huge cultural difference...' apologies.
  2. Perhaps some Boaler in there too dajg? I agree that it's "high stake" assessment that drives the kind of maths teaching you describe. But lack of subject specialists and lack of planning, preparation and collaboration time also prevents this problem-solving, mixed ability approach to teaching maths. In theory I'd be all for it. In practice I'm probably bloody-minded enough to try it, but it'd mean having to mobilise too many people on too few resources (especially time).
  3. pipipi
    I believe i 'social mobility' [​IMG] and pupils willing to work can move up (after a sustained period of improvement and equally return very quickly) and the Z group is an additional group beyond the quota ( I will leave the SLT to tell me they cant fund that) but I really wouldnt care if it allowed for learning.
    You work for your place, your earn the right to be in a set and if your behaviour is not conducive to the highest level of work ethic and attainment you can lick windows in group Z
    So many C/D and lower classes are not as a result of ability but work ethic and the culture in the room
  4. pipipi

    pipipi New commenter

    Thanks Betamale, I think I agree with eveything there.

    On Social Mobility. I always remind anyone who mentions that, as aspirational as that is, is that for every hard working/flukey person who moves UP in the world (however that is defined) that there ought to be some lazy/unlucky person moving DOWN in the world.
    I think some pepople think that social mobility means everyone moving up.

    I think what I would like is 'narrowing the gaps' between social classes.

    But on the maths point, I try and remind them that athletes get faster when they practice and 'almost' exactly applies to maths
  5. I would question whether you are actually a Maths teacher at all.
    Some topics cannot be taught by methods that are not differentiated by difficulty. You cannot teach solving simultaneous equations by substitution unless the basic algebra skills of simplification and factorisation have been learnt.
    What mixed ability teaching doesn't allow for is more complex and abstract mathematical techniques to be taught.
    I would go further and question for level of Mathematical understanding beyond GCSE. Degree level work is often very complex and abstract by it's nature. Why do Mathematics in 7 dimensions? Explain that to a "normal" pupil and most will ask you to describe the other dimensions. To them it is the same nonsense that as that which A level pupil asked me today...

    "Sir, why do Physicists create sum-atomic particles when we've not even seen them?"
    I'm no Physics teacher, but I know that they don't "create" sub-atomic particles, rather the work they have done has lead the scientists to believe that such sub-atomic particles exist.

    I understand the arguments with regard to setting, especially the view that pupils in "lower" groups feel stupid and that as teachers we also think they are stupid. We as teachers must give them opportunities for success and build their confidence. I have a very low ability Year 9 class (all working at around level 3) with whom I've shown them elements of level 7 work and proved they can do it. But, the pace we move at and the fact that I lead them in smaller, more concise steps that normal would not always be possible in a mixed ability set with higher performing peers.

    And finally, I have my own experiences from school. Luckily, I was always good at Maths, English etc. Knew my times tables and spellings at an early age, etc. The issues are that it becomes "uncool" to be in advance of your peers. Partially because we don't celebrate success well in this country (a cultural thing) and partially because at certain ages most children want to "fit in" more than do well. So, you didn't do too much at this primary school in case you were bullied for trying to hard. I spent the majority of my time there bored and desperate to fit in.
    Yet, when set in secondary school I had to work more. The groups I was taught in worked more. And as is normally the case, the other pupils in those groups become your friends.

  6. This message board needs an edit function for posts.
  7. Thank you for your reply and for providing a specific example. Sorry to bombard you with more questions, but please could you explain a bit more about how you would run the example you gave with a class?
    You see, this is where I find it difficult to understand...
    *thinking through the problem* OK, so fields are often squares or rectangles, so I'll start with those. If I know what perimeter and area mean, even if I haven't been taught the formulae for area and perimeter are, I can probably work out how to work them out if I've got some square paper to draw different shapes on (students often work out areas of rectangles drawn on squared paper by doing repeated addition/multiplication of number of squares in a column/row so I can see how not knowing the formulae is not an issue per se, and how they might effectively derive the formulae for themselves). So I can work out the area of the square with a perimeter of 1000m and can similarly explore various different rectangles. From this, I probably note that the biggest area is achieved from a square. This might prompt me to think about the properties of a square and might lead me to think that the fact that it is a regular polygon is key. So then I might decide to look at other regular polygons, starting say with an equilateral triangle. Now I might, with a bit of experimentation with some right-angled triangles realise that two identical right-angled triangles make a rectangle and further experimentation with non-right-angled triangles realise that the same is true. So I might work out that the area of a triangle is half base × (perpendicular) height. But I have a bit of a problem with my equilateral triangle, because although I can work out what length the sides would be, I don't know what the perpendicular height is. I've never met trig or pythag, so where do I go from here?

    Many thanks for any clarification you can provide...

  8. ..and luckily for our ones in yesteryear they were asked to train for a marathon to get an A or A star, now they have top jog the the Tesco 24 hour down the road for the same recognition

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