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Use of 'standards unit' manipulable resources (card sorts)

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by mature_maths_trainee, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    Does my experience of using these resources ring true with others?...
    As much as I really like these resources, I've become slightly disappointed by the fact that the students for whom I initially felt they would be most valuable (the less 'able' students - or at least those placed in the 'bottom sets') are precisely those that really struggle to use these resources effectively.
    What I have found is that, although these resources are intended to promote discussion and deep thinking between students, it's exactly the students in the 'bottom sets' that tend to lack the social and communication skills necessary to interact in this way (i.e. to exchange ideas, to discuss alternatives, to give concrete examples and counter-examples, etc.).
    Hence, as powerful as these resouces potentially are, I'm becoming a bit reluctant to use them as much with lower set students. Such activs might be providing further opportunties for these students to learn better social and communication skills (a good thing), but they actually seem to providing a yet further barrier to their learning of the core Maths itself?

    Forming these thoughts/observations into a question (and generalising)...
    - does anyone have a tendancy to use 'group work' more with 'higher ability' set groups, than with 'lower ability' set groups? (or vice versa). Or do you find 'group work' equally effective / worthwhile with all groups of students, irrespective of 'ability' level?
    [and has this issue been formally addressed in any published educational Maths research?]
     
  2. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    Does my experience of using these resources ring true with others?...
    As much as I really like these resources, I've become slightly disappointed by the fact that the students for whom I initially felt they would be most valuable (the less 'able' students - or at least those placed in the 'bottom sets') are precisely those that really struggle to use these resources effectively.
    What I have found is that, although these resources are intended to promote discussion and deep thinking between students, it's exactly the students in the 'bottom sets' that tend to lack the social and communication skills necessary to interact in this way (i.e. to exchange ideas, to discuss alternatives, to give concrete examples and counter-examples, etc.).
    Hence, as powerful as these resouces potentially are, I'm becoming a bit reluctant to use them as much with lower set students. Such activs might be providing further opportunties for these students to learn better social and communication skills (a good thing), but they actually seem to providing a yet further barrier to their learning of the core Maths itself?

    Forming these thoughts/observations into a question (and generalising)...
    - does anyone have a tendancy to use 'group work' more with 'higher ability' set groups, than with 'lower ability' set groups? (or vice versa). Or do you find 'group work' equally effective / worthwhile with all groups of students, irrespective of 'ability' level?
    [and has this issue been formally addressed in any published educational Maths research?]
     
  3. It's a good question. I do use quite a bit of group work with lower ability groups but tend to keep it to short bursts. I've found that 'noughts and crosses' games where they have to select a card to claim a space on the board go down well. Some of the materials in the standards unit do go over the top of the heads of the lower ability.
     
  4. I've not noticed problems with lower ability students, no more than with any other activity. The specific activities in the standards box are obviously too difficult, but I've had success with, say, number lines, words and digits when working with decimals. I was about to agree that some of the students spend time concentrating in silence rather than actively working cooperatively and discussing every decision, but I see that with all ages and abilities (and I'm fine with that, it's just a learning preference I guess).
     

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