About cookies

The NCETM site uses cookies. Read more about our privacy policy

Please agree to accept our cookies. If you continue to use the site, we'll assume you're happy to accept them.

 

Personal Learning Login






Sign Up | Forgotten password?
 
Register with the NCETM

Secondary Forum


Only logged in users can post to this forum.

Outstanding Lessons

1 to 10 of 16
gcolman 27 June 2011 22:39
Posts26
Joined10/06/07
Hi,

Does anyone have any good advice on, or a model for, how to achieve an outstanding Maths lesson on the new OFSTED criteria please?

In our department we have had several formal & informal observations this year by non-maths SLT staff non of which have been graded as outstanding, even though we are making great progress with exam results (35% last year, potential 76% this!) so are obviously doing something right!  

At a meeting today with one of these SLT it seemed that this lack of outstanding lesson obs may be because the maths dept idea of outstanding progress differs significantly to their interpretation of OFSTED's ideas; we prefer just straight up 'teach em how to do it, let them practice it, check they can do it' whereas they suggest something along the lines of 'pupils should use their own ideas to develop a method for discovering, or extrapolating, learning for themselves'.  This method seems to contradict any KLO and be a considerable time waste when compared to plain and simple, getting the learning done.

Does anyone - any maths specialist - have any kind of recipe or model that we can use to ensure an outstanding lesson obs?  I'm thinking something like "to get outstanding you must show progression, differentiation, assessment, all pupils involved, awareness of levels and targets etc etc".

Please and thanks so much,

Graham Colman
Ormiston Victory Academy, Norwich
www.colmanweb.co.uk 
Link to this Post   Alert us about this post

petegriffin 28 June 2011 09:07
Assistant Director (Maths Hubs)
Posts1319
Joined29/06/06
Hi Graham,

I guess you have looked at the Ofsted guidance which gives both generic and subject specific description of what Ofsted consider to be outstanding (i.e. grade 1) teaching.

Generic grade 1 teaching is described thus:

Teaching in the subject is at least good and much is outstanding, with the result that the pupils are making exceptional progress. It is highly effective in inspiring pupils and ensuring that they learn extremely well. Excellent subject knowledge is applied consistently to challenge and inspire pupils. Resources, including new technology, make a marked contribution to the quality of learning, as does the precisely targeted support provided by other adults. Teachers and other adults are acutely aware of their pupils’ capabilities and of their prior learning and understanding, and plan very effectively to build on these. Marking and dialogue between teachers, other adults and pupils are consistently of a very high quality. Pupils understand in detail how to improve their work and are consistently supported in doing so. Teachers systematically and effectively check pupils’ understanding throughout lessons, anticipating where they may need to intervene and doing so with striking impact on the quality of learning.

Mathematics specific grade 1 teaching is described thus:

Teaching is rooted in the development of all pupils’ conceptual understanding of important concepts and progression within the lesson and over time. It enables pupils to make connections between topics and see the ‘big picture’. Teaching nurtures mathematical independence, allows time for thinking and encourages discussion. Problem solving, discussion and investigation are seen as integral to learning mathematics. Constant assessment of each pupil’s understanding through questioning, listening and observing enables fine tuning of teaching. Barriers to learning and potential misconceptions are anticipated and overcome, with errors providing fruitful points for discussion. Teachers communicate high expectations, enthusiasm and passion about their subject to pupils. They have a high level of confidence and expertise both in terms of their specialist knowledge and their understanding of effective learning in the subject. As a result, they use a very wide range of teaching strategies to stimulate all pupils’ active participation in their learning together with innovative and imaginative resources, including practical activities and, where appropriate, the outdoor environment. Teachers exploit links between mathematics and other subjects and with mathematics beyond the classroom. Marking distinguishes well between simple errors and misunderstanding and tailors insightful feedback accordingly.


The crux of these descriptions seems to lie in what sense the learner is making of the ideas and concepts being taught and less about the performance of the teacher and his/her ability to explain things clearly.
This is the tricky balance in teaching and learning and there has been much written over the years about the tension between teaching as transmitting information and skills and learning as constructing your own understanding.
I am not sure that there is one model or recipe for this kind of lesson but here are some thoughts:
  • the issue of whether it is helpful (for pupils' mathematical independence) to always be absolutely explicit about the learning intention at the beginning of the lesson is a well rehearsed argument (see Didactic Tension).
  • the old (very old now!) non-statutory guidance appendix to the original 1989 National Curriculum had a very challenging proposition, namely, that "the teacher's job is to organise and provide the sorts of experiences which enable pupils to construct and develop their own understanding of mathematics, rather than simply communicate the ways in which they themselves understand the subject".
  • some of us have had some discussions in the NCETM forums on this issue over the past few years under the titles "What is understanding?", "What is understanding? - Revisited" and "Understanding maths". You may find it helpful to browse through some of these conversations.
  • I would certainly recommend looking at the Ofsted booklet "Mathematics: understanding the score - Improving practice in mathematics teaching at secondary mathematics". While not offering a recipe they do offer useful examples of bits of lessons which are really good examples to discuss in department meetings
Hope some of this is helpful.

What do others think?
Link to this Post   Alert us about this post

gcolman 29 June 2011 13:00
Posts26
Joined10/06/07
Thanks Pete... lots to digest!  Will reply properly once have given this a good read thorugh and consideration.  Thanks also from my HoD!
Link to this Post   Alert us about this post

sbucknill 29 June 2011 15:59
Posts6
Joined18/04/07
Graham, this is so clear and extremely useful.  Lots of food for thought.  Many thanks.
Link to this Post   Alert us about this post

Bladders 21 July 2011 13:15
Posts5
Joined27/06/06
In my experience far less mathematics lessons are graded outstanding by anyone (including maths specialists). However non maths specialists find it harder to see the good points of maths lessons.

Having been priveleged to see many maths lessons and also many other subjects I can see both sides to the argument.

I have yet to see a maths lesson where the hairs stand up on the back of my neck-- yet this happens in art and history quite easily. The pupils are so engaged it can be  awesome to watch ans it is only natural to grade these lessons as outstanding. Achieving this in maths is extremely difficult -- the nature of our subject I think. It is not impossible but much much harder.
Link to this Post   Alert us about this post

davegalemaths 03 August 2011 11:40
Posts15
Joined28/04/10
 Hi,

It is certainly difficult.

My lessons that have been graded as outstanding have involved the following (these are from different lessons):
  • Going outside to the field to do a lesson on Loci
  • Using perpendicular bisectors to define sensible catchment areas for local primary schools
  • Using timed, past paper questions, followed by discussions to revise a specific topic in A level stats
  • Using group work to engage a mathematical problem (maximum area enclosed by specific length of fence)
  • For sequences, having a starter that included number, picture and audio sequences. The main part had more of these (including creating a cartoon of 'how I got to school') and every 5 mins or so, they passed their work onto the next person in the group to check the work so far and continue it.

I'm afraid you're going to struggle to get an outstanding with 'Teach 'em, practise, check'. Inspectors do say they recognise that practising skills has its place in maths but I don't think it would count as outstanding practice.

Hope these ideas inspire you a little.
Dave
AST Maths

Link to this Post   Alert us about this post

Rebecca_Hanson 11 August 2011 18:57
Posts1001
Joined28/01/08
"Teaching is rooted in the development of all pupils’ conceptual understanding of important concepts and progression within the lesson and over time. It enables pupils to make connections between topics and see the ‘big picture’. Teaching nurtures mathematical independence, allows time for thinking and encourages discussion. Problem solving, discussion and investigation are seen as integral to learning mathematics. Constant assessment of each pupil’s understanding through questioning, listening and observing enables fine tuning of teaching. Barriers to learning and potential misconceptions are anticipated and overcome, with errors providing fruitful points for discussion. Teachers communicate high expectations, enthusiasm and passion about their subject to pupils. They have a high level of confidence and expertise both in terms of their specialist knowledge and their understanding of effective learning in the subject. As a result, they use a very wide range of teaching strategies to stimulate all pupils’ active participation in their learning together with innovative and imaginative resources, including practical activities and, where appropriate, the outdoor environment. Teachers exploit links between mathematics and other subjects and with mathematics beyond the classroom. Marking distinguishes well between simple errors and misunderstanding and tailors insightful feedback accordingly."

All of which can be judged be objectively judged by an inspector who comes in to a lesson for 20 mins, has no experience of teaching in the ways and contexts the teacher does and does not talk to the teacher.

http://mathseducationandallthat.blogspot.com/

Link to this Post   Alert us about this post

Rebecca_Hanson 11 August 2011 21:23
Posts1001
Joined28/01/08
So in response to Graham's original post  I would say -

If you want to be an excellent at anything you should read the guides - and these standards are useful guides.

But it's not enough to read the guides - the most important think you need is the right human influence around you.   Mentors who you can and do talk to.
Coaches who can watch what you are doing and help you see what you are doing more clearly.
Influences who inspire you.

You have to learn to do what best uses your natural capacities and to be deeply in tune with your circumstances.  It takes time, practice, awareness and inspiration.

The comments and criticisms of those who know you well becuase they have spoken to you at length and who you deeply respect are much more important than the comments of someone who watches you for a few minute one day and doesn't speak to you at all and who has not been in your shoes and in your circumstances and does not properly understand them.

I have seen frameworks such as this used wisely and well by observers who are deeply in touch with the circumstances in which the teacher is working.  But we try so hard to get our students to focus on, discuss and challenge until they understand they comments they we have given them rather than to just focus on the grade and we should similarly take our own advice.  But that's very difficult where there is no real discussion with inspectors and the feedback loops by which they can be questioned do not exist.
Link to this Post   Alert us about this post

edgeg 23 September 2011 20:35
Posts1
Joined12/03/08
 Hi Graham

Just reading your post re outstanding maths lessons. We have just had Ofsted in. They were looking for teachers to talk to students about their target grades to make sure they understand what they are and that they know how to make progress towards them. Also want to see lots of AfL and BfL etc. Peer assessment was something that was recommended more use of. 

Can I also ask you for some advice... We have been improving our %A*-C for a number of years but dont seem to be able to break the 70% mark. What kind of things have you been doing to make such significant improvements (35% - 76%) 

Many thanks in advance

Gillian Wilkinson
Link to this Post   Alert us about this post

gcolman 24 September 2011 09:57
Posts26
Joined10/06/07
Thanks Gillian, all great advice! We're expecting Ofsted any day now so this will be very useful.  

In August we managed 65%, short of our 76% target but still a big improvement.  Our school was a new academy that took over a failing school. When most people ask how we achieved this I answer "we taught them", but really we took a yeargroup who hadn't worked or completed homework for 4 years and bullied/cajouled/encouraged them into it.  We told them they had to do it, that we believed they could do it then taught them how to do it. We looked carefully at who could realistically achieve the C vs who just couldn't and entered as many students as possible for higher tier, modular.  We then really focused on this group; before each exam we ran revision breakfast sessions and/or sessions in our sports hall where we took large groups of them through exam papers using a tablet laptop and projector; at half term & easter we made pupils attend revision days by phoning each parent to make them aware, we even had to collect some students from their homes in order to make sure they came in, and to thank them for coming in we provided pizza and chip lunches and took them bowling for the afternoon.  In classes we had support from LSA and behaviour managers and really pushed them to work work work.  We used the booster packs on mymaths for homeworks, together with more exam papers, and tried the idea of a 'maths passport' to provide rewards of itunes vouchers for completing work at home (although this didn't really work out too well).  Students took exams early and we looked carefully at who did which retakes.

This year we're hoping to get 75-80% with more A&A*'s, I'll keep you posted!

Thanks again for all the pointers here, Graham
Link to this Post   Alert us about this post
1 to 10 of 16