ICT in the classroom - ICT to enhance the plenary
Whether embedded at strategic points within a lesson to review progress and move learning forward, or as the conclusion of a lesson to evaluate and consolidate, the plenary is a good opportunity to focus the children on the most important aspects of their learning and crystallise understanding. ICT can be used to make more efficient use of the limited time usually available for this part of the lesson.
Using the plenary for prepared group feedback can give purpose and an audience for the children. Unfortunately those who are not presenting can sometimes become passive or disengaged. This can be solved by the group not just feeding back, but challenging their class mates, which is particularly empowering for children working at a lower level. For example, in a differentiated problem solving lesson such as ‘Lollipops’ from Problem Solving with EYFS, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 children: Finding all Possibilities, the children can take photographs with a digital camera of the different ways of making 6p with coins. One feedback challenge could be for a group to show a photograph of the coins, with some covered, on an interactive whiteboard so that other children could decide what might be under the cover to make the total up to 6p, and if there are other possibilities:
To encourage discussion about being systematic, a group could display their first three possibilities by having the photographs embedded in a presentation, then challenging the others to work out their pattern and decide what arrangement of coins comes next:
In either example, ICT can be used to quickly show a number of pieces of children’s work, and allows an instant reveal of the solution which all the children can see. Taking this a step further, learning can be consolidated by a group preparing and video recording an explanation of a mathematical process or skill they have learned, with the purpose of it eventually being used with another class. This should involve high-level discussion about the steps needed to be successful in that aspect of mathematics. In the plenary, the whole class can review the video, suggesting improvements that would make the concept clearer. A collection of these videos would make an excellent resource to be used again and again. Examples of mathematical concept videos can be found online, which start children considering concise explanation and good use of mathematical vocabulary, images and resources. Try the BBC Learning Zone for clips such as Numberline 0 to 1, showing ordered fractions by converting them to fractions with a common denominator.
The plenary offers the opportunity to bring a concept that is being rehearsed and consolidated into ‘real-life’ situations, so developing the skills of using and applying the mathematics. A visualiser is a type of document camera that will send images of anything placed on it directly to appear on screen. A similar effect can be produced using a video camera or webcam. With this resource, any page from a newspaper, sales brochure or takeaway menu can be immediately shared and annotated with the whole class to solve problems. Here are a couple of examples:
What is the average daily maximum temperature for the UK and Turkey in June?
Discuss and explain what “average daily maximum temperature” might mean.
In which month is there the biggest difference in temperature between the UK and Turkey?
I am going to order king prawn fried rice, chicken chow mein and a mushroom omelette.
Which menu is the cheaper?
Objects can also be placed on the visualiser or captured through a video camera linked to the screen. Try numbers of objects to estimate or arrange into an array to make them easier to count. A selection of objects can be shown together for children to discuss how they could be sorted or to reason and explain which might be the odd one out.
Assessment for learning can be strengthened through thoughtful use of projecting children’s work and examining it against success criteria. This will only work where evidence of the success criteria can be found through written work, for example, one part of success criteria in a lesson about measuring might be ‘the measuring cylinder must be on a flat surface’, clearly this will not be apparent in a child’s book. However, a child’s work about solving problems systematically or labelling a graph could be used and would be helpful in encouraging reflection from the class and consolidating learning in those areas. Plenaries are a great opportunity to celebrate success and progress in mathematics. Work selected to be analysed or photographs taken of children working successfully can be displayed in the classroom, after being shared, to develop confidence and promote positive attitudes to mathematics.
An IWB screen at the end of the lesson showing the learning objective and either traffic lights or smiley faces to enable pupils to drag their name to the relevant place, gives the teacher an opportunity to record pupils’ self assessments easily.