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Raising achievement in GCSE mathematics - Bowland - Introduction to Case studies

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 22 July 2011 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 04 October 2011 by ncetm_administrator

Raising achievement in GCSE mathematics

Resource: Bowland Maths
School: Church Stretton School
Teacher: Graham Charles


A General Introduction to Bowland Case Studies
The 18 Bowland Case Studies are a fantastic free resource to help pupils develop process skills. The Case Studies are exciting and diverse, offering a variety of approaches to learning.

The lesson plans are incredibly detailed. Teachers will need time to digest this information, then to choose an approach or route to best suit their learners. The Case Study Comparison Charts provide a useful starting point when deciding which tasks to try.

The Bowland CPD Modules offer excellent support and guidance for less experienced or less confident teachers.  Co-planning or having other maths teachers present can be beneficial when planning Bowland Case Studies. Use of CPD or meeting time can create a positive environment to support planning.

Whilst the resources were originally intended for KS3, the functionality and applications are suitable to help KS4 groups develop communication and reasoning skills in preparation for the new-style GCSE questions. Many of the resources intended for Year 7 are suitable for Foundation Tier GCSE groups. Similarly, many of the more challenging tasks intended for Year 9 can be used with Higher Tier GCSE classes.

What we did – the use of the resource and the impact on learning

The Case Studies trialled were Alien Invasion, My Music, Product Wars, Saving a Baby Kangaroo and Sundials. Each of the 5 teachers selected one each, according to their own preference.

We assigned two ‘Bowland Weeks’ to our KS3 Scheme of Work. Committing to weeks when ICT availability was greatest (after Year 11 exams and when Year 10 students were on work experience) and coordinating bookings in advance enabled us to have the facilities to support all the studies. The two hours of co-planning to support preparation included watching Bowland CPD Modules; this created a positive buzz. In the second week, we each delivered our ‘specialist’ activity to different groups. Student feedback was positive and the maths for all of the Case Studies was trialled. We believe that the problem-solving nature of the activities has helped students develop the communication skills required with the new-style GCSE questions. Students peer-assessed work, with a focus on finding out ways to improve their problem-solving skills.

Next steps

  • Consider which Case Studies to incorporate in Schemes of Work, including when is best for ICT facilities and cross-curricular links (and likelihood of sunshine for sundials!).
  • Look at introducing different Bowland Case Studies into our KS4 Schemes of work.
  • Consider Key Concepts, Key Processes and Content Area already covered (using comprehensive Case Studies Comparison Charts) when deciding which activities to trial next.

Top tips

  • Curriculum Leaders could allocate a block of time in Scheme of Work for all teachers to trial activities.
  • Consider when availability of ICT facilities is likely to be greatest and coordinate bookings.
  • Ask for maths CPD time to support co-planning.
  • Plan a follow up meeting for further PD and an opportunity to share experiences, ensuring that everyone has a time slot to give feedback. It is better if colleagues are aware of this opportunity in advance so that they can prepare thoroughly for it.
  • Use the Case Study Comparison Charts when deciding which activities to use.
  • Consider having ‘specialists’ in different Case Studies.
  • PossibIy, deliver the same activity to different groups, in order to act upon reflections after first trial, to facilitate further PD?
  • Consider allowing freedom for teachers to choose preferred Case Study based on their interests for first activity.
  • Spread the good practice by observing each other delivering Bowland Case Studies, if possible.

Potential barriers and possible solutions

  • Preparation and follow-up time: ask for Maths PD time for co-planning and follow-up.

Curriculum Time pressures: we removed some of the repetition in our KS3 schemes of work to create time for the Case Studies. We trawled our KS3 schemes of work. Many topics appeared more than once, sometimes less than a year apart. Topics such as LCM, HCF, Sequences and Directed Number came up twice within 12 months. We incorporated the subtle differences into one 'visit' to free up weeks for more Rich Tasks. We feel that this will help to improve students' process and communication skills.

  • Availability of ICT facilities: is there a time of year when access is greater because Year groups are out of school?
  • We planned to complete tasks in 3 lessons: some of the Case Studies are intended for more than 3 lessons, so had to be adapted to fit the time frame.

Personal Learning

Reflective thoughts

It is healthy that there are differing views about which is the ‘best’ Case Study. Allowing colleagues freedom of choice about which to use generated lots of enthusiasm.

Product Wars is regarded as one of the easier ones to use, having 3 distinct lessons; so this may be more suitable for less experienced teachers.

It is common to feel that you would approach a task slightly differently next time after a first trial. Is it possible to have an opportunity to put these reflections into practice with a different group fairly soon after the initial trial?

Other resources

  • Problem Solving Poster
  • Alien Invasion – consider laminated sheets and scaling when sorting reprographics.
  • My Music - is useful for Music links and active LCM activity (pupils split – some clapping/tapping on 2nd, others on 3rd “beat” etc. – when will we all clap together?) at different tempos.
  • Product Wars – could pupils make their smoothies in Food Technology?
  • Saving a Baby Kangaroo – colour front page is ideal for booklets.
  • Sundials – Use candle lit for 1 hour (estimation and measurement), old watches to demonstrate clockwork, websites to give local latitude and longitude and play Time by Pink Floyd to set scene. Recommend thick, sturdy card for making sundials.

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