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Why and how to use the ‘ping pong’ teaching style

Created on 06 March 2019 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 07 March 2019 by ncetm_administrator

Why and how to use the ‘ping pong’ teaching style

The episodic or ‘ping pong' teaching approach can be one of the most striking features of a mastery-style lesson. But what is it exactly and how does it affect decisions when planning lessons?

In this podcast, Primary Mastery Specialists Faye Glendinning and Sam Shutkever take us through the gritty detail of their episodic lesson planning.

They give their understanding of the theory and explain how it is implemented in their schools. Each of them then takes us through the episodes of a recent lesson in detail, explaining each planning decision.

Show notes

Taking part in the discussion are:

  • Faye Glendinning, Cedars Academy, Birmingham, and Central Maths Hub
  • Sam Shutkever, Akroydon Primary Academy, Halifax, and West Yorkshire Maths Hub
  • Gwen Tresidder, Communications Manager, NCETM

Episode chapters

  • 01:32 – First encounters with mastery
  • 04:46 – Where their schools are now with mastery
  • 08:40 – Challenges (Faye)
  • 12:28 – Challenges (Sam)
  • 14:50 – What is the 'ping pong' (or episodic) approach?
  • 21:18 – Is it harder to manage?
  • 27:04 – Sam’s Y5 lesson (fractions as division) 
  • 37:18 – Faye’s Y6 lesson on division 

Additional content

Below are some of the slides used in their lessons, to illustrate their explanations.

Key slides from Sam’s lesson

Time codes to find where Sam talks about each part of the lesson are below each slide. 



Below is the worksheet Sam discusses. Click on the image to download.

Key slides from Faye's lesson

Time codes to find where Faye talks about each part of the lesson are below each slide. 


Tasks Faye gave to children in her lesson:



Go to the NCETM Maths Podcast homepage


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09 April 2019 15:21
Thank you so much for your response - I love both of these ideas!!
09 April 2019 12:48
Hi charlottejones19,

Thanks for your question. 4Cs and ACE are in-school systems, in use in Faye's school, to help encourage the children to take a mastery approach to their learning. This is how she describes it:

The 4C's is a structure we got from Steve Lomax from the GLOW maths hub and is an approach to supporting children to solve problems. The 4C's stand for consider, construct, calculate and check. So you consider the problem, you construct the problem (this could be a bar or other representation), then you work on your calculation, then check it another way (this could be the inverse but doesn't have to be).

ACE it is something we use to help children explain their thinking. ACE stands for -

A - Answer it

C - Convince me

E - Explain

If children have to answer a question that asks them to agree/disagree with something we say answer yes or no (sometime this has to be answered last if they need to work it out), convince me by showing your working out - and then 'explain' is discussing what you calculations shows and why the question you were given was right or wrong.
08 April 2019 21:25
Can I ask what the 4Cs are? And also what ACE is?? Many thanks
04 April 2019 18:21
There are a range of possible models. The most straight forward is to teach each age separately (30 min taught time can be sufficient) While one group is being taught the other engages in independent practice. Other models have been trialed but difficult to explain in a short comment. Look at for Maths Hubs running 'workgroups' on this in the next academic year. These are free of charge and you work collaborativel with other schools and a workgroup lead.
04 April 2019 12:42
Any advice on how this would work with mixed age classes, when teaching two different objectives (even though they might be from the same strand of maths)?
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