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Mathematics Matters Lesson Accounts 52 - Experience of Teaching

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 29 May 2008 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 17 June 2008 by ncetm_administrator

Mathematics Matters Lesson Accounts
A collection of memorable mathematics lessons that conference and colloquia delegates had observed or taught which they felt were successful.  Each account refers to one or more of the values and principles in the report.

Lesson Account 52 - Experience of Teaching

Written by Swan
Organisation Unknown
Age/Ability Range Y7

(a) What was the mathematical task(s)?
Two parallel year 7 classes were taught different topics by different teachers. One class was taught "Area" and the other was taught "Bearings".  At the end of this period, the teachers told their students that they would now be given two lessons to prepare to teach the topic they had just learned to members of the other class.
Students were given some advice on how to go about this process. They were asked to decide exactly what the big ideas in the topic were, the order these should be presented in, to identify difficult ideas and prepare resources help to explain them (e.g a worksheet). They were also asked to think how they would find out if their teaching had been successful.

When both classes were ready, half of the pupils moved to the other classroom and sat alongside a pupil from the other group (who they did not know) and taught them the topic. In a second lesson the roles were swapped.

(b) What learning culture was created?  How was this achieved?
Students became appeared nervous but very motivated by this challenge. They took a great deal of trouble in creating attractive and informative worksheets and some even had them typed out and checked beforehand. During the teaching phase, students adopted teachers roles with some enthusiasm. One girl (teaching two boys due to uneven class sizes), adopted a very confident style, making statements like:

"How do you find the area from these two numbers? You can draw centimetre squares if you want."
" Talk then or you won't learn anything!"
"Pretend you are the teacher, how would you explain it to me?"
"Put your hands up if you don't know."
The boys, it must be said, couldn't wait for their turn to teach!
This positive culture was achieved because these teachers had high expectations for their classes and wanted their students to take active roles in lessons.

(c) How could you tell that the task(s) achieved the intended purposes?  Do you have any evidence?
We didn't collect evidence on the mathematics learned, but the reflective thought that went into the review and design of the teaching sessions was considerable. Pupils began to show evidence of appreciating that teaching is not just about 'telling'. When, for example, the girl above was asked about the experience, she responded as follows: (Int = interviewer):

Int:  What was hard about being a teacher?
Girl: After teaching for some time, I find they don't understand.
Int: How did the experience help you?
Girl:  It gave me more confidence.
Int: Would you like to try teaching again?
Girl: Yes, so what I've learned now I must try on other pupils so I get better at teaching. I can't understand how to teach well.

(d) Is this example available to see/read about?
This is referred to in (Bell, A; Crust, R; Shannon, A; Swan, M; "Awareness of Learning, Reflection and Transfer in School Mathematics, ESRC Project report: R000-23-2329, Shell Centre for Mathematical Education, University of Nottingham)

(e) Can you say why you chose this example?  What criteria were in your mind?
To illustrate how changing classroom roles can begin to develop pupils' awareness of the nature of teaching and learning itself. This can be done alongside the development of mathematical skills and concepts.


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