Break-out groups, EAL + Investigation

English as an Additional Language and Understanding Mathematical Notation and Vocabulary

This Kahoot game on identifying the quadrilateral (thanks #bturne4 !) with Grade7/ Year 8 made an excellent revision following on from our Quadrilateral Properties lesson yesterday.

It lead to some very useful discussion with students, in our approx 70% EAL school, on (i) mathematical notation used to show 'properties' (what does 'properties' mean!) of shapes and (ii) the mathematical terminology used with shape, which is very precise and specific, and hence, not common in day-to-day language (excuse my 'quick sketch' skills . .. hmmm . . .)

Maths Club: Problem Solving, Investigations, Puzzles and more . .

Every Thursday after school we have "maths club". Someone always bakes a cake for the whole group (which means a once or twice a year commitment only each!) and around 20-30 students Year 7-10 (grade 6 to 9) plus 4 or 5 Year 12/13 / IB students helping them to solve the problems, investigations and puzzles we put before them.

This week, I set Johnny Griffith's "Brackets in, Brackets Out" task (sneak preview below - see his site for "Teacher Notes" and the full task sheet).

I sent the Teams, via email, and posted in the Microsfot Teams 'Groups', named after their Year 12/13 Team Leader's: 'Warren's Warlocks', 'Finnegan's Forensic's', 'Nazir's Epidemiologists', 'Borja's Brujos' etc, created the 'Break Out' groups, and sent these instructions.

  • Your IB Team Leaders are online in your team's group to help if you need them/get stuck / what to brainstorm some ideas. After 20mins all members to get online to check-in with their team leaders and exchange on work done.
  • G6&7 you will need to watch this video (and anyone else who would like a reminder on expanding brackets): (Heggarty Maths)
  • I have set up one big team in ‘Microsoft teams’ for the whole of maths club.  Starting at 17h10 (to give everyone 5-10mins to have finished doing it), each team will post one picture of a SUMMARY of THEIR TEAM’S FINDINGS in the group “chat” or “private chat to me or Mr Noble”.

Why Pencil & Paper for 20mins?

I don’t know about all of you, but my eyes are starting to hurt(very tired) and small headaches starting. I’m trying to reduce screen time . . so . . print off or copy down the question on the attached, then work on it for at least 20mins then meet up to exchange In your Teams

Here's a brief overview of some of the findings (at the end of 50 minutes):

Preparing for (I)GCSEs and differentiation by task (Exam class G10/Year 11)

We're going online just as students enter the final sprint towards their final Exams for GCSE and Alevels, IGCSE and the IB. GCSEs and Alevels have been cancelled: "The (UK) Prime Minister told a press conference: ‘Exams will not take place as planned in May and June.’" (Metro newspaper, 18th March 2020). Cancelled completely or simply postponed(?): no doubt this will become clearer in the days/weeks(?) to follow . .  . However, IGCSE and IB exams are maintained for the time being, and given many schools in Asia are now coming out of quarantine (with Japan re-opening its schools as of April)

I have an very motivated Grade10/Year 11 core/extended, foundation/higher group. Grades in the class vary through the full spectrum. Due to this wide range of current levels, I set up three different groups (based loosely around their target grades/current level) tasks: Foundation A, Foundation B, higher tier/extended and shared the Google Doc (embedded below) with their tasks on so they could all get started as quickly as possible.

There are many in this class that, under the old Higher, Intermediate, Foundation GCSE system, would have been odds on for getting a B grade in the Intermediate paper, but due to the changes, and the big jump between a C grade on IGCSE Extended and a B, they're going to have to work really hard to ensure the C and aim for the B (the grade boundaries C to D and D to E are narrow - it's easy to fall down a grade or two . . ).
Interesting looking at the mark allocation design for UK Higher and  Foundation Tiers (couldn't find one more recent than 2017, nor similar infographic for IGCSEs- please post in comments if you have a link to these).

Break out groups

Once I'd allocated the tasks, and ensured, via Microsoft Teams/Google Hangouts/Zoom/Slack that each group were clear, and had located the the questions, written worked solutions, video tutorial support (with explanation, questions & worked solutions) I agreed times at which we'd all reconvene: 20minutes later for Foundation A, 30 minutes later for Extended and I worked with Foundation B first to check all ok with material.

From the previous lesson's experience [see   Digital Learning   : "Students forming working groups using: Discord, Instagram, Teams within MIcrosfoft teams (red dot on their profile)] I posted the "working groups 'within the groups'" that they formed by themselves, organically, previously and we agreed to meet back at those times.

When those times came, and I'd fielded some individual questions in between, one person from each team reported back to say all going well and let me know what question number/activity they were up to.

I was very impressed by:

(a) their productivity

(b) how independent and content they were working in small 'break-out' groups, with questions and solutions.

So the last 20/25 minutes became more, me having to quickly produce MORE worked solutions as they pushed on beyond where I'd expected they'd get to. A huge congratulations to all of them.

A person I have enormous respect for is the legendary boxing coach, Cus d'Amato: outstanding at what he did, and an outstanding person generally (judging from the reports of all those that worked with him). He had a famous saying: "I don’t succeed when I make a guy or help a guy become champion of the world. I succeed when I make that fellow become champion of the world and indendent of me, that he doesn’t need me anymore."1. I think that's a good aim for most teacher's everywhere!

(1) Tyson, M, Sloman, L, "Iron Ambition: My Life with Cus d'Amato", p.374). Some boxers post-fighting history makes sad reading, most of Cus d'Amato's boxers went on to have fulfilling lives (regrettably, Cus d'Amato died when Mike Tyson was only 18/19, he won his first Heavyweight professional World Title at 20 years old).

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