The start of any school year is always a busy time and this year has proved no different in the Mathematics and Computing Faculty.
During the last 8 months colleagues in the faculty have been working on co-ordinating a common approach for many of the problems that students face, and also for the procedures that staff expect students to use in solving these problems. This has culminated in our "Calculation Policy" - a hefty document that details how all staff in the faculty should first approach explaining, setting out, and speaking about some of the big ideas our students meet. The creation of the policy led to a few heated discussions and for many staff, its use will ask them to teach out of their comfort zone or perhaps change the way they have taught for years. All staff so far have been in agreement though - consistency across classes will bring real benefit for students over time.
As well as staff explaining things in new ways, they’ll also be changing the style of questions that they’ll be asking students to solve. Colleagues have also been working on a series of tasks that challenge students by building in difficulty more rapidly than usual. This is based on the Pointon and Sangwin Questioning Taxonomy, and will mean that students aren't just asked to solve a series of similar, simple questions. Instead, they'll be asked to: recall factual information, carry out routine procedures, classify answers, answer a question to show something is true or false, answer a question linked to another area of Maths and finally, criticise and correct a misconception. It's early days for this initiative, but so far, students have really risen to the challenge and seem to really enjoy both the variety and harder style of question that this strategy brings about.
Here's an example of the one of the later questions from the Fractional Amounts task that can be solved in a few different ways:
When a ball is dropped and bounces back up, it bounces to 4/5 of its previous height.
Zakir says, “After two bounces it will be less than half its original height.”
Show that Zakir is wrong.