Now let's just put this out there - I'm not really a blogger! In fact any time I have posted on my blog it's made me cringe, I much prefer reading other peoples blogs than even considering writing my own. Recently though I have adapted something new into my teaching with my year 10 group that I thought would be nice to share now that's it's been tried and tested.
It's always a risk sharing your teaching ideas, just as students have different ways of learning we all seem to have different ways of teaching the same content, and quite often I see people sharing ideas just to be hammered down by different styles of teachers. There seems to be a spectrum whereby on one side of the profession stands the (what I would call) 'pure mathematicians' and on the other side there stands the teachers who just enjoy 'teaching stuff'. I like to think I am standing somewhere in the middle, I like 'geeking out' and talking about mathematical concepts whenever I can, but with the right group I also enjoy the occasional formula triangle (yeah I said it!) or even a mnemonic or rhyme to help memorise a formula
One thing I have always been a fan of is exploring 'how not to do something' or more importantly digging as far as I can into students misconceptions and why they think the way they do and why it is they seem to make the same mistakes - even after appearing to understand it entirely only a week prior. This has been a little project of mine over the year, I have been compiling common misconceptions throughout 4 sets of mocks/practice tests and general assessments with my year 10 higher achieving group since day 1 this year, and it has lead to this little beauty (if I do say so myself).
'Our best mistakes' - recently someone walked past my classroom and wondered why on earth I had called it that. I responded to it with a joke in the moment but I am a big believer that we learn the most from our mistakes, picking them apart and making a big deal about them in a positive and constructive way. So I decided to trial this idea out with my group. Behind each tab we are faced with a particular question from an assessment we have covered earlier in the year (see below).
The next minute or so I spend questioning the mistakes and misconceptions that could arise from this topic. My questions are targeted at all of the students who I logged to make that mistake across their papers - unbeknown to them! And I get them to pick apart 'how not to do it'. Once we are all happy and crystal clear how we should answer it... it's onto the fun bit!
We now have a snap shot of someone in the group who made the mistake that they themselves have just identified. Behind the question mark is the secret identity of the student! Usually said student hangs their head and admits defeat after recognising their hand writing but it has caused a great sense of 'buzz' in the room wanting to know who it was and the anticipation that it might be them next! (I should mention here that I did ask for permission from my class to know who would not want to be included) as I could only fit half my class of 32 in it was helping me out! After a bit of talking and discussing the misconception further, generally asking said student what they were thinking, we move on as a class and attempt a similar question (see below)
Once we are finished we wrap it up with the solution and have it highlighted in our books. This in generally done in the last 10 minutes of a lesson or slotted in as a spaced break when moving between topics or levels within a topic.
The whole thing has been a great success and when I pull students up on what the mistake was they made on the 'mistake thingy' as they call it, they still seem able to recall and correct it (thankfully!).
Obviously I couldn't share the file but this was just an idea.... Let's celebrate mistakes!
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