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Multiple Activities in One Lesson

September 23, 2011

At a recent seminar given by Ian Taylor, one of the many great things he mentioned was that if everyone in your class is doing the same activity, then it’s not personalised learning and the blanket approach is rarely best. He then showed us a clip of one of his lessons where some students were using a flip camera to record a tutorial, two more were using earphones to listen to mathswatch, another was using the laptop to go through a mymaths lesson and a couple more were using large paper on the wall to work on an extension question.

Sounds good.
Sounds like an organisational nightmare.

So I got close to this on Thursday with my yr10 class. They were doing a nice Nrich activity called Which List is Which? where they have to decide what the data represents. Averages won’t do the job so they need box and whisker diagrams. When the data is visualised in box plots, it’s really obvious. We’d started last lesson and were planning on finishing it this lesson.
Three students had misunderstood and done it for homework so I took the chance to put one on the laptop with powerpoint and titles on three slides: Boxplots, What they look like, What they’re good for. She was a bit surprised to be asked to do this and (I think) rather pleased.
The other two I sat together and asked them to write a short test for the rest of the class on fractions with a calculator and upper and lower bounds as these are the two other topics we’ve looked at this year.
The next two students that finished were asked to write test questions on box plots and I asked them not to make it as simple as ‘here’s a set of data, draw a box plot’.
The next student that finished was asked to write a few key points about finding upper and lower bounds. I’d’ve loved to have had a flip camera to help him do this, but I don’t (yet).

So, without much real effort, I had 5 seperate activities going on. I think it worked quite well and a number of students got to something a bit different that stretched their thinking skills. The key here is that I have done all these activities before in class but not simultaneously.

As an aside, I’ve started to realise that using my laptop as a register and then for projecting a notebook file is a bit criminal. A student or two could (should?) be using it each lesson.

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