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My First Core Maths Lesson x2

September 9, 2018

I can now officially call myself a Core Maths teacher rather than just a Core Maths Planner. I’ve seen both of my classes now and taught the same first lesson to them both.

The classes have 18 students and 12 students which is a good take up rate and, although there will likely be some fluctuation as they finalise their A level choices, this is promising! It is less than the amount originally signed up so I’ll do what I can to try and find out where those other students have gone.

So, what did I do in my first lesson? I really wanted to start with something that is different to what they’re used to. Estimation seemed to fit the bill and note that you don’t need to know the answers to be able to put these in order, just a sense of the size:

Put in order pic

It went well and there was a good ‘buzz’ in the class. People were willing to suggest ideas and I got an early chance to encourage participation with things like “Obviously, you don’t know the answers here – who would? But, you’ve got an idea of how old a really old tortoise might be haven’t you?”

Things I’ve learnt and to bear in mind next time:

  • Having the two distances in different units was unnecessary and confusing
  • Students often didn’t know where the river Severn was
  • It wasn’t entirely clear that students definitely knew where Edinburgh was
  • EVERYONE was able to get involved in this. It seems like a good starting point

Next, we went in to the main task of the lesson:

how many items luggage

We spent a long time on this (longer than expected) and I made good use of Lily Tang’s (Twitter: @cvcltang) framework for breaking down a Fermi problem. The structure was very helpful in getting students not to panic and to also make them think they could do these kinds of things.

Things I’ve learnt about this:

  • Students often know things I don’t (how are runways used for example)
  • I did this twice and got pretty different answers with both classes
  • Students were expecting me to ‘know’ the answer. I had to explain to them that’s not how these questions work
  • I can probably push this forward more quickly and model ‘not getting bogged down with detail’

Next, I showed them the following slide.

easy to be overwhelmed

It’s easy to forget that just a few months ago, these were GCSE students. They have not magically learned how to take notes so I’m going to help make sure they have decent things to look back on in their course notes. To signpost this, I’m making slides with notes on have a different background to them. Hopefully that will help!

Finally, I set them some homework. Because of the length of time I have to teach the course, I think homework is necessary. None of the students questioned it so I’m guessing they were expecting it!

Estimation Homework 1

The homework includes some of the facts people should know and also two estimation questions. We’ll see how that goes!

All in all, a really great start with a positive buzz about all the questions so far. Looking forward to the next lessons.

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