How do you ensure all children can participate and are learning?
Firstly, let me start by saying that this was my burning question when I started maths PLD. With the change to mixed ability groups and a problem solving focus I genuinely questioned how this process could be effective for those children that seemingly sit on the fringes and don't seem to be getting involved.
As I had already started using Number Agents, I simply moulded what I was currently doing around this new idea of teaching that I was being presented with. I can tell you though that I entirely expected to discard these strategies once our PLD was over and go back to how I had always done things.
However as time went by I began to see the benefits, I began to see the progress and slowly come to realise that everyone was engaging at their own level,without me foisting on them knowledge that they were not ready for, just because I thought the should be.
So back to the question, how do I ensure all children can participate and are learning?
1)Mixed ability groups when problem solving. I teach whole class through agency, or rather the professor does, but when it comes to problem solving, I use mixed ability. Initially children do find this difficult, and it is important to give this time. With certain scaffolds they do all begin to engage and share as they are able to. Firstly when presented with the problem, we talk about it out loud, what is it asking us to do? Children then have a go at solving this independently, but for those who struggle with this, we teach them two ways of working to start with, drawing the problem, or using materials. These two ways of working help them to engage at a level appropriate to them. When they have had a chance individually, they share as a group. This can be difficult as you will always have your dominant ones, but the idea is to teach them how to explain their thinking through the talk moves. They learn to challenge each other when they do not agree, and show each other the strategies that they have used. It sometimes is hard to sit back at this stage, but they truly learn a lot from each other. We are lucky enough to have two of us, so we do also roam and scaffold at this time. I like to video certain strategies and use our apple tv to reflect on them.
2)Visual activities, or high ceiling/low floor problems. I invented the three headed dragon this year to present problems that were a little more hands on and visual. These problems saw children engage at their own level and they could all participate. These problems were also a great opportunity to incorporate strand learning.
My teachers pay teachers store includes many of the resources I have talked about in my posts this year.
I hope that my blog posts have been helpful this year. I am no expert, I am certainly not a maths guru, but I have made discoveries that I like to share with others. My passion is teaching and learning.
I will start posting again next year as I prepare for my new agency, just as I did this year, I will blog as I go, so you can follow my agency journey. This may be useful to you if you are planning on setting up a new agency.