This year I am teaching IB Higher Level for the second time. My approach to teaching has changed a fair amount in the last three years since I last taught the course, and in particular I am now much more focused on breaking down ideas and giving examples across the range of types of questions. However, with this being a Higher Level class, I am also acutely aware of the Expertise Reversal Effect, and the fact that my students are further along the expertise spectrum than all of the other students I have taught in the last 3 years.
There are some elements of my teaching I have kept, such as the weekly quizzes. I run these in our single lesson that is after lunch each week. I use past paper questions mostly, with the odd drill style activity (recently we have been doing trigonometry, so have been drilling the exact values), and try to keep to 30-35 marks in the 40 minutes period.
I started the year with the Last Lesson, Last Unit, Further Back starters as well, but have found that there is too much of a time pressure to include these and the quizzes. Given that students are significantly more focused in the quizzes (there is a little bit of stake there as they do count minimally towards their grade), I have moved away from the longer starters, often just using a single exam question to start the double period, and a prior knowledge priming question in the singles. I am considering going down the route of quick retrieval of key facts and terminology as a starter.
But the biggest change is that I have started teaching through lesson sheets. Well, more appropriately, skill sheets. I have focused on breaking each of the units down into the individual skills that students need to master. On each of these I give a starter (which is really just a link to prior knowledge), and then a space for notes. This is followed by a series of examples and your turns on the sheets, and then an exercise (usually just the page numbers from the textbook and 2 ebooks).
With the examples and your turns, I am much less specific about the your turn being very similar to the example, as these kids are good mathematicians, and that would be patronising for them and would not invoke them to think. I even have them one after the other, rather than side by side as I have done with other classes. Below is an example of a set of example and your turns for the Trigonometric Double Angle Identities. As you can see, the jump from example to your turn is significant. Indeed, I have found that often the students need a little help with the your turns, and I will address this with individuals and pairs as I walk around the room.
One of the great things about having lesson sheets is that I can go through and "do" the sheet as part of my planning. This includes thinking carefully about the notes, both what I want them to write down, and annotations of what I want to say. I also do the examples before class to ensure there is nothing that is going to trip me up, but also to give me the answers to the your turns so I can easily check student work. This is a good example of what Doug Lemov calls Standardize the Format, making it easier to quickly check work as it is in the same place for all students.
In the lesson I model live using my visualiser. In the notes section I will write the key points that they should definitely copy down, but I also expect them to keep notes of the things I am saying as well. I then model the example on the sheet using the visualiser.
I have also given students folders to store the lesson sheets, quizzes, formula booklets and challenge sheets (UKMT Mentoring sheets). I have a folder with my notes versions too. This means students have an easy set of notes and examples to return to in revision. When we do questions from the textbooks or other exercises, students do these in their books. In reality we do very little of this in class due to time constraints, and they are having to do a lot of that as homework. They are getting practice through the your turns, but not enough to really cement the ideas, and this is a problem I am struggling to overcome at the moment. They do get some practice as part of the weekly quiz.
At the end of each week, I take all the lesson sheets that I have written on live under the visualiser to the library where I scan then in, along with the solutions for the quiz. I then upload them to our class website, where I have a section for each unit. In each unit there are links to the blank lesson sheets, the completed version, the notes from the last time I taught the course (which are similar but a pdf of a smart board file), and any links to other worksheets. There is also a page with links to all the quizzes and solutions.
I have found the process of breaking units down into individual skills to be useful for me to really think about the content. It has also made students more aware of the individual skills they need to work on. When the idea of atomisation has come up on the Mr Barton Maths Podcast a couple of times, Craig has asked how they then pull it all back together. For me this comes in the retrieval practice they get in the weekly quizzes and starters.
The resources are really popular with my students, who have a folder full of organised revision material with links to pages of questions in the textbooks.
Last week I also asked for student feedback, and one of the things they said was they wanted more feedback on their progress, and I have produced Skill Tracker sheets where they can record each time they answer a question correctly on a skill to show their own progress.
The big change for me has been not using a presentation software. I have used both Powerpoint and SMART Notebook successfully for many years now, and this is quite different. Whereas I used to place things I wanted to show them in the presentation, I now have to switch to them from the visualiser. On the other hand, the visualiser gives me the ability to quickly and easily Show Call student work (the Your Turns, for example) and to comment on their answers.
Do you use lesson sheets? What do you include in them? How do you put them together? How do you find using them?
I am a maths teacher looking to share good ideas for use in the classroom, with a current interest in integrating educational research into my practice.