Who did I try it with? Year 10 middle set
What topic was it used for? Mutually exclusive events.
How does it work? Each group has a prepared set of question cards. Person 1 fans the card for person 2 to pick a card at random. Person 2 then reads the question for Person 3 to answer (remember to give thinking time!). Person 3 answers and Person 4 has to decide if it was correct. Roles then rotate.
And did it work? Students seemed to be engaged. I could probably have set more difficult questions. Everyone was participating and it showed that all had understood the concept.
What did it add to the learning? It was able to replace a potentially boring question set. It did involve everyone and didn’t allow for any major disengagement.
Next steps? I’d like to get a class to write questions as a plenary that would then be used as the starter for the next lesson in this way.
So, I’ve been working with Kagan’s vision of collaborative learning over the past school year. I’ve gone a bit hot and cold with these. I want to gather the structures I’ve used so far, who I’ve done them with and some reflections on them.
By far, this is my favourite structure so far. I really enjoy it and have done it with Year 7, 8 and 12s. Also tried them with my year 10s.
There are two different ways I have tried these. The first, I generate the questions or the questions and the answers. The student then works on their own question to understand or generate the answer. Then the mix-pair-share.
The other is as a plenary whereon students generate the question and the answer. This needs to modelled with and example question on the board and thinking about what the key elements we might include are.
This didn’t work with my Year 10s. They weren’t really on board – didn’t want to move around – think this would be different if I’d tried to do this at the start of the year rather than near the middle.
I’ve used this with most of my classes and modelled it with some teachers. The version I’ve been using is more accurately called Simultaneous Roundtable.
This works well with multi-step procedural problems or with situations where you can ask several questions about the same situation. The first makes me worry I’m drilling students to think and answer in a particular way. I like the second. I like that students have to sign off that the previous person was right and then add to the thinking. Really helps with the individual accountability of PIES.
3) Inside-Outside Circle
I did this with a class of year 12s and can’t imagine the chaos if I had done this with a larger class. It was good but a bit chaotic.
In terms of structures, I’m not sure how many others I have used. Again – I’m on holiday so might have forgotten some. I’m going to aim to post about a new structure once a week.
So, I’ve started at a new school. No longer head of department, I am alone in my classroom and free to teach. I’m loving it so far and starting to get back into the groove. Though, now I’m starting to get hungry again to refine my practice, to explore better teaching and learning, to ensure students are at the centre of all I’m doing and that learning – real learning – is happening in my classroom.
The school have a working group that I’m a part of that are looking at collaborative learning. I think the definition we are going with is something like structured group work (maybe) – it feels like some of the stuff I’ve tried before in patches with “Thinking Through Mathematics” and the Bowland project.
It struck me as I thought about it that so often we claim that things wont work for Maths … I guess all subjects do it but I hear it more from Maths teachers because that is where I am. I’m going to try this … I want to see what happens … I’d like it to be a success.
The challenge was laid to teach a whole class in groups all the time … is that possible? What would it look like? Scary prospect …