New Year’s Resolution: more words

It’s been such a long time since I last posted; the last term felt pretty hectic, so I couldn’t justify spending time on a blog. However, I think it would be good to start recording things again properly (especially in the (happy) absence of a reflective journal).

Prompted by a TF colleague, I’ve been thinking about how to help my pupils – particularly those outside of the higher sets – remember important vocabulary and know how to ‘react’ to it (e.g. understanding the different implications of ‘simplify’ and ‘solve’). Having marked a mock exam for one KS group, it’s become really clear that literacy/limited mathematical vocabulary is preventing them from demonstrating what maths they do know.

As a result, I’ve gone back to including keywords explicitly in my lesson planning. This is something we learned to do during ITT but I didn’t really know how to embed it, and hadn’t’ understood the depth of the problem or how weak pupils’ retention would be if keywords weren’t pushed explicitly and reinforced.

Tomorrow’s ambitions are that Y7 will understand the difference between expression, equation and term, and that Y10 will understand and use the words vertical, horizontal, origin, x-axis, y-axis and quadrant. I feel a bit sorry for Y10 – that’s a lot of vocab and I’m struggling keep it from being dry…which means I feel sorry for myself too (in anticipation!).

Ideas so far (I’m still refinining) include:

– connecting words with pictures/examples and then connecting those to written definitions

– evaluating if statements using the keywords are sometimes, always or never true (e.g. (3, 0.5) is a coordinate; 3+4 is an expression, etc)

– unscrambling at the start (standard…not the best, but will hopefully help with reinforcing correct spelling!)

– using coordinate ‘code’ to rewrite the key words (tying the two parts together)

– using ‘cold call’ to test understanding and improve pupils’ definitions/explanations (search ‘cold call’ in the Teach Like a Champion channel on youtube for more on this).

I’ll see how those go and then try to improve it for next week.

For the rest of the week we have acceleration day (I’ll be with 10 pupils from Y7/8/9 respectively for an all-day maths session), so planning for a ‘strong start’ for the term has rather gone out the window – oh well!

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