Gemma Whitelock is an Art & Design teacher based at CHT. Over the course of this calendar year, she was part of a group of Lincoln College practitioners who retrained to deliver Maths to our learners. The initiative was instigated by the ETF (http://www.et-foundation.co.uk/supporting/support-teacher-recruitment/retrain-and-retain/). Here is Gemma’s latest reflection on her progress so far…
So last week saw the first maths teaching at CHT this academic year. For my groups, it was a speedy induction into my slightly alternative methods. I am doing things the way I know best, with project-based learning. There is a method to my madness though, it is based on sound research and observation through last year as well as an understanding of how our creative learners approach their studies.
In the first session, we actually didn’t do any maths. A slightly odd concept I know… but an important part of the master plan. We did talk a lot about maths though, more specifically all of their negative thoughts linked to the subject. I actually allowed them one whole lesson to unpick the bad experiences from school and just genuinely ‘tell it how it is’. For me, this was one of the most crucial ways of understanding how and why the learners find the subject difficult and why they find themselves needing to continue with their maths study with us at college. The groups didn’t disappoint, they were VERY honest in their responses and the information gathered will hopefully allow me to be able to support them better in achieving their qualification this year.
This week was very much based on their outcomes of the discussions and brutally honest responses from the first session. The key focus of this week’s learning was to help the groups to understand how to get those crucial marks on their exam paper. Issues related to exam technique were a MASSIVE focus within the discussions last week and something that learners all (in one way shape and form) recognised was an area for development.
Again, using the new project based Maths approach, the learners used facts and information to work in pairs to answer questions. The lesson actually felt more like an English comprehension lesson for most rather than maths! It was certainly an eye-opener for the learners when analysing the answers and realising that so many of them had made the common mistakes. We followed up the project task with the application of their new understanding to some different exam questions. Again re-affirming those key messages and helping them to see that with careful consideration, the full marks can be achieved.
At the end, learners were asked to summarise what they had learnt and set targets for future sessions.. these included comments such as; ‘I need to read the question 3 times’, ‘highlight key bits of the question to keep focussed’ as well as ‘visualise the question. Draw diagrams and ‘see’ what you are being asked.’ This for me demonstrated clear progress.
In my usual style, the groups also had a range of resources to support their ‘meeting’ this week. The newly issued project briefs and folders helped to give the ‘CHT Events Team’ members that feeling of being valued and part of something different when compared to their previous experiences of the subject…let’s hope that the progress continues!