Recently I had the opportunity to attend a Maths workshop presented by Mark Philips and the Mind Action Series Textbook publishers. I signed up on a whim because of the topic, which was Euclidean Geometry. In my experience it’s one of the most poorly understand topics by learners. I hoped to learn some new approaches that would make the time I spend on this section more productive and ultimately improve the learning outcomes.
- Focus on the Process
- In Geometry, do exercises first & then theorems. (Build’s awareness before complexity)
- Allow learners to do well in early tests to build confidence
- Build confidence through slow ascent in difficulty
- Don’t be so preoccupied with Time
- Spend 80% of the Time on Basics and 20% on the Harder Questions for most classes
- Encourage learners to move around and do physical stuff – Eg Circle Dance
- Use narratives and stories in your teaching – especially those involving relationships
- Make Learners Feel about the Topic, see above
- Humour & Novelty are important – keep learners on their toes
- Integration between Mathematical Topics important
- Get Learners to make their own questions – higher cognitive levels of thinking
- Understanding Mathematical vocabulary is important – specific practice on this is warranted
What stood out for me
So the biggest surprise for me was how for the most part, our attention was held throughout the 3hr workshop. It’s no easy feet to keep a room of 40 + teachers on a Saturday morning engaged, talking about content that they cover every year. The presenter was really skilled at keeping people on their toes and you never quite knew what was coming next. The amount of movement in the session also stood out for me as well as the clarity and size of the visual aids. The presenter also showed a depth of understanding on the topic and vast experience teaching it, which meant his comments were specific and helpful.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I learn’t in the session. It is not always the case when going to Maths Development workshops. I took detailed notes and they are reflected in the key ideas section above. I also managed to grab a clip of the Circle Dance (below), which was a fantastically creative way to remember the circle geometry theorems. I am struck by how useful it is to have a development session with a teacher who is a real master of their craft. More of these types of workshops would be brilliant for the development of best practice among Maths teachers.
The Circle Dance
Additional Resources from Workshop: