PGCE Secondary Maths
Key Stage 3
How the students did
What I have learnt
I followed 3 pupils through 3 lessons in a year 8 top set class at the start of my Algebra unit of work. Having looked at target levels, I would say that most of the pupils in the class are capable, but there is lack of motivation in some pupils who find algebra irrelevant to their lives. The challenges I feel I face in teaching this class are keeping the students motivated and on task, also getting them to listen whilst I talk, because I could say something 4 or 5 times and still have to repeat myself due to some students not paying attention. Also, which is probably the biggest problem, getting the students to think for themselves. I have given pupils examples of usage of algebra, to keep them motivated. There are pupils in this class who are reluctant to take in new mathematical topics because it means for some, having to rout learn, but then there are pupils who persevere to take everything on board and even come up with their own procedures in answering questions. It only took me a week to realise that pupils in this group need encouragement to push them towards achieving their target levels which is well above the expected national average for end of key stage 3. The three lessons which I taught were simplifying expressions, multiplying a term over a bracket and solving equations. For this assignment, I have chosen three pupils who have different abilities and contrasting personalities:
Pupil A, female, finds maths boring and irrelevant. She finds it difficult to concentrate for more than 3 minutes at a stretch. The quality and quantity of work reflects her disinterest in the topic. She gets too easily distracted with low level disruption in the class and is a contributor to it. Even moving her to the front of the class has no effect on her. She likes to question techniques which I use and then suggest her way of doing things which does not make sense to anyone in the class. In contrast, there is a G&T pupil who questions my technique at a higher level creating academic tension - She solves equations her way but we both arrive at the same answer. This teaching style is known as ‘the divergent discovery style’ (Mosston cited in Capel et al 2006). Pupil A has an end of key stage 3 target of level 6b.
Pupil B, male, is a capable individual who can produce a decent amount of quality work when not distracted. He is the type of pupil that accepts mathematical procedures without questioning it, but on the other hand he will be very reluctant to ask for help when he needs it. He has the potential to do better than pupil C but is let down by low level disruption and maybe from those he sits next to. His end of key stage 3 target is level 7c.
Pupil C, male, is capable and able to get on with whatever work is set very easily. He likes to ask questions about the work that is being done whether he understands it or not. He is able to focus on his work and produce vast amount of it in the time that’s available. He is able to get on with the work even with a disruptive pupil sitting next to him. Like pupil B, he accepts mathematical procedures without challenging them and sometimes even sticks to his own method of working something out when he is confident enough to do so. I have also noticed that he really enjoys being the ‘teacher helper’, where once he has finished his work, helps other students who don’t understand. His end of key stage 3 target is level 7b.
Having looked at each pupils exercise books, helped me to personalise their learning by putting in appropriate comments, suggestions and motivators. Assessment for learning works well if you are able to mark their work before moving onto the next lesson (which is...
References: Capel, S., Leask, M., Turner, T., 2006, 4th edition, Learning to Teach in the Secondary School, London Routledge.
Goulding, M., 2004, Learning to Teach Mathematics in the Secondary School, 2nd Edition, David Fulton Publishers.
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