Over 80 teachers along with staff from OCR and guest session presenters came together for the first OCR Maths Teaching and Learning Conference held at the Queen Mary University London. Delegates had the opportunity to meet the OCR Maths Subject Specialists and browse stands from a range of maths exhibitors before listening to the first keynote speaker. Timandra Harkness kicked off the conference with an entertaining talk on the usage of Big Data in everyday life. Enthused by her talk, delegates then had a choice of sessions to attend covering different qualifications - GCSE Maths, AS and A level Maths and Core Maths.
The first slot featured one of the most popular choices of the day, a session with OCR Subject Specialists Neil Ogden and Caroline Hodgson leading delegates on a whistle-stop tour through problem solving within the new GCSE (9-1) Maths. With many changes to problem solving within the new qualification there was a lot to pack into the forty minutes, but with efficiency the session covered the new Assessment Objectives, the elements they break down into and a look at different questions assessing them, before shifting focus to the classroom and running through a variety of suggestions for how to best deliver these vital skills to students within lessons. Attendees found themselves delving into the workings of questions and collaborating on customising tasks for different abilities of students. Feedback from the session included ‘Problem solving session – clear information about strands and marks allocations’ and ‘Provided with very useful resources and guidance relevant to the courses. Lots of ideas to integrate into schemes of work to support problem solving at all levels’!
The second slot included an introduction to the new AS and A Levels in Maths and Further Maths by OCR Subject Specialist and A Level Subject Development Lead Will Hornby. With so many changes, and eight qualifications, to talk through this started with a quick-fire tour of the criteria and overarching rules from DfE and Ofqual, before looking at how OCR and MEI have interpreted and developed these into the draft qualifications submitted to Ofqual. There was plenty of focus on the change of emphasis towards the new Overarching Themes, on how the OCR and MEI specifications have ensured that the overall level of demand of the A Level remains the same, and on the ways in which the requirements for the use of technology and large data sets have been built into the qualifications. Discussion then moved on to the many different optional pathways available across the further maths qualifications, the content in those pathways and the way in which Cambridge Assessment’s survey of 4,000 current undergraduates informed the content decisions made. The session finished with a look at some teaching ideas based on the teaching and learning tasks in the specifications, how Geogebra can be used to investigate families of graphs and a look at some exploratory data analysis using the large data set.
After lunch, the third slot of optional sessions included a course introducing the relatively new Core Maths qualifications, delivered by OCR Subject Specialist Ruth Wroe. Most of the session attendees were already contemplating delivering these new qualifications and the session provided them with an excellent overview of the structure of the two OCR Core Maths courses, with guidance on both selection of the course most appropriate for their cohort and delivery of it over one or two years included. Reference was made to the ‘ready-made’ schemes of work and accompanying resource lists on the OCR website and MEI Integral website. Moving into a teaching focus, discussion-based lessons and how to encourage learners to offer their thoughts and opinions to generate and maintain a discussion before diving into the maths involved were debated. It touched on the variety of stimuli that can be found in the media and there was just enough time to visit both websites to look at the variety of resources as well as upcoming CPD events before wrapping up the session.
To top off a day packed with interesting sessions, the final keynote speaker took to the floor. Matt Parker was hugely comedic, presenting an array of mathematical ‘tricks’ for the delegates to take away and use with their students. He held the audience captive and left everyone fully enthused to take the ideas from throughout the day back to the classroom. With many delegates remaining after the close to speak to Matt and share in his enthusiasm, it was a brilliant session to close the first OCR Maths Conference.
OCR Maths Subject Specialists - @OCR_Maths
I returned to my classroom on Tuesday with a spring in my step, having been invited to run a workshop at the recent OCR Maths conference. The reason for my renewed energy however, wasn’t related to my own workshop (to be honest I still feel a bit of a fraud when faced with a room of teachers) but to do with the event in general. With the daily grind of teaching, exams, data etc (the list goes on) it is all too easy to forget the reasons, we each have, for wanting to teach Mathematics and it was a timely reminder of the passion that maths can inspire in others and events like this are essential for Maths teachers.
Special mention must go to Timandra Harkness who did the opening session on Big Data and she was both riveting and humorous at the same time.
Thanks OCR, a great event!