Keith Proffitt, MEI Curriculum Developer
I’ve been preparing three sessions of online professional development (PD), which start later in June, about what the first two weeks of year 12 might look like for a new A Level Maths B class. You can find out more details about this PD at the end of this article. This has got me thinking and here are some of my thoughts!
In this blog I’ll discuss our upcoming “Enhancing your teaching” events that I’ll be running over the next couple of months for A Level Maths B (MEI) (H640).
As a teacher I used to love September: a mix of new classes and familiar faces; the students full of energy and even, sometimes, enthusiasm! With each of my classes I had the chance to influence how much we – my students and I – treated the new academic year as a fresh start or saw it as another step along the ongoing journey of learning maths.
A new Year 12 AS/A Level maths class feels like a fresh start for the students. They have chosen the course and the qualification really matters for their future. There’s a step up in the frequency of lessons and in the expectation of work done outside the classroom. There are some new big ideas to learn.
Of course, you hope to build on what the students already know from GCSE Maths. Maybe you worry about how secure that foundation is. Perhaps your school or college offers a bridging course or some transition material for students to work on over the summer.
In case you haven’t seen them before, do look at the two free sets of resources offered by the Advanced Maths Support Programme (AMSP). The two resources have different approaches and can be used in different ways with students both before they arrive in their new classes and during the first few weeks of the A Level course. Read Steven Walker’s blog about transition from GCSE as well for more top tips.
The first few lessons are when you set your expectations for your class. They are an opportunity for you to get across what matters to you about the ethos in your classroom.
So, what does matter to you? In the online PD I mentioned at the beginning of this blog we explore this and then think about activities which might get that across to your students. I’ll just mention three things which you might want to consider.
Many teachers notice that their classes are too quiet in September. This can be a nice change but if the class are not discussing the topic, they will end up talking about the wrong kind of things.
We have come to understand the importance of student mindset, the beliefs that students have about their own capacity to succeed in learning. You would imagine that students are expecting to learn some mathematics in their A Level course! They may know that there’s more algebra and trig coming, perhaps they know there’s a topic called calculus heading their way, and they expect they’ll understand at least some of it!
How do you encourage students to learn independently, to take responsibility for their own learning in maths? That feels like something it would be good for students to do, and it will be part of their 20-month journey – but where do we start?
One thing I suggest that teachers consider at the beginning of year 12 is giving your students a questionnaire to complete, to encourage them to think about their own learning as well as providing you with invaluable information.
You can include what you want, and we consider whether this might be a useful tool in the online PD.
The online PD is offered through the MEI Staffroom and is all free because OCR subsidises it. The sessions take place on Tuesday afternoons at 4.00 pm and are repeated on Thursday evenings at 7.00 pm starting in late June. Do sign up if this blog has piqued your interest!
PS – there will be some maths to do!
Share your thoughts in the comments below. If you have any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_Maths. You can also sign up for email updates to receive information about resources and support.
Keith Proffitt is a Curriculum Developer for Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI). He taught in secondary schools for 25 years, including 13 as Head of Mathematics. He worked for OCR for over 5 years, which included being Qualifications Manager for the MEI A Level specifications in mathematics and further mathematics. Since 2014 he has worked for MEI and has been involved in developing the current OCR B (MEI) maths and further maths qualifications and supporting teachers who teach them with PD and resources. Among other things he also runs some Core Maths PD for the AMSP, masterclasses for pre-university students and serves on the strategic board for the Enigma maths hub. You can contact him at email@example.com