Primary and Early Years Partnership Initial Teacher Education Programme

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Primary and Early Years Partnership

Initial Teacher Education Programme

Preparation for QTS courses

For PGCE School Direct courses starting in 2014


1 Introduction

2 Initial needs assessment: experience gained

3 Reflecting on your classroom experience

4 Observing in the classroom

5 Visiting an Early Years setting

6 Visiting secondary schools

7 Mathematics

8 Science

9 English (including Early Reading and Phonics)

10 Recommended reading for ITE courses

Appendix 1 Teachers' Standards

Appendix 2 Checklist of Tasks

1. Introduction

Congratulations on being offered a place at Sheffield Hallam University in partnership with your school/cluster.

During the next few months, you will be eager to prepare for success on your course. We hope you will arrive ready to make progress from the first day and this document is designed to help you prepare for that.

You will need to work through the activities and readings contained in this booklet. The booklet contains a number of tasks which will be referred to during the first few weeks of the course. These are marked ‘essential tasks’. Some tasks are school based and you are advised to aim to complete these as soon as you can, for obvious practical reasons. Please do you best to complete all the tasks but if you are unable to complete the school based tasks due to lack of time in school then your tutor will be sympathetic towards this.

The booklet also includes further suggestions for developing your knowledge about English and Maths.
As you progress through the course you will develop your understanding of the key curriculum documents. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) provides guidance for supporting the learning of 0-5 year olds and you can read about the EYFS at

The Primary National Curriculum provides guidance for the teaching of 5-11 year olds who are in Key Stages 1 and 2 and you will probably be familiar with the current subject areas from your own school experiences. Currently there are two versions of the National Curriculum (NC). One is the current NC, which is statutory in schools until 2014 but there is also a new National Curriculum due to be implemented in September 2014. You can develop your knowledge of both of these documents at
We would advise that you focus your study on the 2014 version and take the opportunity in schools to discuss what changes schools will need to make in time for 2014.
You can be confident that your course is planned to provide a comprehensive and thorough initial training to prepare for your role as an NQT and as such covers all the aspects you will need. There are though key areas of priority which will be key foci through your course. These include in particular:

  • the teaching of early reading and the associated systematic synthetic approach to phonics

  • mathematics

  • provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
  • provision for children whose English is an additional language (EAL)

  • behaviour management

In your preparation for the course you should take every opportunity to explore these areas through your own research and experience in schools and early years settings and identify where your current strengths and areas for development are.

We look forward to welcoming you in September and working with you through your Initial teacher Training.

Sue O'Brien

Primary and Early Years Programme Leader

2. Initial needs assessment: experience gained

2.1 (Essential task) Introducing yourself to your academic tutor and your school based tutor.

Your academic tutor is the university based tutor who will follow your progress throughout your time at University. Your school based tutor is the teacher in school who will guide your training when in their school. You will meet your academic tutor during your first days at university; you will meet your school based tutors when you go into school.

When you begin your time in school you will have an initial meeting with your SBT to discuss your strengths and initial needs/targets. In preparation for this write a brief overview summarising the following. This will help your SBT to tailor your training in school to your individual needs and strengths. We suggest you aim for about one side of A4. You will also take this to your first individual meeting with your academic tutor at SHU. Include:

  • who you are and why you decided to become a teacher (eg you are a mature trainee who became interested in a teaching career through helping at your children's school, following work experience in school, career changer )

  • previous/ongoing relevant experience and skills (eg degree subject, used to be nursery nurse; qualified football coach; experience of working with child with autism)

  • relevant skills you possess, or have developed (eg you feel confident in supporting children with particular needs)

  • interests that you would like to share with the school (eg dance teacher; play the piano)

  • areas for development and what you hope to achieve on the placement (eg feel confident with whole class teaching; have developed a range of effective strategies for managing children's behaviour. )

2.2 (Essential task) Initial Needs Assessment

In addition, for your initial meeting with your SBT and AT Please complete the following initial needs assessment. It is the first step on your study programme towards becoming a qualified teacher. Once you have decided which areas you need to develop, refer to the relevant texts (these are shown for English, maths and science in later sections) and start work. The books listed at the end of this document are some of those that will be referred to during your course. You will refer to this initial needs assessment during your first SHU academic tutorial and your first meeting in school.

Write about those areas in which you have gained some experience in teaching or working with children. An example illustrates how your work as a volunteer or TA might be addressing each standard. See Appendix 1 for the full version of the Teachers' Standards.


Experience gained

What I have already learned which is relevant to my course

What I want to learn about on the course


4 Planning and teaching

Worked with variety of groups. Helped with reading groups and with small groups in maths

Importance of being clear in what I expected the children to do

Ways to ask questions and handle groups of children


Standard (with an example of what it might mean for you)

See Teachers' Standards, Appendix 1, for further guidance)

Experience gained

What I have already learnt which is relevant to the course

What I want to learn about on the course


1 High expectations
(e.g. you demonstrate positive values and have high expectations of pupils)

2 Pupils' progress

(e.g. you ask pupils to reflect on what they have learnt, you have been responsible for monitoring a small group of children/individuals)

3 Subject and curriculum knowledge
(e.g you know about the subjects you are helping to teach, what are your strengths/interests?)

4 Planning and teaching
(e.g. you explain new ideas to pupils, you have planned for small groups, extra-curricular, taught individuals)

5 Inclusion
(e.g. you know that a range of factors affects pupils'

progress, have worked with children with specific needs)

6 Assessment
(e.g. you give pupils an indication of how well they have done a task, worked with teachers on assessing work)

7 Behaviour management
(e.g. you follow school policy with regards to rewards and sanctions)

8 Wider professional


(e.g you work as part of the classroom team, have contributed to wider activities)


Ethics and behaviour
(e.g you value pupils' responses, you are aware of your position as role model)

School ethos, policies & practices
(e.g you are aware of and follow school policy on behaviour management)

Statutory frameworks
( know about the professional duties of teachers)

Please continue on a separate sheet if appropriate.

3. Reflecting on your classroom experience
3.1 (Essential Task) As a trainee teacher, you are expected to reflect on and review your ideas about effective teaching at various stages of the course. Before starting, however, we feel that it is important for you to consider what you already know. All trainees begin their course with a range of valuable experience. This may have been gained as a student, on work experience or through voluntary or paid work in educational contexts.
You will undoubtedly already have strong ideas about teaching. Here we ask you to make notes on these ideas. These notes will be used as the starting point for discussion during the early stages of the course. Keep them and bring them with you when you start.

  1. Think about your own experiences of being in schools, nurseries and / or other educational environments. These may relate to your time as a pupil or whilst doing voluntary or paid work. There will be some teachers and lessons that you remember clearly, either for positive or negative reasons. Make a note of teachers that you remember and the reasons why you do so. Also, make brief notes on memorable times at school and again jot down reasons why these are memorable.

  1. Using your notes, consider:

  • how your learning was supported and encouraged

  • and/or any barriers to learning that you experienced

  1. Based on these reflections, write down a list of ways in which teachers may support effective learning. You may wish to comment on the way the teacher addresses some of the following areas:

    • relationships

    • classroom ethos

    • meeting different needs

    • choice of teaching methods

    • behaviour management

    • types of activities

    • working alongside additional adults in the classroom

    • any other areas you feel are important

  1. As a teacher, you will be responsible for creating an environment that promotes learning. Consider the various schools and nurseries that you have visited. Comment on aspects of these learning environments that were particularly effective in contributing to effective learning. You may wish to comment on some of the following areas:

  • resources

  • use of display

  • support for children with different needs

  • ethos

  • grouping

  • ways in which independence is encouraged

  • behaviour management

  • any other areas you feel are important

Describe each aspect and explain how it contributes to effective learning.

  1. Look at the notes you have made in response to (c) and (d). Jot down your thoughts on how your responses may have been different in relation to:

  • different subjects
  • different age groups

Teachers who know about children's interests and learning preferences are more likely to plan appropriate and engaging activities. The following task will help you to make a start on developing your knowledge of children through observations and discussions.

4. Observing in the classroom
4.1 (Essential Task)  Ask permission from a parent/carer or classroom teacher to observe a child engaged in day to day classroom learning and interactions in a variety of formal and informal contexts within and beyond the classroom.  Unobtrusively observe the child and record what you notice about how the child interacts with others, and how he/she engages with activities. You may also want to talk to the child about general likes/dislikes, preferred classroom/nursery activities and out of school interests.

  • What did you learn about the child?

  • What does the child already know and understand?

  • What are the child's interests?

  • What activities does the child enjoy? 

  • How does the child relate to other children and adults?

  • List some examples of what the child says in different situations, speaking and responding to a variety of people - children and adults. What do you notice about this child's use of talk in these different situations? Does her/his language change at all according to the different interactions and settings? Look for ways in which the child is using talk to develop understanding.

Ensure you share your observations and records with the parent/carer or classroom teacher.  Keep your notes - they will be useful during your course.

4.2 (Essential Task) Arrange to observe a session focusing on Early Reading in a Foundation setting or Key Stage 1 classroom.

i) Observe the session and consider the following:

  • What are children learning about reading?

  • What links are made between reading and writing?

  • What resources are used?

  • How are children organised/grouped during the session?

  • What have the children learned specifically in this teaching episode ?

ii) Consider the classroom environment – look at the displays, resources, artefacts and activities within the classroom and note ways in which the classroom environment could be encouraging children’s use of speaking and listening, reading and writing.
iii) If possible, talk to the teacher and find out about:

  • the teaching of phonics and how it fits within the broader provision for early reading within the classroom

  • links between home and school in the teaching of early reading

The teaching of Early Reading and systematic synthetic phonics will be covered throughout your course and this will be a key area for development for you. The recommended reading on phonics is listed in Section 9 of this booklet.

5 Early Years Visit
5.1 Visiting an Early Years setting: Essential Tasks for both EY and primary trainees

As part of your pre-course classroom experience, visit an early years setting and make notes on:

  • how the learning environment is organised and managed

  • adults' roles in managing and organising the learning environment

  • the established routines, e.g. snack time and how children respond

  • the resources provided in at least 4 areas of learning - what are the children learning in these areas of learning?
  • records of children's conversations during play - what insight did you gain into what they know and understand?

  • discussions with the teachers/nursery nurses about how they 'teach' 3 /4/5 year olds?

5.2 Early Years Reading Task
Read a chapter from Riley, J. ed (2007) Learning in the Early Years 3-7, 2nd ed. London: Sage. Make notes on what you have found out about what motivates and interests children.

  • How does it relate to your knowledge of young children?

  • How does it relate to your observations of how adults interact with young children and how children respond?

6 Secondary Visit (Primary Only)
6.1 Visiting a secondary school: Essential Task for PGCE primary

As part of your preparation you should:

  • observe teaching and discuss the curriculum in secondary school with secondary colleagues.

Also make notes on the following:

  • What do children like about the move up to secondary?

  • What worries them?

  • What work do they find easy / hard?

  • Ask the teachers what information they received from primary? What would they like to receive?

  • What surprises them about the knowledge / lack of knowledge of the children?

  • Is there anything which the primary school does which is particularly helpful?

7. Mathematics tasks

We ask you to carry out three tasks in preparation for the maths component of your course. These relate to the very broad areas of subject knowledge. The first looks at attitude and pedagogical approach, the second looks at your conceptual subject knowledge, what can be termed 'subject knowledge per se' and the third is concerned with observation in schools and early years settings.

The first task involves reflecting on your own experiences of maths and encourages you to begin to formulate your ideas about what constitutes good (and bad) maths teaching. It aims to encourage you to think about maths teaching more broadly than simply your subject knowledge but at how your approach and attitude as a teacher can greatly affect the quality of your teaching and therefore your impact on children's learning.

This is task 7.1 and requires you to read and evaluate two articles.

The second part task (7.2) involves taking stock of your own conceptual subject knowledge, acknowledging any problem areas and setting about strengthening your expertise in the subject so that you can teach it confidently.
The third task (7.3) asks you to reflect upon how a subject area such as maths is delivered in an early years setting or primary classroom today. Recent research and reviews such as Made to Measure ( 2012) have focused on the importance of teaching for understanding in maths

Task 7.1: Reflecting on Approaches to maths teaching (Essential Task)

You have been in many mathematics lessons as a pupil, and have learnt maths under the guidance of a variety of teachers. You will probably have noticed that not all teaching is equal: some lessons, some teaching methods, some teachers are more effective than others.

The following task is designed to help you continue this reflection. When you start the course, you will use your notes to continue this exploration of the many factors that lead to being a high quality maths teacher - which is what our aim is for you!
Read Zoe Rhydderch-Evan's article "Attitude is Everything" (Mathematics Teaching, Vol 181, December 2002). This article is attached.
Consider the three qualities of a good learning temperament which are explained in the article. Think about whether or not you were encouraged to learn in this way in mathematics lessons at school.

Evaluate one of the learning temperaments against your own experience of being taught mathematics. How does the quality you have chosen fit in with your own ideas about learning and teaching? The article is written from the perspective of a foundation stage teacher, but the author suggests that this view could be useful whatever age of children you teach. To what extent do you agree?

The second article that we would like you to read is a more in depth study on the quality of effective teachers of numeracy/maths can be found at the link below
It is 'Effective Teachers of Numeracy in Primary Schools: Teachers' Beliefs, Practices and Pupils' Learning.

Mike Askew, Margaret Brown, Valerie Rhodes, Dylan Wiliam, David Johnson

King's College, University of London (1997)
Its findings are quite far reaching. Read the article and consider what they found to be the most crucial qualities of effective numeracy teachers.
For each piece of reading you undertake, consider the evidence which is presented for their opinion, then decide to what extent you agree or disagree with them.

Attitude is Everything

Zoe Rhydderch–Evans in Mathematics Teaching, Vol 181, December 2002

In his book Wise up, Guy Claxton engages his reader in deep thought about the skills and the temperament that we require to become an accomplished 'learner'. I just wish he could have written and presented me with this book right at the start of my teaching career. As it happens I believe that I came to share many of Professor Claxton's theories about young children's learning and incorporated them into my practice in teaching of mathematics through long years of failures and successes. My first reading of his book confirmed, endorsed and greatly extended what I had come to believe.

Rarely, if ever, when focusing on the learning of mathematics at the foundation stage, do we make it our priority to let children get to grips with the kind of subject mathematics is. Rarely do we put our planning energy into devising strategies which will encourage our young pupils to develop the resilience and persistence needed to be comfortable with a subject which presented Einstein with problems!

I want to suggest that a positive and realistic attitude to the subject would be the best gift we could offer to our young and emergent mathematicians, hence my title   Attitude is Everything. There is a question we must answer so that we can get to grips with the mathematical needs of young children. What is it about mathematics that fascinates those who love it? What motivates lovers of this subject so much that they acquire the resilience and persistence needed to struggle with a mathematical' problem for hours on end? Regardless of our mathematical competence, we are, all quite capable of acquiring this insight. It is surprising how much vicarious experience one can gain by reading fascinating biography and autobiography. Books which let you into the secret of what it is that turns mathematicians on are of the ilk of Fermat's last theorem by Simon Singh which the Daily Mail critic claimed 'read like the chronicle of an obsessive love affair".
There is a question we must answer so that we can get to grips with the mathematical needs of young children. What is it about mathematics that fascinated those who love it?
For the rest of this article I want to concentrate on the three qualities that Guy Claxton claims constitute a good learning temperament and suggest ways in which we can nurture those qualities in' our everyday practice. The qualities are

  • resilience and persistence

  • a playful disposition

  • conviviality

Resilience and persistence

My interpretation of what Guy Claxton has to say about resilience and persistence is quite straightforward. It does children no good at all if we continually make things too easy for them and thus give them a false picture of what learning is really like. He says that children need to get used to dealing with frustration, confusion and apprehension because they are feelings that all learners will experience and must learn to cope with and see as quite normal and be unfazed by. It should go without saying that the only way one could allow children to experience these feelings would be in a very safe and supportive classroom environment. I like this message enormously because I grew up thinking that if you were good at mathematics you could solve problems at a first attempt. If I couldn't find a solution immediately I thought it was because I wasn't clever enough. If ever there was a subject where one needs to be able to enjoy an intellectual tussle, surely it is mathematics? I therefore see it as critical that we gentle our young children into problem solving by continually demonstrating a problem tackling approach where we do not allow solutions to be found too easily.

I grew up thinking that if you were good at mathematics you could solve the problem at first attempt.

A playful disposition

Claxton maintains that all learners need a playful disposition in order to be successful whether they are child or adult. He says that play and learning are not different things but that play is a kind of learning which leaves a residue which is a more robust, playful inquisitive kind of mentality. Now here is a cause for celebration. All early years' practitioners know that children need to learn through experience and play and here is an eminent professor encouraging us to give children their experience in a playful way.


Claxton's philosophy maintains that good learners can share ideas and toss them about with others. Good learners speak their thought aloud with others, share doubts with others. A major task at the foundation stage is to help children to speak and comprehend the language of mathematics. Our teaching practice will need to provoke children into discussion and into speaking their thoughts aloud in order to share them with others.

Embracing the philosophy

I am convinced that choosing the right stuff [apparatus if you like] to embed and contextualise the processes we are introducing needs very careful thought. If we are to have any chance of success with our introduction of new learning our 'stuff' has to allow us to put the mathematical experiences we plan for the children into a context which fully engages them. If we fail to choose appropriately it is unlikely that the children will be motivated enough to enter into the sustained effort which problem solving demands. I have strong anti feelings about some of the coloured plastic which is often heavily relied on as a teaching and learning aid and which often proves to be something less than exciting. Here are some of my criteria for choosing material

  • It has to be attractive enough to make the children excited about working with it and to sustain their attention

  • It has to relate to children's real world or fantasy experiences

  • It has to allow the children to hear mathematical language in pragmatic situations that make the meaning of the terms obvious and provoke our pupils into using the words themselves

  • It has to enable the demonstration of the various processes that we carry out in mathematics

  • It has to allow us to embed problem solving in a context that encourages a playful approach.

If we apply these criteria I believe we have a much better chance of planning experiences which make 'human sense' to the children (Margaret Donaldson's term.)

A session with the children

Most children love animals and are only too happy to discuss their pets. Problem solving which maps on to this interest will usually appeal to them. About a year ago McDonalds were giving away small toy Dalmatians which ranged in size from a length of approximately 10 centimetres to about 15 centimetres. Most children have got a couple lurking in their toy boxes at home. It should therefore be fairly easy to put out an appeal in a school and put a collection together. You might even get 101!

Next you will want some baskets for the dogs. A raid on the recycling box and a design technology session should provide you with a set in various shapes. Alternatively collect small baskets in a range of shapes. You have all you need for some structured experiences. Working with this 'stuff' should provide the children with experience of

Volume: looking at the amount of space within a container

Area: looking at the surface area of the base and seeing how much of it they have covered

Counting: to find how many dogs have been put in each time a basket is filled

Comparison of group sizes: comparing the numbers of dogs put into the different baskets

Shape: comparing the shape of the base of each basket, counting the number of sides by tracing the edges with their fingers.
Of course the children's awareness of these mathematical elements will be increased by appropriate dialogue, such as 'Let's look at the bottom of this basket. Do you think the bottom is big enough for us to get three of our dogs in here? Does anybody think that it is big enough to get more than 3 in here?'
Now let's examine a problem solving session to demonstrate the approach I've been suggesting.

Context for problem: Who has a pet? Where do they like to go to sleep? Whose dog has a bed of their own? What does the dog's bed look like? Does anybody have more than one dog? Do they share a bed?


Sit the children in a circle on the carpet. Leave enough space in the middle to manipulate the 'stuff'. Place the children carefully next to a 'talking partner'. You will know which children work well together. One child might be a very good partner for another who is very shy or less articulate. One child might be confident in the sort of situation they are about to encounter and would be able to support another who is less sure.

The problem

You've been telling me about the kind of beds that your dogs like to sleep in. We've made some beds for our dogs. I think we might do some problem solving now. We'll need to be mathematicians. Supposing that we had 6 dogs but only 2 baskets. How many different ways do you think that we could put the dogs into the baskets?

Encouraging a playful disposition

The playful disposition, the 'have a go' attitude will need modelling for the children. Can I have the first go? I'm going to pick up some of the dogs and put them in the large basket. Select 4 Dalmatians from the set. I’m going to put the rest into the smaller basket. The ‘rest' is of course 2.

Engaging in the activity

Once the dogs have been put in the baskets they will need to he counted and comparisons made. A range of questions may be asked, such as

What can you tell me about the number of dogs in the baskets?

Is there the same number of dogs in each basket or is there a number difference?

Which basket has the most dogs in it? Which has the fewest?

Let's take the dogs out of both baskets and see if we can put them in so that we have the same number of dogs in each basket:

Let's take the dogs out of the small basket and put them into the large basket with the others. How many will be in the large basket now?
Early forms of recording have to be more than colouring in exercises if they are to help internalise the processes carried out.

Resilience and persistence (and conviviality and playfulness)

The main part of the task is to find as many different ways of partitioning the set of dogs between the two baskets as we can. Now we need to pursue it.

Who thinks that they can put the dogs into the baskets in a different way?

Have a talk with your friend and see if you can come up with an idea.

Once the children have discovered a different way, for example 5 and 1; it will be essential that a way of recording the different pairings is devised otherwise it will be extremely difficult to remember what has been tried and what has not. Getting the children to devise a pictorial form of recording gives them ownership of their work and allows them to read and interpret it. Early forms of recording have to be more than colouring in exercises if they are to help internalise the processes carried out.

To find different ways of putting the dogs into the baskets will require playfulness and this in turn will generate the fun, which motivates the persistence needed to sustain the investigation. To support the children I often have a toy alongside me, which can whisper suggestions that only I or the child holding it can understand. A favourite of mine is a toy dragon, which makes a soft grumbling sound when you squeeze its tummy.

The ideas that the dragon whispers to me don't always work. When this happens my reaction is to say very positively 'Good idea but it didn't work, you'll have to have another go'. It is essential that we demonstrate to the children that mathematics is not a get it right first time subject. They must know that persistence and resilience are called for. Over time I want the children to become confident enough to try out ideas without expecting that every one will be successful. The joy is that every time we try something we know something.
By the time three or four ideas have been tried out the children could well be getting tired so the following dialogue might be called for.
How can we be sure that we have found all the ways that are possible? It isn't easy is it? I'm feeling a bit tired now. I've got brain ache. Have you? I think we could leave it for today but well come back to it tomorrow.
Who knows? Tomorrow we might encounter commutativity and get into deep discussion about whether 2 + 4 and 4 + 2 are different pairings or the same.
Attitude is everything. Conviviality, playfulness, resilience, persistence are such important dispositions to nurture in the young mathematician. We dare not neglect them if children are to succeed. I am eternally grateful to Guy Claxton. I was so excited after reading his book to realise that in my work with young children I had been encouraging these very dispositions. My understanding has now increased a hundredfold. I recommend 'Wise up' to all teachers of mathematics whatever the age of their students.
Askew M et al (1998) Effective Teacher's of Numeracy Kings College
Claxton G (1999) Wise up   The Challenge of Lifelong Learning Bloomsbury Press
Donaldson M (1978) Children's Minds Fontana/Collins

Singh S (1997) Fermat's Last Theorem Fourth Estate

Williams P (2008) Independent review of mathematics teaching in early years settings and primary schools: final report Nottingham: DCFS Publications

Task 7.2: Auditing and strengthening your Maths subject knowledge (Essential Task)

During your course you will be asked to compile a maths subject knowledge folder. A good start to your course is to complete an on line audit with the National Centre for Teaching Mathematics (NCETM)

This is the link to the site
It is free to register and a very useful site for maths teachers. Once registered go to the tab at the top right hand side titled Personal Learning. Once in Personal Learning go to the Self Evaluation tools, then Mathematics Content Knowledge. When you open this area choose which Key Stage you are training in and would like to check your subject knowledge per se before starting the course.
You can save your results and it would be a good idea to print any information you find useful and place in your subject knowledge file. Make a note of any areas of Mathematics you need to develop and if you would like to start working on any areas see below for some recommended books.

Cotton, T. (2013) Understanding and teaching primary mathematics, 2nd edition, Pearson

Haylock, D. 2010, Mathematics explained for primary teachers, 4th edition, SAGE Publications, London

Haylock, D. & Cockburn, A. ( 2013), Understanding mathematics for young children :a guide for foundation stage and lower primary teachers, 4th edition, SAGE Publications, London

Rickard, C. (2012) Essential Primary Mathematics, McGraw Hill Education, Open University Press

Other, perfectly good, alternative titles are available.

Also - essential reading pre and during your course

Made to Measure (2012)

Task 7.3: Maths reflection

After reading the earlier article by Rhydderch–Evans Attitude is Everything (2002) reflect on any recent opportunities you have had whilst observing maths lessons in schools.

Consider the following questions:

  • What was the teacher trying to teach? How do you know? How did the children know what they were supposed to be learning?

  • How did the teacher model the mathematics?

  • What models and images does the teacher use to encourage learning?

  • In what ways was the teacher able to assess whether their teaching had been successful? How had he/she planned to get feedback on the children's understanding?

  • What allowance had been made for children having different levels of mathematical ability? Do you think it was appropriate?

  • Were the children engaged in their learning? What do you think made them engaged or not engaged?

  • Was the lesson primarily aimed at one learning style (visual, auditory or kinaesthetic) or was there a variety of approaches used?

  • In what way is the mental and oral session different from the rest of the maths lesson?

  • What resources did the children use to help them learn?

  • Reflect on the teacher's use of questions throughout the lesson. Were there different types of questions? Also think about the time children were given to answer the questions.

NB Please do not sit in the classroom with these questions on a clipboard! They are merely meant as a starting point for your professional evaluation of your own (and others') practice.

If you are in an early years setting the focus of your reflection may be subtly different as the maths activities will typically be less obvious and more embedded in other ones, but all the points above (except for the last one) will still be appropriate.

Task 7.4 Small group maths teaching

Wherever possible, try to get the chance to teach a group of pupils. At the end of the day reflect upon how the session went. Go through the bullet points above. The important point, the one trainee teachers often find difficult at first, is to focus on the children's learning rather than your own teaching. Don't be too critical, but aim to learn from your inevitable mistakes.

I feel… Much more positive; because of the input and enthusiasm of one of my colleagues from placement and the good humour and enthusiasm shown by my two tutors at Uni., I feel confident to try ambitious mental and oral maths which isn’t just addition or quick recall games, but spreads across percentages, angles, etc. Just being allowed to try things out and seeing people encourage it without worrying about it not working; letting you refine good ideas rather than ignore them to begin with.
I never thought I'd enjoy teaching it (maths), or have good ideas or ideas that I was excited about teaching, yet now I do!

Former SHU exiting Student

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