A school shut down? Take learning online with these 4 strategies

A school shut down? Take learning online with these 4 strategies

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to intensify, countries around the world are having to consider impact of containment measures vs disruption to social and economic lives

Australia is currently considering a school shut-down which will severely impact students and families. School principals are having to look at how to support their students during this period

Here are 4 strategies to consider for your school

1. Managed online learning

There are many popular digital learning websites that allow teachers to register students and set assignments for them to complete. Matheletics is a great way to set assignments to all students. Hopefully your school is already using some of these

2. Self learning resources

In contrast to managed online learning, there are many more self learning digital resources that promote lifelong learning mantra. Here the learner is able to explore their interest and define their own curriculum.

Resources such as this could include great learning channels on YouTube (such as Crash course) or Khan Academy (teachers can track progress if assigned as a coach) or even Duolingo which allows you to learn languages for free. This self guided learning really requires students who are motivated with good self management skills

3. Teachers teaching via video conferencing

Intrepid teachers may wish to give video conferencing a go. All you would need is to have a webcam and virtual conferencing platform. Google hangouts is a free platform where you can create calendar event and invite your students or share the hangout link with them. They can then join the hangout and you can teach them whilst even sharing your screen.

There are more sophisticated platforms that will allow you to have chatbox, poll questions and grant annotate access so that students can interact with the learning resources on screen.

Check out our post on Overcoming Top 5 Worries about Online Teaching

4. Online one-to-one tutoring with MathsClub

MathsClub provides schools the option for students to receive one-to-one Maths tutoring at school or at home. Therefore this may be the ideal solution if your school has target students who need to improve in their numeracy and maths skills. Students are able to log on to their secure virtual classroom to receive their one-to-one tutoring as shown below

We have received inquiries about setting up programs ranging from 1 session per week for a student to daily sessions with most in needs students. If you would like to learn more, pleas book a free demo

Leave a comment if you have any other good suggestions/strategies/resources that can help ensure students don’t miss out on valuable learning time.

8 ways to ‘teach for mastery’ in maths

8 ways to ‘teach for mastery’ in maths

For students to achieve ‘mastery’ in maths means that they have a deep and rich understanding of concepts. For example, a student who has mastered multiplication of one digit numbers could easily recall what 7 x 8 is, and could explain to you how this links to repeated addition

Read on for 8 key points of maths mastery, and tips on what you can do to teach for mastery

1. Everyone can improve in maths.

Mastering maths aligns with Growth Mindset theory which advocates that all can make progress if they work hard

What can you do?

Sing this from the rooftops!

2. No child is left behind.

When teaching for mastery, all students work on the same topic together and the class does not move on until all have mastered basic concepts  

What can you do?

  • Group your students such that your more able students can help those who need more support

  • Assess and intervene early if a student is struggling (our 1-to-1 intervention programme comes in handy for this! Sign up for a free demo on our homepage)

3. Maths is taught to give a conceptual understanding, rather than technical

This means no ‘maths tricks’ (at least not until the student has grasped the content).

What can you do?

Avoid teaching maths ‘shortcuts’ such as ‘cancelling’ fractions to simplify

4. Teaching props are welcome!

Teaching for mastery typically involves introducing concepts in ‘concrete’, ‘pictorial’ and then ‘abstract’ form. Students are encouraged to play with physical things, then visualise with diagrams before finally moving to visualising the concept in writing or in their head.

What can you do?

Start off teaching a concept with blocks, counters or other concrete props. Encourage students to play around; physically building, connecting and moving objects

Experiment with teaching using bar model diagrams

5. Depth is more important than breadth

Students explore topics deeply before moving on to the next content in the curriculum sequence.

What can you do?

Try not to panic about covering all of the content. Take your time to support your students with the basics – once they have mastered these they will be better set to face more difficult challenges in maths later in their school life

6. Language is tailored to mastery

Students are encouraged to explain their answer in full sentences. For example, rather than giving a one-word answer of ‘90 degrees’ students would be encouraged to say ‘A right angle measures 90 degrees’. This is so that the student is reminded of the concept once more, the teacher is able to better assess understanding and the rest of the class can benefit from the answer given.

What can you do?

Ask for ‘full sentence answers’ from students

7. Emphasis is put on fluency of concepts

Students should master basic skills such as number bonds, multiplication tables and and inverse operations. Once a student can effortlessly recall basic number facts, they can better process tasks which require deeper thinking. 

What can you do?

Embed routine practice of key number facts until they have been mastered, perhaps by including a section in your starter questions

8. Students explore connections in maths

Maths is a beautiful, interconnected subject. With maths mastery, students are encouraged to actively make links between topics.

What can you do?

Intelligently plan your scheme of work and lessons to include cross topic links (e.g. when teaching measurement and scales, explore fractions and decimals conversions)

Encourage students to use numerical methods they have learnt when covering other topics (e.g. use of column multiplication when calculating area, rather than using a calculator) 

Ready to channel your inner ‘maths master guru’? There’s no time like the present! Let us know how you get on.

10 reflective questions all teachers should be asking

10 reflective questions all teachers should be asking

Reflection is important for all of us. Reflecting helps us become more self-aware as we develop a better understanding of where we’re currently at, where we are going, and how best to get there. 

Providing ample opportunity for self-reflection helps develop learners’ metacognition. Students with good metacognitive skills are able to self-regulate their own learning and thus make better progress. Reflection, however, isn’t an easy skill for all. Many students either struggle to know how to self-reflect, or don’t realise the value in doing so. That’s where you come in!

All good teachers recognise the value in questioning. Here we’ve listed 10 questions which you can ask your students in order to help them reflect. Try asking from the class during your usual plenary section of the lesson, printing on ‘exit tickets’ or encouraging students to ask each other

  • How did you learn best today?

  • What could you have done better? 

  • At what point did you struggle today? What would you do differently the next time you’re faced with a similar problem?

  • Can you apply what you’ve learnt today to other situations? 

  • What are you proud about today? 

  • How did you work with others? How could you improve for next time?

  • What resources did you use to help you find answers? 

  • Could you teach what you have learnt to someone else? Why or why not? 

  • Did anything get in the way of you making progress today?

  • What surprised you about what you learnt today?

COVID-19 Education Inequality: Five ways you can bridge the gap

COVID-19 Education Inequality: Five ways you can bridge the gap

For many students, learning disruption caused by COVID-19 has increased the already existing education equality gap. Here’s our advice on supporting the most at-risk learners in your school in order to bridge the gap

UNESCO estimates that, to date, country-wide school closures due to COVID-19 are affecting over a billion learners world-wide. Consider also the impact of localised school closures and the figure increases by millions.

Whilst we now live in a time whereby technology allows education to continue without physically being present in a classroom, the harsh reality of distance learning for many students has meant further set backs against their more advantaged peers. Students of lower socioeconomic status are naturally more at risk both in terms of learning progression and their social-emotional needs.

Children from families with lower incomes or who are based in rural areas may have lacked access to the essentials of remote learning which allowed other students to continue their studies. Even with a device and an internet connection, the most vulnerable students would have to deal with circumstances which make home learning difficult, sometimes impossible. Students who had weak foundational knowledge before school closures may have regressed in their development due to the lack of routine classroom teaching.

The pandemic has highlighted educational inequalities, including the digital-divide, and has reminded us of the pivotal role that teachers, school leaders and support staff play in the holistic development of children.

As students around the world will begin to transition back to school, educators will likely feel the burden of bridging a bigger classroom gap. However, being faced with a crisis also brings with it the opportunity for educational reform; re-invention of traditional classroom practices, investment in innovative teaching tools and teacher development, and revision of current support systems in place for our most disadvantaged learners.

Leaders now have a chance to go ‘back to the drawing board’ and consider how their school can improve practices to support those most at risk.

Here’s our advice on how best to support those students most in need

1. Take time to understand the new needs of learners

Assess what skills/knowledge may have been (temporarily!) lost by students, and prepare to differentiate both teaching and curriculum development to support a wide range of learning needs

2. Prioritise remedial education

Focusing on literacy and numeracy foundational knowledge; don’t rush to complete your whole planned out curriculum but rather invest in ‘catch up’ education

Learning mathematics is like learning a language – the less you practice, the more difficult it can be to confidently engage in ‘conversation’. Going ‘back-to-basics’ by focusing teaching on number topics, and teaching for conceptual understanding, can help to bridge learning gaps

See our range of Mastery Learning Plans

Be prepared for more repetition of teaching content than usual in order to improve students’ retention

3. Target additional intervention to the most disadvantaged

Revisit your funding distribution; are your most vulnerable students receiving the most financial support?

Consider how to implement small group or 1-to-1 lessons to allow vulnerable students to catch up in an environment less intimidating than a full classroom

4. Focus on integrating a blended teaching and learning approach

Complete a risk assessment; if a school closure were to happen again, how prepared is your school to operate distance learning?

Develop the technological literacy of both teachers and students such that they are better equipped to handle distance learning

Plan how best to provide remote education both through teacher training and development, and by considering effective online intervention teaching and learning tools which would help free up teacher time

5. Put health, safety and wellbeing first

Address the crisis with your students. Talk to them about their worries, answer their questions and, importantly, help them to rationalise information they may have heard/be hearing about the pandemic.

Remind your school community of support available to them should they need it

Look after yourself. Working in schools can be challenging for staff in the most ‘normal’ circumstances; consider the impact of recent events on your own mental wellbeing and take time to reset and recharge such that you can best support your students

Learn Maths Club can help your most at risk students catch up quicker, and can free up teachers’ time to focus on contingency planning, invest in their professional development and take extra time to care for themselves.

Our ‘Mastery’ Learning Plans on ‘Number and Place Value’ and ‘Four Mathematical Operations’ help students to catch up with foundational math knowledge which they may not have retained as a result of learning disruption. Investing in one-to-one tuition for your most vulnerable students would help them to rebuild their confidence in mathematics whilst developing their fluency and verbal reasoning skills.

We’re here to talk through any questions you might have about how best to support your learners

Book a demo now