Where are your students on the Mindset Scale?

Where are your students on the Mindset Scale?

Do you know which mindset your students have? 

Growth Mindset

Research has shown that students who learn to develop a growth mindset make better progress in mathematics and engage more with their learning.

Fixed Mindset

Students with a fixed mindset struggle to overcome challenges as they may avoid taking risks or lack resilience to persevere through struggles.

Use the Mindset Survey to;

  • Identify students who may be in more need of support
  • Start a class discussion around having a Growth Mindset
  • Share tips to ‘train your brain’ for maths learning

Find out students' mindsets

  1. Simply copy, paste and send the URL or load on students’ computers.
  2. Take note of the score given and reference it against the scale below.
  3. Use the results to help students improve mindsets towards maths!

Reference Scale

MathsClub helps to students build confidence in maths and develop a Growth Mindset. Find out more about how it works here

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?

5 teaching tips to improve your students’ attitude towards maths

5 teaching tips to improve your students’ attitude towards maths

It’s a new year, a new decade and a new Academic year, which most likely means a new set of minds to mould! You’ve got a spring in your step and, armed with lesson plans and brand-spanking-new stationary, you’re ready to meet your class after a well-earned break.

With the new term brings an opportunity to start afresh; a clean slate waiting for new classroom behaviour policies, innovative teaching techniques and better self-management practices to be scribbled all over it. Your students, too, have a refreshing chance to reinvent themselves. However, there are some habits that are tricky to shake.

Whilst we love mathematics, we understand that our sentiment isn’t always shared by students (and sometimes teachers)… yet! Maths can bring with it a unique type of anxiety – fears of failure and fixed ideas about ability which manifest in the form of disinterest and sometimes complete disengagement with the subject.  

“But Miss… why do we even have to learn this?”
“I hate maths”
“But Sir, I’m no good at fractions”

… Sound familiar? Perhaps now just a distant memory, diluted by your Christmas holiday ‘zen’, but we’re sure you’ve heard similar groans in your classroom, as have teachers of maths around the world.

Why is mathematics notoriously associated with negative attitudes which can often stick with a learner for life?

Mindset matters!

Carol Dweck gives compelling research into the power of fostering a Growth Mindset (rather than a fixed mindset) in order to succeed in mathematics. If you haven’t already, check out her TED talk which highlights interesting findings from her study.

Simply put, if a child doesn’t believe that they can improve in mathematics, they probably won’t. A fixed mindset attitude towards maths can stick around with a person for life, if they’re not careful. We’ve heard teachers make anti-maths slurs such as ‘I’m just not a numbers person’ or ‘Not all children are naturally talented at maths’.

Children (and adults!) who worry too much about failure will be less likely to take on challenges in maths due to the fear of ‘getting it wrong’. Having this kind of fixed mindset can be difficult to change; especially for learners who have developed ‘maths anxiety’ from negative past experiences. The good news is, your classroom environment and teaching activities can have a huge positive impact on your students.

We’ve listed five of our favourite strategies to improve students’ attitude towards maths, all of which you can try out today.

 

1. Celebrate mistakes

… and show students how to learn from them.

All together now… ‘Mistakes help us learn!’. Your students should know that at some point, maths will become tough and that they need to be prepared to fail and try again in order to succeed.

Talk to your students about the value of making mistakes, and that struggling is all part of the learning process. We know many teachers who have a ‘pen only’ policy for jotting down working out in mathematics, encouraging students to neatly cross out their mistakes (rather than erasing them) to remind themselves of the learning process.

Use language which emphasises on the process, rather than the final answer. For example, rather than asking ‘Who can tell me the answer to two thirds of 72?’, questioning students to explain the first step of the problem or asking which operations would be used in the problem solving process. This allows your less confident students to ‘have a go’ without the pressure of arriving at a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ final answer.

Embed activities into your lessons which promote the value in learning from mistakes. You could include ‘spot the mistake’ or ‘correct my answer’ starter/plenary questions whereby students have to identify and explain a deliberate mistake. Watch this video to see how this teacher uses mistakes made by students in a positive way to help the group learn.

Model problem solving inclusive of mistake making. It’s useful for students to observe the whole process: complete a maths problem (making a visible mistake in the working out); check your answer at the end (e.g. with an estimation or inverse checking method); highlight that the answer doesn’t seem right; revisit the problem, checking every step; highlight the mistake; correct the mistake; and finally, check the answer again at the end.

Encourage the use of different methods to solve problems, even if the answer is correct. Giving rich, open-ended maths tasks also helps students to understand that maths doesn’t always have to be black or white; yes or no; right or wrong. Mathematics is about being creative, curious and making connections. Try giving students tasks such as ‘If my answer is six… what could the question be?’, and showcase some of the more creative questions to the class.

2. Praise wisely

The way in which you reward students with your words can greatly impact their perception of their own ability in mathematics. 

Don’t only praise students when they get the answer correct, praise throughout the learning process. This is particularly important in maths lessons to encourage resilience when problem solving.

Praise the process rather than the person. Receiving praise such as “You’re so clever!” isn’t helpful for learners; this instigates a fixed mindset of ability and doesn’t include useful feedback of what they can continue to do to improve. Telling a student, “You worked really hard to solve that problem” or “Well done for using estimation to check your answer at the end” gives more meaningful feedback on what behaviours they should continue to do in future. Try praising students for their effort, strategies used, being resilient and learning from their mistakes.

Avoid ‘over-praising’. Praising students too often, especially when students complete tasks which are easy for them can actually have a detrimental effect. The value can be lost, and students may feel more inclined to opt for easier to solve problems that taking on a challenge.

3. Promote cooperation over competition

To foster a growth mindset, students need to believe that they can get better at maths. For this, students should be measured against their own personal achievements rather than being compared to their peers, all of whom have different starting points. Help your students help each other to make progress by providing opportunities for collaborative learning during maths lessons, rather than creating a competitive environment.

Group your students into mixed ability groupings to allow students to learn from each other

Provide opportunity for students to problem solve in teams. Encourage students to talk through the steps aloud, explaining their thought process to one another.

Be aware that timed tasks can pressurise students, and use these carefully. Students should understand that depth of thinking in mathematics is more important than speed.

4. Don’t restrict maths to maths lessons

Students who understand the part that mathematics plays in the world we live in are much more likely to engage with the subject in a positive way. Create cross curricular links where possible both within maths lessons and outside of.

Try out giving homework where students have to find real examples of maths being used in everyday life. We like this one as it opens up dialog back in the classroom, whilst encouraging children to talk about maths at home.

Collaborate! If you share teaching time with your class, communicate what has been covered in maths and work together to try and embed this in other lessons. Could your colleague who teaches the art class encourage students to use mathematical ratios to mix paint colours?

Use maths examples which are interesting and relevant to students. Get creative here, and move with the times! One of our favourite real world maths links, used by a teacher in our MathsClub team, is explaining cube numbers by discussing how internet content goes viral. Imagine three people each sharing a video with three friends, and those three friends sharing with three of their own friends, and so on. We liked this not only for its relevance but also because it helped students to understand how quickly online content can spread, highlighting the need to be ‘internet safety savvy’.

5. Practice what you preach!

Recognise your own mindset, and be mindful of how you project this onto your class.

It’s useful to self-assess your own mindset, both generally and related to mathematics. Is there a particular mathematical topic you don’t personally enjoy teaching? Perhaps you still lack confidence in some areas which you struggled with whilst you were at school. How do you feel when faced with a difficult task?

Consider auditing your mindset towards students in your class. Do you already have perceptions of which students might be good at maths, and which won’t ever get there? It’s important to recognise and challenge this so that you do not ‘box’ your students by ability.

Which of the teaching techniques above have you already tried out, and what results did you see? Do you have any other tried and tested teaching tips which have helped to transform the way students view maths? We’d love to hear from you… share your success stories with us in the comments below.

Good luck for your first week back at school, from all of us at MathsClub.