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When completing observations I have often seen teachers singing and dancing, making sure they’re filling the time, at the front of the classroom, amazing resources, beautiful powerpoints… and yet the focus is not quite where it should be. Ultimately it is what the student is learning that counts. This comes from teacher’s decisions (and wider influencing factors) but the focus needs to be on what the students are doing.
This is outside of the classroom as well. Homework is a discussion for another time but I recommend that students complete at least 15 minutes of practice a day. There are lots of ways that they can do this. There are several factors that influence my decisions. The first is the need of the students. However I also take into account teacher workload and the necessary budgetary factors. However, consider the cost of photocopying, and look at how work is assessed. Where answers are provided students are expected to mark their work. This is communicated with home through emails and an annual “Maths Evening”.
Corbett Maths: A superb 5 a day that focuses students on mixed practice. I sometimes recommend the level below that which the student is working at to refresh and review prior learning. There is also a YouTube channel which can be used for flipped learning or as revision. I have used these in primary schools as well which have worked for the time at the start of the day when students are settling or for homework.
Manga High: I have introduced this into two schools as a way to provide for numeracy practice for students. It has always been part of a menu of activities but it has engaged a number of students who had not engaged in more traditional homework.
CGP Practice Books: More traditional but one way to encourage students to work through practice on a variety of topics. I found this straight forward to manage as I was able to track student completion of tasks using the contents page.
My Maths: Some love it, some hate it. I have always had an issue with staff relying on My Maths as a way to teach. As part of a menu of activities I have found it useful and I have found the structure of tasks useful to track homework completion and to reduce workload. We introduced it to parents and shared login details. I have used the worksheets as a task set at the start of the term. I’ve also used it for flipped learning and for targeted practice.
Maths Genie: Sets of questions with worked solutions. These are useful because of the worked solutions and students can refer to them if needed. Again, this is one of a set of activities and students can still be assessed on their learning in class. I have also used these in class time. Students have worked independently, then in groups and then the solutions have been provided to fill the gaps. I have worked the classroom too, although by providing solutions some of the issues are resolved, thus allowing the lesson and learning to flow.
There are lots of strategies that you can use to encourage independent learning. Students can identify their own areas for development. There is also a culture of independent learning; it isn’t achieved just through tasks that are set. Growth Mindset plays a part as does the school culture as a whole but these are just some suggestions to fit in with the bigger picture.