Digital teaching tips & tricks, ideas, examples, and general thoughts and reflections. Follow my Inquiry.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Learning new Vocab in a Geometry Unit

As mentioned in a previous blog post I have been attempting to build new maths vocabulary in a meaningful and authentic way. To do this I have been focussing on a particular strand in maths as a kind of "topic" to build on each lesson, for 4-5 weeks in the term.

This term I have focussed on Geometry on and Measurement. I realised from looking at their MathsWhizz results, as well as observations during our daily lessons that a large majority of my class had huge misconceptions around Geometry and Measurement. Particularly anything to do with 'shapes'. In fact when I quizzed few of my kids across all of the ability groups it was very clear that this was an area of confusion and uncertainty for our class.

Not really knowing where to start, I went straight to the curriculum expectations for Level 3.
This really threw me off if I'm being honest. It was too much, and I didn't know how to do it. 
I started with names of shapes thinking this was a logical place to start... it wasn't. In fact all I did when I reflected on my lessons was teach kids how to cram. "Lets learn a whole bunch of names and try to remember them".

I decided that this wasn't going to achieve my goal for "authentic learning". There was no real reason to learn these names other than 'the teacher told me to'. Instead I picked ONE bullet point.
  • Find areas of rectangles and volumes of cuboids by applying multiplication.
In fact I only intentionally planned to teach 3 "words":
  1. Perimeter
  2. Area
  3. Volume
Naturally*, as we battled with these three concepts using the DMIC process, there was a TONNE of vocab that we had to use and understand to be able to be successful in these problems.
*I say 'Naturally' but it wouldn't seem natural at all unless you are familiar with the DMIC process.

I didn't explicitly teach nor plan for these words, but just as you would expect new vocab to be learned in a topic surrounding 'flight' for example, we came across and had to use/ learn a whole bunch of words related to Geometry and Measurement during our problem solving questions.

~5 weeks later~

According to MathsWhizz since the beginning of Term 2, my class average has improved 11.5 weeks in "Shape and Space", 9.5 weeks in "Measures", and interestingly* 13 weeks improvement in "Multiplication Calculations".
*Actually on reflection this makes sense seen as most of the calculations over the past 5 weeks have been multiplicative.

However far more obvious in the classroom is the lift in confidence and use of vocab surrounding this topic when we work on anything related to it. There is technical and precise vocab being used by the learners to each other and in response to each other. 

Overall a really positive result and outlook for the success of this inquiry. Onto Fractions, Proportions and Ratios next :)