For some years now I have been creating my own starter activities called “Do Nows” after the technique of the same name in @Doug_Lemov‘s ground breaking book “Teach Like a Champion 2.0”. They are modeled on @Corbettmaths‘ 5-a-day except that I choose the topic manually from a class’ most recent QLA.
The result looks as follows:
This year I have been choosing 15 sub-topics to focus on in the Do Nows which are cycled through during the week. I have explained this to the kids, why I do assessments (to get a clear picture of what they can and cannot do so I can support them better), where the topics come from that I have chosen for the Do Nows (the QLA) and especially that week 1 of each term, they will struggle on the Do Now. I know this because I have chosen topics which they could not do in the assessment at the end of the previous term. I explain that this is expected and also that I am sure they will see rapid improvement on the Do Now topics as the term progresses.
This has been so true to form that I have had kids in week 1 moaning at me that the Do Now is too hard and by week 2 they are already telling me how easy it all is!
Well this is all rosy and dandy, but having listened to nearly all of @mrbartonmaths‘ back-catalog of podcasts (I only have 13 episodes to go!) and read his incredible book “How I Wish I’d Taught Maths” (which I blogged about here), I have come across the concept of low-stakes quizzes and in particular how powerful it can be as a learning tool.
In one particular podcast, @Kris_Boulton makes the very salient point that the level of stakes involved in a test affects the levels of effort that pupils put in. This resonated with me as up until now there has been almost no stakes involved in my termly assessments and certainly no stakes at all in the Do Now except that I might “Cold Call” a pupil to give their response. I had also had the feeling that the levels of effort from my pupils was not always as high as it might be and also that the pupils were not accountable to anyone for their progress. I was making myself accountable to myself for their progress but I did not feel that they had the same accountability to me or even themselves to make progress.
Well, I have just made a small tweak to my Do Nows to bring in a low-stakes element and a degree of self-accountability for the students. The Do Now will look the same but there is an extra record sheet that the pupils will have at the front of their folders on which they will record their score each day and each week of the term. The record sheet looks like this:
This means that the pupils will visibly see their progress over time. The pupils are now accountable to themselves for making progress on the topics covered. They are also accountable to me as I can come round and look at their record sheet and if they have not made any progress by week 2 or 3 I can have a conversation with them about it. Are they copying the notes down effectively for the questions they can’t do so they can use these to help them next week? Are they using @hegartymaths to revise the topics? I have put the Hegarty Maths video numbers on the record sheet so the kids can see which videos to check out to help themselves.
There is also another benefit to the record sheet and this low-stakes record of their progress. I have some students who are doing well (some have made up to 24 months progress over 10 months this year according to our MALT standardized assessment from @HodderSchools) but they don’t necessarily feel successful. I believe that this is because I have not been clever enough about highlighting their successes. This new weekly record sheet will show the pupils that they are improving and empower them to make greater improvements. This in turn will boost their confidence and create more buy-in to what I am trying to achieve in the maths classroom which is to make everyone successful.
You can download the template here.
As always, comments and suggestions very welcome!