Earlier this week, I felt inspired by a tweet from Geoff Barton and by Wednesday, I had decided to act on it. Geoff had tweeted some pictures of an outstanding maths lesson he had observed, which showed children working in groups on large whiteboards around the classroom. I loved this idea of ‘working big’ – the work out there for everyone to see.
Reality soon set in because I don’t have large whiteboards around my classroom and that wasn’t likely to be a possibility, but I came up with an alternative: I covered all the tables with large sheets of paper and stuck them down with sticky tape. Now, I could’ve just laid out large sheets of paper, but there was a reason as to why I decided to tape them down: I was hoping it would stop individuals taking ownership and control of the paper, while some hung back. The paper belonged to the table and the team, if that makes sense? Also I had a suspicion that it might feel a bit ‘naughty’, almost like writing on the tables, which would could potentially hook some of the children in. As I was encouraging children to ‘work big’, I also decided that I should do the same and I blew up the task sheets. I also said I would only give each group the next task sheet if they could prove that everyone in their group understood how the current task had been solved because they were a team.
All in all it was a very interesting set-up and certainly something I’ll be developing in future. Some positives I have already observed are:
- Some children were less afraid of showing working and making mistakes than they are in their books – something I am forever trying to help them get over
- No one sat down all lesson; they moved around the table and huddled in groups as the space filled up, which created this lovely, ‘buzzy’ atmosphere
- There was lots of maths talk going on
- At the end of the lesson groups could walk around the classroom and take a look at how other groups had solved certain problems
How do you develop team work and problem solving in maths?