Sunday, 20 January 2013

Rule Book

Last week I did a bit of private tutoring with one of my tutees I haven't seen in a while. She's currently revising for her Mathematics GCSE exam that she has in March (well the 1st paper is 28th February)! After we had gone over lower and upper bounds, direct and indirect proportion, bearings and a few other things she showed me the 'rule book' that she had been keeping over the past month or so to revise more effectively.
Now, as I used to work in the school in which my tutee is studying I know of one of the Mathematics teachers there that uses these 'rule books' with all of his classes in KS4 as an effective way of them keeping revision notes and examples of questions. Each week he'd check these books to see that the students were using these. However, my tutee doesn't have this teacher for Mathematics and so I was massively impressed that she had decided to do one off her own back.

In the book she had a separate page for each topic/different type of question, all pages were numbered and at the back of her 'rule book' she had an index to easily find certain topics to revise from. I thought this was brilliant and I am now wondering as to how I could introduce this in class and whether or not students would use it as well as she is? Would it be something that I'd have to check on a weekly basis? Would these checks and the compulsory nature of me insisting the students kept these books then have a negative affect on them wanting to keep them? Should they be something that the students themselves would have to WANT to be keeping rather than something I would be telling them to do? All questions I'd have to consider and I may well contact my previous colleague to see how best he uses them with his classes?!

Here's my tutees' rule book...(I don't know who Sam is - maybe he appears throughout the book to explain concepts etc?)

 Here's some of the notes she's made inside - looks like Pythagoras' Theorem in 3D!

Here's the index pages - notice how she's almost made 100 pages already!!

The only thing I asked her was if anybody had checked the notes/examples she had written in her book. She said that they hadn't so far as it was just something she had been keeping to help her revise! I thought that this may need to be done so that she was certain that everything in there was accurate (I'm sure it would have been). If introduced in class these would, at some point, need marking or at least looking over by me. I could see these being used in conjunction with a class exercise book. The 'rule book' would be used for students to take down notes at the start of the lesson - just one example, key formulae/definitions etc, and then exercise books could be used for practise questions, workings out, homeworks etc. Mark the homeworks as they are given and completed and then mark the 'rule books' once a week/fortnight?

I'd be interested to hear if any Mathematics teachers are using anything similar in class and how best they have been implemented? Do the students take to these well? Do they use them proactively? Tweet me @mrprcollins or reply below!


  1. This is a phenomenal idea, I think it would be fairly easy to engage top set pupils with this, but more of a task with the lower ability ones.

    I think it would also be perfect for A level and I intend to introduce the idea to my further maths class next time i see them!

  2. Started notebooks this year with both my Y7 classes, as a trial for whole school next year.

  3. I am curious how this would work - do you do this alongside notes in an exercise book completed in class? WOuld you start at the beginning of the GCSE syllabus and have it used throughout the 2 years, or as a revision tool nearer the end? I like the idea, just not sure how to put it into practice most effectively....

  4. When I was at school we did this. One book for notes and examples, another for classwork and homework. The school I teach at now used to do this but had to stop because of budgets and not being able to afford so many exercise books. I would love to introduce our again because without them the notes and classwork get mixed up and it can be difficult for students to revise from.