Monday, 29 June 2015

Intro to Indices (Starter task/idea)

After the May half term we set our Y9s according to Edexcel's 'Baseline Tests' for their new 1-9 GCSE Spec. Since then we have started teaching them through the Edexcel new 2 year GCSE course. The first 'unit' of this is 'number' and includes topics such as HCF/LCM/Surds/Indices/Standard Form/Calculations/Estimation, etc.
When introducing the topic of indices I thought about how I wanted to do this as it's always been a topic I've found a bit 'dry' teaching as in the past I've kind of just gone down the route of giving classes the rules and then applying them to questions once explained. But, I wasn't sure where their current understanding of these would be and so I decided to write a bunch of indices related questions on the board (these progressed in order of difficulty from the top left of the board to the bottom right) and then, as students came in, gave them a post-it note to write their name on. I then told students to have a look at the questions on the board and then stick their post-it note on the board next to the question they felt was the 'trickiest' that they could do.

What I liked about this was that they were all, on entry, looking at the board to see the questions and immediately thinking about what they could do, what they had learnt in the past and what they didn't know/understand. They were asking each other questions, they were asking me questions, which I avoided answering at this point, and tried to place their post-it note on the 'trickiest' question they could!

After a 5-10 minute go at this, and once they had settled down, found their seats and done the usual title, date and margins I delved into the discussion part of this 'starter'.

I referred to the post-it notes and asked students to explain how they thought they'd 'evaluate' the expression on the board. This was the best bit as there were a lot of 'laws' that came from this discussion alone. I was able to do a bit of 'Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce'ing with the class as I already had post-it notes with different names on for the same questions. So, I was able to ask a whole bunch of ' you agree with've placed your post-it note on the same question' type questions.

I rewarded those students that were questioned and then, as the lesson progressed, those questions that weren't answered from the initial phase of the lesson were answered. Rather brilliantly, students suggested answers to the unanswered questions as they were learning the new 'laws' and we managed to fill in all but two of the questions on the board. This, for me, was great as my AfL was partially done by this alone as I could see which type of questions (negative indices) that we hadn't covered and needed to progress onto.

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