A typical Maths lesson
Lessons are carefully designed around teaching one small step within a teaching point and they are a balance of explicit instruction, collaboration and dialogue. Our aim is to unpick the small idea the lesson is based around using procedural and conceptual variation so that all children have a deep understanding before they move on to the next small step. Each lesson phase promotes the means to achieve at greater depth, with children who show a deeper level of understanding than their peers being offered rich and sophisticated problems, as well as exploratory, investigative tasks within the lesson as appropriate. In line with the school’s Metacognition and Retrieval policy, each part of the lesson allows children to develop these skills.
A typical daily lesson would take approximately one hour and would contain the following elements:
- Patterns and connections – drawing children’s attention to the richness of patterns and connections within and across areas of Maths.
- Links to learning – Making links to what has already been taught. Bridging back to develop retrieval strength.
- Hook – The main part of the lesson. A problem is posed through a reasoning context which will draw out the structure within the small step to be mastered. Children will be building resilience, planning, monitoring and evaluating their own learning.
It is an opportunity for staff to model ideas and to explore the small steps in sufficient depth so that every child in the class understands the concept sufficiently to be able to tackle independent work successfully.
Learning is guided through talk and children develop their understanding through using concrete, pictorial and abstract learning and representations.
Children work in collaborative groups or in pairs during this part of the lesson. They may be using mathematical equipment, such as cubes, counters or dienes, they may be discussing pictorial representations or they may be engaged in solving reasoning problems collaboratively. The teacher will guide the class through the learning slowly to ensure that all children have opportunities to gain a deep understanding of the concept.
- Mini tasks – This involves modelling next steps and efficient methods, drawing out misconceptions and making use of varied manipulatives and representations.
Each mini task builds on the one before. The tasks are chosen for a variety of reasons, including exposing misconceptions, assessing understanding and demonstrating different approaches to solving problems.
- Independent activities –Children will generally work in this part of the lesson by themselves, without the aid of an adult. It is an opportunity to practise what has been taught and also an opportunity to make formative assessments and judge whether to move on in the next session.
Teachers will typically plan around three questions for the children to work on. The first will closely mirror the content of the hook. The second and third questions will be a ‘spin’ on the first. They will focus on the same content of the small step introduced in the lesson but will vary the question type to ensure children demonstrate both fluency and also a greater depth of understanding. Spin 3 will generally pose a more challenging question than Spin 2.
All children have access to all spins and no limit is placed on what they are given to do. It is expected that the vast majority of the class should be able to answer spin 1 correctly. If not, then the teacher would not move on the following day, but would provide further support to develop understanding of the small step. A teacher may notice that children are persisting with errors or that the same error is occurring multiple times, if this happens, they will stop the whole class and use this as a teaching opportunity to draw attention to these misconceptions. If only a few children do not answer spin 1 correctly, they will receive a timely intervention before the next lesson to ensure that they are ready for the next small step.
- Greater Depth – Children who have demonstrated a deeper understanding than their peers may be working on questions which require different types of reasoning, more complex steps or are a conflation of different areas of maths. This will not involve moving on or a higher number range.
Children may access Greater Depth questions in a variety of ways. They may work on a question at the end of a lesson. They may work on a longer, more difficult problem over a few days. They may begin the lesson independently working with a greater depth problem whilst the other children are engaged in the hook and then access support from the teacher during the independent activities time.
- Plenary – This is an opportunity to review any misconceptions, model answers and assess learning. The next small step may be introduced at this point. Children may also peer- or self-assess their work. The teacher will decide the nature of the plenary based on how the session has progressed.
There are times when this structure does not suit the learning which takes place. It might be at the start of a unit where the teacher chooses to use manipulatives for the whole session, the children might be engaged in an activity outside or they may be playing games.