Hello Maths,

I had the pleasure this week of going to Wollaton to help out with the Oracy Assessments for the Year 7 Angles unit of work. This was a bit of an experiment, and we weren’t sure how they would work logistically or how useful they would be.

Over the past couple of weeks teachers have paired up so that one could take students out to do the assessment while the other stayed with the class. This worked well as the lessons they were being removed from were the practical tessellation lessons at the end of the unit so the students weren’t missing any whole class teaching.

The teacher explained what the process would be to every student using this sheet.

The following sheets were then shown to the students one at a time.

Listening to the students’ reasoning was really interesting. Many students were able to explain their reasoning correctly. It was lovely to hear students explain what they had seen in lessons, for example, referring to the tracing paper to find the angles on parallel lines. However, there were still many students who simply wanted to explain their calculation method. Explanations such as ‘If you add 40 and 70 and take them away from 180 you get the answer of 70 degrees’ with no reference to straight lines were common. The students ‘got’ the right answer, but this isn’t what we were looking for.

When you think about the 4 mark angle questions at GCSE, we are often frustrated at the students’ poor reasoning skills. This is highlighted further in the geometrical proof questions, where often students don’t even attempt the questions. It shouldn’t be a surprise though. If they can’t ‘say it’, they certainly won’t be able to ‘write it’.

I think that oracy assessments such as this will help our students enormously in developing their reasoning in a way that is missing from written assessments. Students are able to record their progress using a grid in the same way as their written assessments. They can then easily see which areas need to be improved upon. Louise is hoping to make recordings of examples of good student reasoning so that students can hear examples of what we were looking for.

We need students to understand that ‘The answer is only the beginning’ and that there is more to being ‘good’ at maths than a hundred ticks in their exercise books. Ensuring that all students have the opportunity to practice their spoken reasoning in lessons is vital. It is sometimes painful waiting for students to articulate their thoughts while the rest of the class wait patiently, but they do improve with practice. The academy focus on oracy means that students should be focusing on this area in every subject area. This will certainly help them in their maths lessons too.

Linked to improving reasoning skills, two teachers from all three secondaries went to the second day of the Maths Hub KS3 Reasoning Project this week. They will be working in their pairs to trial ideas from their training. This will include observing the resulting learning that takes place as a result of what they have put in place in each other’s lessons over the next few weeks. They will be feeding back their findings to each department during faculty time. I look forward to hearing all about what they have learnt.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Matilde