Teaching Data (or ‘tools’, in general)

At our faculty day today, we had a guest speaker – Mr Stuart Palmer from PLC Croydon.

He was amazing in his passion, achievements, creativity and generosity with resources.

One of the things which really struck me is pretty obvious, i.e. teach tools in the context of their functionality. This is a philosophy I uphold with technology and, being a beginning maths teacher, have struggled with to apply in maths. It’s fantastic to be walked through a unit of work that applies this.

His unit of work (on Data) which, in essence, looks like this:

  1. Introduce the whole toolkit, e.g types of graphs (data display), measures, etc
  2. Introduce the language/jargon; a match-making activity with example-writing is a fun way to reinforce learning
  3. Work on a guided investigation using an article straight of the  news, preferably one  appealing or relevant to teens; his example was on diabetes and pregnancy
  4. Do some self-directed investigation with resources within a click away and accessible as often as possible

This is just a fraction behind the wonderful piece of work with built-in differentiation. However, this summary captures the point I’m trying to make.

With maths, quite often teaching and learning revolve around the concept and mechanics and not on real application (generally the fun bit). At least, not often enough. So his challenge to us was to think about how we can teach the concepts and mechanics within the context of the ‘fun bit’.

As mentioned, I already have this skill with regards to technology – I believe this has made me successful in my previous IT profession. Now, the challenge is on to transfer this skill in the educational context, within the classroom.

So today, not only have I learned, I’ve also been challenged. Then again, isn’t that what makes learning fun in the first place?

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