3-Read Friday #011
Pre-testing, quizzes, and if-then statements
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Here are three blog posts that I found interesting this week.
Pre-testing is one of those ideas that appears to be supported by research, but I just cannot seem to make it work in the maths classroom. Pre-testing involves asking students questions about the concepts in an upcoming unit of work (crucially, questions they are unlikely to know the answers to as the material is new to them), but as a result of this, students seem to retain knowledge directly and indirectly related to the pre-test after it has been taught. Indeed, there is a brand-new study that finds exactly this, and is the subject of Andrew’s blog post. Andrew provides a really good summary of the paper, as well as some super practical implications and caveats for classroom practice. Maybe pre-testing works in subjects other than maths? Or maybe I just cannot pull it off!
One of the biggest changes to my teaching with a Year 11 group I taught a while back was the introduction of a weekly Low-Stakes Quiz. Whilst the students were reluctant at first, once they realised that regular quizzing was helping them remember things better, their enthusiasm and enjoyment of the quiz grew and grew. The culmination of this was when I was off one Thursday (our quiz day), and the kids were fuming when they saw me next because I hadn’t set the quiz for cover work. Anyway, Matthew’s blog, more than anything else I have ever read, gets to the bottom of how to tap into the potential for quizzes to be motivational. It is super detailed, super practical, and then super useful.
This is nice from my podcasting arch-enemy, Ollie Lovell. Ollie highlights a common response when we ask students to reflect upon what they are learning: they just see what they are doing. We are doing Pythagoras, we are doing angles, and so on. Ollie suggests that we think of how we frame concepts we teach students as if-then statements. So, if you have a right-angled triangle and the lengths of two of the sides, then you can use Pythagoras’ Theorem to calculate the length of the remaining side. Or, if you know the angle properties of a regular polygon, then you can calculate any missing angle. Being explicit with these if-then statements is useful for our planning, but also for helping students recognise the purpose of what they are learning.
If you found this edition of 3-Read Friday useful, feel free to share it with colleagues. Also, you can check out all the back issues of my Eedi newsletter and Tips for Teachers newsletter here. But, most importantly of all, have a great weekend.
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