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Secondary Maths - Collective Memories

Format of Collective Memory Activities

Collective Memory activities are designed to encourage positive collaborative learning and give students a deeper understanding of a given topic. They also help stimulate a fun, interactive learning environment.

There are three possible formats for Collective Memory Activities, with the one suitable for you often being dependent on time constraints, the needs of your class and the topic in question:

  1. Traditional Collective Memory
  2. Flash Point Collective Memory
  3. Individual Memory

Below is a brief overview and a suggested format for each of these types of activities. These can, of course, be adapted to suit to needs of your class and any time constraints you may face.

1. Traditional Collective Memory

Lesson Time Needed: Around 30 minutes.

Overview: A rich lesson activity where each student plays an equally important role in the team as they strive to work together positively and co-operatively to recreate the important aspects of a poster. Each individual student views the poster on their own and then must report their findings back to their team mates.

Preparation:

  • Print off the Poster in colour and ideally enlarge it to A3
  • Get enough blank sheets of A3 paper for one per group of four students
  • Get a good supply of coloured pens/pencils
  • Get access to a stopwatch/countdown timer. One I recommend can be found online at www.online-stopwatch.com

In the classroom:

  • Divide the class up into teams of 4, ideally with each team sat around the same table, and with each student allocated a number (1, 2, 3 or 4)
  • All the Number 1s are called to the front of the class first
  • They have 15 seconds to look at the poster out of view of the rest of the class - they cannot bring any writing materials with them, and it should be done in silence
  • They will then have one minute to try to recreate the poster back at their desks with their team mates and discuss what areas the next person should focus on
  • After one minute, all Number 2s go to the front of the class to see the poster for 15 seconds
  • This continues until each team member has seen the poster 3 times, for 15 seconds, and had one minute to recreate as much of it as they can back at their desks
  • Students should be encouraged to communicate with their team mates and devise strategies for how they are going to remember all of the poster in the given time
  • Once all students have seen the poster 3 times, teams should be given around 2 minutes to finish off their poster before the Plenary

Possible Twist: In order to ensure as many students are on-task at any one time, it can be a good idea to enforce the rule that the student retuning to the group having viewed the poster is not allowed to draw anything. Instead they can only communicate what they have seen to their teammates, who must then try to recreate the poster. This has the added advantage of further boosting the levels of co-operative learning present. A possible format might be:

  • Number 1s view the poster, return to their group and communicate what they have seen to Numbers 3 and 4 who try to recreate the poster. Number 2 listens carefully in preparation for their turn
  • Then Number 2s view the poster, return to their group and communicate what they have seen to Numbers 4 and 1, who try to recreate the poster whilst Number 3 observes
  • Number 3 communicates to Numbers 1 and 2, and this pattern continues

2. Flash Point Collective Memory

Lesson Time Needed: Around 15 minutes.

Overview: This format is quicker and easier to manage than the Traditional Collective Memory. Instead of students coming to view the poster individually, the whole class is shown it for 15 seconds, and then students must work in their teams to recreate it and discuss before the second viewing.

Preparation:

  • Get enough blank sheets of A3 paper for one per group of four students
  • A supply or scrap paper for each group is handy too
  • Get a good supply of coloured pens/pencils
  • Get access to a stopwatch/countdown timer. One I recommend can be found online at www.online-stopwatch.com

In the classroom:

  • Divide the class up into teams of 4, ideally with each team sat around the same table
  • Students must put their pens down and sit in silence with their hands behind their backs
  • They are then shown the poster on the interactive whiteboard/projector for 15 seconds
  • They then have one minute in their groups to recreate the poster and discuss what each team member will be focussing on during the next viewing
  • The poster is then shown for 15 seconds for a second time, again with students sitting in silence with their hands behind their backs, followed by one minute of team discussion recreating the poster
  • Depending on the complexity of the poster, the activity may contain 3 or 4 cycles
  • Once this is complete, teams should be given around 2 minutes to finish off their poster before the Plenary

3. Individual Memory

Lesson Time Needed: Around 10 minutes.

Overview: This format is ideal for a quick starter or revision activity. This time students work on their own to remember the key aspects of a poster and must decide for themselves which areas to prioritise on each viewing.

Preparation:

  • Get enough blank sheets of A3 or A4 paper for one per student
  • Get a good supply of coloured pens/pencils or simply ask the students to complete the activity using pencils
  • Get access to a stopwatch/countdown timer

In the classroom:

  • Students can sit in their normal seats with their blank piece of paper in front of them
  • Students must put their pens down and sit in silence with their hands behind their backs
  • They are then shown the poster on the interactive whiteboard/projector for 15 seconds
  • They then have one minute to recreate the poster and decide what they will be focussing on during the next viewing
  • The poster is then shown for 15 seconds for a second time, again with students sitting in silence with their hands behind their backs, followed by one minute trying to recreate the poster
  • Depending on the complexity of the poster, the activity may contain 3 or 4 cycles
  • Once this is complete, students should be given around 2 minutes to finish off their poster before the Plenary

The Plenary

This is where the actual poster can be revealed to the class. More importantly, this is where the discussion takes place, and learning is tested, consolidated and extended.

The Plenary is made up of topic-specific questions, but also general discussions about team-work and strategies employed. General topics for discussion may include:

  • Which parts of the poster were the easiest to recreate?
  • Which were the most difficult?
  • Why was this?
  • Did some pieces of information on the poster help you to remember others? Can you explain this?
  • What were the most important pieces of information on the poster?
  • What strategies did you use as a team to help you remember the poster?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • What have you learnt from this activity?

Twists

A nice idea is to put a couple of twists in the Collective Memory. Two good ones are:

  • Missing Information - leave some information out and once the students have recreated the poster they must fill in the gaps
  • Deliberate Mistakes - make a deliberate mistake in the poster and see if students can spot it!

Collective memory resources

Equivalent Fractions

Money

Fractions and Decimals

Number Operations

Collecting Like Terms

Sequences

Probability (Level 5)

Angle Facts

Telling the Time

Types of Quadrilaterals

Metric and Imperial Measures

Polygons

Vectors

TES Secondary Maths teaching resources