How green are my students?

28th January 2005 at 00:00
Peter Ransom encourages free traffic in problem-solving

One of the areas where many students ask for revision help is algebra.

Knowing where to start is the key to maximising revision time, so establish this first by using traffic lights.

Give students a few examples (no more than five) from one area of algebra (eg linear equations, quadratic equations, graphs, expanding brackets, factorising, powers) starting from very simple to very difficult.

Next to each example, I ask them to sketch a set of traffic lights and shade or colour it appropriately - green if they could do it without any problem, amber if they are unsure about it, or red if they have no idea what to do by sketching a set of traffic lights and shadingcolouring accordingly.

Then they do some smart revision by helping each other, looking at each example in turn. If everyone is green, move on. If some are amber and green then they pair up so green helps the amber. Red and amber students try to resolve their problems - if they have no success they will seek help from me. If they are all amber or all red then we do some whole-class work.

Once the examples are solved to everybody's satisfaction, I ask them to set a similar problem for another student who had the same traffic light colour - of course they have to have solved the equation themselves before passing it on, so there is some check. The advantages of using this include: l Students find their own start level and are not out of their depth.

* They help each other and consolidate their own skills.

* They move on to another topic quickly without losing concentration.

* They receive explanations in a way which can make more sense to them.

Traffic lights work with other topics as well as algebra.

Peter Ransom is leading maths teacher at the Mountbatten School and Language College, Romsey, Hampshire

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now