Teacher to teacher

12th March 2004 at 00:00
Maths rounds To practise a skill such as factorising expressions, we play games. My students work in small groups to find the answers to rounds of questions. A round consists of similar types of questions and there are up to five rounds. When they think they have all the answers, I tell them how many are correct.

If they have them all correct, they go on to the next round. If not, they check each one, trying to decide whether it is incorrect and, if so, correct it. This gives you the opportunity to offer as much or as little help as necessary. It is enlightening to see what they think could be wrong and what they change.

The rounds can be printed on card or laminated to make a reusable resource.

You can also swap and share them with colleagues. Students can write their own rounds. If these are presented with a professional appearance, using a wordprocessor, students tend not to write on them or roll them up.

They love working together. Often I ask the students to line up according to how confident they feel about the topic and then I put the more confident with the less confident in small groups. As they take it in turns to bring me the answers, I can target those who didn't feel so confident, getting them to explain an answer to check they are learning from the experience. It adds a sense of urgency and excitement to the work.

Some topics we have used for rounds are:

* Solving equations (Year 9) with rounds of one-stage, then two-stage equations and so on.

* Finding angles (Year 7) with rounds where the angles are on a straight line, around a point, in a triangle and so on.

* Fractions (Year 10) with rounds using each of the four operations and then a mixed round.

* Factorising (Year 11) with rounds where the factorising becomes more challenging.

Kersten Watkins, maths teacher, Jersey College for Girls, Jersey

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