What is it?
For me, the start of the lesson is absolutely crucial. For too long in my career precious minutes were lost to taking in the register, collecting in homework, or making sure Josh had a pen. These minutes add up over the course of a week, term or year. A good starter activity, ready and waiting for students when they arrive, can solve this.
Better still, if the questions are designed to revise key skills then you essentially get three benefits for the price of one: a focussed start to the lesson; revision of fundamental concepts; and the benefits of the spacing effect.
How can it be used?
This series of daily practice questions covers the four operations, fractions, place value, powers, simple algebra, unit conversions and more. They can be printed out and left on students’ desks as they enter the room, or simply projected on the board to save paper and protect that precious photocopying budget.
The author has written a really useful blog post explaining how to get the most out of these resources. I particularly enjoyed the part about going through the answers:
After five minutes, I will go through the answers immediately with them. I won’t go through the methods for all the questions; I often have the answers to four of them ready on the IWB to show them straight away. This will obviously rotate throughout the week – Monday: I might go through addition/BIDMAS/dividing by 100/division, Tuesday: multiplication/BIDMAS/subtraction/addition of fractions etc.
This keeps the time down and keeps it a little bit fresh each day. My feedback is never teaching them new skills; you can’t possibly do it in the time and you won’t do it justice, hence only stick with what they (should) know. I don’t take results in or anything as it’s important to make the children aware it’s not a test!
Craig Barton was speaking to Heather Charles. He is a secondary maths teacher in the north of England.