Reasoning and problem solving in KS3/4 professional development

Tuesday 12th January 2021

Following a discussion with the Maths Lead at Ipswich Academy, an 11-16 school, about their departmental priorities for their team meetings, the AMSP East of England regional team were able to organise a series of bespoke online professional development sessions for the school. The department’s key priorities were to make the professional development slot in their departmental fortnightly meetings more effective, engaging and different, hopefully to provide a shared sense of purpose for the team and to revitalise the teachers’ love of maths, particularly why we choose to persevere in challenging times when there has not been the occasional away/training day to provide this in the last year.

The outcome of these discussions was a series of three engaging online twilight sessions led by Cath Moore from the AMSP. Cath presented ideas and activities based on materials from the AMSP's Raising Confidence course, with a particular emphasis on reasoning. This is an area with a low entry but a high ceiling, so it is particularly suitable for mixed ability groups. Recently the exam boards have said that students have been improving at modelling and problem solving, but less so at reasoning.

There were the usual opportunities to do some fun maths puzzles, share experiences, and discuss activities. It was good to come away from the session with renewed enthusiasm, plus a few ideas to try the next day. Online professional development does have the added bonus of not having to travel, although personally I was unimpressed by the biscuit selection!

Some of the feedback that we received from participants was:

  • "I really enjoyed her modelling and how she would narrate how she was thinking through the question."
  • "A good CPD – very thought-provoking, enjoyed it."

By Chris Savage

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