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Within the East of England, we were lucky enough to welcome Cath Moore from the AMSP to deliver a bespoke session on mixed attainment teaching. This followed a series of professional development sessions focused on reasoning and problem solving that proved hugely popular. The theme was the use of low-threshold, high-ceiling activities which would allow all students to take part, but still leave room for high attainers to be stretched.

The teachers who attended really enjoyed trying out some puzzles for themselves and envisioning how even the least confident students could take part meaningfully. Cath’s technique of a ‘chat blast’ was the digital equivalent of ‘show-me’ boards, where everyone was able to type their answer into the chat box in their own time but only pressed enter when instructed to. The action-packed hour finished with a quick round-up of what is happening in terms of grouping in the schools which were represented, underlining the utility of these strategies in many schools where there is less setting than in a ‘normal’ year.

If you’d like some similar inspiration, two of the problems were based on problems from Don Steward’s blog and the NRICH website. Cath also recommended the book Thinkers for more similar fare.

We received some great feedback from participants:

  • …it’s useful to experience enjoyment of these open-ended puzzles because it reminds me that it is possible to give something enjoyable to high-achievers.
  • Good to be reminded of a wide range of different open-ended problems. Nice way of doing it to all type in together, rather than a race!
  • Loads of good ideas for including all students in activities, questioning answers, looking for alternative solutions etc. Made me think!!
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