Near the beginning of this academic year I wrote that Year 7 (UK age 11-12) and I decided we would use Class Dojo this year to record learning behaviours. We have since adopted the term badges to describe our system which I rather like; it reminds me of the excellent work by the Mozilla Foundation on their Open Badges and I wonder if at some point in the future I can somehow link our system to an open badge.
See also – the later post on ClassCharts which can also be used to record learning behaviours and additionally offers the facility for students to view their own complete online record.
Our system seems to be working well, particularly as it is very much ours not mine and it’s all about being the best you can be, which is quite different from being the best in the class. Year 7 have come up with many suggestions, I quote some of them here:
- Some of my ideas for a badges are: Well prepared, Contributes in class, Good Marking.
- I have an idea that maybe there could be a good effort/trying your hardest badge, so this doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has got 10/10 but when you know they are struggling in a particular topic and then they might get a just above average mark in it , you will still know they tried there hardest because they were struggling with it before.
- There could be a badge for a great badge idea! Also neatness. A tidy page is easier to read and mark.
- I think we should have an organisation badge because it’s important to have everything you need for a lesson.
- You could also include a gritty child badge.
- I think we should add a presentation badge, a best effort badge and a badge called Smarty Pants so if we get full marks for quite and few times in a row we can get a smarty pants badge!
- I think there should be a ‘happy to do my homework’ badge. Where we ask ourselves, are we ok to do our homework because I only really get my homework correct if I am motivated enough to do it! Also none of us want to feel like we ‘hate’ homework!
- Mrs Young, do we have an enthusiasm badge on classdojo? Because I think that that would be quite useful
…and the suggestions are still coming. We have discussed how these badges will be awarded, for example when I asked how will I know that you are happy to do homework, we decided that their homework would show care, would always be done on time and if they had any problems they would ask before it is due in. What has been so pleasing about all these discussions is all the talk about what it means to be a good learner.
I do like to get a class working immediately, I have written on Bell Work before; Year 7 are aware of this and just recently a student suggested a JDI! badge for those students who come into class and without fuss get straight on with their work. The student who suggested that was obviously listening to me at the beginning of the year when I mentioned that there were times when you just have to get on with things – just do it!
In our discussions on homework we have decided that sometimes it would be a good idea to have an independent homework where each student decides for herself what she will spend time on. This offers the chance to practise more examples of any topic a student feels she needs or perhaps try some extension work; there are many possibilities. I have reproduced below the instructions I have written for students (on our homework blog) on how this will work. I will report back in a later post on how this is working.
We decided it would be a good idea to have an independent homework sometimes, giving you the freedom to work on something of your own choice. This will enable you to demonstrate your independent learning skills. There are several suggestions here but you may choose any activity that will support your learning in Mathematics. Your activity should usually include trying some problems.
Your textbook: the Test Yourself exercises at the end of each chapter have the answers at the back so you can check your solutions as you work. You could also work through examples in the Yellow boxes or try some of the puzzles. If you do use worked examples – never just read them, work them out yourself.
Online activities: if you choose any online activities you should show some working in your book.
- MyMaths – remember to use your second level password if you try any of the homeworks.
- MangaHigh – the quizzes – not just games!
- CIMT Tutorials Year 7 or Year 8.
- The Maths Teacher
David Smith’s site, The Maths Teacher has an extensive collection of videos to help you study Mathematics. Many of the foundation GCSE topics are also ideal for KS3 (age 11-14). For each topic not only is a video available but also a transcript and exercises with solutions. This makes the site ideal for revision – you have the choice of perhaps just trying the exercises or if you feel you need more help you can watch the video – whatever is right for you.
- Any website of your own choice, many students like BBC Bitesize for example. There are other suggestions on this page.
- A chance to study any new area of Mathematics that we have not studied in class yet that interests you, you could use any of the above resources or perhaps you could try a problem from the Nrich website. Note that you can search Nrich. Suppose you want to work on Algebra for example, you will find lots of activities here.
- Try some Maths challenge questions – see this page. Note the challenges from the University of Mississippi, the Middle School Madness and Elementary Brain Teaser problems are for school age children, Middle School Madness for grade 8 (age 14 and under), the Elementary Brain Teaser for grade 6 (age12 and under). If you submit a correct solution by the deadline that week your name will be published on the website.
- Work on your mathematical vocabulary, you will find the dictionaries here helpful. You may want to look at some other reference material, many students find these notes from Craig Barton very helpful.
- Learn to use WolframAlpha to check your work.
- Learn to use the Desmos Graphing Calculator
- If you want to practise (and assess yourself) at a particular level then try Convinced from Kangaroo Maths. Also from Kangaroo Maths see the Levelopaedia and Level Ladders. Emily Hughes has a clear and attractively presented guide for both KS3 and KS4.
- Are you guilty of making any of the Classic Mistakes here?
- All the above are suggestions if you are not sure what to try. You are of course free to make any choice of your own as long as it supports your learning of Mathematics!
Remember that getting stuck helps you learn. Gritty students persevere and work things out when they get stuck, asking for help is fine too! Try and ask specific questions.
Do you have any observations / suggestions for independent homework? Please add your comments below.