Details of GCSE new content are on this page and a summary of the resources only can be found here. Both are part of the series on UK Assessment.

I have been looking further at some of the resources from the examination boards. In this post we will look at some of OCR’s Teaching and Learning Resources.

OCR GCSE Teaching Resources

OCR GCSE 9-1 Check in tests

From OCR, it strikes me that the Check in tests will be very useful in KS3, consider the language of functions, for example, the first questions could be used with students as young as Year 7. Full details of the Check in tests can be found in the Teachers’ Guide. Each test is of a similar format in that Questions 1-5 cover procedural calculations (AO1), questions 6-8 require the ability to reason and communicate mathematically (AO2) and questions 9-10 relate to problem solving tasks (AO3). There is also an extension task. Very usefully (thank you OCR) the Check in tests are also available in Word Format.

Staying with OCR, note the Delivery Guides which include useful links to resources and a series of PowerPoints including questions with answers (always so useful for busy teachers!).

I used the questions from this presentation with Year 7 (age 11-12) when we were studying highest common factors and lowest common multiples.

@ColleenYoung: On Twitter a mere underscore differentiates our identities. Add an underscore to my Twitter handle @ColleenYoung and you will meet @colleen_young an Online Community Strategist; Engagement Specialist; Speaker; Founder #hcsmca; Board Advisor @MayoSMHN; Director of Community @VirtualHospice, Stanford #MedX. Two such similar Twitter handles means I sometimes get some rather interesting tweets about health care which I enjoy reading; I also reroute the misdirected tweets to the other Colleen!

Being pulled into Colleen’s world of health, community and #hcsmca got me thinking about how our worlds intersect and we thought we really ought to join forces!

There’s more reason to unite Mathematics and health than to separate them. As Dean Schlicter wrote “Go down deep enough into anything and you will find Mathematics. ” Let it be so for Mathematics and health. A quick search discovers a set of 5 lessons using biomedical science to study math and extend the maths curriculum at the secondary level (ages 11-16). The lessons “show how maths underpins cutting edge biomedical research. They also introduce students to important ethical issues.” (1)

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Since connecting with Colleen (of #hcsmca-fame) I have been keen to find further resources linking Maths and Health related subjects; many of the students at my school go on to study Medicine in Further Education. You will find some excellent resources at the end of this post.

“Many health-related tasks, such as reading food labels, refilling prescriptions, measuring medications, interpreting blood sugars or other clinical data, and understanding health risks, rely on numeracy.These tasks often require patients to deduce which mathematical skills to use and then to use these in multi-step fashion. Patients who had difficulty learning math skills during their primary education may now be too intimidated or simply unable to call upon these skills. For patients with chronic illness that rely on self-management to safely and efficaciously self-administer treatments this is particularly relevant and may place patients who lack adequate numeracy skills at increased risk for poor health outcomes. Numeracy may be a unique explanatory factor for adverse outcomes beyond the explanations provided by overall literacy.” [2]

Since October is health literacy month and by extension health numeracy, we decided to increase the Colleen factor to the power of 2 on #hcsmca this week. Join us on October 21 at 1pm ET and 6pm BT for a discussion on health, numeracy and maths.

T1: What numeracy skills are increasingly being required of patients and family caregivers?

T2a: What actions/projects/solutions have you seen in health and education to improve the public’s health numeracy level? Examples T2b: Can social media help improve health numeracy? How?

T3: Who on Twitter has brought you into their world and led to thinking about your area of interest differently? How?

Motivate – Maths & Our Health, supported by The Wellcome Trust

From Motivate –Maths and our Health, five resource packs based on topical issues in biomedical science which support and extend the maths curriculum at secondary level (11-16 year-olds).

Note the link from Motivate to Plus Magazine’s Do you know what’s good for you?which is a series of articles, podcasts and interviews aimed at older students, teachers and general readers for a project funded by the Wellcome Trust exploring the role of mathematics and statistics in the biomedical sciences.

…and finally – I cannot resist mentioning here the very aptly named 5-a-dayfrom Mr Corbettwhich I have telling my students for some time now is very good for their Maths health!

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These resources do include basic numeracy questions as well as more advanced Mathematics questions.

Last academic Year I asked my then Year 9 (age 13-14) students about good Mathematics Teachers, their thoughtful and often sophisticated replies can be read here.

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This year I thought I would begin by asking some of Year 7 (age 11-12) who joined the school in September. In their own words, here’s what they have to say….

A good teacher:

Knows what they are talking about

Must have a good understanding of everything!!!

Explains things clearly

They take time to explain

Will explain again if necessary

Explains things in a variety of ways

Changes their style of teaching for people who need help

Has to be wise and clever

Loves questions

Guides you through the steps

Makes sure every child understands

Always recaps

Recaps and revises previous topics

Makes it memorable

Encourages students to like the subject they teach – they share their enthusiasm

Asks us questions to see if we are listening and understanding the topic

Gives us even harder work to build our confidence and get better. Challenges us

Explains homework and classwork in full detail

Is a knowledgeable and helpful guide

Always encourages students to persevere and try their best

Gives advice

Gives you tips

Marks work fairly and correctly

Recommends helpful skills

Gives useful criticism in class

Gives useful comments in books

Gives targets and writes down areas of improvement

Listens to everyone

Lets all the students engage

Lets you work the way you feel it works

Lets you express yourself

Gives people a chance

Doesn’t talk for the whole lesson

Helps everybody who needs help

Finds helpful ways to assist each student

Helps with struggles

Someone who makes you feel that learning / studying is fun

Our disposition, how we come across is so important:

Is happy to teach

Smiles and cares about us

Believes in us

Speaks softly

Makes the group feel comfortable

Is cheerful

Is caring

Gets excited

Is always joyful

Is funny

Has a passionate and kind voice

Is calm

Is supportive and enthusiastic

Is fair and respectful

Is approachable

Is patient

Is nice but firm

Is strict when needed yet kind hearted

Is approachable but when you step over the line they are strict

Reminds students to listen to each other

Reminds students to respect each other

Has a laugh with the students

Must be organised

That comment about guiding through the steps reminds me of one of my Sixth Form many years ago who said:

“What are the baby steps Mrs Young?”

There is some repetition here, but so many students came up with similar themes it seemed worth repeating their statements. They remind me of the earlier Year 9 comments in that once again, it seems to me that their thoughts fit well with the key components of this extremely worthwhile read: What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research. Robert Coe, Cesare Aloisi, Steve Higgins and Lee Elliot Major October 2014.

Like Year 9, their comments seem to fall into these categories:

(Pedagogical) content knowledge (Strong evidence of impact on student outcomes)

“The most effective teachers have deep knowledge of the subjects they teach, and when teachers’ knowledge falls below a certain level it is a significant impediment to students’ learning. As well as a strong understanding of the material being taught, teachers must also understand the ways students think about the content, be able to evaluate the thinking behind students’ own methods, and identify students’ common misconceptions.”

Quality of instruction (Strong evidence of impact on student outcomes)

“Includes elements such as effective questioning and use of assessment by teachers. Specific practices, like reviewing previous learning, providing model responses for students, giving adequate time for practice to embed skills securely 3 and progressively introducing new learning (scaffolding) are also elements of high quality instruction.”

Classroom climate (Moderate evidence of impact on student outcomes)

“Covers quality of interactions between teachers and students, and teacher expectations: the need to create a classroom that is constantly demanding more, but still recognising students’ self-worth. It also involves attributing student success to effort rather than ability and valuing resilience to failure (grit).”

Classroom management (Moderate evidence of impact on student outcomes)

“A teacher’s abilities to make efficient use of lesson time, to coordinate classroom resources and space, and to manage students’ behaviour with clear rules that are consistently enforced, are all relevant to maximising the learning that can take place. These environmental factors are necessary for good learning rather than its direct components.”

I’ll head for the other end of the school and ask the Sixth Form next!

For excellent and free professional development sign up to FutureLearn. Looking at what is coming up for example, we have from The University of Leicester a course on Real World Calculus: How Maths Drives Formula One and Launches Angry Birds. The course starts on 9th November for three weeks and requires about 2 hours a week. The course is entirely free; certificates of participation are available to buy (£34 plus delivery for this course) if you would like proof of your training.

This particular course is one of the FutureLearn Choices series which offer a chance for students to see what studying a subject at university will be like. It strikes me that these could also provide professional development for teachers too and offer ideas for teaching in the Sixth Form (and lower down the school).

The Preparing for University course includes a video on what lecturers value in their students; I’d say that is what teachers at school value in their students too and all through school, particularly in the Sixth Form we need to be conscious of preparing our students for university.

Looking at courses running and coming up I noticed Logical and Critical Thinkingfrom The University of Aukland which has just started. It is simple to join FutureLearn, sign up with Facebook or create an account free. I joined the course very simply, had a look at the materials and tried a quiz – it seems I understand my obstacles well!

Once you have signed up to a course you can use it at any time, looking at my own profile I realised I had signed up to a course back in 2013 and happily all the materials are there for me to return to at any time I like.

Another interesting category for teachers and students is Teaching and Studying. I mentioned the Extended Project above, under this category I discovered a course on just that. Already under way, from The University of Southampton is Developing Your Research Project.

You can find out more about FutureLearn here. Looking at FutureLearn’s description of why their online courses work I discovered a reference to John Hattie and his work on Visible Learning. Certainly the structure of the courses is very clear.