> What we got

What we got from our work

Educator story

Mr Raj Vasanthakumar
Year 10 to 12 Maths Coordinator
Mrs Ha Pham
Year 8 & 9 Maths Coordinator
St Peter Claver College
Nerang Cluster

A conversation between Mr Raj Vasanthakumar (Year 10 to 12 Maths Coordinator) and Mrs HaPham (Year 8 & 9 Maths Coordinator), St Peter Claver College

Raj: In one of Peter Grootenboer’s (Cluster Critical Friend) sessions he mentioned to us about how to question the kids in our classroom. I used to do it in the traditional manner of asking a question and then the children put their hands up and they would answer. His vision was instead of doing that, we needed to ask them to write an answer on a piece of paper. I adopted that and it actually worked quite well. While they are writing the answer you go around and give them some feedback on it, or help them write it, or get something out of it. You really see that almost the whole class is engaging in that question, unlike when they put their hands up. Later on, you go over the question again and probably draw on one of the kids, who you know is really shy, to answer because you have seen that their answer is good. So by being positive and drawing them in to answer the question you are giving them the confidence to speak in front of their peers. That is very good and I still use it. I will always use it.

Ha: I took Peter’s advice re kids writing answers on small white boards, which were laminated sheets with white board markers. We did an activity with year 9 where we asked them a question and they wrote down the answer. Usually I would only have a few kids willing to write down an answer. In that session everyone had something written down on their white boards, a substantial amount working, happily doing it. It was really positive. Whether they thought it was like writing on the board, or different to writing in their exercise book, I don’t know. The engagement during that year 9 session was so high, the class was transformed. It was a great idea and we still use that white board strategy as there was so much positive feedback from it.

Raj: Also I think that the writing on paper and white board strategies work because the kids are not going to have to give the answer to the whole class, especially if they think they have the wrong answer. By me seeing their work individually and building a relationship with them, their confidence grows. They are prepared to be wrong with me, but not with the rest of the class.

Raj: Another great thing was when we planned a session with Peter. He came to our school and planned with the year 8, 9 and 10 teachers. With my year 10 class he planned an open ended activity. My class is a high level group but I would never have thought to do such an activity and certainly not of that high level. The activity was calculating the greatest possible volume for a box. We gave some insight on how to explore it, and then they used Excel and other technology. After the first two lessons they taught me, they had gone beyond my level of understanding of Excel. Because it was open ended it gave them the opportunity to excel, to take it to a level further on, with some of my input, but mainly they were on their own exploring.

That open ended task was very good and the class was highly engaged...

What we got from our work

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