Today, my year 5 maths group heads off with me, chatting happily along the way. We have been asked to explore exponents. The children are in a different space to where they usually learn, the mix of children is different and so is the teacher!
They take time to settle and I say, “I guess you’re not used to what I expect from learners, so I’ll tell you what I hope and then please will you tell me what you expect.”
In one sentence, I talk about making decisions, taking ownership and being responsible for learning. No one has anything to add, so we move on.
I pose this as an invitation :
Some children use A3 paper, some their books to write all that they think they know. I walk around, noting ideas and misconceptions. I write two things on the board, telling the class that I have noticed two different ideas and I am wondering which is right:
Children decide which one they believe is correct and why they believe this. We write their initials up next to the one they agree with and we have one child who is undecided. We have a tug of war type of discussion, and children change their opinions (and where their names are written) as they listen to other people’s opinions. At the end of the tug, we are all on one side and each child is able to explain why they have their belief.
We move on to explore exponents and then, I pose this provocation, asking the children to use index notation in some way.
Collaboration is innate and the ideas that start to develop are fascinating. As I walk around, I see that one child has written:
We write this on the board and ask what people think. Some agree, some are unsure. They all want time to explore. Suddenly, Kayleigh says, “I disagree! I can explain …” The other children listen intently and more questions evolve.
As the lesson draws to a close, we have a discussion. “What did we learn today?”
The responses vary:
- I learnt that making mistakes helps me learn.
- I learnt what exponents are.
- I learnt that when I find things out myself, I understand them better.
- I learnt that I can make decisions that help me learn.
- I learnt how to explain my thinking.
I ask the children to complete this form. Their questions will inform where they start the next lesson.