How to start...

Starters... There's much debate about their use in the classroom (Mr Barton's Podcast and his occasional heated discussions with Mark McCourt). However, I have always had a soft spot for the starter - it prepared the students for thinking in the right way. Even the starters that bare no similarity to the topic of my lesson have now gone up in my estimation as theories on the value of inter-weaving different topics throughout your teaching are reaching me. It makes sense - you do the semi-colon once or twice when looking at creative writing and never touch on it again. Even worse, maybe you continue to write it as a target for the poor student who has no memory whatsoever of that semi-colon lesson and they continue to use it improperly or not at all for fear of making a mistake.

So I am gathering plenty of ideas on how to begin my sessions. Seeing that I only see my students once a week, every minute is vitally important and should always go towards progressing their learning. I always start with a recap of whatever we have been looking at before but also going over essential basics. For example in KS2 Maths I begin with a pack of cards: make the biggest/smallest number you can with 9 cards (practices place value), from there I can question them on different place value exam style questions. After a few short but swift card manoeuvres which can cover dividing and multiplying by 10/100/1000; times tables; fractions etc. I then bring out Corbett's 5 a Day Primary - it's five questions but each question covers a different topic in Maths. Sometimes I would have answered them earlier with working-out on the sheet but purposefully made mistakes - the student has to spot them by carefully checking my working-out. Furthermore, I'm going to try, with my 11Plus and SATS students, a first page question starter. You know, the first page of the 11Plus and SATS exam is full of the easy picking questions - they need to be able to get full marks here. Mr Barton's latest podcast had a brilliant lady on who focussed on GCSE re-sits but I have managed to take her gems of advice and apply it to my younger students too.

My recent delves into the latest English teaching theories have also come up trumps but I think it will call for a another blog post since my brain is itching to get on with this first Maths exam page starter...

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