Year 4 teachers Mandy Eggington and Mark Cox explain how utilising both technology and group work makes collaboration extraordinary
Here at NGHS we pride ourselves on personalised and collaborative learning. In Juniors we have the important role of setting the standard for our learners and setting them off on the right path for their learning. One of our pupils’ favourite subjects, without limits, is Maths. We recognise there is a misnomer that Maths is too tricky, that it’s harder than any subject. Our role is to steer, guide and support all learners so they can enjoy the challenge and ‘tool them up’ with strategies that work. iPads are a key part of this toolkit.
Our approach is a dynamic one: we understand learners need iteration, consolidation and concrete resources to help with abstract ideas. That is why we adapt our teaching to the needs of all. Our small class sizes mean that we have the opportunity to vary group and personalise techniques so that learners can approach topics in a supportive way.
Walk into any Maths lesson and you will see how they unlock their potential through differentiated groupings and varied tasks. Through this collaboration, they build relationships, support one another, and articulate their ideas through pupil talk whether is it on quadrilateral triangles or multiplication. Prior to lessons, their understanding is reinforced with ‘pre-teach’ sessions allowing depth of study for lesson time.
Lessons are very much ‘hands on’, whether they choose to use concrete materials such as Base Ten or to toggle between advice, techniques and further teaching from resources on Google Classroom or our bespoke, updated and evolving Year 4 Learning Platform on Google Sites. The pupils’ proficiency in this dynamic multi-tasking prepares them for their futures, as well as instilling independence. As a result, we can circulate groups and give that all-important 1:1 provision to ensure learners’ progress.
iPads are also used in English, Humanities and Science where — in advance of lessons — we can curate all of the resources which previously would have been in the form of slideshow or video content on whiteboards, or physical worksheets, handouts and textbooks.
On our Google Site Year 4 platform, we have effectively created our own bespoke learning sequences which ensure parity across the two classes, reduce workload for the teachers, and provide pupils with the ability to recap and revisit content themselves and at their own pace. Everything that you would usually find in our lesson plans and resource files is accessible to students through the site — and the result is that they enjoy greater control over those resources and their own learning, developing better time management strategies.
Added to this is the flexibility for less confident students to use exemplars and scaffolded resources, and others to forge ahead with extension activities — without the need for teachers to interrupt the flow of a lesson.
What is most pleasing to see is how they problem-solve and use their initiative – what we’d hope for any learner. Using iPads has helped our pupils build in confidence and build their resilience (one of our key recipes in Juniors for success).