Making maths masters

Visible Learning empowers MS students

Katie White, Head of Mathematics (Middle School)

As teachers, we are constantly asking which methods optimise student learning. John Hattie’s Visible Learning research has taken us a long way towards some valuable answers. The Middle School Mathematics team has put a lot of time and thought into how best to incorporate Visible Learning strategies into our teaching and learning.

Ultimately, Visible Learning is about empowering the students to understand their own journey with each topic they are asked to tackle. They ask themselves: What do I already know? What am I now trying to learn? And how am I going to get to the next step?

When a new maths topic is introduced, the boys spend a week learning the basics with their teacher. They then sit a pre-test, to work out the areas of the topic they have mastered, and the areas that still require consolidation (their ‘target areas’). Knowing their target areas gives the boys a clear understanding of what they need to focus on for the remainder of the topic.

After pre-testing, boys move into differentiated groupings that change for every topic. This means that teachers can spend the remainder of the topic targeting the needs of the boys they are working with. It also means that students have the chance to work with different peers and different teachers.

In their ‘topic groups’, boys work in a student-led manner to practise each skill required for the topic, particularly their target areas. They receive feedback from teachers and know where they should be up to at any given moment.

At the conclusion of the student-practice stage, the boys sit a post-test and again do an analysis afterwards. This time they are analysing their progress from the pre-test and reflecting on it. They compare their pre-test and post-test results to see how and where they have improved, they ask themselves which skills they still need to work on, and whether they feel more confident in the topic under study.

Through Visible Learning, we are teaching students how to teach themselves.