First impressions of a scientist teaching maths

Well I survived my first week teaching science and maths at secondary! Having trained in science teaching, taking a year 8 maths class has proven to be a fairly steep learning curve. In science there is so much more opportunity for active learning – practicals, group work etc. In maths I wanted to get away from the dreaded worksheet and I had one small success this week. I put up some A1 and A0 size whiteboard plastic sheets around the walls of the room so that I now have ten spaces for students to write so I can have ten groups of 3. It worked well in a lesson on negative integers and decimals as I got students into groups of three: one pupil wrote a number, the second pupil wrote another number next to it and then the third pupil wrote either < or > in between then they swapped roles. It was great to see them challenging each other as they started to use decimals rather than integers and then started to include negative integers and decimals.

I am thinking I might take the same approach in KS4 science and A level biology when we start to use standard form. I have found when teaching at university that students often find it difficult to appreciate relative magnitudes of numbers in standard form or when measurements are given with different prefixes. Also using whiteboards around the walls might help with rearranging formulae in GCSE physics when pupils are working together.

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About JennyAKoenig

I specialise in science education and communication. Projects have included maths education for bioscientists, study skills for scientists with specific learning difficulties and pharmacology: bringing the science behind how medicines work (or don't!) to a wider audience. I have a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Cambridge and a BSc (Hons 1) from the University of Sydney. Until Sept 2015 I divided my time between my science education and communication consultancy Science ETC (see www.sci-etc.co.uk) and teaching at Lucy Cavendish College (where I was a Fellow). I am now a secondary science and maths teacher.
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One Response to First impressions of a scientist teaching maths

  1. Pingback: Teaching maths in a science classroom | Dr Jenny A Koenig

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