We all know the new maths GCSE is harder, but it’s interesting to look at HOW they are harder. There is some new content, but not particularly a massive amount (although I think the functions content will be harder for many pupils than it looks). The reason most people are pointing to the new GCSE being harder is to do with they new way it is being examined.

There are a lot of lot of new questions around interpreting. I think this is fair. It’s trivial to solve most equations (Wolfram alpha will solve a quadratic for you), the difficult bit is interpreting the problem mathematically. That is, reading it and deciding what to do.

To be clear, I think this is a step in the right direction, and a correct approach (although I think the idea that pupils should memorise trig ratios is crazy).

However, let’s be honest and admit to ourselves that this will mean a significant amount of pupils will fail. Those who have poor literacy skills, or SEN needs around comprehension. It is fair that they should fail this test. They should not pass it. But they should be offered the chance to pass SOME test that shows their basic mathematical ability.

This is why I’m proposing a new qualification: Numeracy.

The qualification would be pass or fail, and all questions would be set with as little text as possible. A typical question might read

586 * 5 =

With no text to support the question.

This will give students who have comprehension issues something to work towards that they can achieve (my SEN experience has told me that often the raw calculations aren’t the issue).

We should aim to make exams difficult. I don’t disagree with that. But we should also offer courses that allow students to achieve. If we let a large number of people leave school with no qualifications than we have failed them, and their negative experiences of school will get passed to next generation. The key is not just making exams harder, but matching students with the appropriate qualification.

Does anyone have any experience using Planboard?

It’s basically an online planner and it might suit my way of working better than a paper planner, which I am terrible at using (I forget to fill in some days, forget to look back at notes from previous days etc).

I’m going to be trialling it this year. So far, I’m quite enthusiastic. You can add files to lessons, print them out, copy them across and, of course, write in descriptions of what you’re doing. There’s even an iPad app (I don’t own an iPad).

If you’ve used it, comment below.

During the term I’ll update the site and write some thoughts as to if it’s actually helped me, or is just another online tool that doesn’t improve on paper and pen.

Budgets in school are increasingly coming under scrutiny. One of the things that we’ve cut back on in our school is photocopying.

This is an issue for me because I’m your typical worksheet teacher. A bit of it is laziness. It’s easy to differentiate by giving someone a sheet with differentiated questions. However, it’s becoming increasingly unfeasible to do this.

A great website I plan to use a lot more this year is Maths Bot. There’s loads of sections, but the nice one for practising is called Differentiated Questions.

questionsIWB.jpg

It gives you differentiated questions on selected topics to project. Lovely.

In fact, the entire website is very nicely put together. Check-check-de-check-check it out.