At our school, we do a lot of MY Turn Your Turn. A form of direct instruction where children repeat back. This allows us to embed certain vocabulary or ideas. It also allows teachers to quickly assess who is on board. In the table below, there are different ways to do this. In Maths, it might be “I say 3, you say 3” or “I show a 3 Numicon, you say 3” or “I say 3, you show a 3 Numicon” etc. In English, it might be “I say ‘lion’, you say ‘lion'” or “I show a ‘lion’ word card, you say ‘lion'” or “I say ‘l-i-o-n’, you show a ‘ion’ word card” etc.
Just to be clear, this isn’t a sheet to be shared with the children. It is just a range of possible ways we can use My Turn Your Turn in a range of permutations.
This blog post by Clare Sealy, she outlines the principles of maths instruction and an approach based on cognitive load theory. Citing Craig Barton’s book, ‘How I wish I’d taught maths’, she lists five principles of maths instruction:
- Present new information in small steps with pupil practice after each step
- Ask a large number of questions and check the response of all pupils
- Provide models
- Guide pupil practice
- Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks
These are based on Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction, in particular: guided practice, everyone is successful, new material in small steps and lots of models. We have been working on an approach to planning maths in Year 1 that takes the whole class on a journey of instruction from modelling and explanation to guided practice to small group teaching alongside independent practice.
In this approach, the teacher introduces a model (for example, adding two groups by combining using a part part whole model). This is a large format version that everyone can see how it works – it could be an A3 version. The whole class stay together and all work, through guided practice, on the same model using ‘My Turn Your Turn’ or ‘Talk To Your Partner’ type strategies. The important thing is that everyone is working with the teacher and everyone has apparatus. When the learning is constructed in this way from the right starting point, everyone can come on board and everyone can be successful. After a cycle of tasks and interaction as a whole class (and only when the teacher feels the learning is secure), a group of children work with the teacher on a small group version of what we’ve been doing as a whole class – a bit like guided writing in English. Meanwhile, the other children work on a model and learning from previous days. When the teacher feels the children are ready to be independent, they then work on a mini version of the model that they complete in the exercise books. Here are some examples so you can see how it works.
Subtraction as take away • Addition as counting on
This approach provides a lesson structure but it requires good subject knowledge to identify the progression of maths learning in a specific domain. The image below shows the progression of number sentences from counting on orally, to counting on using common vocabulary to increasingly symbolic notation.
The first Thinking Operation today is Statement Inference.
- Listen. Pollution in the air increases every year. Say that statement. (Signal.)
Pollution in the air increases every year. (Repeat until firm.)
- Everybody, listen. Pollution in the air increases every year. When does pollution increase in the air? (Signal.) Every year.
- What increases in the air every year? (Signal.) Pollution.
- Where does pollution increase every year? (Signal.) In the air.
- How does pollution in the air increase every year? (Signal.) I don’t know.
- What does pollution in the air do every year? (Signal.) Increases.
- Does the pollution in the air get greater every year? (Signal.) Yes. (Repeat step 2 until firm.)
In the above routine from Corrective Reading (McGraw Hill and NIFDI), the teacher takes the children through a structured routine from repetition to extracting key information. Although some would see this approach as traditional or overly structured, this fails to see the depth of understanding this approach seeks to develop. A lot of the time, adults assume that the language they are using is meaningful and self explanatory. They read great chunks of text; stopping now and then to ask what a word means, taking a quick definition; and then reading some more. This approach recognises that the sentence structure is complex with two prepositional phrases. The questioning checks that the children know when something is happening, where something is happening and what is the main subject of the sentence. Similarly Jane Oakhill’s excellent Understanding and Teaching Reading Comprehension seeks to delve into the complexity of language so that it can be made understandable.
Some might argue that this approach isn’t child-centred; however, I would argue that it is more empathetic because it does not assume that the children we work with have had the same life experiences or the same language support. It seeks to compensate for disadvantage rather than ignore it.