Welcome and introduction
Marie welcomed all the teachers and AIMSSEC colleagues (see Appendix 1 for a list of those attending). She discussed the contents of the bags given to each teacher (reports, a hat and a bag, a set of mini white boards and a USB drive with some clips from the research lesson taught in the second term). She then talked about the outline plan for the meeting and introduced Greg Hawtrey.
Teacher presentation: Greg Hawtrey
Greg explained that he had been asked to share some of his experiences of being part of the research project. He started by saying how much he had learnt from the experience so far. He explained that the first research lesson (on exponents) he had taught was to his Gr 8 class but that it had not been a good experience. Subsequently he taught two lessons to his Gr 10 class (Time-distance graphs and Different representations) and these lessons had been much more successful. He showed some video clips from the second and third lesson and pointed out a number of things he had noticed. He spoke about, for example, the different strategies he had seen learners using in terms of how to approach a card matching activity.
He showed a clip of two learners working on their own (without teacher intervention) trying to decide how to match two pairs of similar cards. He remarked about how valuable and interesting he found this, saying how seldom teachers get the opportunity to observe the students in such depth.
When showing the clip of a group of learners putting the solutions on the board he pointed out how interesting it was that the other learners who weren’t finished continued working and did not look at the answers on the board.
The last clip he showed demonstrated that as a teacher he had “nothing to do”. The learners were all engaged in the task and he was moving around the class observing. He spoke about how unusual this felt but how good it was to see the learners fully engaged.
Finally he asked whether teaching a research lesson to an “easy” class was worthwhile for research and whether it wasn’t perhaps more worthwhile to teach the lesson to a “difficult” class.
Marie responded by saying that she and Ingrid had thought about this issue, and felt that for the initial stages of design research it was useful to teach the lesson to a class for whom the lesson worked well. This would allow the researcher to concentrate on finer design issues.
Marie explained that, as for the previous cluster meeting, she had made a short video montage of all the lessons taught since the previous cluster meeting.. She briefly explained what the six lessons that had been taught were (Multiple representations, Designing a garden, Equations and Identities, Real life equations, Quadrilaterals and Triangle constructions).
She asked the teachers to consider the following things while watching the video: the role of the teacher, the role of the students, the design of the tasks and the use of cards.
The video consisted of scenes from the beginnings, middles and ends of the lessons. It ended with extracts from interviews with three of the teachers, Joina Choimadzi, Hanneke de Wet and Severino Sedeya.
Ingrid explained that the Fasmed team would like the teachers to now work in groups, and that we suggested who should work with whom, according to the lessons they had taught. This would give them an opportunity to share their experiences with a teacher from a different school.
Ingrid explained that each group would get a number of cards with possible points they might like to discuss (e.g. ‘big cards’, group work’). For most groups there were also cards specific to the lesson (e.g. ‘add irregular quad’ and ‘blank cards’). She asked each group to make a poster using the cards and somehow representing issues that were discussed.
The groups were as follows:
Different representations: Greg Hawtrey, Joina Choimadzi and Severino Sedeya
Real life equations: Berenice Jardine and Zukile Sisilana
Quadrilaterals: Rob Douglas, Memory Dizha and Hanneke de Wet
Real life equations and Equations and Identities: Jonathan Fischer and Adnaan Ederies.
The AIMSSEC staff also did two of the activities (Quadrilaterals and Different representations).
Issues arising this term
Marie briefly discussed the following issues:
- Time: Marie said that it was clear from all the lessons that time was one of the biggest factors to consider. She said that we are aware that it isn’t always possible to set aside two periods to teach a FaSMEd lesson and that this needs to be taken into consideration when designing the lessons.
- Use of guidance: Ingrid explained that we had tried out dramatically shortening the guidance to go with the lessons. She asked about the difference that a short guidance made and whether the teachers preferred the more detailed one. Rob said that he liked having both.
- Adapting and adopting: this point tied in with the previous point. Teachers said that they were finding it easier to teach someone else’s lesson after having taught the first research lesson.
- Designing from scratch: Ingrid explained that the different representations lesson had been designed “from scratch” because Joina, Greg and Severino had all asked for a lesson to address a specific topic. She said that we had enjoyed designing and trialling it and that the teachers should ask us to design a lesson for them if they wanted one.
- Getting better at what we do: Marie pointed out that she hoped that we are also getting better at what we do as we gain more experience. She specifically mentioned how useful it had been to video a pair of learners and that we would try (if possible) to do this in more classrooms in the third term.
Marie said that we would contact each teacher individually to make arraignments to visit them next term for a final FaSMEd lesson. She reiterated that it would be best if the teachers told us what content they would like to teach a lesson about and that we would then find an appropriate lesson or create one if necessary.
Marie explained that Danny had been working for FaSMED for three months and that besides helping with school visits he had been working on his own research project. Danny explained that he was interested in technology and that he had been working with Rob’s after school Gr 9 revision maths club in the second term. Rob’s classroom is equipped with eight laptops and a data projector so it was a convenient set up to trial the use of technology.
Danny explained that he spent two sessions observing and had then taken the lead in the next three lessons. He explained that he is particularly interested in the use of GeoGebra in teaching mathematics and the fact that Rob’s grade 9s were busy with geometry made it easy to come up with relevant activities for them to do on GeoGebra.
The first two sessions required learners to construct points and (parallel) lines themselves and to compare various angles. The third lesson was different in that Danny had prepared a file with 6 different shapes. The learners were required to play with the shapes and to identify which properties were always true and therefore what the shapes really were – Danny set up them up in a misleading way so that, for example, the rhombus looked like a square.
Danny said that the learners were engaged and that one of the best things about the session was that they were able to work at their own pace. Rob agreed with this and said that even though the learners were at different levels, they all had something that they could engage with.
Danny finished by asking if there were questions or comments. Some of the teachers said that they liked the activity.
The meeting concluded at 5:05pm.
Our thanks go to everyone who attended the meeting and to the AIMS kitchen staff for the refreshments.