Exploring the Diagnostic Tool: Spotlight on ditching extra admin with ready to go teacher resources

Mini-lessons help you make the most out of explicit teaching time by targeting direct instruction.
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March 30, 2021

Mini-lessons: Recommended lesson plans ready to go

Mini-lessons help you make the most out of explicit teaching time by targeting direct instruction.

They  are a chance for students to build conceptual knowledge in targeted small groups (groups you can access via your Group by levels page in the Diagnostic Tool). 

This conceptual approach uses the 'Key Concepts' and involves a small group (ideally 6 or less) of students, so that each student can be present and interact with the teacher directly for the duration of the activity.

Mini-lessons also provide a great opportunity for students to work with their peers and for their teacher to explore how different pieces of content relate to each other, often in a hands-on way. 

Mini-lessons are designed to develop broader mathematical ideas, rather than address specific issues students may have with the content they're working on. There are other approaches that are better suited to getting students unstuck; such us  one-on-one interventions.

Each mini-lesson is identified by the Key Concept it's addressing. From here, you can access more details about the concept, including a suggested lesson plan. Each Key Concept has a suggested lesson plan, designed to last around half an hour and work well in groups of 4-6 students.

The lesson-plan has been carefully scaffolded so it can be used by all maths teachers, including those new to the profession or teaching out of field.

Below the concept details there is a list of students recommended for the mini-lesson. Next to each student there is a bar representation of the learning intentions relating to this key concept colour coded depending on mastered (gold) /not mastered (white) . You can see which modules the student has:

If you want to add or remove students, or just see how appropriate the mini-lesson is for other students in the class, you can click the 'add another student' link at the bottom. This will show you the full class list, and you can edit the mini-lesson as much as you'd like from here.

Three reason to use mini-lessons 

  1. Creating lesson plans can be very time consuming . Having access to these carefully scaffolded plans reduces the time to have to spend creating content allowing  more time for planning and preparation for greater impact during class time.
  2. If you are an out of field maths teacher or colleagues in your faculty are,  these can provide amazing support in getting ready to run the lesson and feeling confident with the content 
  3. These lesson plans can support you in explaining concepts you may not regularly cover in the year levels you have thought. If you are a secondary teacher you may need to explain a year 3 or 4 concept as this is where a learning gap exists for a group of students. Similarly, if you teach primary and need to extend students beyond your comfort zone having the right lesson plan can make life a lot easier!

Energisers: Building routines, getting students ready to start the lesson and using transitions

The main purpose of energisers is to help provide structure to the lesson, break up overall lesson time into reasonable chunks, and reinforce students’ emotional associations within the classroom: class cohesion, connection with the teacher, and overall feeling of safety/belonging.

Because of this, energisers don’t strictly need a “mathematical” learning intention to be effective, so some are just fun short activities. However, most energisers do contribute to mathematical learning objectives. Examples include:

  • Building fluency with number
  • Exploring estimation strategies
  • Searching for patterns
  • Using mathematical vocabulary
  • Working with shape properties or number properties
  • Reasoning logically
  • Seeing how mathematics will be relevant to their future careers
  • Broadening the sense of what mathematics is, beyond those areas covered in school
  • Encountering some of the beauty and excitement in mathematics

After you run the diagnostics with your class you can unlock FREE access to 200+ Energisers to run with your class.

Three reasons to shuffle them together randomly (rather than trying to align them to a specific learning intention)

  1. It’s quicker to plan. This leaves more time for planning and preparation for greater impact.
  2. Students are all different levels and if you have started differentiating their work maybe learning completely different things , even if you’ve got a similar focus with the class. So a little more variety won’t hurt. It also makes it easier to introduce the things that aren’t strictly content-focussed, like looking at mathematical careers.
  3. There’s no need for students and teachers to become familiar with a type of task for them to run smoothly. The tasks you’ll find in the diagnostic tool run pretty smoothly anyway - even if you’ve never seen anything like it before.

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