End of the year - Higher

June 8, 2011   

My higher maths class this year went both well and terribly, sort of all at the same time. The class themselves were great, when they turned up and I think that my teaching was pretty good. The problem was the course was rushed - pretty much the whole year.

The class is only scheduled for 4.5 hours a week and this makes getting all the material in very difficult. I prefer to let the students try some questions - so they can see the style of them and so I can get an idea of how they are getting on.

The issue is that getting them to tackle these questions in class takes a lot of time and so to get through everything I had to actually schedule extra classes. I could have got through everything in time if I had lectured on the topics but that isn't something I'm particularly happy doing. I don't feel its a great way for these students to be taught the material.

Next time I will try to teach a little quicker at the beginning of the course which should allow me to take a little more time with the harder stuff at the end.

The course is also going online next year - that is the notes and learning materials and extra questions being put on the college's VLE. I hope to use little tests on there to help the students explore some topics in greater detail. I tried to do that this year with a little project here and there but as with the rest of the homework - only some of the students actually completed it.

This was actually one of my biggest problems this year was getting the students to complete homework. The homework doesn't count toward their final grade but they are meant to show continuous progress throughout the course. A little persuasion from the Studies Advisor (guidance type teacher) sometimes helped but it was as a rule difficult to get anything out of them. I don't really know how to improve this. We've altered some of the assessments for next year to make them easier at the beginning of each topic and then increasing their difficulty as we get further into the topic. We have also added more multiple choice and I hope by putting some of these online the students might find the time to get around to the assignments.

I will also, hopefully, be able to use more presentations. I think that in higher there is a lot than can be speeded up slightly by using a presentation rather than examples on the whiteboard - sometimes they don't need exact detail and drawing graphs on a whiteboard is quite time consuming. I'm also very happy because the projector has been moved in the room Higher is normally taught in - its been moved to right beside the whiteboard which will hopefully mean I can do a little of combined presentation and whiteboard work.

The other thing I'm going to use more next year is group work. I only used it a couple of times this year - but if I have a good topic (I used calculus to good effect this year) then it can be very useful. Now I know the course in a little more detail I can use group work to allow the students to investigate certain topics in more detail.

I hope I can put all of this into practice next year.