Passport to a C

– A more active approach in Maths

Passport to a C is a program of work developed in response to students’ requests to make maths revision lessons more active. There is no underestimating the importance of good exam preparation. Preparation is a key factor in success at GCSE. Traditionally revision lessons leading up to a maths exam contain a teacher input followed by exam questions.

Imagine a different type of lesson where students are given a set of cards and asked to sort them. Card sorts are used widely in most subject areas. However, I have seen little use of them in secondary mathematics’ classrooms. This approach is based on Malcolm Swan’s research ‘Towards more active approaches’.

Each revision lesson includes a sorting activity, some key words and a collection of images or numbers connected in a variety of different ways. Students are encouraged to discuss and search for links. In doing so, they display their current level of language and understanding of a given topic. This encourages students to apply pre-existing knowledge. It also allows teachers the chance to assess students and decide on the best way to develop the lesson. Student response to the approach is generally positive. Comments include I like to sort the cards my way. I can look for connections. I feel good when I can explain my ideas to someone else.

Having used this material with a variety of groups the level to which the students are able to sort the cards changes depending on the topic. Initially students make quite superficial connections then another student sees a different way of sorting. Thus a snowballing effect occurs as the students thinking gets HOTTER.

This resource is going to be launched to parents at the forthcoming parentinformation evenings. It is already available through the VLE. These resources used in conjunction with other revision materials such as Bitesize will provide the students at CCHS [Cramlington Community High School, CLV’s previous incarnation! –Ed.] with a very powerful revision programme and a passport to a C.

Michael Smith & Graham MacPhail



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