My High Five


Here are five of the main things that I have learnt this year.

The idea here is that lots of teachers on Twitter use this format and then I can make a collection on a seperate blog so that every one can read short, sharp blogs with useful and interesting information from lots of different sources.


  • What you learnt
  • What was the source? (Blog, book, article, website, conference, podcast)
  • Implications on your practice
  1. There is a maturation period of around 2 years before students can take a novel idea in maths and begin to enquire.

“When the problem solving demands are high, the content demands must be correspondingly lower. The content must contain things that the students have already embedded.” Colin Foster

Source: Mark McCourt on the Mr. Barton Podcast and Colin Foster via Twitter.

Implications on my practice: We have fortnightly quizzes with a section on problem solving. I have been noticing that students are not very successful with this section because I have been using more complex problems from the current topic. I will now use problems that involve maths from the scheme two years ago that students are secure with.

2. A framework from Engelmann about how to structure examples.


Implications on my practice: can be read in my blog here

3. Disturbing a set of questions by interleaving a different question type within the task has benefits for “far transfer” and improves “fluency synthesis”

Source: Making Every Maths Lesson Count by Emma McCrea; Mark McCourt podcast on Mr Barton Podcast

Implications on my practice: Ensure that my tasks include some questions that look similar on the surface but require different maths to that we are currently learning. It’s not even important that they are similar on the surface. They can be completely different. This must be done in a phase of practice after the “I do, we do” phase of learning.

4. Working at an RI school, we have had an Ofsted monitoring visit to prepare for, pending a full inspection next year. Organising a narrative around why we do what we do in a coherent way.

Organising thoughts about our department’s practice to prepare for conversations with Ofsted by using a “story, evidence, impact” template.

Practicing this and hearing it in my own voice was really important with colleagues too.

Source: internal training

Implications on my practice: In discussions with Ofsted ensure that I am clear on what the story has been so far and why we are where we are. Arranging thought using the power of three – “what are you doing to improve teaching and learning in maths.”

  1. Develop a coherent curriculum
  2. Develop staff subject knowledge
  3. Develop a communal set of effective in-class pedagogy


Allow the inspector to then question you on one of the three points to take a particular line of enquiry. This then triggers another organised set of concise answers that sit behind this, again using the power of three – what has been happening so far? How do I know? What am I going to do because of this? Ensuring that all decisions are strategic and pupil outcomes is the key piece of evidence of impact.

5. Better use of Diagnostic Questions and formative assessment.

Source: Craig Barton training with our department; Adam Boxer’s blog on using mock exam data.

Implications on my practice: Use the collections that have been specially collated on

Use the “insights” function to gain ideas on which questions have the most misconceptions and feed this into our schemes of work overviews.

Analyse data from mock exams and use this formatively to 1. improve the work 2. improve the student’s metacognition 3.improve the curriculum by copying the question into the scheme of learning as a prompt so that the next cohort is taught how to avoid these pitfalls.

Things I have read/listened to/attended this year that I recommend:

Mr Barton Podcast

Making Every Maths Lesson Count

Presenting at and attending ResearchEd Blackpool

Internal training from Tom Bennett, Tom Sherrington and Craig Barton

Visible Maths by Peter Mattock

Responsive Teaching by Harry Fletcher Wood

Wholesome Leadership by Tom Rees

Ollie Lovell podcast with Dylan Wiliam – Leadership for Teacher Learning Episode




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