TS3 & TS4: Concrete Resources

This week I was teaching Year 5 maths looking at measurements and converting between different units. I wanted to make my sequence of lessons on this topic very practical and concrete so that children had the chance to build and solidify their concepts of distance and length and to physically see that 100cm is the same as 1 m for instance. The first lesson seemed to be a success; children were out of there seats using resources around the classroom to develop their concepts of length and measurement and then showed their understanding by converting the units. TS4 impart knowledge and develop understanding through effective use of lesson time. The issue I was finding was that although children were converting, they were seeing the length as changing entirely- rather than processing it as the same length just in a different unit of measurement.

In the second lesson I planned and taught, I had planned for children to use strips of paper cut to the same length, measuring one piece and then writing it’s conversions on the other strips to physically see that although the unit had changed, the length had remained the same. The learning quickly became very confused and learners had not understood the task clearly. I had tried to show the children in a different way and demonstrate at the front what I was expecting from the task, the children had become too confused with the task. After a short time of experimenting with this task, I realised that it was too confusing and decided to stop the task and try a different task to see what the children could do in their books TS4: reflect systematically on the effectiveness of lessons and approaches to teaching.

A few days later, I observed my mentor using concrete resourcing very effectively where it helped children to make sense of their learning and to have those physical, manipulative resources where children could almost discover the learning for themselves.

I have learnt that these concrete resources can be a very powerful tool in the classroom- especially in maths- however, they are are only as effective as the task design itself. In the future, I will certainly continue to use concrete resources but make sure that I have carefully thought about them in action and try to think ahead of how these resources may lead the children to develop misconceptions and how I plan to avoid those. TS3 have a secure knowledge of the relevant subject(s) and curriculum areas, foster and maintain pupils’ interest in the subject, and address misunderstandings. Although I was not necessarily afraid to divert from my lesson plan in this scenario, I do feel that is important to consider lesson planning carefully to make the most out of lesson time and use resources in the most effective way. TS4 impart knowledge and develop understanding through effective use of lesson time

Focused next steps to impact on your progress or the progress of the children in your care:

  • Continue to observe experienced teachers who regularly use concrete resources to develop my own confidence with them
  • Research different ways that the resources can be used
  • Allow flexibility in my planning so that children can make the most of their lesson time
  • Not be afraid to continue to use a variety of resources where appropriate to help and support children.