Just a quick post on something I have been trying to reincorporate into my teaching over the past few weeks after really focusing on it last year- ‘micro plenaries’. I first saw this idea on the impressive ‘but is it on the test?’ blog- worth reading for a detailed account of this and a range of other maths-related teaching and learning ideas. The concept is a scaled down, individualised version of the sort of plenary one might have at the end of a lesson. After each interaction with an individual student, ask them a short plenary question to help ensure that the processes used are explicit and thus their work becomes more meaningful. The most common questions I ask are ‘what was the key step in this question’, ‘what was the way into this question’ and ‘can you summarise what you did to answer this question’. However, there is a huge range of questions that are likely to be just as, if not more, effective.
It takes some practice to remember to incorporate this into part of one’s normal questioning, especially if this takes place whilst circulating the room where the temptation is often to quickly attend to other students or gauge the ‘feel’ of the class after interacting with an individual. However, in my experience it is well worth sticking with and has a real impact in helping the student become more aware of the cognitive processes they are using.