A few years ago I moved to a school with much wider ability range than I had ever taught in before. For the first time in a while, I felt truly challenged as a teacher. It also coincided with my first ever #mathsconf, and so it really made think about the materials I use and the scheme of work I follow.

We tried Pearson Activelearn with KS3 – it seemed so promising. Different tiers for different levels of students, regular tests, the ability to project examples onto the board. In reality though, it didn’t work out for us.

I recently read Craig Barton’s excellent book ‘How I wish I’d taught maths’ and it got me thinking.

So here’s what I wish…

- I wish there were textbooks and schemes of work which, like the Activelearn idea of theta, delta, pi, are suitable for different levels of students but, unlike the Activelearn model, follow the topics in the same order so that if set changes are necessary students can switch level with minimal disruption.
- I wish each lesson had a PowerPoint I could project. The first slide would be a 10 question quiz, carefully structured around Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve to ensure previous topics were revisited just at the point when students were about to forget them.
- The next slide would be a few multiple choice questions so I could check students have the prerequisites required for this topic, allowing me to spot any misconceptions and fix them before beginning the main part of the lesson.
- The next slide would show examples and non-examples to introduce the topic.
- Then there would be example-problem pairs so I could model to the students how to do the questions.
- I wish the textbook exercise would begin with some (sorry not some, LOTS of) deliberate practice – minimally different questions. I want the students to develop the procedural fluency first.
- I wish bigger topics would be broken down – an example, then some questions. Another example, more questions.
- I wish that after the topic has been introduced and the basic skills mastered, the textbook would then provide more intelligent and purposeful practice, including an open-ended task at the end (so that super speedy kid who completes the exercise in record time still has something to do!)
- I wish there were many many tests provided – end of unit, half termly, end of year. Those tests would include many questions to test basic procedural skills, and then other questions which include a problem-solving element.

It’s not too much to ask, is it?