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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Planning for Learning: Formative Assessment. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds CHRIS: In this video, we asked George, one of our teachers, how he used pupils’ misconceptions to help him plan where to start with his teaching, then how he was able to identify misconceptions during the lesson.

Skip to 0 minutes and 19 seconds GEORGE: I think in terms of the planning for learning stage, so when I sat down with my colleague who I teach year three with, we go through what we want the children to learn, from the starting point. Discuss the, say, three or four key misconceptions that are likely to come up. And that’s partly an experience thing, and something that comes through having taught this a number of times. And it’s partly a subject knowledge thing. Knowing the processes that sit behind what we achieved. Some of the children pleasantly surprised me today. They were able to articulate, in a way that I maybe didn’t expect, or haven’t heard them before. That’s always really nice.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 seconds There was a moment where two of the boys who were working together had part of the problem each. One boy was able to recognise what he needed to do and started it, and then sort of went off. And the other boy understood what he needed to do, but couldn’t get started. So I was able to listen to what each of those had said, and then just say right, work together boys. And they were able to get to the answer. Zero subtract two. So that’s what we’re looking at before. I have nothing, if I have no apples, can you take two apples from me?

Skip to 1 minute and 29 seconds STUDENT: No.

Skip to 1 minute and 30 seconds GEORGE: So is the answer going to be two? I think what you might have done there is, you’ve done it the other way around. You’ve subtracted zero from two, haven’t you? So if you can’t do it in the units column, what you are going to, what’s the mathematical word that we were using?

Skip to 1 minute and 44 seconds STUDENT: Exchange.

Skip to 1 minute and 45 seconds GEORGE: Right. So what are you going to do, then?

Skip to 1 minute and 52 seconds STUDENT: Exchange that.

Skip to 1 minute and 53 seconds GEORGE: Go on then, show me how you do that.

Skip to 2 minutes and 1 second Fabulous. Carry on. Yes. Just have a look, in terms of, you’ve done zero, subtract two, so we needed to exchange. We’re going to have to go all the way to the hundreds column to exchange that, OK? Leon, will you and Luca work together for a second, please? So Leon started this bit correctly. Can you see that, he’s seen that he can’t subtract two from zero, so he’s had to go to the next column. He can’t, so he’s gone to the hundreds column here. Can you see here, you’re going to exchange one of the hundreds for ten tens. So he started it. What’s the bit that he needs to do next?

Skip to 2 minutes and 36 seconds STUDENT: Exchange that twelve.

Skip to 2 minutes and 38 seconds GEORGE: Yeah, absolutely. So you’ve done the first bit correctly. But if you work together to get this done, I think that Luca can help you with that last bit, and can help you with that first bit. OK, yes? I’ll come back in a bit.

Skip to 2 minutes and 51 seconds STUDENT: Tens I have–

Skip to 2 minutes and 53 seconds GEORGE: Good. Fabulous. Right. That bit, then move on.

Skip to 2 minutes and 58 seconds STUDENT: Exchange for nine.

Skip to 3 minutes and 1 second STUDENT: That there? The nine?

Skip to 3 minutes and 3 seconds STUDENT: And 10 [INAUDIBLE] add. Yeah.

Skip to 3 minutes and 13 seconds And then– subtract.

Skip to 3 minutes and 28 seconds GEORGE: As a school, we have a reflective sheet that is very, very basic. And we use our notes and our thoughts just to record what went well, key misconceptions and key next steps. So that, then, informs where we go. Again, we broadly split the children into about three groups, based off today’s session. So the group of children who really understood it and grasped the work are going to go on some really rich problem solving next, as well as some multi-step problems. So they’re having to apply that learning in lots of different ways. There are a group of children who are going to embed what they did today.

Skip to 4 minutes and 5 seconds So just making sure that it’s still there, because learning doesn’t quite happen like this. They need to come back and revisit it, possibly. And then there are key group of children who still have some misconceptions. So we’ll specifically target what they did. And we’ll probably do that for a pre-teach. So maybe spending ten minutes with them before the next maths session, just to give them that bit of a step up.

Starting points for planning

This week we are going to examine why it is important to start planning to teach from students’ misconceptions or areas they find difficult. We will support you by providing sources of information to discover likely misconceptions. Later in the week we’ll discuss the importance for both teachers and students to identify learning intentions and success criteria, and how you can plan for this.

Planning with an awareness of misconceptions

In this video we see how one of our teachers, George, uses his knowledge and understanding of where students may have difficulties to plan for learning in advance of the lesson. George will then monitor the evidence he is gathering throughout to check and help his students’ with their thinking. When we begin to plan with learning at the heart of all we do then the importance of diagnosing where the learning boundary lies for each of our students becomes important.

The classroom record from George’s school has spaces for the following:

  • What went well?
  • Special mentions
  • Areas for development
  • Basic skills errors
  • Key teaching points/actions
  • Corrective activity
  • Extension

In the next step Chris will discuss why planning for the students’ starting points is important. You may find it useful to make a note on your reflection grid for this week as you consider your students’ starting points, their misconceptions to address and prior knowledge to build upon.

Continuum line

A. (0% of the line). Teachers should always identify pupils’ alternative ideas in advance of teaching any topic.
B. (100% of the line). Teachers should never identify pupils’ alternative ideas in advance of teaching any topic.

If the two statements above represent the two extremes of a continuum line of how we as teachers can engage with using pupils’ alternative ideas; where would you place self on this continuum line?

Share your thoughts about where you have positioned yourself. What are the advantages and disadvantages of identifying pupils’ ideas in the classroom

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This video is from the free online course:

Planning for Learning: Formative Assessment

National STEM Learning Centre