Professional Learning Blog from IRIS Connect

How to increase the percentage of pupils reaching ‘Greater Depth’ standard in Mathematics through action based research

Posted by Alice Gardner on 29 August, 2017

Guest blog: Alice Gardner is a  Year 3 Teacher, Alverstoke Junior School.  This guest blog was adapted from her winning competiton entry with IRIS Connect. We chose her entry because we felt it was a great example of IRIS Connect being used in carefully planned, well structured, systematic professional inquiry leading to the development of teaching strategies that help to maximise pupil progress.


Alice Gardner - Action Research .jpg

Putting action based research into practice

In September, I began an action research course for recently qualified teachers which, linking with our school improvement plan, focused on the percentage of children reaching a ‘Greater Depth’ standard in Mathematics.

Initially, I asked four class teachers to film a Maths lesson without telling them my focus. Then, I analysed the footage, repeatedly watching parts for different elements, such as pupil feedback and interaction, voluntary answers given by girls compared to boys and pupil seating arrangements, focusing on ability.

IRIS Connect enabled me, as an observer, to view different aspects of the lessons, rewinding and watching numerous times. This would not have been possible to do if observing the lesson first hand within the classroom.

Based on the findings from the above research, I set myself two aims for the academic year in order to challenge children that had the potential to reach the standard of ‘Greater Depth’ in Maths but were not currently reaching this level. These were differing structure of lessons and using peer coaching with gender pairings.


Identifying changes and improvements in the classroom

To start this, I used IRIS Connect to film a Maths lesson that I then watched back, analysing which children could have benefited more from the session. After reflection, I practised changing my lesson structure, filming on a number of occasions, with several groups being taught at different times during the session, rather than using the standard three part lesson.

IRIS Connect ensured I could see when the different groups of children were focused and when, if at all, they needed a change of activity or an adult input. Regular reflections using the cameras gave me the opportunity to change and improve practice until I found that each child was working at a suitable level in each and every Maths lesson, being challenged yet being independent, without the need for constant adult support.


Introducing gender pairings
Another element that contributed to the success of the children and project, was the introduction of gender pairings. I could not have completed this element of the action research without IRIS Connect.

During a four week period, I filmed several pairings of children working together during Maths lessons. I placed the microphone on the table whilst they were working and listened back on the conversations happening during independent work.

My research showed that the same-sex pairings were more open to talk, working collaboratively and discussing their peer’s misconceptions. Having watched clips of pairings working, I could carefully select children that were successful with each other and even now, they remain their Maths partners.


Sharing findings and evidence

At the beginning of the year, I had 9 children showing work of a greater depth standard across the maths curriculum. At the end of the year, that had risen to 13. That's a 44% increase.  Plus, 7 more showing elements of greater depth during the year.

In the middle of the project, I presented my findings in a staff meeting. This involved sharing clips (from IRIS Connect) of my teaching, the successful pairings created and the evidence of the high-quality discussions that had been filmed.

I could show staff the ease and speed of differing the lesson structure and, simultaneously, explain why I had made decisions at each point. IRIS Connect is also now helping each teacher reflect on individuals in their classroom during a mindset project.

As well as this, I have filmed several lessons in order to show successful Maths and English teaching to share with new and existing staff in the next academic year.

All these filmed sessions improve teacher’s classroom practice but also have a significant impact on children’s learning. A teacher cannot focus on every child in every lesson, but with IRIS Connect, a teacher can highlight ways forward for individuals in their class and their own professional development.

I would not be the teacher I am at the end of this academic year without the use of IRIS Connect.

Interested in action-based research? Click here to get information and guidance
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