So I thought back to my Achievement Challenge #4. Why is it that students make steady upward progress in maths from years 1 - 6 but when they get to Years 7 & 8, they tend to plateau or go backwards. Some of the theories that have been thrown around is the 'summer effect', but when you are half way through the year and students are still not showing progress you have to ask yourself why.
Right then and there I wrote down some of my own theories or hunches as to why students in Years 7&8 don't make as much progress as earlier on in their schooling years. I came up with 2 main hunches:
- No Homework/ Home Learning - I don't get the sense much school work is being done at home for students who take netbooks home.
- Too hard - by the time they get to Years 7&8 the level of number knowledge needed increases along with the workload and if students were already behind, the gap widens and students lose interest because the work is just too hard.
Keeping this in mind I called my class to the mat 10minutes early. I had 3 questions for them and here are my findings.
Room 5 Maths Class - Student Responses - 24 Students - 9 Girls - 15 Boys
1.Who enjoys maths?
2. Who does homework/home learning?
My last question was 'Why don't you like maths?' - Here are the responses from students:
- Too hard
- Too long
- More sports programmes in senior block (busy schedules)
- Don't listen
- Not interesting
From this we managed to break it down to the 3 most popular ones and the whole class voted for which one suited them best.
1. Too hard - 1 student
2. Boring - 7 students (3 girls, 4 boys)
3. Too long - 16 students
WOW! This was an eye opener for me because I quite like the long block in the middle for maths. It means we get more work done and I get to work with each group. But if this is how students are feeling, it's no wonder why they get sick of maths. I will definitely take this up with my team to see how their students feel and what 'we' as a team of teachers can do to change this mindset so students start enjoying maths more - and hopefully make progress!