Go for hybrids ! (How to spark off a Maths topic ? – Part 3)

This is the last part of our review of possible ways to spark off a Maths topic (preliminary note: it is recommended to read the 2 previous posts: How to spark off a Maths topic ? – Part 1: concept processors and How to spark off a Maths topic ? – Part 2: memory reinforcers).

Actually… the best sparks are often hybrids. It’s quite nice to have logic (conceptual processor) + emotional engagement in order to activate memory (memory reinforcer).

Let’s look at a few examples…Read More »

Memory reinforcers (How to spark off a Maths topic ? – Part 2)

We continue our review of possible ways to spark off a Maths topic (it is recommended to read the previous post: How to spark off a Maths topic ? – Part 1: concept processors).

Today, we are talking about the second category of sparks: memory reinforcers.

The idea of memory reinforcers is to spark off a topic with something that engages beyond the intellect in order to reinforce memory. What you choose may not seem logical, but that is beside the point if you reach your goal of memory reinforcing.

As memory champion Josua Foer explains: ‘We remember when we are able to take a piece of information and experience it. We remember when we pay attention. We remember when we are engaged’.

A memory reinforcer can be…Read More »

How to spark off a Maths topic ? – Part 1: concept processors

This post is about sparking off the core topic of a Maths lesson. (NB: This is different from starting a lesson with a Do Now or Starter, which are often used (and quite rightly so) as retrieval activities or stimulating/settling activities, but are not necessarily related to the core topic of the day’s lesson). Therefore, the spark will often be the second item in the lesson, but it is the first point of contact with the main topic.

Choosing the right spark to introduce a topic is important for 3 reasons:

  • First of all, the spark should totally serve the core topic, either through raising a question that will inevitably lead to the new concept or skill being introduced, or by catching attention and reinforcing how the lesson will be remembered.
  • Secondly, the spark should be in direct correlation with the way the main point of the lesson will be wrapped up (more about that in a future post).
  • Thirdly, the spark should introduce the first increment on prior knowledge, i.e. building up on what students already know.

Read More »