Bridging the Gap in Mathematics post 16.

The Problem

Every year we face the same challenge with a number of the students who have completed their compulsory mathematics and choose to study it past the age of 16, many are not ready or able to deal with the jump in effort needed to achieve a grade.

Students who have achieved the minimum requirement to study the subject in our sixth form often have large gaps in understanding or have taken a pragmatic approach to learning mathematics for their exam so they do not retain much of the content expected for the next level.

We have tried to address this in a number of ways:

  • Summer induction day
  • Summer work
  • Bridging the gap test in September
  • Extra classes in September
  • Honest and frank discussions with students and parents

All of these are focused on getting the student to realise the challenge ahead of them. Many don’t react to this, we said GCSE would be hard and they pulled it out last minute so they assume it will work again.

There are a number of issues at play

  • Spoon-feeding at GCSE
  • Intervention that removes responsibility
  • Teaching style to a very mixed ability class
  • Motivation to study independently

I am not writing this to open a wider discussion but to catalogue my efforts to work on this with the use of technology for learning.

My Solution

In order to differentiate I am going to introduce a flipped classroom aspect to the course I deliver to my Pure mathematics group this coming academic year. This will involve providing videos to learn the basics and use lesson time to develop the application of the skills. I was about to proceed and develop a site or blog for the students to follow when Oli Trussell released a new add on for Google Sheets. It is based on some script he wrote for his own school. I will let him explain the rest…

The new add on “Super Quiz” has the potential for me to prepare for my own class and produce something for the whole faculty to use at the beginning of the year to assess the understanding of our students and focus on the areas they need support with.

Oli has created a site to lead users through the Super Quiz add on step by step and this is how I have been creating the questions. To help other maths teachers I created this template as I want the rest of the faculty to submit a set of questions for a topic each so we can start to create a resource to be used throughout the year. I have found that by creating expressions using the g(math) add on you get a link to the image, which is useful.

Here is an introduction to g(math)

BREAK – stopped writing and actually did it…

It took me half a day to create the form with 16 questions related to prior knowledge essential to begin A-level maths in UK. To the forms necessary to use it prior to each topic for the entire year I would need to repeat this for aproximately 16 topic areas. So in theory that is 8 days work.

We can now get an idea, per class, of the level of understanding the students are beginning with them from their long summer break and plan around their strengths and weaknesses. Now I need to convince the rest of my faculty to put in a day and we can have this knowledge all year.


As with anything in education someone will want to see the impact, which could come in several forms:

  • Improved grades
  • Fewer drop out later in the year
  • More drop earlier and swap courses
  • Teachers adapt their planning based on the data
  • Students independent study improves (tricky to measure)

I will let you all know how it goes.

The Super Quiz add on can be used to create pre-topic assessments from primary to secondary and is a great tool for flipping instruction and improving teacher’s assessment for learning in order to personalise learning in their classes.



Ben Rouse


Making Videos for Learning in the Flipped Classroom

As part of the flipped classroom I have created a series of videos for my students to watch to help them understand key concepts and review tests and exams. The second use has been a revelation as I always struggled with exam/test feedback as it was never appropriate for all students for the whole lesson. So now I make video solutions for the entire test and give them their tests back in class with comments and advice to improve. Their homework is to go away and make full corrections. Replacing the “going through the test” section is a series of tasks designed to help plug the gaps identified by the test.

To create the videos I past the questions into Smartnotebook. Using an AIPTEK tablet and pen I can write solutions onto Smartnotebook and use Jing Pro to capture video of what is happening on screen while it also activates the microphone to allow my commentary to accompany the solutions.

Once complete there is an option to upload the video straight to youtube so their is no need to take up file space on your computer. Once uploaded code to embed the video is placed on your clipboard and I then paste this into my wikispace to embed the video there and then. A cheeky ifttt recipe which automatically tweets when I upload a new video to youtube gets the information out there and hey presto, piff paff puff classroom time has been saved and more reflection, review and feedback can take place.

Go my wikispace or my youtube channel (mrbrouse) to view the results.

If making the videos is not something you are ready to do then try using other people’s. You are welcome to use mine or otherwise try these youtube legends:






Google Teacher Academy 2012

Google have offered another chance for educators to become a Google certified teacher. The application involves creating a one minute video on one of two themes provided by Google. The themes are “Classroom Innovation” and “Motivation”. I chose to focus on the former and created a video looking at the new innovation spreading through education, the flipped classroom.

Having offered my classroom for the Flipped Classroom open house on 30 January 2012 it seemed sensible to focus on this innovation. Since my last post regarding the flipped classroom a couple of my classes have become fairly familiar with the concept and show no shock, concern or trepidation when they are set homework which requires them to research/prepare for topics via videos I have created in order to focus on higher order skills in the following lesson. My lesson evaluation Google form has been essential for responding to the student’s needs and reflecting on how the flipped classroom can work best for my classes.

I almost didn’t submit my effort as I made the mistake of looking at the competition… wow! Some people’s application videos are technical masterpieces other have a large contribution from their students and colleagues. But after my colleague (@talktofile) had a word with me I made a last minute drive to submit something that made a attempt to showcase my efforts in the flipped classroom.

Why do I want to be Google certified?

I use Google documents constantly for myself, for faculty and with students for collaboration so a chance to work more closely with Google on education may develop my use of the products I already value.

I want my school to go Google so email, resource sharing, blogging and many other services can come under one login. Also if the students could have access to Google documents without me asking them all to create accounts it would make the collaboration in class much more successful.

#ukedchat takes place through twitter every Thursday from 8pm until 9pm and allows educators to subit their experience and views on a chosen topic. On Thursday 16 February the topic was “technology on a shoestring” and the conversation was very thought provoking and something I hope leaders of #edtech in schools pay attention to. Google Docs came out as a favourable free alternative to help schools have effective edtech that represents value for money, or value for learning…

@peterweal: @MrG_ICT agree VLEs surplus to goggle docs and blogs. No brainer. #ukedchat

@MrG_ICT: Agree Google docs is amazing collaborative tool. and free. Many primaries spending thousands on VLEs and not using #ukedchat

@GeorgeEBlack: #ukedchat one thing I do know, a well administered set of free blogs does the job of a VLE any day.

@mattbritland: #ukedchat The use of google docs or other cloud applications stops the need to constantly updating office software.

My Google based vision

I’d like to aim for:

  • A set of chromebooks which students can use their school based Google account to login to. The login process on a chromebook take seconds.
  • A class blog page which students contribute to on a rotating timetable each lesson, sharing the task/topic/progress and any pictures or videos as necessary. This would provide a log of all our lessons and would solve any problems for students that have any time out of class for support or illness.
  • A faculty Google site where staff can share ideas and resources with each other. It also contains links to all our shared Google documents. This would include schemes of work, assessment tasks, project tasks etc. The site can also have a varity of Google forms embedded which allow teachers to log positives and concerns for students, and many other proceedural issues that can be managed more easily in this way.
  • Students can use their Google Calender to enter exam dates, deadlines and would be very effectvie for organising group collaboration outside of the classroom by scheduling time to be online to work on a Google document together, inviting participants.

Hardware and software made specifically for education offers no value for money. Having a developer of the size of Google involved in education can keep schools closer to technology that represents developments in the real world rather than relying on a few innovative teachers to provide ad hoc opportunities which involve excessive time to prepare in order to avoid any technical or appropriate use of technology issues.

I have not yet found an effective way of using Google+ in education.

Back to the flipped classroom

The flipped classroom would be more effective if it could be integrated in such a way that schemes of work are available to students and parents as well as teachers. Cloud based storage allows documents to be updated regularly but avoid everyone having out-of-date copies littering their hardrives. Feedback and communication can be improved by allowing parents access to markbooks, something a colleague of mine has achieved by transferring his markbooks to Google Docs.

Am I being paid by Google

No, even though this blog post may be a little bias towards using one companies versions of things that can be achieved in a number of ways. I am a great fan of Wikispaces (I have created many) and blog via WordPress so I do not promote using one supplier but in the classroom setting where I have been asking my students to create logins for a variety of tasks I think they would value a coordinated structure to the variety of technology that can be used to enhance their education.

If any other provider wishes to show me how I can integrate this vision in another way… I am all ears.