Senior Cycle - Higher Level

Ideas for Teachers

Higher Level Maths gets 25 extra points. These will be very valuable for most students

Project Maths, especially at Leaving Cert Higher Level, can be challenging: some of the questions (like the gold rings question of 2011) can be ridiculously hard. But that’s the challenge for us teachers: to guide students so that they learn to think, to work things out, to read questions and work out what’s being given and what’s asked.

Students have to choose the right method from all the methods you’ve taught them. This is another challenge for the teacher – and can only be taught with plenty of time.

When I am working through a problem at the white-board, I will ask a different student to assist at every single line. Keep them on their toes. They have to learn the lingo, the correct nomenclature, the right vocabulary. The place to learn this is in the classroom, talking the teacher through.

Teachers can talk too much. They can also work too hard. Your students should be leaving your classroom tired from working and expressing themselves: not you!

At the end of a class, ask yourself: if you made a pie-chart of all the words spoken during the class, would it be well distributed? Did you talk too much? Did EVERY student contribute?

Never ask one student two questions until you’ve asked every student one. When I visit teachers, I sometimes observe that a few students get (or take) all of the questions. Some students manage to get through a whole class without contributing. This is wrong: and it’s the teachers job to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Some teachers solve this problem by having a jar of lollipop sticks – each with the name of a student in the class. The teacher asks a question and then pulls out a lollipop stick. The student whose name is on the lollipop stick must answer. The lollipop stick stays on the table until every student has been asked a question.

Other teachers use apps which select a name of a student from the list at random.

Never name the person who has to answer before asking the question. If you name the student first, the others tune out.

Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer to a question. Bright students can ask very probing or deep questions about Maths. I just say, “That is such a good question that I’m going to have to think about the answer overnight and I’ll get back to you – is that OK?" Then I think about it – or consult with colleagues – and get back the next day as promised


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