The aim of this block-level professional development programme (consisting of four half-day workshops) was to encourage teachers to explore effective and imaginative ways of using pair work in their elementary mathematics classrooms.

Working with Elementary Maths Teachers
Resource Personnel at Block Level

The Block Resource Centre staff met to plan the programme. They started by reading and using the OER ‘Running an effective interactive workshop’ to get ideas on how to organise each session.   Planning an interactive and participatory workshop,

The Block Resource Centre staff began by inviting the teachers to read the Key Resource ‘Using pair work’ together in pairs.  Key Resource on Pair work.

The overview of all the OER and their associated Key Resources and Videos was very helpful in highlighting which of the Elementary Maths OER featured pair work.  The teacher participants then watched one of the videos featuring pair work.  After watching it, they discussed in pairs:
• why they felt pair work was helpful for student learning
• any concerns they had about organising pair work.
They then watched the video again and identified examples of effective teacher practices in relation to pair work in the video.

Download PDF Summary of the videos

In the next session, the teachers were each given a copy of the Elementary Maths OER ‘Making students believe they CAN do mathematics: operations on fractions‘, which is about working together to build confidence in using fractions.  In pairs, they did Activities 1 or 2 together. They then joined up into groups of four and shared their stories. After this, each teacher drew up a short plan of how they could adapt these activities to use with one of their mathematics classes.  

The teachers then tried out a pair work activity with their students before the next session.   Afterwards they wrote their reflections on what went well, what could be improved and how the pair work impacted on their students’ learning, which they would bring to the next session.

The third session began with a teacher describing their experience of using pair work in their mathematics class.   The participants then watched a short video clip of the teacher and their students, as captured on a tablet during one of the Block Personnel’s classroom observations. This was used as the basis for supportive comments.  The other participants then shared their own experiences with a partner and discussed what they might do differently next time.  To finish, the teachers were given one copy of a different OER to take away and agreed to commit to trying out one a pair activity before reporting on their reflective notes at the next session.

The final session began with the teachers reflecting and discussing their own experiences of working in pairs over the course of the workshop. In groups of four, they then designed posters of how their practice had changed over the course of the workshops, noting what new activities they had tried in their classrooms and how their students had responded.  The posters were displayed around the room and each group looked carefully at those from the other groups.  In addition to providing a record of the workshop activities, the posters could be shown to other teachers in another set of workshops.