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SRS Learning – Improving students’ memory to better learn maths [#BettFuturesTakeover]

Timely practice was developed to ensure that low-attaining maths students could improve their numeracy skills, use their previous learning as a firm foundation for new learning, solve word problems and independently and accurately apply their learning in exams.

Lesley Goddard, a maths teacher for over 25 years, acknowledged that the greatest obstacle to her low-attaining students was poor memory. Whether the students forgot within a day, a week, or a term – they weren’t able to remember work learned for long enough. 

Lesley decided to take responsibility for her students’ revision within the classroom to improve her students’ attainment.

She used spaced learning – where work is repeatedly reviewed just before it will be forgotten, each time increasing the depth and duration of the memory. 

Lesley used mastery learning – waiting until the students could independently and accurately answer questions on a bite size piece of learning – before moving on to teach something slightly harder within the same topic, ie scaffolding over time.

She used assessment for learning to find out what questions her students could do and feedback and more frequent questions to improve their memory and accuracy when needed.

Lesley moved a group of low attainers from grades G-E to grades E-C, from disaffected and disengaged to active participants in learning, who used the vocabulary of growth mindset when they made mistakes or couldn’t remember. However the cost was high, two hours marking and preparation for a one hour lesson for 16 students. This was not going to be sustainable or scalable. What was needed was computer assistance.

Lesley teamed up with Simon Booth, a software engineer, and formed SRS Learning Limited, creators of timely practice – an app, a method of working and a textbook number of finely differentiated exam style questions. 

When students are doing their timely practice, to the untrained eye it looks like students are doing a mixed bag of questions. A closer look reveals that the questions are different so copying is not possible, and that the students are more accurate than their maths set would predict. Looking at the work in the students’ folders reveals that the students have done a lot of work in a short time, that work the students find hardest to do is repeated more frequently, and that students are able to do between 70 and 80% of their work independently and accurately. Returning to the class the following year, an observer would find that students have moved on, are finding the work they learned last year “really easy” and are able and sometimes willing to teach their peers.

After four years of development, timely practice is a great but improving product. Employing a maths tutor for every student in each low attaining group would out-perform timely practice, but for those schools who cannot afford this, timely practice is the next best thing. SRS Learning are looking for schools to join the free (until July 2019) trial to robustly prove our claims. 

Visit SRS Learning at Bett 2018, stand FS32, to discuss further.

For more information, visit SRS Learning’s website.

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