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Teaching and learning tricky topics
Teaching and learning tricky topics

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Example 2 Low ability group

This video was the outcome of a series of workshops held during lunch time sessions with students aged 12 and 13. These students were in the lowest ability group (set) and were attending extra lunch time sessions in maths. Their lack of confidence was evident as they explained the bus stop method of division to each other over and over again. The teacher provided reassurance and slowly their confidence increased as they worked on their video.

The video footage produced by the students is correct. However the students decided to explain what was happening in the video with a voice-over narrative. In the recording, the student explains the division the wrong way round. She is dividing 143 by 5. However, in her voice-over as she starts dividing the 5 into the hundreds column, she describes dividing 5 by 1 even though what was portrayed in the video was attempting to divide 5 into 1 and carrying the 1 over to the tens column.

This error was repeated by two students from this group and is illustrated in this video.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 1 Student misconception clip
Video 1 Student misconception clip
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

The teacher was able to see that the student was reverting to dividing a smaller number into a larger one and that she had not fully grasped the concept and was able to help overcome this misunderstanding using the examples that were created by and meaningful to the students.

Described image
Figure 8 Students using iPads and flip video cameras to create video

This confusion between which is the number you divide into and which is the number you are dividing by emerged repeatedly during the video interventions. As these two examples illustrate, this confusion was demonstrated in both lower ability and higher ability students. The video-making intervention highlighted this misconception to the teachers who were then able to clarify the concept for the students. The task of re-explaining the concept to the students was made easier for the teachers because they were able to reuse the setting and characters created by the students for their video. In effect, understanding was facilitated because the teachers were able to frame their explanation in terms that had been selected by the students, and which were therefore meaningful to them.