Now the hard work starts.

I am now approaching the half way point of the second year of the Primary Maths Specialist teacher course. My Professional Learning Log has been looked at and signed off by the LA consultant. All that I have to do now is to write my assignment!

No worries there then.

A mere 5000 words detailing my school based research that I have or am currently carrying out. It doesn’t sound too difficult but I am approaching a state of near panic.

One of the problems is that my ideas are all too woolly. I’ve had months to sort this out but still don’t really feel that I have a specific question to investigate. It’s all a bit vague. I want to look at whether increasing the use of practical resources at KS2 can help children feel more involved in maths lessons. In my school maths consistently remains one of the least popular subjects, especially in upper KS2. I was hoping that more opportunities to use concrete apparatus might make this apparent dislike less.

It sounds quite specific but the more I look into it, the more I realise that it is actually a huge area.

A big problem is also that although staff seemed keen on the idea, they haven’t actually done much in practice so that I don’t really have an awful lot to research.

The lead tutor from my university is coming to talk it through with me in just over a week so I’ve got that long to really try and get to grips with it. If I don’t, then I don’t think that I will get the most out of her visit.

One of the other course tutors has recently finished her masters and recommended a book ‘How to do Your Research Project’ by Gary Thomas. This arrived yesterday and certainly seems as though it might have some useful ideas and strategies.

Step for this weekend is to try and get my rationale sorted out. I want to really pin down what I am going to do and why. I know that I need to cut out the waffle and be a lot more succinct. Then I need to see what opportunities there may be in school over the next week to look at what is actually happening in at least a couple of lessons.

Nothing like leaving things until the last minute. I always used to tell my son off for doing that. Now I know who he gets it from!

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2 thoughts on “Now the hard work starts.

  1. Janette, having taught a number of postgrad students in education, can I give you a tip?: THE most common mistake made by beginner researchers (including me) is to try to be too broad. I started my master’s wanting to do “something in maths, science and technology”. The first week of classes I had to pick one of those disciplines, then for my thesis a really narrow topic not previously researched.

    My advice, which your tutor will probably echo: pick something, anything really, that you are really interested in, that is narrow and really well defined. Something along the lines of “How manipulatives change the discourse of KS2 students when learning how to add fractions”. My final thesis ended up being about Year 3 students learning about hundreds, and their use of software or place value blocks. They say a good research topic is “an inch wide, and a mile deep”.

    All the best in your meeting with your tutor!

    1. Thanks Peter. You are absolutely right and my tutor echoed all your thoughts. I knew that was the problem, my ideas are just to woolly and wide ranging at the moment. What the tutor did was to give me some pointers on how to go more deeply into the observations that I have done so far. Hopefully I’ve got a bit more to go at now. I’m determined not to get this far and fail.

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