How to provide stretch and challenge for all maths learners
When you challenge learners, they become motivated and enjoy their maths. All learners have potential, so look for ways to provide stretch and challenge for everyone.
Catering for learners working at very different levels is tough. What pushes one learner might not provide much of a stretch for another. So, how do you extend tasks to challenge everyone in your classroom? Well, here’s five ways to get you started.
1. Start small
By starting small with one basic question and adjusting the level of the problem as you see fit (without changing the format) you give learners the same thinking challenge, but at a level that suits their needs. You could also take the same core maths question and alter it to involve working backwards or add more steps.
2. Ask open-ended questions
One of the most effective ways of stretching learners is to provide open-ended maths problems that allow for multiple responses and perspectives. Instead of making numbers bigger or making content harder, use unfamiliar or unusual tasks to challenge learners’ thinking and change the structure of routine questions.
3. Ask them to prove it
Instead of asking learners to explain the steps they went through, ask them to prove why a different answer is wrong. Give learners maths questions that follow a similar structure and ask them to describe the similarities, differences and how they are connected.
4. Design more complex questions
Looking for extension ideas that don’t require hours of planning? Challenge all learners by choosing problems with more than one answer or that have more than one route to the solution. Try to pick tasks that learners can’t solve quickly to encourage them to work together and learn from each other.
5. Make activities SHINE
Follow the advice of super-teacher Nick Tiley-Nunn and create maths activities that SHINE.
Social: collaborative, discussion-based and with plenty of maths talk
Hued: not beige but colourful and varied
Interlinked: presenting ideas as connected and cross-curricular
Nerve-building: designed to build maths resilience
Energetic: they have to be active and interactive