Bansho

I read earlier this year that Japanese teachers spend years perfecting their “Bansho.”  This refers to a specific practice of recording the thought process of the whole class solving problems together.  I just like the idea of a special word for “boardwork” as mine has historically been pretty awful so I’ve decided to improve it.

My one major change: Make notes during lessons on Microsoft Word rather than a traditional whiteboard or equivalent software. I took this idea from a Spanish course I took at Oxford University, where my teacher always made notes on word. I think it has revolutionised my bansho!

Here is a case study on the topic of solving problems by forming quadratic equations, both lessons taught to year 10 classes aiming for A*-A grades.

This is what my boardwork looked like previously:

I’m actually pretty embarrassed about sharing this in public! In fact, this is probably the neatest my handwriting gets. At least I’ve kept my equals in line, and the algebra is fairly legible, but as notes to look back on, I’m dubious about its use to my students.

This is what my boardwork looks like now:

Thanks to equation editor shortcuts, I have learned to type maths pretty much as quickly as I can write it on a board.  You’ll also notice that I can still add hand written steps in, which I usually do by copying and pasting from word to my board software, then back again: slightly clunky, but I can do it fast enough that the students don’t complain!

Of course, part of the difference between the two sets of boardwork is the detail I’ve included has increased in the second example. Typing my notes has encouraged me to write more explanations as well as just the algebra or geometry involved (although some people may think I’ve included too much commentary?). This is probably because I don’t enjoy hand-writing on the board and so I try to avoid it.

What do my students say? They almost universally prefer the new approach. Do you have terrible handwriting? Why not give mathtype a try.

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