Scheming, Part 2: Spaced Practice and Interweaving.

You can tell that I had 9 months off work last year because I’m spending an unnaturally large amount of my summer holidays working. Most of this time has been improving my scheme of work. In part 1, I talked about how I’d been thinking carefully about which topics were prerequisites of each other to ensure that everything was taught in a logical order.

This time, I was to discuss this:

If you’re not mathematically or computationally inclined, please don’t be put off! This bit of code simply answers the question: “When is this idea revisited in the scheme of work?” in order to help me build spaced practice into the scheme and improve my interleaving.

Here is what my scheme of work looks like:

I can see that the first topic “Fraction Division A” (in my scheme: a model for division, writing it as a fraction and learning the relevant vocabulary) is ‘revisited’ after 2, 14, 16, 29, 52 and 66 sequences of lessons. Each sequence in my scheme takes around 3 hours / 1 week of teaching, so you can think of this roughly as weeks. By ‘revisited’, I mean either that it is listed as a prerequisite or application of a future sequence.

How are these numbers useful? Well, I’m not sure but I think that in an ideal world, they would go something like 2, 6, 20… I’m basing this roughly on something Mark McCourt said in his Slice of Advice, which comes from analysing data from his complete maths platform. I did read another blog recently which suggested in some cases linear spaced practice (eg. 4, 8, 12 , 16) may be more effective in some situations (annoyingly I can’t find this blog now).

Regardless, with Fraction Division A, the gap from 2 to 14 seems a bit large so this may prompt me to move the topic which comes 14 sequences later forward in my scheme.

Other topics have fewer applications. For example Rounding A had no close follow-ons at all. In this case, I didn’t want to move Rounding B forward in the curriculum, so I looked for another topic which could be used to apply rounding A and decided I could apply that when teaching Area A. In this way, it’s promoting me to think much more about genuine interweaving (not just interleaving) of topics.

Another harder question that immediately arose was constructions A, as there is a vague link after 10 topics but the next comes after 76, by which point the students will surely have forgotten most of what they learned. In this case, I need to think more carefully about whether I really want this topic at this point in the curriculum at all, as it doesn’t have many links to the rest of the curriculum (a few people on twitter helped me with this recently, but I’m still slightly lacking links).

I’ve only just started using this formula, but I already feel that its very powerful and is allowing me to make decisions about where to place topics and how to interweave in a much more informed way than I ever had before.

Are there any other uses for these numbers that you think I’ve missed?

What are the weaknesses of this approach?

Are you impressed by my excel skills?!

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