Julia introduced the Rapid Recall Boards into her year 6 maths class for a six-week trial period, and she found them fantastic.
The Rapid Recall Boards were a thought-provoking addition to the classroom. Just seeing what areas the students did (and didn’t!) want to answer on the boards gave me new insights. This allowed me to almost instantly start planning what future lessons would need to be about (converting mixed and top-heavy fractions, apparently!)
The boards could easily be used in pairs or small groups, but by getting students to work on their own it gave me the opportunity to see what they could do as individuals, and not what their friend or partner could do. It worked! I had no idea that they struggled with the conversions of fractions so much. But instead of finding this out in a formal exam, I got to find out in a calm environment through low-stakes testing.
I simply needed to watch and ask the students which parts of the board they were avoiding or doing last. Since I wasn’t actually asking them to do the ‘difficult’ questions, the students were willing to talk to me. These low-key conversations allowed the atmosphere to stay relaxed. All of this inspired the development of my maths lessons. Every lesson from then on began with low-stakes testing on basic skills so that I could understand what they didn’t understand, all without applying unnecessary pressure. I then had two options: I could either plan a lesson so that the whole class could tackle that question, or encourage a student to start with that area next time.
“I also appreciated that the boards took time pressures away from me.”
The boards didn’t just take the pressure off testing the students, but off marking them too. I find that often, my students dislike me simply ‘pointing out’ a wrong answer. They find crossing out a number in their book or on a worksheet to be plain old messy. The Rapid Recall Boards allowed me to just rub out the parts that I didn’t like or that were wrong. The errors didn’t embarrass the students so much either. Since they could be wiped away, my students could quickly move on and learn from their mistakes. I also appreciated that the boards took time pressures away from me. The boards encourage bigger handwriting, so I only had to walk around and look to make a quick assessment.
The boards were easy to use and the low-stakes testing seemed positive for my students. They could understand them, use them with ease and, even better for me as a teacher, I did too. I could also easily adapt the boards to be used in more than one way. For example, I used the boards as motivation – “I want you to answer three [difficult questions] before you’re allowed to go and do the bit you always like to do first.” I liked the change. Normally in a lesson, they’d have 20 questions on converting fractions and that’s it. Here, there was choice and change.
This post originally appeared on the propeller.education website. Propeller is a part of the Show-me brand.