Mr Barton For Hire
Occasionally I have a spare date in my diary to give a keynote address, run a workshop, deliver bespoke INSET training to a maths department, or work with PGCE students.
I have been fortunate to do these things all over the UK and overseas over the last few years, including Bangkok, Nanjing and Cambodia. My sessions are always hands on, practical, fun, cliche-free and make use of the ideas and resources that I have found successful in my own classroom and with my own students. My aim is always the same: to leave teachers with things they can use in the classroom tomorrow, together with strategies and approaches that will last a lifetime. Without wishing to blow my own trumpet, the evaluations and feedback I receive are always outstanding, and I work hard to provide sessions that will have a long-lasting positive impact for those involved.
Key Note Addresses/Workshopskeyboard_arrow_up
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Below are the sessions I currently deliver. These are suitable for
keynote addresses at maths conferences, hands-on workshops, or
bespoke sessions within schools. The approximate timings of sessions
are detailed below, but I will always try my best to be flexible to
meet your needs. To reduce the costs, please feel free to invite
other schools or colleagues along. The more the merrier. If you are
interested in discussing further, please email
How I wish I'd taught maths
This workshop is based on the findings of over 200 books and research articles from the fields of Cognitive Science, Memory, Psychology and Behavioural Economics, many of which are summarised on my Educational Research page, together with the conversations I had had with world renowned educational experts on my Mr Barton Maths Podcast, and subsequent experiments with my students and colleagues. It is suitable for teachers of all ages and experiences, as well as subject leaders and members of SLT. The workshop can easily last 3 days, one day, or be squeezed into whatever time you have available. If you choose the latter, you can prioritise the areas you wish me to cover in the allotted time.
The workshop forms the basis of my book: How I wish I'd
taught maths: Lessons learned from research, conversations with
experts and 12 years of mistakes, which can be bought via Amazon
or directly from John
Catt. The workshops offers an opportunity to explore the
ideas presented in the book further, trying out the activities and
strategies with colleagues, discussing how to tweak them to make
them work as effectively as possible for you and your students.
I have been teaching mathematics for 12 years. I am an Advanced Skills Teacher, the TES Maths Advsier, an AQA Expert Panel Member, creator of two of the country’s most popular maths websites, my teaching has been judged as Outstanding in four successive Ofsted inspections, I have written two maths textbooks, been lucky enough to work with students in hundreds of schools, and I had the honour of delivering workshops to teachers all over the world. And yet only now do I realise I didn't really have a clue what I was doing. Since taking a keen interest in educational research, and speaking to the world's leading educational experts on my Podcast I have changed my approach to teaching in significant ways. I have removed several practices and concepts I always assumed had to be true, and replaced them with simple, practical, effective strategies that anyone can employ straight away, regardless of their experience or the ages of the students they teach. And far from making life harder, they should save time and energy, and have a positive impact on the long-term learning and enjoyment of students. I genuinely believe I have never taught mathematics better, and my students have never learned more. I just wish I had known all of this twelve years ago.
Best of... (30 to 90 mins)
Here I present a selection of the most important ways educational research has changed how I teach mathematics, together with simple, practical, effective strategies to put this research into practice. This session is most suitable for a keynote address at a conference. I usually focus on areas including the use of examples, developing problem solving, assessment for learning, deliberate practice, purposeful practice and desirable difficulties, but if there are other areas from the selection below that you wish me to focus on, then I will do my best :-)
1. How Students Think and Learn (30 to 60 mins)
How do students think and learn, and how should this influence our planning? How do experts and novices think differently? Why is "students remember what they think about" once of the most important things to think about when planning a lesson? Can we increase students' working memory capacities? When and why might you teach students a more difficult method for solving a problem? How does maths anxiety affect how students think? And more!
2. Motivation (20 to 40 mins)
What really does motivate students and how can we build this into our lessons? Should we try to make maths more like real life? How do we ensure the maths we teach our students has a purpose? What role do rewards and sanctions play? How about growth mindsets? And more!
3. Explicit Instruction (60 to 90 mins)
What makes good teaching? When and why are things like inquires, investigations and rich tasks unsuitable for learning instruction work in mathematics? What is the problem with guided or structured discovery, and how can we overcome them? When and why might you teach the How before the Why? What is the key to a successful analogy in maths? Why is cognitive conflict so important? How should we end a lesson? And more!
4. Focussing Thinking (60 to 90 mins)
Dylan Wiliam has described Cognitive Load Theory as "the single most important thing for teachers to know", and he is not wrong. Together with the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning, it is a theory that has truly revolutionised how I teach. We dive into such areas as: When are silly mistakes not in fact silly mistakes? How should we integrate text and diagrams? What is effect of redundant information? Why are goal-free problems so important? How can we make use of the silent teacher approach? And more!
5. Self-Explanations (20 to 40 mins)
How can we make the most of the self-explanation effect? What are the different types of self-explanations? What if students self-explanations are wrong? Are students natural self-explainers? And more!
6. Making the most of Worked Examples (30 to 50 mins)
I have completely changed how I deliver worked examples, and I genuinel;y feel my lessons have never been better. He we ask, what is the Worked Example Effect? How can we use Example-Problem pairs? What role does labeling have? What are Supercharged worked examples? Should we make deliberate mistakes in worked examples? How about Fading? And more!
7. Choice of Examples of Examples (60 to 90 mins)
Not only has my deliver of worked examples changed dramatically, but so to has my choice of those worked examples and the practice questions I give my students. Why do I believe examples are far, far more important than explanations? When should we use non-examples? What are the dangers of over and under generalising? How should we use extension questions? What are minimally different examples? How can we plan intelligent practice making the most of findings from Variation Theory? And more!
8. Deliberate Practice (40 to 60 mins)
What can us maths teachers learn from expert performance in sport? How has the concept of deliberate practice changed how I teach students in the early skill acquisition phase? What is the Five Stage Process of Deliberate Practice? What are the three reasons why we should always give our students the answers? And more!
9. Problem Solving and Independence (60 to 90 mins)
A big one here! Why are some students so bad at solving problems, and more importantly, what can we do about it? I will present my two solutions, as well as discussing why what I used to do (and what I reckon many other teachers still do) definitely does not work. And then another big one - how do we help our students become the independent learners we all wish them to be?
10. Purposeful Practice (60 to 90 mins)
I am a little bit obsessed with Purposeful Practice. Here we look at why is reviewing concept the most difficult part of teaching? How can the concept of Purposeful Practice allow students to develop fluency, whilst also proving opportunities the develop key problem solving capabilities? Is over-learning a good thing? And more!
11. Formative Assessment and Diagnostic Questions (60 mins
to... as long as you like!)
Formative Assessment is the most important part of my teaching, and it breaks my heart when I see it misunderstood or presented as something that gets in the way of teaching. I could not teach without it, and I could talk about it all day. Here we tackle questions such as: What does effective formative assessment look like? What can we learn from students' answers? How do we deal with difference response scenarios? What makes a good question? How can we improve departmental meetings? Is assessment for learning fundamentally flawed? Are multiple choice questions fundamentally flawed? And more!
12. Memory and Desirable Difficulties (60 to 90 mins)
This is huge. Under what circumstances should we make learning more difficult? How do we use spacing and interleaving practically, both in terms of day-to-day lessons, schemes of work and homework? What are the implications for seating plans? Why are tests so much more than a means of assessment? How have low-stakes quizzes transformed my lessons? Do questions on tests need to match the style of final exam? How can we tap into the benefits of Pretests? How can we delay and reduce feedback to not only reduce workload, but also make students think more? And more!
The 5 most Interesting Misconceptions in Mathematics
Using the tens of millions of answers on Diagnostic Questions, I pick out five questions whose answers have surprised me, and drastically changed the way I teach certain topics. By playing the award-winning* game of "Guess the Misconception", I challenge you to guess the most popular incorrect answer, and then we delve into students' actual explanations to gain real depth of understanding about the specific misconceptions they have and how we might help them.
*technically, it has not won any awards. Not yet, anyway.
How Misconceptions Change over Time
Students get better at maths as they get older, right? Well, as it turns out, no. There are some very specific areas of maths where students do not develop, and in fact get worse. In this interactive workshop - via a game of the awarding winning "Guess the Misconception: Extreme Edition" - we look closely at some of these areas and what we can learn from them. Using tens of millions of answers and explanations from Diagnostic Questions, this workshop will hopefully surprise you and make you think carefully about how you approach certain areas of mathematics.
For students: The Mathematics of Dating
Combining my passions for maths and economics, together with my painful period as a single man on Match.com, this engaging talks looks at how we can use mathematics to improve our chances of finding the one we love.
Work with Schoolskeyboard_arrow_up
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I have worked closely with many schools across the UK over the last
few years, either one-off days or longer periods of time. Here are
some examples. Please email
me if you would like to discuss these.
- Working with a maths department to plan and resource a new Scheme of Work
- Working with one teacher or a group of teachers over a period of time to support them with their teaching
- Helping support the development of NQTs within one school or across a chain of schools
- Helping support teachers applying for Special Leader pf Education status
- Helping support Heads of Department or TLR holders lead a department effectively
Biography and Photokeyboard_arrow_up
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I often get asked to provide a biography and a photo to help promote
the workshops I am involved in. Please find a recent one below.
Craig Barton has been teaching maths since 2004, predominantly in two comprehensive schools in the sunny North West of England, Range High School in Formby and Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton. Four years into his career, Craig was appointed an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) giving him the opportunity to work with and learn from many teachers and students in a wide variety of schools. Since 2009, Craig has been the Secondary Mathematics adviser for the Times Educational Supplement (TES), the largest professional network of teachers in the world, reviewing, creating and sharing resources with hundreds of thousands of teachers. He is the creator of the popular mrbartonmaths.com website and blog, which provides free resources to teachers and students all around the world, with the aim of making maths more fun and exciting for everyone. Craig is the host of the Mr Barton Maths Podcast, interviewing leading figures from the world of education, such as Dylan Wiliam, Doug Lemov, Daisy Christodoulou and Dan Meyer. He is the co-creator of Diagnostic Questions, a formative assessment website hosting the world's largest collection of high-quality maths diagnostic multiple choice questions, which aims to help students and teachers from all around the world to identify, understand and resolve key misconceptions, and currently has over 20 million answers and explanations. Craig has been fortunate enough to give talks, run workshops and work with teachers and students all over the world, from Bangkok to Basingstoke. He is the author of How I wish I'd taught maths: Lessons learned from research, conversations with experts, and 12 years of mistakes, and the author of 3 (non-maths!) novels. Fingers crossed he is also still married to Kate when you are reading this.