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, both to primary and secondary audiences. 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 Educational Research Changed My Life (and how I teach mathematics)
This workshop is based on the findings of over 100 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. It is suitable for teachers of all ages and experiences, as well as subject leaders and members of SLT. The workshop can easily last a full 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.
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 the 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 (30 to 60 mins)
What do students remember and how should this influence our planning? Can we increase students; working memory capacities? When and why might you teach students a more difficult method for solving a problem? When and why might you teach the How before the Why? How does maths anxiety affect how students think? And more!
2. Motivation and Engagement (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 does rewards and sanctions play? What is the ultimate key to motivating our students? And more!
3. Explicit Instruction v Minimally Guided Instruction (30 to 60
What makes good teaching? Does minimally guided instruction work in mathematics? How can we make use of analogies? Why is cognitive conflict so important? Why is the language we use 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 present worked examples? How should we integrate text and diagrams? What is effect of redundant information? Why are goal-free problems so important? How can we (and how can we not) help our students to become problem solvers? 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)
What role does labeling have? How should we use Example-Problem pairs? What are Supercharged worked examples? Should we make deliberate mistakes in worked examples? And more!
7. Choice of Examples of Examples (30 to 60 mins)
Are examples 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? And more!
8. Deliberate Practice (20 to 40 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 role does feedback play? What is the Four Stage Process? And more!
9. Problem Solving and Independence (60 to 90 mins)
How do we help our students become problem solvers and independent learners - it's quite an important question ;-) When is struggle not good? When is group work effective? How do we evaluate rich tasks, investigations, puzzles, Tarsias, NRICH activities, inquiries, open-middle problems etc in the light of research into problem solving? This was a particular eye-opener for me.
10. Purposeful Practice (60 to 90 mins)
How much of our teaching lives do we spend reviewing concepts with students? How has the theory of purposeful practice dramatically changed how I review concepts with students? Is over-learning a good thing? What is the importance of the expertise-reversal effect? And more!
11. Assessment for Learning (90 mins to... as long as you like!)
Assessment for Learning 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: Can students self-assess? What does effective assessment for learning look like? 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? And more!
12. The Power of Tests (20 to 40 mins)
Why are tests so much more than a means of assessment? What is a no-stakes test? Do questions on tests need to match the style of final exam? Should we use pre-tests? Should we tell students what is coming up on as test? And more!
13. Making Learning Desirably Difficult (60 to 90 mins)
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? When is feedback a bad thing? And more!
14. Fluency in Maths (30 to 60 mins)
Why can't students just use a calculator? Why are times tables so important? How do we make Drills as effective and enjoyable as possible? What do we need to be careful of when students are practicing their times tables? How can we make Number Talks as effective as possible? And more!
15. Differentiation (30 to 60 mins)
Is differentiation actually effective? How can you plan for differentiation? What does effective differentiation look like? Should students self-differentiate? Why is the task sometimes more important than the concept itself? And more!
16. Marking, Feedback and Praise (30 to 60 mins)
What does effective marking and feedback look like? How should we deal with mistakes v misconceptions? When should we delay feedback? When should we not bother writing anything at all? When should we re-teach? How should we use praise? And more!
17. Revision (30 to 60 mins)
What do effective revision lessons look like? Should we use past papers? How about Walking-Talking Mocks? What are the most (and least!) effective revision strategies for students? 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 is a Secondary Maths Advanced Skills Teacher from Thornleigh Salesian College, Bolton, in UK. 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 and Dan Meyer. He is the co-creator of Diagnostic Questions, a formative assessment website, which aims to help students and teachers from all around the world to identify, understand and resolve key misconceptions, and currently has over 11 million answers and explanations. For the last six years, Craig has been the Secondary Mathematics adviser for the Times Educational Supplement (TES), the largest professional network of teachers in the world. Craig has been fortunate enough to run workshops and work with teachers and students all over the world, from Bangkok to Basingstoke. He is the host of the Just the Job Podcast and the author of 3 (non-maths!) novels. Fingers crossed he is also still married to Kate when you are reading this.