#084 Chris McGrane: Task design and changing your mind

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On this episode of the Mr Barton Maths Podcast I spoke to Chris McGrane.

Chris is a former Principal Teacher of Maths up in sunny Scotland, and is now the Maths Lead in Scotland for La Salle Education. Now, long-time listeners will have heard Chris’ dulcet tones on a the researchEd Scotland Conference Takeaways podcast last year.

I am a huge fan of Chris. As I have mentioned previously on this podcast, Chris is a brilliant user of Twitter to pull in views on his ideas from a wide-range of practitioners. Like me, he has undergone something of a transformation in his teaching and thinking about learning, but we have gone off in slightly different directions, which hopefully makes for an interesting conversation.

So, in a wide ranging challenging and fascinating conversation, Chris and I discussed the following things, and plenty more besides:

  • Chris describes his favourite failure, and what he learned from the experience
  • Chris gives us an overview into how his approach to teaching has changed and why
  • Then we go deep into task design, with Chris describing how his approach to both creating tasks and choosing tasks to use has changed
  • Chris then takes us through 3 of his favourite tasks, describing why he likes them and how he uses them. And images of these tasks are available in the show notes so you can play along at home
  • We then turn our attention to the importance of classroom talk, and how as teachers we can help our students get better at conversing
    And then it all kicks off as we discuss a few things that we may well disagree on, including atomisation and minimally different problems

I loved this conversation. I find it fascinating to speak to someone who has been teaching roughly the same time as me and who has undergone similar journey in terms of their ignorance of educational research, and yet we have reached slightly different conclusions. And I will be reflecting on these differences in the Takeaway section at the end of this episode.

On Twitter, Chris is: @ChrisMcGrane84
Chris blogs at: chrismcgrane.blogspot.com
His website is: startingpointsmaths.blogspot.com

Chris McGrane’s Big 3
1. Thinking mathematically – John Mason
2. Median by Don Steward
3. STEM website

The tasks we discussed:

From Chris:


From John Mason




From me 🙂


My usual plugs:

Thanks so much for listening, and I really hope you enjoy the show!
Craig Barton

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