#189 Tools and Tips for Teachers: Episode 11 (with Ollie Lovell)

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Sponsor details

This episode of the Mr Barton Maths podcast is proudly supported by Casio Education. Check out the fantastic resources they have available for teachers here: education.casio.co.uk/mr-barton-maths

Episode details

Ollie Lovell is a maths and science teacher from Australia, an author, and my longtime, bitter podcasting rival. We have decided to get together once a month to share three things we have each learned and get the other’s take on it.


  1. Choice of examples (08:53)
  2. Hands-up Cold Call (26:14)
  3. My 5-point charter (40:06)
  4. Behaviour systems (56:10)
  5. The teacher mistake (1:07:00)

Episode summary

In this conversation, Craig Barton and Ollie Lovell discuss various teaching strategies and approaches. They cover topics such as the importance of choosing effective examples, the benefits of using green smoothies for breakfast, and the concept of hands-up cold call. They also explore the idea of starting with general examples instead of easy specific cases, and how this can improve student understanding and engagement. Overall, the conversation highlights the importance of thoughtful planning and effective teaching practices. Teachers often spend too much time on questions where understanding is secure and not enough time on questions where understanding is not secure. This can be a result of relying on cold call or hands up instead of using mini whiteboards to assess understanding. It can also stem from a desire to probe further and ensure complete understanding, even when the majority of students have already grasped the concept. This can lead to a missed opportunity to address areas of struggle and allocate time more effectively. 


  • Choosing effective examples is crucial for student understanding and engagement.
  • Starting with general examples instead of easy specific cases can improve student learning.
  • Hands-up cold call can be a useful strategy for assessing student participation and understanding.
  • Addressing student engagement and participation issues requires building a positive learning culture and providing individual support.
  • Effective teaching practices involve thoughtful planning and clear communication. Teachers should use mini whiteboards to assess understanding and allocate time more effectively
  • It is important to recognize the opportunity cost of spending too much time on questions where understanding is secure

Ollie’s stuff

  • Sign up for Ollie’s newsletter here: edthreads.ollielovell.com
  • On Twitter, Ollie is @ollie_lovell
  • Ollie’s website is ollielovell.com 
  • You can check out Ollie’s podcast, The Education Research Reading Room here
  • Ollie’s first book, Cognitive Load Theory in Action, is available from Amazon
  • Ollie’s second book, Tools for Teachers, is available from Amazon

My usual plugs

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