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I DO, WE DO, YOU DO Introduction

Updated: Aug 17

To get the most out of the “I DO, WE DO, YOU DO” (IDWDYD) resources we believe it will help to have a little insight of how and why we use them. This short blog will attempt to do just that.


After we both read “Reflect, Explain, Check, Explain” by Craig Barton (2020) we started to experiment with the techniques and ideas in the book. If you still haven’t read this book yet - it is a must!


We both tried to carry out the example-problem pairs using the “silent teacher” approach, then move on to, what Barton (2020) describes as, “Intelligent Practice”:


“Sequences of questions which enable students to gain practice in carrying out a mathematical method, whilst at the same time providing opportunities to think mathematically.”


What we both found was that we were rubbish at the silent teacher part, as we slipped into old habits and started to talk and ask students questions as we went along. To add to this teaching from ‘behind the line’, to keep our Covid safe 2m gap, took one of our greatest teacher tools away from us - we couldn't circulate the room to help with and check work.


This is where the IDWDYD resource idea was born. We wanted something to force us to use the silent teacher approach (I DO), a further example we could use to check pupil’s understanding (WE DO), then a short burst of independent practice to consolidate the new learning idea (YOU DO).


“Purposeful Questions”


The questions on each slide are linked in a way Barton (2020) describes as Intelligent Practice. We have read a bit on variation theory and I don’t believe what we are doing is this in its purest form, but we believe our questions take elements from variation theory and intelligent practice. Which is why we have decided to refer to them as “Purposeful Questions” as we have thought about what questions we want to ask, and the small variations in them. They have a purpose to them, rather than a random mix, as we want students to be able to use our worked examples to help them and then develop their mathematical thinking.



What is the “I DO” phase?


A worked example reduces cognitive load for students as they are not trying to solve the question. They may have never seen this type of problem before, and therefore their focus could be trying to guess the next steps - this could result in misconceptions being created, or a lack of understanding as their attention isn’t on what is being taught. The worked-example effect is well documented and suggests that you will have greater success if this is then followed up by a similar problem for the student to solve. Students are not asked to copy this example down in their books as we want all their focus on the question itself and not just trying to blindly copy it down.


What is the “WE DO” phase?


This phase is used to check the students have followed the worked example. As the examples are linked, it is also an opportunity to explicitly model to students how to “Reflect, Expect, Check, Explain”. During this phase, students are asked specific questions to draw their attention to particular aspects of the question. We also use it to address any misconceptions that may have arisen. In the past I have usually started teaching an example like this but the power of doing the I DO phase first means students know what to expect, and know what the next step is. Therefore they are not wasting valuable cognitive capacity trying to guess where the solution is coming from, instead they can focus on the mathematics in each step.


What is the “YOU DO” phase?


This is where we shut up! The students then can practice the methods independently with a short burst of questions. Those that finish early are encouraged to think about the link in the questions and “Reflect, Expect, Check, Explain”. The differentiation in these resources is by experience. At the most basic level a student will complete four or five questions on a particular skill. At the highest level students can start to see the mathematical links between the questions and develop their mathematical thinking skills. The self explanation effect can then further improve a students progress as they have their answers checked before given time to reflect.


The next slide then increases the difficulty, or introduces a new skill and the process is repeated. These small steps are deliberately planned so that the students aren't overwhelmed when trying to do everything all at once.


We welcome any feedback you have about them, or specific resources on our site and would love to hear from you if you use them. We like to believe that all our resources on the website have a purpose to them and have been carefully thought through and planned. This led to the name of the website “Purposeful Maths”, which in turn uses our initials to keep our inner geek happy...


Thank you for reading,


Phil and Martin



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