What a layer is and how it is used within the app?

What is a layer?

A layer is a small "bite" of skills/knowledge/method within any topic. Several layers make up the topic.

A layer is a set of similar questions which can be used to assess a learner's skills/knowledge/method of the small "bite".

When the teacher assesses a question from the layer - the app uses this information to decide when and if the learner should practise a similar question.

Give me an example?

You can find examples of the kind of questions for each layer from a pdf document. 

e.g. simplifysdSample.pdf (simplify sum difference) has 7 layers sample questions for the first two layers are shown below.  

Details of all the layers within each topic can be found in learning resources

How do layers work within the app?

The app sets a question to the learner from the layer.

The learner attempts to answer / answers the question.

The teacher assesses the learner's answer to the question. 

The app keeps a record of the questions set to each learner. For each layer there are between 10 and 40 questions. Learners will practice/review a different question each time until they have done all the questions once. If the learner has attempted all the questions once, they will then begin to repeat the same questions again.

The questions within a layer are used for:-

How does the app represent the layers to the teacher?

A lozenge represents a layer on the Progress on Topic page.

The colour of the lozenge will change as it progresses through the app. 

What the colour tells us

The app uses the depth of learning to decide whether a layer is fragile, improving or mastered.

Light grey means the layer has not been assessed yet or that it has been assessed before as "not ready to learn yet".

Dark grey means the layer is in the process of being assessed. It will be assessed by the teacher within a pre assess assignment done by the student.

Light blue means the layer is fragile - the layer is likely to be forgotten if not practised soon and the student may not be able to answer questions from the layer accurately yet. The layer will be practised within a timely practice assignment quite frequently. 

Medium blue means the layer is improving i.e. better embedded in the learner's memory than fragile learning but not yet mastered or that the learner is not sufficiently accurate at answering questions for the app to consider the layer mastered. The layer will be practised within a timely practice assignment less frequently than fragile learning but more frequently than mastered learning.

The deeper shade of blue means the layer is considered mastered. This means the teacher can rely on the layer when teaching harder layers to the student. The learner will still practise questions from the layer but (all being well) less and less frequently.

The depth of learning is the app's best guess of the the minimum number of days to wait before another practice question from the layer should be set so that:

  • the learner will be able to independently and accurately answer a question from the layer and yet
  • by waiting at least this long the practice will significantly extend the duration that the learner can remember the learning for.

The teacher can click the depth of learning button in both the Progress on Topic or the Learner's Progress Page to see the value of the depth of learning (in days).

How does the layer progress through the app?

How the layer progresses through the app depends on how well the learner learns the layer, how well they retain this learning and how accurately they can answer the questions.

Here are some examples.

  • A layer may be pre assessed as "knows already" and so be fast tracked within the timely practice cycle. It will start with a depth of learning of 1 day, if every question the learner answers is "independent and accurate" the depth of learning rapidly increases e.g.
    1, 3, 9, 27, 81, 243, 729 etc  
    In this case a learner in year 10 would only answer a question from the layer 6 times before the end of their GCSE course.
  • A layer may be set as "taught" after a lesson. The learner may quite quickly embed the layer in their memory and be able to answer every question correctly so the depth of learning for the layer would increase e.g.
    1,  2,  3,  5,  8,  13,  etc
    In this case a learner in year 10 would answer a question from the layer 5 times in the first month and 12 times in total before the end of their GCSE course.
  • A layer may be set as "taught" after a lesson. The learner may struggle to remember what they have learned or have trouble applying what they have learned accurately so the depth of learning for the layer may increase and decrease for a while. Generally we find the learner "suddenly gets it" and then the depth of learning for the layer begins to steadily increase e.g.
    1,  1,  2,  1,  2,  2,  3 , 3,  5,  3,  5,  8,  13, 21 etc
    In this case a learner in year 10 would answer a question from the layer 11 times in the first month and 13 times within the first two months by which time the learner is said to have mastered the layer, so the teacher could expect the learner to be ready return to learn another layer from the same topic. The learner would answer a question from the layer 17 times in total before the end of their GCSE course.

So layers never leave the timely practice cycle?

Yes, although once the depth of learning of a layer is a large number of days it is likely the learner may have finished studying maths before they meet another question from the layer.