For our first task (before the first proper session next week) we were asked to read 2 documents. The advice was that during the course we should aim to read:
widely but selectively
with purpose but openness to unexpected ideas
with critical attention – being prepared to challenge and be challenged
reflectively – noticing how your practice informs how you read a text and vice versa.
As I haven’t really read for academic purposes for over 20 years this seemed a bit daunting to me!
The first text was a chapter from a QTS text Achieving QTS – Reflective Reader Primary Mathematics. We were asked to read chapter 2 Teaching children to Think Mathematically.
The chapter asked for personal responses to what is mathematical thinking? My own response was that it is all the things mentioned, systemmatic, logical, imaginative and creative, can be quite rigid but also objective. Maths covers so many different areas that ways of thinking about it must vary widely. Mathematical thinking may appear completely different in different contexts.
The chapter also dwelt on what are our priorities in school. Are they to do with getting the children to learn methods and procedures so that they can succeed in the subject or should it be wider and be focused on giving children a real understanding and fascination for maths which would involve teaching them to think mathematically?
I think that all teachers would want to achieve both of the above aims but there are always constraints and these usually consist of deadlines. The children need to be able to do x, y and z by the end of a particular school year and if they can’t, then you may be classed as not doing your job properly. There has to be a balance to be found but in today’s target focused system it might not be the right balance.
The section of the chapter that I was particularly interested in was on how talk is an important element in fostering mathematical thinking and on the kinds of talk that we need to encourage. This links with a research project we did last year on how increased dialogue improved girls’s confidence in maths.
My first task that I have set myself is to analyse the talk during one of my maths lessons. Perhaps to focus on one group and listen to their discussion. How do I impact on that discussion and what do I do to move their thinking on?