Network Meeting 1

This was our first proper session. We have been split into 3 groups of 10, each one led by a maths consultant from the local authority.  Today’s meeting looked at the rationale behind the course and to begin to consider mathematical thinking as a big idea in maths.

We began with an introductory activity and then introduced ourselves with some background. I was surprised by how few of the 10 were maths co ordinators, there were more RE co ordinators than maths ones! I think I was reassured by the range of backgrounds that people had, from being a real maths specialist with a pure maths degree to having no more than a GCSE pass but a real interest in how to teach the subject better.

We have been given 5 key themes which will run through the course

                     Mathematical Thinking

                    Proportionality

                    Pattern

                    Generality

                   Representation

As well as that, we are being introduced to the ideas of Learner’s Mathematical Powers

                     Imagining and Expressing

                     Specialising and Generalising

                     Conjecturing and Convincing

                     Organising and Classifying

We had a paper to read based on the work of Professor John Mason in 2005. I was struck by the idea of conjecturing as a learning power. My most able children at the moment appear to be unable or unwilling to conjecture. They are reluctant to suggest ideas for solving problems which seems to suggest an underlying lack of confidence and an unwillingness to suggest ideas that may turn out to be incorrect.

Somehow I need to change the atmosphere in my classroom so that it encourages conjecture. I wondered whether a way of doing this may to give the children easier problems to have a go at, things that are well within their comfort zone. If  I do that then perhaps the children will gain confidence in their ideas and also gain familiarity with the idea of suggesting ideas and finding a solution together.

We then looked at a range of mathematical puzzles and looked at how we used the learning powers to help us solve them and how this would impact on our work in school. There are definite things that I need to work on such as giving the children scaffolding to develop their thinking rather than just expecting them to develop it on their own. Some probably will but others will need teaching or having possible patterns modelled to them.

A lot of ideas and food for thought in this morning’s session.

We are off to Northampton on 19th Feb for our weekend residential. Before then I need to read a paper by Richard Skempe on Relational and Instrumental understanding in mathematics. I also need to look at the use of questions such as ‘What do you notice?’ and ‘What is the same and what is different?’

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