I promised myself that during the holidays I would get around to doing some of the recommeded reading that we are supposed to be doing as part of MaST. The trouble is where to start? We have various articles that we are supposed to read and reflect on as well as long list of books. As most students are currently on holiday, the university shelves were well stocked so the difficulty was deciding what to read first.
In the end I went for a book on misconceptions as it sounded interesting as well as Pattern in the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics by Anthony Orton. I chose this as Pattern is one of the five ‘big’ ideas on our course but it is an area that has never really inspired me. I don’t think that I’ve ever really got to grips with pattern as a concept. When I do work on patterns with the children it always seems like a fairly closed activity so I hoped this would give me greater insight.
The next task was actually settling down to doing the reading itself. I had a day yesterday where I spent a lot of hours sitting on various trains so I resisted the temptation to pack a novel and took the pattern book and a note pad.
The book is actually a series of articles on research that has been carried out on working with pattern with children. It is 10 years old now so some of the references to current practice are out of date (this was a problem with a lot of the books in the library).
The early chapters dealing with younger children were easy enough to understand but I did start to get lost with the later ideas that related more to secondary work.
The main thrust of the book for me is that the teaching of pattern is important in giving children an entry into algebra which is an area of maths that is perceived as difficult ( I would agree strongly with this).
There was also an interesting chapter on how seeing patterns in numbers is a strong help in being able to perform calculations mentally. This was one of the chapters that suffered from being out of date as I think that the ideas are generally accepted now and teachers do use patterns a lot in teaching number bonds.
Now I’ve got to decide what to read next!