Having to get up at 6.40 on a Saturday was difficult to say the least. Not a good way to start what was bound to be a very intensive weekend. It was surprising how empty the roads were at that time in the morning (or maybe it wasn’t, every one else had more sense).
However we were greeted by coffee, biscuits, fruit and sweets so life started to improve.
The main focus of this residential was to look in more detail at algebra and geometry and how these fit into the primary curriculum. There was a lot of emphasis on how important reasoning skills are and how algebra supports the development of children’s ability to reason.
We looked at how algebra can be introduced at an early stage by looking at the structure of operations and calculations, particularly those involving unknown numbers. There was a clear understanding that we were looking at how we could introduce the early stages of algebra, not simply introducing algebra early.
I did find some of the tasks we were given quite daunting which is a good reminder for me of how my pupils probably feel. I remember finding algebra quite puzzling but being pleased on certain occasions when I thought I had found the key to it. Looking back, they were probably the few times when I managed to understand the underlying structure of the operation. It seems to me that I need to give children the opportunity to achieve that same sense of satisfaction.
At school we have been looking at how we can develop children’s reasoning skills and so it should be possible to incorporate ideas from this weekend.
The weekend was memorable for the amount of food provided. This included apparently endless supplies of jellybeans which were magically renewed before every session.