The Final meeting

Thursday was our final network meeting for our MaST group. It doesn’t seem like 2 years ago since we all met together without any clear idea of where we were going and what it would involve. Now, 2 years, 2 residentials and 3 assignments later, we have reached the final session.

This was a showcase session where each of us gave a short presentation on our whole school projects. 3 hours seemed like plenty of time for the 10 of us to talk but when I had to leave at just after 5, the session was still going!

The presentations really made me realise again how lucky that I have been to have taken part in this initiative. Listening to my colleagues talk about their work in schools and their achievements was inspiring. The range of research carried out was impressive and yet it was interesting how the same issues came up in several presentations. Fractions, talk in maths and girl’s underachievement were common issues in several pieces of work.

I am really sad that the course has finished. I shall miss the stimulation that I have received although I am enjoying having my weekends to myself again. I will try to keep up with research issues but I will miss having access to books and papers through the university library. What I will miss most though is the chance to talk and discuss with fellow teachers. Courses and training seem to have died away completely now. I feel that I am incredibly lucky to have received so much training and input during my career and am very aware that newer entrants to teaching will not have this input.

Good Luck to everyone who is currently doing MaST and I hope that you get as much out of it as I have.

Area challenge

A long while since I last posted. The enthusiasm of the new year when I was sure that could post every week seems to have vanished into smoke a long while ago. I need to get back into the habit of posting more, especially as the class blog has died a bit of a death as well.

This week I had the dubious privilege of having the head of maths at the local secondary school visit to watch one of my maths lessons. This was a return visit as my colleague and I had gone to the high school to sit in on their lessons just before half term. I returned back to school horrified by having seen a maths lesson where the children sat in virtual silence for an entire lesson doing practice SATs questions…….in October.

I wanted to show a lesson where the children were all actively involved but learning at the same time and was pleased to read Mike Askew’s article on area and perimeter in this month’s Teach Primary. This fitted perfectly into our maths planning and was a brilliant lesson. I set them Mike’s challenge of drawing a shape with an area of 20 cm and measuring the perimeter and then trying to find 3 other shapes with the same area but greater perimeter. I began the lesson by giving them the statement  ‘If the area of a shape increases, then so does the perimeter’ and asking if it was always, sometimes or never true. Most of the children immediately said that it was always true. Then we went onto the challenge.

The children really enjoyed finding different shapes and working out different strategies to find longer perimeters. My visitor got totally involved with the lesson and proved his mathematically ability by working out that there was a maximum perimeter of 42 cm which I had totally failed to notice.

At the end of the lesson we had established why 42cm was the longest perimeter and the children were all a lot more secure in their understanding of both area and perimeter. The teacher was impressed by the children’s learning and their enthusiasm and so was I.