Mathematics teaching at Connaught
Maths is a very important subject area in life inside and outside the classroom. Bearing this in mind we seek to make maths as practical as possible using real life examples and situations; money, cooking, measure and so on. Based on the new curriculum and a model by the White Rose Maths Hub, we are ensuring children gain an in depth understanding of maths by teaching fluency, reasoning and problem solving.
‘Maths is now better because it is in parts so we make sure that we understand one part before we move on.” Hayden ( Autumn 2016)
Depth not acceleration…. The old curriculum, measured in terms of levels, encouraged undue pace. Children were accelerated onto more complex concepts before really mastering earlier ones. The new curriculum encouraged a study of fewer skills in greater depth – this is what we call mastery.
Most of the different areas in Mathematics cannot be taught in isolation. It is all about making connections, taking risks, choosing appropriate resources, being resilient, working with independence and being able to explain their reasoning. It is essential to everyday life and we aim to make it as relevant, practical and creative as possible.
‘A high-quality mathematics education provides a foundation for understanding the world, the ability to reason mathematically, an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics, and a sense of enjoyment and curiosity about the subject.’
National Curriculum 2014
What is this new structure?
Based on the new curriculum and a model by the White Rose Maths Hub, we are ensuring children gain an in depth understanding of maths by teaching fluency, reasoning and problem solving.
“Before we had three maths groups where some people couldn’t do the maths and some people could do it really well, now everyone is doing the same task in their own class. It’s good because you get to be with your class and your own teacher and no one feels like they’re not good at maths.”
Leo (Autumn 2016)
Every lesson is differentiated through variation and challenge. All children have access to basecamp, climbing, peak and summit activities and have the choice of which challenge to start with.
“It is helpful because you can pick your own challenge in lessons and don’t have to start on the easy work.”
Luke M (Autumn 2016)
“It means that depending on how confident we are we can build up and work our way up the challenges independently.”
A Year 6 child ( Autumn 2016)
On talking to children, the confident mathematicians especially like it as it means they are actively choosing an appropriate level of challenge themselves whilst still working on the same objectives as the rest of the class.
How we teach maths to develop mastery
This is an example of how children may be introduced to the concept of fractions and quarters. As you can see, it is very visual but gradually builds on children’s understanding ensuring a greater depth of understanding within the same concept.
Fluency allows children to use hands on approaches such as using number beads, multilink or counters to physically show a theory e.g. the model below shows how children at Connaught are now introduced to adding and subtracting, including how the formal method of column addition and subtraction is taught in a hands-on way.
Reasoning – This allows children to start explaining their understanding of a mathematical concept. By ensuring all children can verbalise their understanding, it helps them to build a secure understanding of a concept rather than having a superficial understanding that may later turn into a misconception.
‘It’s a lot more hands on and rather than just needing to know the answer, you have to explain how you got there.’ Cameron (Year 5 Autumn 2016)
Placing mathematical concepts in different contexts allows children to apply their knowledge and understanding, showing a greater depth of learning. As a school, we regularly have whole school investigations, which allow the teachers to moderate the progression of children across the school.
Teaching methods in maths today are very different from how many adults were taught. Now we try to help the children understand “why” rather than just telling them “how”. In this way, and in time, the children will be much better placed to apply their understanding in real situations. The big difference today is that the emphasis is on thinking and mental work rather than rote learning of methods. The hope is that in this way, children can understand why and how a method works rather than simply knowing a method for getting an answer.
The methods that parents remember from their school days will still be taught to the children, but only at a stage when they are able to understand not just what to do but why they are doing it. The children will then have a useful bank of methods to draw on and are able to choose the one that works for them when applying their knowledge.
Through home learning parents can help their children in a positive and supportive way in their maths. For the most part Maths homework will reflect what is being taught that week in their Maths set. We want our parents to be ‘cheerleaders’ to support their children through practising and consolidating the skills learnt.
The Maths team offer parent workshops each term to explain the hands on approaches we teach for different areas of mathematics. So far, they have been very well received with each session being full to capacity. It gives parents the opportunity to experience a maths lesson, much as their child would learn; building confidence in parents to support their children at home with their mathematical understanding.
We are pleased to offer different kinds of Maths home learning, including Mathletics, to cater for as many different learning styles as possible. Please see other useful Maths websites that should engage your child’s interest.
‘It’s good because using the counters – last time we had to write on the paper now I’m in Year 5 we don’t have to write everything down. Instead of always writing it down and drawing circles you can get counters and work it out in front of you straight away.’ (Tyler Year 5)