I’ve really been thinking hard about how I teach maths as a result of the MaST course and other triggers. I’m aware that I’m probably quite old fashioned and the children do more ‘traditional’ maths than is probably good for them. I’ve tried to make lessons a lot more relevant and include my pupils as much as possible in the teaching.
However today was a day for really working on addition. It was a fairly traditional ‘chalk and talk’ intro followed by examples for them to complete independently that got progressively harder. They could use any of the three methods I had demonstrated but that was the only element of choice there was.
And guess what? Everyone in my group of 35 loved it! They worked quietly and industriously and really got on well. Problems were dealt with quickly and the children seemed to really understand what they were doing. At the end of the lesson there were various comments of ‘that was great’, ‘I really enjoyed that’ and ‘Can we do that again tomorrow?’
So why am I spending all this time on making my maths lessons more whizzy and interactive when all they want is to sit down quietly and do a page of sums???
Answers on a postcard?
And yes, I do really know why all the other stuff is important but it does make you wonder sometimes.
So it’s another new year and Block A comes round again. My year 5’s were looking at what happens when you multiply and divide by 10 or 100. I had used the Moving digits ITP and they were displaying answers on mini whiteboards. They seemed to be getting it fairly well apart from when there was a zero in the original number and also dividing a units digit by 10. There were various errors which persisted despite many examples and explanations.
A second lesson didn’t really improve matters. Several children were just leaving the units digit out when dividing a HTU number by 10 and there were other children who were either omitting zeros or inserting them randomly.
Over the weekend I tried to think about how I could show this in a different way to improve their understanding. The ITP wasn’t working as a visual image. I did wonder about having the children being a human number and getting them to hold hands as they moved up and down the number line but wasn’t sure about how well this would go down with my year 5 boys. Then I remembered a resource from Tes many years ago.
This shows a number on a lorry that goes up and down a hill with a belisha beacon as the decimal point. I used it today with my group and hey presto! Lots of excited gasps of “I get it now!” The visual image of the lorry seemed to make much more of an impact than the moving digits ITP.
The children felt much more confident about their understanding of this concept after using this resource.
I was really pleased that I had been able to find something that helped so much. It reminded me again how important good visual images are for so many children.