Category Archives: Maths

Sussex Maths Hub Conference 2016

I had the pleasure of attending the Sussex Maths Hub Conference today and the following are some of my reflections on the day.

  1. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this but my previous approach to the new curriculum was to try and get everyone to ‘At Expected’ and the ‘Beyond/Mastery/Deeper’ bit was for the more able. Well, poppycock. Everyone can, should and must get a deeper understanding.
  2. Shanghai, Shanghai, Shanghai. They are good at teaching Maths in Shanghai. We should be more like them.
  3. Andrew Jeffrey is an engaging and knowledgeable speaker. If you get the chance to hear him, do. At his ‘You can’t learn arithmetic without learning algebra’ workshop he reminded us that we must learn first in the concrete, then the abstract is added. This is because maths is a secret code and we need to give it a context. From this premise he introduced us to Cuisenaire rods and gave us time to explore them. The rest of the session centred around how to use Cuisenaires to help children explore mathematical concepts and make their own discoveries. It was the sort of training experience that all teachers and teaching assistants should have regularly to understand how to make the most of resources that are available to us to aid the children in our classes to better understand the abstract code of mathematics. IMG_2917 IMG_2912 IMG_2916 IMG_2909
  4. I’ve always known it’s good practice to make use of physical resources in lessons to help children visual the problem. However, the nugget of wisdom I picked up today was to ‘use resources to help children understand the concept, rather than simply find the answer’. It’s all about deepening the understanding.
  5. Stress to your children the meaning of =. It is not the answer, but rather the same as. 3+5 is the same as 8, rather than 3+5 the answer is 8.
  6. IMG_2911As I am a Year 3 teacher, Emma McCrea’s ‘Building challenge into maths lessons’ was certainly challenging. The examples were pitched at a slightly baffling level for me but I still got a few important ideas out of it. The question of when learning happens in your classroom is an important one to consider. The answer offered by Coe, above, is ‘learning happens when people have to think hard’. One of the over-ridding themes of the day was that of the need for children to explain their understanding, whether that be through ‘Concept/NotConcept’, or any of the many other useful ways she recommended to help ‘Make learner think’. I’m sure if you ask nicely on twitter (@mccreaemma) Emma will share her ideas with you too.
  7. Children will struggle to solve problems if they don’t know their times tables. Inside out. It’s got to be worth considering focussing on place value, the 4 operations and times tables in year 3 giving children a basis for achieving in the rest of key stage 2 and beyond. It’s a ks2 curriculum after all and not all of it needs to be covered in year 3, so why not give our classes the best chance of success by year 6?
  8. Lunch was nice.
  9. Find out more about the Sussex Maths Hub at their website and on Twitter.