My new job!

I haven’t written anything for a while but meeting my new class this week I feel deserves a post! I met a very talented bunch of children who I cannot wait to work with! They have shown huge enthusiasm for their learning and this is something that impressed me throughout the morning.

During the transition day, I also found out that I am going to be the P.E co-ordinator for the school. Something that I have wanted to do for a while now. I have a passion for sport due to my background playing Ice Hockey and this is something I feel I can offer to the role. I am so pleased I have been given this opportunity to be in charge of P.E. This will aid my own professional development and help me progress to the next stage in my career.

My new school has a long line of success in sport. Cross country champions and Year 5 and 6 football county champions to name a few, so I do feel a lot of pressure to succeed in this role. However, it won’t be me that succeeds, it will be children and they haven’t changed. I just need to facilitate their success. Everything will be fine as long as the children have a platform to showcase their talents. This is an aim of mine for my new role.

A new adventure will soon be upon me and I can’t wait to get started!

Challenging the Gifted and Talented:

Because I am a Year 4 teacher, I have some very talented writers that have a lot of potential, but need that focus and extension to ensure they make more progress.

After sitting down with a fellow colleague of mine, who teachers Year 6, I came across ISPACED. ISPACED is used predominately for sentence openers to help make children’s writing more exciting and interest the reader.

I – Ing openersScreen Shot 2015-05-29 at 18.02.47

S – Similes

P – Prepositions

A – Adverbs

C – Conjunctions/Connectives

E – Ed openers

D – Drop In (Embedded clause)

I have also created individual bookmarks as reminders for children to use when they write. They can use it as a reference or a checklist to ensure they have written their best piece of writing. It also gives them the opportunity to up level their work and edit it.

I wouldn’t suggest using all of ISPACED with children who find writing a challenge, as it may confuse them, however, there are elements of it you can use to help push their progress, such as: adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions. These really improve children’s  writing.

Just keep running…

Over the last 6 months I have been taking my running quite seriously. I have competed in two 10k’s and compete in a 5k Park Run every Saturday morning. It has helped me re-gain fitness and also it has helped me develop my mental toughness for teaching.

During my time teaching, I have noticed that the academic year is actually quiet like a long distance run. Once you start the year, you start well, comfortable and ready for a good year, however, throughout the year, you can have highs and you can have lows, just like a race. In a race, you can have sudden bursts of energy which make you faster and this represents the successes you can have in teaching. You can also have hills to climb. These hills represent lows. It is how you climb these hills that matter, but once you are at the top and you have conquered a low, you can tackle any issue you face in the future. When the end of the race is in sight, you can’t wait to finish, but you must ensure you maintain a strong finish.

The moral of this post…just keep running! You’ll get there!

Madness in the method: Why do we teach formal written methods in Primary Maths?

Why do we teach formal written methods in Primary Maths?

Only recently has this been a question I have asked myself and my peers. Is it because it has been taught like this for many years? Is it the most effective way of reaching an answer in Maths? Is it easier? Is it Mathematically correct i.e. does it remove all misconceptions? Is it in the policy? I have been questioning this since going on a fantastic Maths course at a Secondary school; who still teach the number line method in year 11, who use partitioning to add large numbers, who make division easier to understand by using the pizza method.

Teaching Maths should not be about making things harder because they are ‘ready’ to move on. I have noticed that children rely too much on written methods, even for the simplest of questions. Children need to be comfortable with numbers.

4571 + 3937 =

4000 + 3000 = 7000

500 + 700 = 1200

70 + 30 = 100

1 + 7 = 8

answer = 8308

When we add numbers this way there are no misconceptions. The 4 does not represent 4, it represents 4000 and the children can see this, as in the column method they’ll say 4. I even do it, if i’m not 100% thinking about the task and numbers involved.

When we divide, one method we teach is the bus stop method:

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 12.12.41

Misconception Example:’How many 3’s go into 1. 0 so put the 1 by the 4. How many 3’s go in 14. 4 with 2 left over so put the 2 next to the 4′ etc…

An effective way to avoid misconceptions:

Pizza Method Division

Pizza Method Division

The method above is called the Pizza method, which I learnt on the course. It looks complicated but if you look closely it is actually extremely simple and avoids misconceptions that children get. It is basically chunking, but split into a more visual format. I love the idea that the pizza is split into three pieces, so the children know that dividing by 3 is the same as sharing the number into 3 parts.

This method can also aid fractions. What is 2/3’s of 1443? 1/3 is 481. 2/3’s is 962. It unlocks many doors to Maths. Applying this method also increases childrens’ number sense and their estimation skills. It may take practise as children will not get this straight away, however, once they do understand they can go onto even more complex numbers and Maths. We want children who are competent with numbers!

The point of this post was not to say formal written methods are bad, because that is what I, and many others, learnt when we were at school. I wrote it for people who read this post to question why we teach these methods and are they the most effective way of teaching Maths.