Fractions hard? No, they are a piece of cake!”
Numeracy is a key life skill. We feel, therefore, that it is vital that every child is given the best opportunity to become a numerate adult. Unbelievably though, attitudes towards to school mathematics can still be negative by people of all ages. Our challenge, therefore, as teachers of Maths at King’s Hall is to combat disruptive pre conceptions by making Maths fun and to provide an atmosphere in which the pupils feel comfortable within their learning of Maths. Thus, they will be happy to ask when unsure, will have the confidence to attempt challenging looking problems and have the self-esteem to realise that, even if they’re wrong, they have benefitted from having a go.
The single most important source of motivation is working at the appropriate level; children are therefore grouped, and then put into sets from the age of 9, according to their ability. Pupils relish working together, learn a great deal from each other in (and out of) the classroom and they enjoy discovering together the myriad of patterns that are inextricably linked within the subject.
In order to engage and enthuse the children further, we come up with creative strategies, taking into account different learning styles. Fractions is a topic which frequently causes trepidation; not when a chocolate cake is baked and cut into halves, quarters and eighths, the idea of equivalent fractions is easily gobbled up. Algebra can also be a source of the “collywobbles” but we have devised a large variety of board, card and dice games in which the pupils are practising the appropriate skills in a very user friendly manner. Maths is so much more than words or numbers in a text book.
When practicable, topics are introduced by using every day problems and how mathematical techniques are used to solve them. Relevance is also sustained by linking into other subjects and taking Maths outside the classroom – pupils then begin to realise that the wonderful, amazing world of Maths is actually all around them and not confined to the 4 walls of the teaching room.
The best possible reward for staff in the Maths department is to hear happy and confident pupils saying in an excited voice, ‘We have Maths this afternoon!’ Then we know we must be getting something right.