What is the most effective way of teaching, gathering evidence and assessing children’s learning in maths?
For children, there is a fundamental difference between using maths for a purpose, and maths being a subject within which they are answering maths questions because they are there to be answered.
In the former case children have a reason for undertaking the maths beyond the fact that the teacher requires it – for example because there is a puzzle to be solved. In the latter case, in contrast, they are working on the question, simply because that is what they have been told to do.
This difference between puzzle solving and working because one has been told to, has a huge impact on learning. For in giving maths a purpose, for example by using maths for a specific reason in solving a puzzle, the activity becomes much more motivational than simply learning the maths because one must.
But there is yet more to it than that. For if children use maths for a reason, which they understand (as with solving a puzzle) they are in effect providing evidence of their own learning. Who wouldn’t want to do a few additions and subtractions with 3-digit numbers to find out ‘What the monkey said when it fell over’. (APESY DAISY! in case you were wondering.)
Furthermore, if the children have to show that they have solved each puzzle, they are in effect marking their own work, which cuts down on the teacher’s workload considerably.
However, even then that is not the end of the benefits. In the puzzle solving scenario children obviously work at their own speed so it is easy for those who have finished quickly to move onto another puzzle. Thus, in effect, each child has their own differentiated learning pathway.
All of this is achieved through the Sum Fun Maths Assessment series which is linked to year group objectives and can be used as an assessment tool. Which means that the materials can be used to test attainment during the year without repeating an activity, thus helping further to retain children’s interest.
Read more about Sum Fun Maths Assessment and download the ‘monkey’ worksheet (under the ‘Try before you buy’ tab).
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