Somerset Times

Academic Excellence in Mathematics in the 21st Century - Part II




Somerset Times Edition

Week 4, Term One, 2018

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A review of teaching mathematics in the 21st century moves beyond the lower primary years and this week, looks at Year 6. Part II of the article continues its observations in teaching the fundamentals of Maths to modern students preparing for Senior School.

Year 6 is the transition year from Primary Years Programme (PYP) to Middle Years Programme (MYP). “The students arrive in Year 6 with a fundamental knowledge of mathematical inquiry”, says Mrs Janine White, Junior School Teacher.

2018 - T1 - W4 - Maths

“In Year 6, we continue to develop the Approaches to Learning which promote inquiry learning and encourage the application of their knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts”, continues Mrs White.

Critically, by connecting students to the problem-solving strategies they are using, teachers are increasing students’ engagement with, and retention of the subject matter that is still as crucial as ever. As Mrs White puts it, “The MYP is the perfect fit for Maths inquiry, which is a drive we are working towards in the Junior School”.

Recently Mrs White has been involved in trialling the reSolve Maths by Inquiry programme. “Personally, as a reSolve champion, I am very much a proponent of Maths by Inquiry” she says. “As developer Dr Steve Thornton explained in a recent media article, [reSolve] is a programme which, provides a range of classroom resources and professional learning tools to teachers. It is built around banishing the idea that Maths is about ticking boxes.”

reSolve: Mathematics by Inquiry, is a national programme that provides Australian schools in Foundation to Year 10 with resources to help students learn mathematics in an innovative and engaging way. As Mrs White says, “it is about developing a deep connection between Maths and the real world.”

As they transition from Junior School to Senior School, students take part in a curriculum that is based more heavily on instruction, but still centred on their personal connection to subject matter. According to Mr Jeff Grocott, Year 7 Mathematics Teacher, the curriculum seeks to, “...provide us with the tool to make better sense of the world around us. Using the MYP framework we are able to engage students in Mathematics that is both real and theoretical.”

Through the MYP framework, students are able to link ideas and issues in society that are relevant to their lives, and the lives of others. As Mr Grocott explains; “Through our Mathematical assignments we are able to provide students with real life situations and examples as to how they might use mathematics later in life on a daily basis. This can provide them with the essential skills that they may use in their careers.”

Later in Senior School, the focus shifts slightly again. "In Year 7 and Year 8, students form an understanding of who they are in their world," explains Mr Abdou.

"By Year 10 and 11, the focus becomes, 'How can my understanding of mathematics help me plan my journey beyond Year 12?'’’ As students progress through this highly interactive curriculum, they begin to see the connections with Mathematics and other areas of the curriculum and apply their mathematical skills to real world problems, become critical thinkers, innovators and problem solvers. (QCAA, 2017)

Regardless of new approaches to technology and to teaching, the same basic goals apply to the teaching of mathematics. When students leave school, they need to be able to apply a basic set of mathematical skills to their lives and to their jobs; whether they work in engineering or finance, sales or trades, or their own small business.

Follow Part III next week to learn the success of students who were taught these methods.

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