As part of our continuing efforts to faciltate improvements in numeracy standards within our school we introduced a Maths Blast hour with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd classes.
This is currently running for a 6 week period. It involves 3 teachers organising station teaching for pre-organised groups. The Maths Blast runs for 1 hour on Tuesday afternoons. It is proving to be a huge success as children are engaging with Maths at a different level through the medium of Games related activities. Because we are focusing right in on the number strand of the Maths curriculum we feel it gives the children a great boost in an area so vital to all elements of the maths curriculum. The children are assessed befre during and after the initiative to gauge their level of engagement with the hour. Results so far have been hugely encouraging and this will be used to inform further initiatives in term 2 and 3. Parents then completed this online questionnaire as an evaluation of the whole initiative Below you can find a list of some of the games the children were exposed to as part of their "Maths Hour"
100 Squares - cubes on mulitples etc.
Order or Bust
In the Bucket
Lollipop Sticks (addition and subtraction games)
Laptops 4-to-12 maths
Halloween themed number games
During the same time periond the 4th, 5th and 6th classes have engaged in a number of initiative to help provide them with further devlopment of their problem solving skills. Rather than take the additional approiach of problem solving techniques like RUDE etc. we decided to build on the childrens already impressive computer skills as well as integrating this with some lateral thinking on non-maths Based problems. With this in mind they started working on the following activities.
4th, 5th and 6th class receive an hours coaching from a Chess Ireland instructor. It has been a long established train of thought that chess aids childrens problem solving skills so we feel it can prove to be a valuable life skill as well as helping us with problem-solving skills and lateral thinking skills.
This is an Irish basd website (http://www.haveyougotmathseyes.com/ . Traditional methods of mathematics teaching and learning have resulted in a maturing population who do not appreciate the mathematics they use in their everyday lives. These ‘everyday’ mathematics skills often involve the use of complicated mathematical ideas and techniques. However, many people often consider the mathematics they can do as ‘common sense’ and the tasks they can’t do as ‘mathematics’ . The initiative produced a number of posters challenging people to look at every day situations through a "Mathematical eye". The aim is to build people’s confidence in their use of maths in their life and Build a positive image of maths.
Scratch is a programming language developed by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) specifically aimed at children to help provide them with an exposure to programming in a child-centered way and through a number of characters or avatars with whom they can actively engage with. The children are set a task and then have to decide for themselves how to break it down into individual components allowing them to complete computer prgramme. Without saying much more you can instantly recognise the benefit computer programming could have in helping children improve their Maths problem solving skills as they use the "life skills" they gain here to allow them approach all maths problems from a different perspective. You can check out Scratch for youself here http://scratch.mit.edu/
Kodu is a Microsoft Programme which allows children to develop their own games through the coding langauge of "Kodu" Our children in 5th and 6th class have been using this language in recent months to dip their toes further into the whole vast pool that is computer programming and engineering. They have been fascinated with the capability of the programme to allow them mirror their thought process on the computer in producing a game. They can programme "Kodu's" or Robots to perform different tasks in different worlds created by them and they can also add a scoring element or levels to the game. Our children have been set a task to help introduce our new infants to the whole area of number and value which they are currently being introduced to. Under the guidance and supervision of the Infant Teacher, Mrs Bergin and Mr Boyle we aim to provide a number of attractive games which the infants will be able to interact with throught their interactive whiteboards. We are really looking forward to seeing this come to fruition as initial feedback is astounding.
Irish Beaver Computing Contest
The Irish Beaver Computing Contest (IBCC), an All Ireland problem-solving challenge with a focus on computational and logical thinking, is part of the International Bebras Computing Contest which introduces Computer Science to students. It is designed to get Irish students at a young age excited about computing. It also aims to identify and encourage students having a talent in the area of computational thinking. The questions are in the form of engaging puzzles and are suitable for students from 3rd class to 6th class at primary level and for all students at second level. ( New International Bebras Website) Our children will be taking part in this competition in November. We hope to use this as an overall assessment tool for all the initiatives currently employed by our dedicated and competent teaching staff in the school
Maths in our school
In September 2011 we decided to take a new approach to teaching of Mathematics in our school with a view to improving numeracy standards across the board. We felt that if we could identify more attainable targets across the board and approach these in a methodical way we could make Maths more enjoyable and engaging for the children with the added benefit of becoming more competent at all levels and Math skills.
We began by purchasing Maths resources unique to each and every strand and of the curriculum to ensure we could adequately cater for the whole curriculum. After this we decided that we would develop a "Maths improvement plan" for the school but rather than doing a plan for a year or longer, we would break it down for 3 months at a time. A sample of one of the improvement plans is available to view here . Each of these plans sets targets for each class in that three month period and states specifically how the school intend to achieve those targets.Most importantly there are also certain success criteria which we feel if met will allow us say we are in some way achieving our goal. We also have Maths Boards which display the maths language we intend to use that month for the children in each classroom. This language is introduced to the children before any new topic begins as a stand-alone lesson in the form of a brainstorming session which instantly puts the children at ease when they see how much they know already.
We were also able to purchase 12 Apple ipods with the help of some generous funding from Galmoy Mine. We use these on a daily basis to help us with our tables, sequencing, masures, problem solving & numerous other aspects of the maths curriculum through the use of the engaging games available to schools on these devices. A lot of the applications we use are available on the http://www.teachingappz.co.uk/ . In addition to this we use 4to12maths.com on a daily basis. This is an excellent Irish based website that is geared totally towards the Irish curriculum and has numerous challenges based on every strand-unit of the curriculum. It is also an ideal tool to use in parallel with your teaching as children can refine and enhance their skills being taught by using the website and once a child has mastered a challenge you can be satisified that a child is ready to move onto the next challenge. We took part in the Mathsathon competition run by 4to 12 Maths.com and we were delighted to come 1st and 2nd in the two competition categories. There is a link on this website with more information in relation to Mathsathon.
We believe that these few changes and our daily Mental Maths work with 2nd-6th classes has had the desired effect of eliminating negative attitudes towards Maths while also creating excitement and enthusiasm for the subject with a nice add-on of boosting attainment levels.
ICT in Maths
Our classes use IT on a daily basis to aid with various Maths skills development be it investigation or problem solving, Mental Maths or Concept development. This is possible because of the ipods and laptops we have available to us in the school. Recently 6th class used Google Sketch-up to investigate 3 - D shapes, their origin as 2-D shapes and their uses in everyday life. They designed towns and buildings and imported 3-D models into Sketch-up to investigate their properties. Check out the images below to check out the childrens own designs using 3 - D shapes.