How teachers downunder teach Maths! Well at least one!
Maths Teaching In My Classroom – a perspective from downunder
In Australia we have a bird called a Bowerbird. One of its characteristics is that the male of the species builds a nest of bright shiny articles in order to attract a mate and will frequently spend hours re-arranging these objects to form an attractive display. Like the bowerbird, I amass a bright array of objects thus forming a hook which reels my students in to overcome the negative perceptions of Maths in the primary classroom. In vain I have told my students that maths is all around us: nature; music; shopping, to name a few; so now I use variations of three elements.
Firstly I use humour. The Murderous Maths series of books and website are an excellent source of humour and challenges which I find particularly useful in gaining student attitude. As I read the books aloud with students following, we stop at each problem or challenge and work it out in the classroom. This teaches students that Maths is not the dull irrelevant subject that many seem to think it is.
Patterns in Maths is another tool I use. This can be as simple as origami models – covers symmetry nicely; or even showing that knowing your 12 x 12 Multiplication Grid can help you find equivalent fractions (Thank you Magical Maths org for that tip!).
However, my best hook has to be knitting. Knitting covers so many different areas (pun intended)! It entails numbers, working mathematically and problem solving – dropped stitches anyone? Knitting also encompasses other key learning areas. History; fine motor skills; talking and listening; collaboration; mindfulness spring to mind immediately. At the moment, my year 6 class (all 29 students) are knitting either a scarf or a teddy bear. The boys in my class were more enthusiastic about knitting than the girls and I am asked on a daily basis if we will be knitting that day.
Admittedly, I am waiting until next term before explaining to them all just how much Maths they have covered! Perhaps I will wait till report time.