Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

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_______ Politicians vs Reality ______ Why BACK-to-BASICS Maths FAILS

December 8, 2019

“There are many such examples of excellence across Australian schools. But there are not enough. While individual schools might shine, the results of international tests, released earlier this week, suggest our education system as a whole is stagnating. For the first time, Australia failed to exceed the OECD average in maths, and the nation’s results in reading and science have declined since Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) testing began in the early 2000s.” More here.

What about SINGAPORE?

Meanwhile, SINGAPORE students do well in maths because they have very ENTHUSIASTIC teachers. If you want to see how Singapore and other countries promote maths in the classroom go to Maths News: Around the World from International Congress of Mathematical Education 2016.

Here we go again!

I wrote the following post in 2014 and here we are, 5 years later, back where we started. 

Louis CK Quote

…………………………………..

Is maths becoming a dead language?

mathspig fractionsIn the 1980’s American restaurant chain A&W was going to kick Mcdonald’s marketing butt. How? Instead of a quarter pounder burger they brought out and promoted a third pounder!!!! The promo failed. Why? Americans didn’t get fractions. More frightening, in Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times ( 23 JUL 2014), was the US study that found 17 percent of medication errors were caused by maths mistakes made by doctors or pharmacists.

Meanwhile, students in Australia, the USA, and the UK are dropping out of maths like flies.

Something is seriously wrong with the way we teach maths.

…………………………………………………………………………………..

Vote 1 Me. (Probably can’t count to 2 anyway.)

vote slip 2

Politicians around the world use education to win votes. We will raise numeracy standards they promise. Of course, this may not help your child, just the state averages.

Nevertheless, Back to Basics concepts are constantly pushed in the UK, the USA, and Australia by politicians.

us flagIn 2009 Obama backed “common standards” and “common core” curriculum in maths supported by $USA 4 Billion in grants. (Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times, 23 JUL 2014).

.

.

uk flagLater this year a new ‘Back to Basics’ Curriculum will be rolled out in the UK with an emphasis on times tables and mental maths. (Schools must go back to basics to raise maths standards, Graeme Paton, The Telegraph, UK, 18 FEB 2014)

.

aus flagAustralia has introduced a National Curriculum and National Testing (NAPLAN) in numeracy and literacy in recent years. The current government just put up $22 million to back Direct Instruction in Indigenous Schools across Qld, NT and WA (Noel Pearson’s learning engine, Jamie Walker, The Australian, 5 JUL 2014) Direct Instruction is a commercial product involving very rigid and proscriptive Back to Basics curriculum and testing program from National Institute of Direct Instruction based in Eugene, Oregon.

Teachers use strict guidelines and must keep within the program. Eg:

Picture 2

Picture 3……………………………………

Do back to basics programs work?

Maybe. It depends on what you are measuring. Students can improve some maths skills. The worksheets are very clear and that is to be applauded. And so, in time, standards may rise on paper.

But there are still two huge problems.

…………………………………………………………………………….

We have ways of teaching to make you hate maths!!!!

Firstly, there is the McMath Element. Do you want Pythagoras with that quarter pounder? Repetitive, pre-packaged, parrot-style learning is easily forgotten. According to Professor Roediger professor of psychology at Washington Uni ‘effortful, varied practice builds mastery’. (How tests make us smarter, New York Times, 18 Jul 2014).

Secondly, rigid drilling is boring. Students grind through the exercise after exercise being constantly reminded that maths is dry, dull and boring on a coma-inducing scale. Students will, as is the current trend, drop maths as soon as they can.

…………………………………………………………………………. 

 

Why do some kids think maths is a cruel and unusual punishment?

According to Peter Sullivan, Professor of Mathematics Edu at Monash University students drop maths because it is:

not related to the real world,

repetitious,

boring

and restrictive.

See STOP THE PRESS: Maths Teaching Fails

But it is not just students who find maths boring. Teachers who are forced to adopt rigid, repetitive and monotonous prepackaged courses also become disillusioned.

……………………………………….

One size does not fit all and local knowledge counts

Grade 3Elcho Island MapI’m sitting in a Grade 3 classroom in a remote Indigenous School on Elcho Island off the coast of NT. (Last week I ran some fun/creative workshops for staff.) The young enthusiastic teacher (with the help of two indigenous interpreters) was teaching the students to count to 10 and write the numbers from 1 – 10.

Students arrive at school speaking only the local Indigenous language. They must acquire literacy skills in their own language before they are taught English in Grade 4. There is a good deal of catching up to be achieved in numeracy skills. Many Indigenous languages only name the numbers 1, 2, 3 and many. The teachers on the island are familiar with the difficulties facing their students and work hard with empathy and enthusiasm to overcome multiple disadvantages of their students.

Teachers on the island have developed extraordinary resources and create programs to engage their students in learning maths. Imposing a rigid curriculum regime like Direct Instruction on Elcho Island schools will further disadvantage the students and also demoralize the dedicated staff.

………………………………

Ways of teaching maths that work

Here are two teaching methods that are not only flexible and fun, but they have also been proven to work in the classroom.

The Walker Learning Approach

Walker learningKathy Walker is an Australian educator, author and early years curriculum expert. Her books include What’s the Hurry? and Play Matters. The Walker Learning Approach, which is used in many schools around Australia including Elcho Island, is an evidence-based strategy that encourages play-based discovery and learning as well as explicit instruction in numeracy and literature (K – Year 8). More here.

…………………………………………………………….

Magdelene Lampert: Learning by Communication Method

teaching probMagdalene Lampert, until recently professor of education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and author of “Teaching Problems and the Problems of Teaching, has replaced ‘answer-getting’ with ‘sense-making.(Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times, 23 JUL 2014)

She advocates incorporating communication in maths as ‘being able to explain your thinking so that someone else grasps your ideas’ improves your understanding ( as any teacher knows from their own experiences in front of the classroom.)

…………………………………………………………………………….

LET TEACHERS TEACH

Mathspig Pedagogy

Yeah! MATHS: Guaranteed to be boring one day and scary the next but always a complete waste of time – there’s a product that’s not going to sell.

Let teachers teach. This should be a campaign slogan to put maths teaching back into the hands of the people, who know what is going on in the classroom. Imposing rigid regimes on teachers is counter productive as the teachers become as bored, as angry and as disenfranchised as their students. I mean ‘why bother?’ We need teachers with passion, enthusiasm and creativity to teach maths, not Mathsbots pre-programmed by politicans to win votes.

Politicians do not teach your children. Teachers do. If politicians and the bureaucracy make teachers lives miserable, this misery will be passed onto their students … Your children. There must be checks and balances – and cliches, I guess – but it is the teacher who passes on their love or hatred of maths to your children. If the community gives teachers the chance to teach maths creatively and with humour, they will take up the challenge and your child will benefit.

Mathspig Let Teachers Teach

I was taught by a young and enthusiastic Maths teacher at a small rural hgh school in the sixties. That’s almost 50 years ago – OMG! Don’t do the maths. His name was Barry Underhill.

Mathjspig a gogo 1I’m Mathspig. And I love maths.

h1

1. Funky, Fab and Fantastic. Yeah! That’s Middle School Maths

November 3, 2016

1-fab-and-funky-middle-school-maths

Funky, Fab and Fantastic INTRO

Building THINKING Classrooms

mathspig-revolution-maths-teaching

peter-liljedahlPeter Liljedahl , Assoc. Professor , Faculty of Edu, Simon Fraser Uni, Canada, has developed a revolutionary way of teaching maths.

He wants students of all levels to get the Aha! Experience in maths class. I met him at the ICME 13 congress in Hamburg.

His research, which extends across 600 Year 7 – 10 maths classrooms shows that his approach is very successful.You will find many examples of his recommendations at the Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces hashtag or VNPS Twitter feed here.

This is what he recommends:

 

………………………….

1. DEFRONT THE CLASSROOM

Students stand around the walls working. Desks allow anonymity and this means students can avoid thinking. Some call this approach 360 maths, but that’s just the beginning.

mathspig-360-maths-mr-olivers-class

In the 360 Math Classroom the desks aren’t needed.

mathspig-360-maths-9th-grade

More info on TEACH here. More on 360 Maths Classroom here.

But wait, there’s more to this.

………………………….

2. USE WHITE BOARDS

White boards proved to be the best non-permanent surface. Students scribbled calculations on the boards and wiped them off. They worked across the surface.

Some teachers even stood tables on end to get enough white board surfaces.In the following youtube clip teacher Lindsay Chinn is piloting 360 degree maths on  whiteboards.

………………………….

3. USE RANDOMLY SELECTED GROUPS

Frequent and visible random selection was very successful. Students accepted the fairness of this approach. And teachers devised all sorts of means of randomising groups. They gave students numbers and drew numbered marbles out of a bowl or pulled names out of a bag.

The groups should consist of 3 or 4 members to be effective.

mathspig-360-maths-jjs-class-pic

Jacob, Morten, Philip and Shania attempt to calculate

where one of them should lie on the floor

to land an m&m from an m&m cannon in their mouth.

This is from fab Jes Jorgensen’s maths class in Denmark.

And here is the youtube clip in Danish.

………………………….

4. PROVIDE OPEN ENDED MATHS TASKS

Here is a numeracy task recommended by Peter Liljedahl.

mylene-abi-zeids-1p-math-class-ontario-canada-2

Here are some students from Mylene Abi-Zeid’s 1P Math Class in Ottowa, Ontario, Canada

working in a decentred classroom on Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces. You will find Mylene’s Twitter feed here.

CELL PHONE PLANS

Students must pay for their own cell phone plans. There are three plans Pay As You Go, Basic Plan and Easy 4 U Plan. Costs are defined. Students must write an explanation that will convince their parents this is the best plan for them.

You’ll find open ended maths tasks for all levels here.

Plus some card tricks here.

And an excellent summary of Peter Liljedahl’s revolutionary ideas here.

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MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig …………………………………………………. with Kerry Cue

September 3, 2014

Mathspig psychologist and pig

Hello Little Creatures,…………………………………………

,…………………………………………………………………………….

Here’s the BIG QUESTION:…………………………………

Is our maths teaching too safe?

Does this risk-averse teaching not only make maths boring, but encourage MATHS PHOBIA in children?

Pam Kent, President SAPPA

Pam Kent, President SAPPA

Pam Kent, President of the South Australian Primary Principals Association (SAPPA) writes that ‘risk-averseness looms large’ in teaching today, yet ‘current research strongly supports the notion of risk taking for effective learning’.

This research includes work by Ellen Sandseter, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Queen Maud Uni College, Norway.

Sandseter claims that children are born to take risks and this is how they learn to deal with such things as fear of heights. (See: Can playgrounds be to safe? John, Tierney, New York Times, 18 JUL 2011) If children do not tackle a fear of heights, say, they can develop a phobia.

To tackle Maths Phobia Mathspig has written a list of

42 Maths Things to Do before you are 12…………..

to get them:…………,…………………………………………

*outdoors…………..,…………………………………………

*thinking mathematically in the real world,

and *expose them to higher level maths………………..

Take No 21. Kids get this. As you get further and further away from the candle the sphere gets bigger so the brightness decreases. They don’t have to do the maths. But tell them ‘This is university maths, but very interesting’.

Mathspig No 21

candle intensity

As for No 37: How do you break your teeth playing pool? Well, if you leave your hand on the pool table or lean on the cushion the ball can cannon off the opposite cushion and run back up your arm and smash your teeth. (Ref. Mathspig’s brother)

pool table 2

Cheerio

 ……………………………………………………

Mathspig

h1

Beware Maths Fundamentalists

July 28, 2014

Louis CK Quote

…………………………………..

Is maths becoming a dead language?

mathspig fractionsIn the 1980’s American restaurant chain A&W were going to kick Mcdonald’s marketing butt. How? Instead of a quarter pounder burger they brought out and promoted a third pounder!!!! The promo failed. Why? Americans didn’t get fractions. More frightening, in Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times ( 23 JUL 2014) was the US study that found 17 percent of medication errors were caused by maths mistakes made by doctors or pharmacists.

Meanwhile students in Australia, USA and the UK are dropping out of maths like flies.

Something is seriously wrong with the way we teach maths.

…………………………………………………………………………………..

Vote 1 Me. (Probably can’t count to 2 anyway.)

vote slip 2

Politicians around the world use education to win votes. We will raise numeracy standards they promise. Of course, this may not help your child, just the state averages.

Nevertheless, Back to Basics concepts are being pushed in the UK, USA and Australia by politicians.

us flagIn 2009 Obama backed “common standards” and “common core” curriculum in maths supported by $USA 4 Billion in grants. (Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times, 23 JUL 2014).

.

.

uk flagLater this year a new ‘Back to Basics’ Curriculum will be rolled out in the UK with an emphasis on times tables and mental maths. (Schools must go back to basics to raise maths standards, Graeme Paton, The Telegraph, UK, 18 FEB 2014)

.

aus flagAustralia has introduced a National Curriculum and National Testing (NAPLAN) in numeracy and literacy in recent years. The current government just put up $22 million to back Direct Instruction in Indigenous Schools across Qld, NT and WA (Noel Pearson’s learning engine, Jamie Walker, The Australia, 5 JUL 2014) Direct Instruction is a commercial product involving very rigid and proscriptive Back to Basics curriculum and testing program from National Institute of Direct Instruction based in Eugene, Oregon.

Teachers use strict guidelines and must keep within the program. Eg:

Picture 2

Picture 3……………………………………

Do back to basics programs work?

Maybe. It depends on what you are measuring. Students can improve some maths skills. The work sheets are very clear and that is to be applauded. And so, in time, standards may rise on paper.

But there are still two huge problems.

…………………………………………………………………………….

We have ways of teaching to make you hate maths!!!!

Firstly, there is the McMath Element. Do you want Pythagoras with that quarter pounder? Repetitive, pre-packaged, parrot-style learning is easily forgotten. According to Professor Roediger professor of psychology at Washington Uni ‘effortful, varied practice builds mastery’. (How tests make us smarter, New York Times, 18 Jul 2014).

Secondly, rigid drilling is boring. Students grind through the exercise after exercise being constantly reminded that maths is dry, dull and boring on a coma-inducing scale. Students will, as is the current trend, drop maths as soon as they can.

…………………………………………………………………………. 

 

Why would some kids prefer water boarding to doing maths?

According to Peter Sullivan, Professor of Mathematics Edu at Monash University students drop maths because it is:

not related to the real world,

repetitious,

boring

and restrictive.

See STOP THE PRESS: Maths Teaching Fails

But it is not just students who find maths boring. Teachers who are forced to adopt rigid, repetitive and monotonous prepackaged courses also become disillusioned.

……………………………………….

One size does not fit all and local knowledge counts

Grade 3Elcho Island MapI’m sitting in a Grade 3 classroom in a remote Indigenous School on Elcho Island off the coast of NT. (Last week I ran some fun/creative workshops for staff.) The young enthusiastic teacher (with the help of two indigenous interpreters) was teaching the students to count to 10 and write the numbers from 1 – 10.

Students arrive at school speaking only the local Indigenous language. They must acquire literacy skills in their own language before they are taught English in Grade 4. There is a good deal of catching up to be achieved in numeracy skills. Many Indigenous languages only name the numbers 1, 2, 3 and many. The teachers on the island are familiar with the difficulties facing their students and work hard with empathy and enthusiasm to overcome multiple disadvantages of their students.

Teachers on the island have developed extraordinary resources and creative programs to engage their students in learning maths. Imposing a rigid curriculum regeme like Direct Instruction on Elcho Island schools will further disadvantage the students and also demoralize the dedicated staff.

………………………………

Ways of teaching maths that work

Here are two teaching methods that are not only flexible and fun, they have been proven to work in the classroom.

The Walker Learning Approach

Walker learningKathy Walker is an Australian educator, author and early years curriculum expert. Her books include What’s the Hurry? and Play Matters. The Walker Learning Approach, which is used in many schools around Australia including Elcho Island, is an evidence-based strategy that encourages play-based discovery and learning as well as explicit instruction in numeracy and literature (K – Year 8). More here.

…………………………………………………………….

Magdelene Lampert: Learning by Communication Method

teaching probMagdalene Lampert, until recently professor of education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and author of “Teaching Problems and the Problems of Teaching , has replaced ‘answer-getting’ with ‘sense-making.(Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times, 23 JUL 2014)

She advocates incorporating communication in maths as ‘being able to explain your thinking so that someone else grasps your ideas’ improves your undestanding ( as any teacher knows from their own experiences in front of the classroom.)

…………………………………………………………………………….

LET TEACHERS TEACH

Mathspig Pedagogy

Yeah! MATHS: Guaranteed to be boring one day and scary the next but always a complete waste of time – there’s a product that’s not going to sell.

Let teachers teach. This should be a campaign slogan to put maths teaching back into the hands of the people, who know what is going on in the classroom. Imposing rigid regimes on teachers is counter productive as the teachers become as bored, as angry and as disenfranchised as their students. I mean ‘why bother?’ We need teachers with passion, enthusiasm and creativity to teach maths, not Mathsbots pre-programmed by politicans to win votes.

Politicians do not teach your children. Teachers do. If politicians and the bureaucracy make teachers lives miserable, this misery will be passed onto their students … Your children. There must be checks and balances – and cliches, I guess – but it is the teacher who passes on their love or hatred of maths to your children. If the community gives teachers the chance to teach maths creatively and with humour, they will take up the challenge and your child will benefit.

Mathspig Let Teachers Teach

I was taught by a young and enthusiastic Maths teacher at a small rural hgh school in the sixties. That’s almost 50 years ago – OMG! Don’t do the maths. His name was Barry Underhill.

Mathjspig a gogo 1I’m Mathspig. And I love maths.