Being a maths subject leader is by far one of the scariest things I’ve ever said ‘yes’ to. But boy, it has been one heck of a learning curve so far! And a good learning curve at that too. One thing that I noticed in my class, was that they were struggling to understand what us adults would consider ‘easy‘ lessons. This was common across the school. It got us thinking. Why? What can we do to help these children? How can we ‘close the gap’? At the end of 2018, we began a new scheme of maths, which has had such a positive impact in less than a year. I think there are many reasons for this, but I’m just going to focus on one of them for this blog post.
The learning objective.
Part of our new approach to teaching maths was to make the learning objective as small and as tight as possible. So for example, instead of: ‘To multiply any number by a two-digit number’, it was broken down into smaller steps.
‘To multiply a one-digit number by a two-digit number’
‘To multiply a two-digit number by a two-digit number’
‘To multiply a three-digit number by a two-digit number’
Granted, this would now take 3 lessons instead of 1, but the difference in how much the children could remember and the level of understanding was amazing. In my class last year, I had children who really struggled with maths, but with such a tight focus on the objective and the step being as small as possible, those children could access part of; if not all of the lesson. It was such a confidence boost for them. They began wanting to have a go themselves. They began putting their hands up during class discussions! Things my TA and I never thought possible.
Now I’m not saying this will happen every single time, nor may it work for everybody. But it has definitely given me ‘mathematical food for thought‘ as it were, in terms of applying this approach to other areas of the curriculum. I am teaching Year 6 this year. A year where time is of the essence and there is much to get through. It will be interesting to see how the year pans out with this approach.
I’ll keep you posted! 🙂