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Article: Mastering Maths

19 May 2020 General, Preschool, Preparatory and College

Maths for Mastery

What do you associate with the word mathematics? Most people think of arithmetic. Rows of calculations and rote learning times tables. Whilst this is, of course, a piece of the puzzle, there are so many other aspects of mathematics that don’t meet the eye.

The English National Curriculum focuses on mastering maths; it encourages a deep learning and a wide application of content, alongside instigating a passion and curiosity for the subject. It is believed that knowledge of mathematics is a foundation for understanding the world and is key to the future success of every child. It is cross-curricular and is often relied upon during the study of other subjects.

To ensure the successful teaching and learning of mathematics, the English National Curriculum has three main aims that underpin mathematical education: fluency, reasoning and problem solving. Mount Kelly’s teachers place an equal importance on all three areas to ensure our pupils are not only learning mathematics, they are mastering it.

Mastering Maths at Mount Kelly

Fluency

Becoming fluent in mathematics involves a deep understanding of calculations and being able to apply concepts to a variety of questions. Accurately following taught methods, using inverse operations and solving missing number problems are a few areas of learning that embed fluency. Recalling and applying knowledge quickly and precisely is essential and plays a key role in enabling a student to solve calculations, reason and problem solve.

Reasoning

To reason mathematically is a key skill. It portrays a true understanding of the content taught by explaining why or how an answer is correct. Or incorrect as the case may be. Questions such as true or false, spot the mistake and be the teacher are methods used to promote reasoning. These skills, which can be identified in both written and oral form, are used to summarise relationships, state generalisations, develop arguments with justification or prove a hypothesis using mathematical language. Learning reasoning through mathematics will not only deepen their understanding but it will prepare them for many aspects of their future ahead.

Learning mathematics at Mount Kelly

Problem Solving

A solid grasp of mathematical language is essential when putting maths into a problem solving context. Problems come in all shapes and sizes. Equipping students with a variety of methods to attempt to solve them is our main focus. Teaching a child specifically how to solve one particular problem can be beneficial but providing them with the knowledge and skills to apply to a wide range of questions is the key to success. Problems can be one step, two step or multiple steps; they can require one solution, a set number of answers or an unlimited possibility of results. As the pupils progress through school, many of these problems become more complicated, yet if they apply a growth mindset and their previously taught skills, then they will be prepared with the tools needed to solve the problem.

Mathematical language

Due to our setting in Hong Kong, the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum is clear. It is evident that the quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are key factors in developing their mathematical vocabulary, which in turn affects their reasoning and problem solving skills. Use of questioning and other formative assessment techniques are used in the classroom to assess levels of understanding and address misconceptions through spoken language. Additionally, cooperative learning structures are a useful way to develop use of correct vocabulary and terminology, whilst encouraging reasoning.

Mastering Mathematics at Mount Kelly Hong Kong

Bringing Learning to Life

Why is it important to make learning relevant and meaningful? By relating mathematics in the classroom to a real life context, it gives the learning a purpose and motivates the students. Drawing on the children’s prior knowledge and experience increases enjoyment and participation during lessons. When mathematics is taught in an abstract way, this purpose is removed and pupils are less likely to gain deep understanding from it. It is important that children understand the practical applications of their learning and how it will be useful to them in later life.

Maths at Mount Kelly

Maths at Mount Kelly

Here at Mount Kelly, we understand the importance of maths for mastery. It is vital to us that we provide our students with not only content knowledge, but a love of mathematics and the techniques and tools that can be applied to other subjects and areas of life. By equipping our pupils with these essential mathematical skills during their childhood, we are thoroughly preparing them with the tools to be successful further down the road.

Written by Sophie Jackson, Maths Lead at Mount Kelly Hong Kong


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