Maths at Attenborough School
Vision Statement: We aim to equip our mathematicians with a fluent mathematical toolbox. Which gives our children the confidence in their abilities to think creatively. Our children have confidence in their abilities and can think creatively when solving problems, articulate their choices about their chosen steps and processes and work flexibly to make links between mathematics and the wider curriculum.
At Attenborough School we believe that the teaching of mathematics should be practical, interactive and exploratory.
We deliver the national mathematics curriculum using Singapore teaching methods to effectively create a climate where all of our children are challenged to justify their mathematical thinking and are guided along their learning journey using physical, ‘concrete’ resources and pictorial representations so that they fully understand the concepts that are being introduced.
We use ‘Maths No Problem!’ as our scheme of work. The scheme uses characters to introduce problems to the children and has a wealth of visual representations which supports the children’s conceptual understanding. Each lesson we deliver is broken down into 5 key parts.
This section of the lesson will take a variety of forms in each class but the core principle is to practise and embed core mental strategies that the children are required to learn. This might take the form of learning and recalling pairs of numbers that total 10 in year 1, up to fluently reciting times table facts across KS2 classes. Teachers may also use this time to address and generic gaps in a classes understanding such as the names of 2D and 3D shapes or being able to identify unit fractions displayed in a variety of ways.
Exploration – ‘In Focus’
We introduce each lesson with a problem or a ‘maths story’. This may be introduced piece by piece so that the children are familiar with what the problem is asking of them. They are then given time to explore this problem and, using whiteboards, record their initial thoughts and strategies which they may use to try to find a solution. This is known as the ‘anchor task’. Once the children have attempted to solve this problem we move into the next part of the lesson.
Structured discussion – ‘Anchor Chart’
As the lesson progresses, the teacher will bring together the thoughts from around the classroom that surround the problem introduce initially. Through discussion and questioning, we aim to establish the most effective methods to use when trying to grasp the concept being introduced. These thoughts are recorded onto flipchart paper (formally known as our ‘anchor charts’) which are then displayed throughout the unit of work for the children to refer to independently.
Our main aim is for children to gain a deep understanding of each concept we introduce. An important aspect of each lesson is the journal as this allows the children to explain in their own words their understanding of the lessons objectives. There are four types of journal that the children are introduced to throughout their time in Attenborough School.
Descriptive – The children will be expected to explain and describe how they reached an answer to a given problem. This type of journal is important for all children but is the dominant journal type used with our youngest learners in KS1. In Year 1, the children may be given a template or structure to help them with their thinking. We teach the children how to write explanations, using sentence starters and word banks to support this process of reasoning. By year 6, we expect all our learners to be expressing themselves fluently using both words, diagrams and images.
Evaluative – The children may be given two methods and asked which one they believe to be the most efficient. The children will use their understanding of the concept to give their explanations. Similarly they may be provided with a character who has encountered an error in their thinking and asked to explain what the mistake or misconception is and how they should correct this.
Investigative – The children will be given an open ended question to explore. This could be something such as ‘What do you notice when…’ or ‘Is there a pattern…’. The children will be expected to use their journal to explore this question, then using words, explain their findings.
Creative – A journal that requires a strong understanding of the concepts being taught. This may take the form of one of the following questions, ‘can you create a problem that is similar to the anchor task’ or ‘can you create a problem that will involve the person solving needing to rename 10 tens or 10 hundreds?’.
As the name suggests, this part of the lesson is where more direct teaching will occur. We have given the children the opportunity to explore a problem, addressed misconceptions and deepened thinking through the anchor task and allowed children to explain their understanding through their journal.
Through varied examples, the teacher will guide the pupils through examples of questions they will expect to find during their independent practise. When learning new concepts, the children will be given the opportunity to use a range of manipulatives and collaborative work is actively encouraged at this stage.
The emphasis throughout each maths lesson lies heavily on understanding the concept rather than the completion of a task. We use ‘workbooks’ during the final part of the lesson as a way of allowing the children to apply their understanding. This part of the lesson is very much independent, if a child is unable to complete all the activities within a specified lesson, then this tell us about their understanding and ability that day. If a child is confident and has a secure understanding then they should be able to complete the tasks with little intervention from the class teacher.
Assessing children’s understanding.
Understanding the abilities of each child we teach is at the core of our classroom practice. We want every child to leave Attenborough school as a confident and fluent mathematician and it is essential to be aware of any gaps in their understanding.
Teachers are continuously assessing the children in every lesson. This is known as formative assessment and will occur as a result of observations, journal outcomes and the tasks completed in the workbooks. We are then able to identify which children need to consolidate certain lessons or have some form of intervention to address their misunderstanding.
In addition to this ongoing assessment, we assess our pupils at three specific windows throughout the school calendar. We use ‘PUMA’ as a way of providing insights into how the children are doing in relation to other pupils the same age and whether there are any specific areas of mathematics in which we need to focus our daily maths meetings to address.