What a year! It is time to reflect on the achievements of myself and my students throughout the Champions of Maths program. My name is Danielle Dhu (Year 4 Teacher at Ocean Road Primary School) and for those of you who have read my first blog, you will know that I stepped into this program with apprehension towards my skills as a mathematics teacher.
My journey through the Champions of Maths program is an experience that cannot be defined by one word. Therefore, let me take you on a tour of the final stages of the program and how my mindset towards mathematics changed.
Lesson 3 & 4
My students worked together on various problems linked to the mathematics concepts we were learning in class.
When planning the problem-solving sessions, we were encouraged to think about the possible solutions and strategies that our students might use to solve the problem. I found that with each lesson there was always a completely different way that my students would solve the problem that I had not thought of. This showed me the power of collaboration and how working in different groups each time helped the students make connections to different concepts that enabled them to solve their problems in different ways.
During lesson 4 I gave the students a task that linked arrays and area to solve the number of units needed to combine two arrays. When I planned the lesson, I thought of three ways the students might approach the task:
- Count all the individual squares to find the total area.
- Break the shape into two smaller shapes and count up the area then add them together.
- Rearrange the shape to make it a full rectangle and then calculate the area.
These responses were the only ones I could think of and I thought I was prepared for the lesson.
When I gave the students discussion time most of them had come to the conclusion that they could skip count the rows. I thought to myself ‘How could I have missed that?’, but stopped myself getting too deep into a negative mindset by realising this was growth, and was showing me clearly where my students were at in their development – they were not at the stage of calculating area using multiplication, they were still exploring the elements of arrays.
As a follow up to this problem I then gave them a separate task to find the connections between arrays and area. From here we were then ready to begin our unit on calculating area of irregular shapes.
The last part of the program was centred around prompting and assessing reasoning. I found this part the most valuable as it can be carried over into all learning areas. With the school I work at moving into Inquiry Learning, I found being able to access a bank of prompts and skills to deepen the thinking of my students extremely helpful. It gave me a chance to release my control and let the students build a stronger sense of independence to find their own answers to not only Mathematical problems but in everyday scenarios.
This new way of viewing Maths has opened my mindset and given me a way to build on my confidence as a Mathematics teacher. When talking to my peers I no longer say ‘I dislike Maths’ I now say to people ‘I am on a learning journey with my students, guiding them to become critical and creative thinkers’.
My advice to anyone considering this program…DO IT! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Find out more about the Alcoa Maths Enrichment Program.
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