Numeracy and Maths Modelling and Coaching Officers - Renfrewshire Attainment Team Frances Colquhoun, Karen Brown, Angela Stevenson and Siobhan Coats
Former Numeracy Development Officer - Lynne Scarff-McInnes
Numeracy and mathematics are a key strand of our Scottish Government-funded Attainment Challenge programme, which aims to reduce the poverty-related attainment gap so all children and young people can have the same opportunities to reach their full potential.
To take our existing work on numeracy and maths forward, we recently developed a partnership with Professor Jo Boaler and her youcubed team at Stanford University.
19 teachers from seven Renfrewshire schools and members of the council's Attainment Team visited Stanford University and took part in leadership and mindset pedagogy summits.
The team also visited local schools within the San Francisco area and spoke with the San Francisco Unified School District Leaders team. The team also took part in bespoke training with Professor Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education, and her youcubed team.
Renfrewshire youcubed Maths Camps were a UK-first and we join with America and Brazil in using this initiative.
The first camps involved 172 children and young people from six schools across Renfrewshire.
Children and young people benefited from the Maths Camps because it is:
External providers - Glasgow Science Centre, local artist, Active Schools, Tree of Knowledge - providing workshops to showcase how maths is applicable in engineering, art and science.
Since Camp I place much more emphasis on asking students to prove/convince me as a sceptic or be the sceptic to me. This has been really powerful when working with concrete materials and visual representations because we all see things very differently and how the students are choosing to prove their answers to me has been quite different across class.
One of the main ways I have changed my teaching is through the idea of struggle. I would always help a child who was struggling right away, however I now leave them to struggle (only for a couple of minutes). I do not engage with a struggling child until they have experience the feeling of struggle. I do make more mistakes within the classroom (some intentional and others not) to show children that we are all human.
Using problem solving tasks to understand and observe strategies that the children use and to see where they lie in their learning journey was a strategy I found to be advantageous. For e.g., when building the cubic structures for the sugar cube task it highlighted that some children needed support with understanding what a 3x3x3 structure might look like.
It improved my maths and prepared me for future experiences. When I reach a problem in maths or a problem in anything, I am now able to tackle the problem without panicking. I also think it is preparing me for high school, college and university.
I really like that we started maths journals in maths camp and we have continued them on into Primary 7, I find them really helpful. I often look back during maths to see what we have been learning about.
A focus on developing positive mathematical mindsets is an essential first step. Utilising low floor/high ceiling learning tasks such as those designed by youcubed to allow all pupils to access numeracy and maths in a creative way at their own level. Encouraging peer/group collaboration and lots of discussion is essential to building a positive maths community within the classroom. Celebrating mistakes and using them as a learning experience.