It's All About Maths

We are all about Maths at Woodlands and this year we are really pushing maths techniques which focus on a concrete, pictorial and abstract way of learning. We believe that every maths topic should start with a visual process that children can see and touch before they go on to master the application of the maths.

Concrete – Using maths tool boxes and practical hands on objects we are aiming to teach the children the visual models of maths.

Pictorial – Showing the maths, drawing it out - using a bar model for example. Asking the children to demonstrate what the maths looks like

Abstract – turning the maths back into the numerical, functional methods we recognise. Children being able to show they understand the fundamentals of maths and can then apply it in formal written methods.

The visual models are not attempting to replace the abstract approaches, but instead will provide students with a better, more conceptual understanding of the maths processes they will need to use when we are at the early stages of learning a topic.

Ruth Hopkins, Maths leader at Woodlands said: “We should not be teaching tricks to answer maths. We need to teach the foundations, so that children can apply maths to any situation. By asking children to show the visual processes of maths we are teaching them the foundations, conceptual understanding and therefore key skills they need to apply maths to any situation. With mastery a key part of the curriculum now, it is imperative that the children have the foundations of maths embedded to enable them to master any maths concept”.

At Woodlands we have been using maths tool boxes with dice, number beads, 10 frames, unifix cubes and tape measures. We have also invested in Cuisenaire rods, maths dictionaries and lots more to teach children the visual elements of maths.

The Cuisenaire rods have no set numerical value, so from lesson to lesson they are never the same. Using the rods during a fractions lesson with Year 3, children were able to create good discussion around reasoning and understanding. They are able to see that ½ is bigger than 1/6 and that 2/6 is equal to 1/3, which is invaluable. Fraction strips are another great visual tool to show how sizes and fractions relate to one and other.

At Woodlands, by teaching maths in this way we aim to stop the cycle of children who know the answer, but do not know the maths behind it. Using these visual methods allows teachers to easily identify children who are not grasping a full understanding.