Haringey 2014-2015

Stage: 1 and 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

NRICH is delighted to be working with Haringey Council again on a five-term project from January 2014 to July 2015.  The project, funded by the London Schools' Excellence Fund, aims to improve primary teachers' Maths subject knowledge and pedagogic knowledge, thereby increasing pupil attainment. 

Liz Woodham, one of the NRICH Primary Coordinators, is leading the project with Michael Hall, an independent consultant and part-time lecturer at the Open University, who has worked with Liz on previous projects in Haringey.

Two primary teachers from each of approximately twenty schools in Haringey will attend ten face-to-face sessions.  This page is intended to be an information-sharing point.  Please send anything you would like uploading to Liz (emp1001@cam.ac.uk).

Day 1: Thursday 6 February
Haringey Day 1 2014.ppt
We played Totality all together and discussed the mathematics we used, and its 'low threshold high ceiling' nature.

We spent some time considering what mathematical topics need to be focused on in each school.  Here are the flipchart sheets which we created in this session:



Michael referred to a report 'Development of Maths Capabilities and Confidence in Primary School' by Nunes, Bryant, Silva and Barros (2009) which you can download here.

Another very interesting read is EffectiveTeachersofNumeracy.pdf.  We didn't make reference to this report today, but are likely to do so throughout the project.

Michael also referred to this article in Primary Mathematics (published by The Mathematical Association) which is about a previous project between NRICH and Haringey.

Michael led us in the 'Flipping Cards' activity.  There are five cards, each with a number on the front and another number on the back, like this:

Five participants stood up and flipped the cards until a mix of odd and even numbers were displayed.  Without seeing the numbers displayed,  Michael asked how many are odd and then announced the total of the five numbers.  He repeated this several times.

The challenge is to explain how he knew the total.

The mathematical themes we discussed are:
  • Maths is magical
  • Maths is not about performing tricks
  • The magic of maths is understanding the structure, design and presentation of the activity.
  • People maths - the participants become the mathematics (numbers in this case)
(The activity is described in the I Hate Mathematics Book by Marilyn Burns, published by CUP,  ISBN: 0521336597.  A group of teachers Michael worked with some while ago devised the people maths presentation for the activity.)

Expectations for day 2 (19 March)
- complete maths audit in back of 'Mathematics for Primary and Early Years: Developing Subject Knowledge' book by Heather Cooke (see SelfAssessmentPrompts.docx for more details) and please bring score (count subsections of questions as being worth one mark each)
- ask each child in your class to complete the pupil questionnaire
- try out a rich task with your class and be prepared to chat about how it went
- you may wish to begin a learning log to record interesting moments that you notice in your classroom (brief extracts of what children say are worth noting for reflection and discussion).

Day 2: Wednesday 19 March

During the day the tasks we tried all focused on developing children's number sense and understanding of place value.  They can all be found in the Number Sense and Place Value Feature.

Liz mentioned research by Kenneth Ruthven which suggests a model for teaching mathematics:  exploration -> codification -> consolidation, rather than a 'show then practice' model found in some mathematics lessons.  Although the context is secondary mathematics, this feels very relevant for primary too.  You can read the paper, published in Educational Studies in Mathematics 20 (1989) here: ExploratoryTeachingKRuthven.pdf.

We spent some time sharing our experiences of trying an activity out in the classroom.  Here are the resulting flipchart sheets produced by each group:

As the above image is rather difficult to read, the text is in this document too.

We had a brief discussion about the completed pupil questionnaires, which Michael and Liz collected and we also talked about what it had been like doing the subject audit.

Expectations for day 3 (20 May)
- read chapters 5 and 9 of Listening Counts and identify a couple of children to focus on.  (The reason for selecting them in particular is completely up to you e.g. they say very little; they are girls and you suspect they are underperfoming; they are high attaining but find application of knowledge difficult - it could be anything!).  Begin to jot down observations and thoughts about these children in your learning log.
- try out a rich task with your class and be prepared to chat about how it went.

Day 3:  Tuesday 20 May

Day 3 focused on recording mathematics.  We had a go at School Fair Necklaces and used this activity as a springboard from which to discuss working systematically as well as aspects of recording. 

Liz drew attention to the Recording Feature on NRICH, which includes an article outlining three different contexts for recording:
  1. Recording 'in the moment'
  2. Recording as thinking
  3. Recording for a different person/time
Later in the day, we tried The Amazing Splitting Plant, which lends itself to a variety of different ways of recording.

Emma and Marie from Bounds Green very kindly brought some of their children's maths books to share with us, which contain plain white pages rather than squares.  We discussed the pros (e.g. freedom to record in any way children like) and cons (e.g. some cutting and sticking needed when task does need other types of paper).  Emma/Marie were very enthusiastic about the books.

We spent a short time reflecting on how the project might be impacting on teachers and learners so far.  Here are some of the comments made (paraphrased by Liz!):
  • It's encouraging participatiing teachers to think more openly and use more open-ended questioning
  • One school has given the same challenge to each class (using NRICH posters) once a week, and invited individuals/pairs/groups/classes to give in solutions; they are already seeing an improvement in number of responses and a wider spread of children contributing, although there is a challenge in helping other colleagues to maximise the potential of the tasks
  • It's helped participating teachers consider how to scaffold tasks using appropriate questions
  • It's encouraging participating teachers to think about how children are grouped for tasks
  • The more open-ended tasks allow children to show their thinking
  • Children are appreciating more mathematical freedom and the opportunities for more mathematical conversations
  • Children seem to enjoy the tasks - why?
  • Children see the games as fun and are less inhibited
We discussed chapters 5 and 9 of 'Listening Counts' and how reading them made us feel.  It was suggested that chapter 5 could be worth sharing with colleagues back at school.  We recognised that many teachers feel the pressure of 'coverage'.  Could whispers be written on post-its?  One participant described how she uses pupils as 'learning detectives' - a couple volunteer (or are chosen) to listen in on conversations as others work on maths and report back.

Michael mentioned Mike Askew's article Private Talk Public Conversation which offers suggestions for effective paired talk and advice about making the most of whole-class discussion 'to build on methods that children have shared privately, refine the mathematics and reach a greater collective understanding'.  (Here is a link to a keynote speech by Professor Mike Askew at the joint HMIE/LTS Good Practice conference for mathematics held in the Carnegie Conference Centre in Dunfermline on 2 September 2009, which discusses similar ideas:

Michael also led us in a deconstruction of a KS2 mathematics SATs question.  Participants were grouped in fours with one card each (or in pairs with two cards each), each card giving some of the information from the question.  Participants can say what is written on their card(s) but not show what is written.  The challenge is to answer the SATs question ‘How much change does Mrs Patel get?’  You can download the cards here:  MrsPatelCards.doc

The idea is then to devise a similar set of cards with a different question to be answered.

Here are the mathematical themes which emerged in discussion:
  • Questions with surplus or missing data.
  • Talk not see
  • Small group work
  • Generating own mathematical questions
(This was adapted from an idea in The Numeracy File, written by Mike Askew and Sheila Ebbutt, published by Nelson Thorne.)

Expectations for day 4 (3 July)
- read chapter 4 of 'Listening Counts' and note points which you would particularly like to share
- continue to add to your Learning Log
- try out at least one more rich task with your class

Day 4:  Thursday 3 July

We focused on fractions today.  We began with a discussion about why children might find fractions so difficult.  Ideas included:
  • abstract nature
  • not much link to everyday life
  • difficult vocabulary
  • can be counter-intuitive (e.g. one quarter is smaller than one third even though, when considering the denominators, 4 is bigger than 3)
  • need to know tables
  • hard to visualise
  • link to whole (which could be ANYTHING!)
  • equivalence is a difficult concept
Liz drew attention to the article Understanding Fractions which suggests the reasons are:
  • relative rather than fixed amount
  • same fraction might refer to different quantities and different fractions may be equivalent (what is the whole?)
  • can refer to objects, quantities or shapes
(See ppt presentation linked above for more detail.) 

Liz shared a ppt animation focusing on halving, featured in the teachers' resources section of Halving, and we then tried the task itself.  We also had a go at Fair Feast.  One participant described using this problem with her Year 2 class very successfully.  She had intended it as a short task, but it ended up taking quite a bit of time as the children were engrossed and didn't find it quite as straightforward as she'd anticipated.  Liz flagged up the Fractions Feature on NRICH which contains the article mentioned above as well as the activities and more.

Michael and Liz drew attention to the progression charts on the NCETM website (you need to be logged in to view them).  We also shared the fractions part of a spreadsheet copiled by the ATM and MA which also indicates progression and displays the content in terms of sub-topics.  Here is the full spreadsheet:  Overview by topic of the NC 2013.xlsx

We spent some time composing reflections on the project so far, which were sent to Michael/Liz. 

The next session began with Michael writing the following on the board:

$\frac{2}{3} + \frac{4}{7} = \frac{6}{10}$

Our reaction was that the calculation was incorrect.  Michael then explained that he was recording the fact that in his first test he had got 2 out of 3 questions right and in the second test he had got 4 out of 7 correct.  So, in total he had got 6 out of the 10 questions right.  We reflected on this ...

Michael then led us in some paper folding which linked well to the Halving animation in the first session.  We created a square from an A4 piece of paper, then folded in half and half again, and half again ...  We unfolded after each stage to count the triangles we had created.

Michael then read us an extract from a Paddington Bear story in which Paddington is answering questions for a TV quiz show:

“For fifty pounds here is question number two, and it’s a two part question. Listen carefully.”
"If”, he said, “you had a piece of wood eight feet long and you cut it in half, and if you cut the two pieces you then have in half again, and if you then cut all the pieces into half again how many pieces would you have?”
“Eight” said Paddington promptly.
“Very good, bear,” said Ronnie Playfair approvingly.
“Here is the second part of the question. How long will each of the pieces be?”
“Eight feet” said Paddington almost before the Master of Ceremonies had time to start the clock. “Eight feet?” repeated Ronnie Playfair “You’re sure you won’t change your mind?”
“No, thank you, Mr Playfair, “said Paddington firmly.
“In that case ... I must ask you for the £5 back, the answer is one foot”.
“Oh no, Mr Playfair” said Paddington politely “I’m sure that’s right for your piece of wood but I cut mine the other way.”
“But if you’re asked to cut a plank of wood in half,” stuttered Ronnie Playfair, “you cut it across the middle not down the middle. It stands to reason.”
“Not if you’re a bear,” said Paddington, remembering his efforts at carpentry in the past.
“If you’re a bear it’s safer to cut down the middle.”

Bond, M., 1971 Paddington at Large: Collins, London.

'Doing a Paddington' can therefore be thought of as us listening to our learners and really trying to understand their logic. It also challenged us to think about what makes a good question and what makes a good answer.  (The idea for this activity came from an article by Prestage and Perks in Mathematics in Schools Volume 21, Number 4, a journal published by The Mathematical Association in September 1992.)

With A4 paper we folded as Paddington did and cut one strip out to fold the 'other' way. Then we asked, 'what if the strip is one metre in length?' and so on. With a second strip we tried folding into three equal parts and discussed why it is more difficult and how it generalised folding into n parts. Finally, we linked to mental calculation and finding fractions of an amount by asking what length of strip would suit three folds and n folds.

Finally we used another strip which we assumed to be 36cm in length and rolled two dice to find fractions of 36. Discussion centered on how to work out the fractions that seemed difficult and why they were difficult.

Later in the day, we spent some time discussing chapter 4 of 'Listening Counts' and began to think about outline plans for a staff meeting back at school in the autumn.

Michael led two more mathematical activities.  The first of which started with the description of a dad who was cutting a cake in half to share between his two children.  The question is, did he actually cut it in half?  What fractions might he have created?  This led to trying to state fractions nearer and nearer to a half which weren't a half exactly.

Michael also reminded us of the counting stick and how it can be used to count in fractions and links with decimals - great for chanting and mental work.

In the second activity, Michael gave out cards with a fraction or percentage on each.  Participants had to line up to order their cards.  Those participants who didn't have a card were then asked to choose a fraction/percentage between two already on the number line and everyone had to work out what their fraction/percentage was through questioning.

Adell from Earlsmead mentioned the story 'The Greedy Triangle' which developed into an investigation around regular polygons (using straws and pipe cleaners), lines of symmetry and lots of areas that were unexpected.  If you're interested, here is the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPuI4XyyZUE

Expectations for day 5 (9 October)
- read chapter 7 of 'Listening Counts'
- continue to try out rich tasks with your class
- mull over ideas for the staff meeting
- take a look at the Problem Solving feature on NRICH, particularly the articles

Day 5:  Thursday 9 October

We welcomed some new participants today and also Lynne McClure, the Director of NRICH, who led the day, which was entitled 'Embedding The Three Aims of the New National Curriculum'.  See Lynne's PowerPoint slides, linked above.

Session 1 focused on supporting reasoning and fluency through rich tasks.  We began by having a go at Reach 100, followed by Strike It Out.  Lynne talked about wanting to confuse children (not permanently!) as the work to get 'unconfused' is where the learning takes place.  We discussed the 'low threshold high ceiling' nature of Strike It Out and the two versions:

1.  Competitive with an addition/subtraction focus (could use numicon, number cards, cards with 'add', 'take away' etc written on, could have an adult recording for a child)
2.  Collaborative - this could then become a 'simmering' activity which goes on beyond the length of the lesson, which gives a strong message that maths doesn't just take place in lesson-sized chunks and models the behaviour of mathematicians.

We talked about tweaking the number line to include multiples of ten, decimals, fractions, negative numbers etc. 

Lynne outlined some relevant research and the idea that children need to have both procedural fluency and conceptual fluency. 

We looked at how we the collaborative version of Strike It Out could be used as a vehicle to develop logical proof - can we use all the numbers on the number line?  (We decided we couldn't use 0 but discussed the benefit of having 0 included as a 'red herring'.)

Lynne summarised two types of reasoning - inductive and deductive (see her ppt above for details).

In session 2, Lynne focused on problem solving.  She gaves us bags of dominoes and asked, "How do you know you've got all them all?" (See the NRICH task Domino Sets.)  Different groups arranged the dominoes in different ways to try to answer this question:

Lynne then challenged us with Amy's Dominoes, some groups were allowed to keep the dominoes, some had to return them to the bag.  We discussed how important the initial 'playing around' with the dominoes had been before tackling this task and the implications on how we allow children to choose structured apparatus in the classroom.  Lynne mentioned Ruthven's research:  Exploration > Codification > Consolidation (see Day 2 details above for more info).

Lynne introduced us to sets of houses (used in Guess the Houses) and again, asked whether we thought we had a full set. 

We used the domino sets to have a go at Guess the Dominoes, a group task, and talked about the ways you could make this more accessible (see teachers' resources section of the activity).

Session 3 was a split session, with Liz leading an information gathering session for the majority of participants (see PowerPoint linked at top of this section 'HaringeyDay5'), and Lynne leading a session with the Haringey Maths Working Party.

Session 4 focused on mathematical games.  We played the following games and reflected on their mathematical content, how they could be adapted/extended and how they contributed to fluency, reasoning and problem solving:

Dotty Six
Board Block
Four Go
Some Games That May Be Nice or Nasty
Stop the Clock
Got It

We discussed how an element of strategy always increases the level of thinking required and sometimes if the mathematical content of a game is low, it can free children up to reason in a more sophisticated way.  Lynne drew attention to the fact that these games have huge potential and can be returned to again and again, rather than being 'one-off' activities in the classroom.

Expectations for day 6 (11 November)
- Those of you who have been with us since January, please email Michael (copied into this message) with the average point score of your last year's class, plus the average point score of a class in that same year group the previous academic year.  This is urgent!  Please email Michael by next Tuesday (21st).
- Please try out at least one of the tasks we had a go at on Thursday with your class and be prepared to share your experiences next time we meet.
- Please ask all the pupils in your current class to complete the PupilQuestionnaire and bring the copies with you next time.
- Those of you new to the project and who have already been given a copy of the 'Mathematics for Primary and Early Years' book, please have a go at the assessment in the back and bring your score with you next time (assuming each part of a question is worth one 'point').

Future dates
Day 6 - Tuesday 11 November
Day 7 - Thursday 5 February
Day 8 - Tuesday 17 March
Day 9 - Wednesday 20 May
Day 10 - Wednesday 1 July

First published February 2014, updated October 2014