Online Continuing Professional Development Support Utilising Rich Mathematical Tasks

Several primary schools in the Cambridge area have been working with NRICH and Mark Dawes, an AST from Comberton Village College, to:
  • improve mathematics teaching and learning in the schools through the use of rich problem-solving tasks
  • trial and refine a professional development resource, available online, which will mediate the use of NRICH and problem-solving materials
All teachers from Bourn Church of England Primary School, Coton Church of England Primary School and Hardwick Community Primary School were involved in the first stages of this project which began in the autumn term of 2007. Liz Woodham, the NRICH Primary Coordinator, spent an afternoon in each school launching the project. She introduced the NRICH website and everyone worked on a problem together which then led to a discussion about what makes a resource a 'rich task'. Following this initial session, the teachers selected problems from NRICH to use in their mathematics lessons, then communicated about their experiences and shared resources via a wiki. Liz and Mark supported their work through school visits and online conversations.

In conjunction with developing their practice in this way, the participating teachers critiqued a set of CPD documents prepared by the NRICH Team. The idea was that these documents would become a substitute for Mark's and Liz's face-to-face input, and to encourage and support teachers in truly embedding rich tasks into their practice. Based on this feedback, the materials have been re-written and are now available on NRICH (follow the Courses link in the left-hand menu or click here ).

At the start of the autumn term 2008, the next phase of the project began. Staff from two more schools, Great Abington Primary School and Meridian Primary School, trialled these renewed online CPD documents without any face-to-face support. Feedback from them will enable the CPD resources to be refined further so that they are as useful as possible.

For further information about this project, please see this article or contact Liz Woodham.