I watched a maths lesson yesterday at ICE.
It involved some pretty difficult 2/3 step problems based around our SPACE theme and Kelli commented quietly to me that we might need some easier examples for some of the children.
I suggested to Kelli that I put together some easier options and she observed for a while and wisely chose the harder option- to help the kids struggle and overcome.
She didn’t just teach them about maths with 2-3 processes- she taught them resilience and determination. Kelli taught them the value of collaboration and that we can All excel when we throw our hearts over the bar.
The children were so proud of themselves and we were all left feeling we had struggled together and WON- a great feeling for teachers AND children!
Well done Kelli- that is MASTER TEACHING!!! A few attitudes were changed and who knows- maybe some career options opened up?
Find The Fun
You can’t argue with Mary Poppins, who we all know is ‘practically perfect in every-way’ and there is more than one lesson to be learned from the timeless tale she has to tell. This one, for me as an educator, is the most important of all.
In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
you find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game
This has become my teaching mantra and I endeavor to ‘find the fun’ in every lesson that I teach. Imagine if kids got excited about the times tables, eager about spelling, enthusiastic about parts of speech! Learning does not have to equal boring, we just have to find the fun for our students.
How do we do this? The same way that Mary Poppins did, with a game! Games not only provide the hands on experience that children need to be effective learners but also makes even the most boring concept a whole lot more exciting.
A simple pack of cards becomes a speed game to make number bonds to 10 or a spirited competition to multiply the face values. Older children use them to learn about adding, subtracting, regrouping and multiplying. Younger children use them to sort, match, do shape work and learn 1-1 correspondence. Games do not need to cost you money either, there are so many fantastic sites where enthusiastic and dedicated teachers post and share their amazing, free ideas, on how to create that ‘element of fun’.
A treasure map is a perfect way to teach children about prepositions. Lego is an awesome way to learn about volume and measurement and you would not believe what can be done with a paper plate in terms of fractions and equivalent fractions!
We often do this naturally with younger children but our older ones do not outgrow this need for ‘fun’. In actual fact, the sometimes dry topics that are curriculum essentials, would receive much greater benefit from applying a ‘games based’ approach.
So step away from that smart board. Put down those worksheets and open your mind to games. We know it worked for Huckleberry Finn, when he managed to cleverly persuade his friends to trade him small treasures for the privilege of doing his work! Just find that element of fun and snap! The job’s a game.
I am bilingual, I can speak Maths.
Not many of us master a second language especially at just two or three years of age but this is exactly what we ask of our children when we introduce maths without a good, hands on, interactive program.
Like a jumble of ancient hieroglyphics or complicated Japanese Kanji, those lines on a page hold little meaning for the beginner and we need to decode and demystify them by linking them to all other aspects of their learning.
We might not remember all the words but we know that it was “five little ducks” that went out one day, over those hills and far away and that the “hungry caterpillar” ate through not one, not two but through five oranges!
It was Confucius who said “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand” and it is this principle we need to take with us when teaching math, not just to our toddlers but to all of those children who do not hold a high maths/logic intelligence.
What is a 6? What does it look like (can we draw it, can we pile up 6 objects), what does it sound like (can we clap out six beats, can we blow a whistle six times) what does it feel like (can we jump on the spot six times, can we roll a six out of clay). What happens when numbers go up, do we have more or less, is our pile getting bigger or smaller are we jumping more times or less times?
This approach extends beyond the toddler too. How many lollies do I get if I share them equally among my friends, what portion of the cake will I get if I divide it among eight people and is it the same if there are six of us? How many will I need altogether if my 3 guinea pigs need four carrot sticks each and how long will I be revising if I spend 20 minutes on four subjects and start at 4:30 in the afternoon?
Maths is all around us all the time. It is in the songs we sing, the books we read, the games we play, the order of our day. We don’t learn to drive a car, bake a cake or teach a child without ‘doing’! We can help all of our children to be fluent speakers of maths if we remember this simple fact and let them ‘do’ as they learn.
Last night we attended a NUMERO games night in Singapore run by my colleagues and friends at September 21. http://www.september21.com.sg/
At first I was reluctant to play and then realised most people there (like me) did not know a great deal about the game. I was coaxed into the game and Martin had to drag me out to attend another function. I was NUMEROED! Finally I understood the power of this unassuming yet amazing game.
One of the participants who plays the game with older children (P3-P5) commented that she has to encourage the children to slow down and strategise, but after a while the children start to really use their logic and NUMERO has had such a powerful effect on their maths understanding.
Jackeline Carter, one of my licensees, (www.jcartercentre.com), told me she uses it when running EQ4KIDZ to teach kids about maths intelligence. What a GREAT idea!
Such a simple game and SO effective and can be played on so many levels. Finally I really GOT it! Thanks Kenlin and Chew Yeh for the excellent training and opportunity to play NUMERO in a non-threatening context!
In the taxi both Martin and I chatted excitedly about how we will use the game at ICE, what it REALLY does and about maths in general.
The game teaches much more than simply maths operations. It teaches how to stick to simple rules, how to think strategically, how to mentally compute, gives practice for all the maths operations and much, much more!
As we continued our chat in the taxi it started to dawn on me. Have we got it wrong with maths education? Are we putting the cart before the horse? I have realised lately that many children of grade 1,2,3 cannot solve for missing numbers e.g. 15+ ?= 8 or ?x4= 12
And yet my grade ones over 20 years ago could easily do that.
So why can’t they do it now?
I think we try to teach too much, too quickly and the children are not understanding our number system.
Parents and teachers- think about this. Consider spending more time on basic number facts, using material and games to consolidate and definitely equip yourself with Numero!