Well, it has been very quiet from Southbank for a wee while. Working in a fantastic school with outstanding colleagues is making me raise my game – which I love, but has come at the expense of some of the other things I love to do. But here I am…
My partner and I, over the last 6 weeks, have worked very hard to provide the children lots of opportunities to inquire into place value. Inquiry in maths is an area that is new to me, and if I am honest, I have struggled. Structuring learning experiences in such as way as to facilitate the children asking their own questions and then inquiring into them is something new and difficult for me.
The steps I have taken on my learning journey have been to provide investigations. I have given the children a variety of open-ended tasks requiring them to look at the numbers, patterns and changes to these number patterns, and then draw conclusions about what has happened. For example, the children took calculators, place value block, place value boards and their own “tickers” (similar to an odometre made of paper and card), and multiplied a number by 10, 100 and 1000 to see what happened. As an aside, using the key concept “thinking keys”, particularly form, change and reflection, have been very useful with this unit. (For more information on the thinking keys check out http://www.pz.harvard.edu/vt/visibleThinking_html_files/01_VisibleThinkingInAction/01c_VTPoP.html). Once the children, individually and in small groups, had come up with idea on what they thought had happened, they worked closely in collaborative groups to make a consensus page. Here they recorded their own thinking and then had to present their findings to their group, possibly even persuading others, and then as a group they had to decided what they would like to present to the class, then finally model and “teach” their theory to the whole class. This is only one example of the investigations the children have carried out. Though I am sure this is far from perfect, I have loved watching the children develop their skills, knowledge and conceptual understanding in place value.
So now, the children are working towards their final assessment. My partner and I agonized over this – we didn’t want a random, meaningless test, but with so much else going on we needed it to be efficient, both in time and content. What we finally decided was the the children, working in groups of 3, will put together a presentation for the rest of the grade 3 children. We will film it – which makes their e-portfolio sample easy – and the children in the audience will provide feedback and feed-forward on the mathematical contents of the presentation.
This has been a steep learning curve for me, I can tell you. What are you doing in maths? How do you think we, as teachers, can facilitate more inquiry in our maths time?