Maths – skills taught in isolation?

Our maths session begins before I walk into the room today. The children have spotted this image on my desk and are chatting about how to solve it.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 8.52.53 am.png

We don’t all get the same solution and spend some time trying to work out whose is correct, and why. Then, we are ready to move on.

Yesterday, I  stumbled across  Jo Boaler’s “How to Learn Math for Students” and had a wonderful time scanning through the lessons and watching snippets of the videos. I even did some of the quizzes!

Within the course I found this question:

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 8.46.31 am.png

I listened to Jo Boaler’s explanation of how her nine year old student had approached the problem, and decided to share it with my small group of learners. The discussion started and no one had an idea of where to begin, so we started to ask questions …

  • What do we know about kilograms?
  • What do kilograms measure?
  • What do we know about the answer? ( This is a great question, and we decided that the answer had to be less than 3, as 1/4 is less than 1/3)

The solution was not as straight forward as my learners initially thought and they all found that drawing a picture, after visualising the scenario was helpful.

The images led me to some misconceptions that needed to be addressed :

  • “I don’t know how to write a quarter of a kilogram as decimal”
  • “I am not sure how many pieces in the whole.”

Many more drawing, discussion, trial and error situations, models and explanations followed.

At the end of lesson, we brainstorm the mathematical concepts that we have used. The group comes up with:

  1. addition
  2. subtraction
  3. multiplication
  4. division
  5. halving
  6. place value
  7. fractions
  8. order of operations
  9. measurement
  10. problem solving

And I consider the  transdisciplinary skills that have been employed:

  1. reading
  2. visualisation
  3. connecting
  4. collaboration
  5. problem solving
  6. justifying an answer
  7. evaluation
  8. note taking

Maths is certainly not about skills taught in isolation. It is about the world, our lives and how we make sense of everything around us!


About Jina Belnick

I am a full time learner - tumbling head first into education and joining my learners on the amazing adventures that we encounter daily at our PYP school in Melbourne, Australia.I am currently working in learning support, feeling the waters and seeing how teachers and learners are best supported, I am a listener and a leader, an inquirer and a follower. I'm loving the ride!
This entry was posted in Jina, Learning, learning support, maths, Number sense, Thinking. Bookmark the permalink.

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