Monday, 7 August 2017
In a recent discussion at our team meeting we looked at the idea of making Maths fun and meaningful using problem solving. My Inquiry topic is maths based and the Geometry and Measurement topics we are doing this term lend themselves well to developing children's natural problem solving abilities.
The children work in groups or with a buddy exploring a simple activity that can arise from a real life situation in the class or a structured activity to support the topic. They are able to use trial and error methods or a more structured mathematical way of solving the problem. All answers are accepted and evaluated to see which answers might be a better explanation.
I hoped that this approach might also have a positive outcome of getting children talking more by being able to describe what they are doing and how they came to a conclusion. There is a lot more talk during our problem solving sessions. By being with friends they are more comfortable at attempting to put their thoughts together and take more risks in exploring other avenues. Finding the right words is often a problem for our children.
The children are now learning to think about maths not just as "doing Maths" using the basic mathematical processes but as useful knowledge to use in a wide variety of different situations and to see the different areas of maths are all connected.
For me it has meant that I need to think about the questions I ask. Do the children do most of the talking? How do I answer children's comments? How do I encourage describing, reasoning and getting children to explore the context further? How can I create opportunities for problem solving as well as using opportunities as they arise?
The children appear to be engaged, they are willing to give the activities a go and they are involved.