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Maths Journals

We’ve been trying something new in Class 4 these last few weeks.

As you know, as part of the old a school wide focus we have on Maths we have been looking at how we teach maths and the best way to get children thinking mathematically. Some of this has been a huge push on knowledge – e.g. Knowing their time tables by heart, knowing their number bonds to ten etc. However some of it has also been around their application of mathematics – in other words can they take their knowledge and then apply it to problems and to investigations.

Recently I went to a conference looking at new ways of assessment within the new curriculum. At this conference I happened to speak to another Head Teacher all about ‘Maths Journals’ – a different way of getting the children to explore the way in which they think mathematically. This involved leading investigations each week; asking the children to think about a seemingly simple problem – but then take it to a deeper level. Also to explore the different way of working and, crucially at this age, to work together exploring the ideas of their team mates.

We have been leading this weekly sessions with Class 4 now for about half a term – and have been really pleased with the quality of their work. We started by exploring place value – looking for patterns when adding tens and ones together.  This was a simple start but it gave the children the chance to practise the crucial skill of writing their thinking and explaining their ideas. This is harder than it sounds and is the reason that we are using journals instead of ordinary maths books. The journals allow the children to write their ideas, and to explore what they are doing. We work in group – on large bits of sugar paper – and then we distill this thinking to our journals. How far we can take our thinking depends on what we are working on.

Next steps? We want to share what we are doing with other schools  –  and I already have plans to share some of our work with schools throughout the country. A few Skype chats with other pupils ans I hope our children realise just how hard they are working – and crucially just how much they are learning!

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Try this at home – start simple thinking about times tables. What pattern can you see between x2 an x4 tables? Can you predict a pattern? What about x8? Write them out side by side and see what you get.