Flipping maths on its head to find a solution

Villa Maria Year 2 teacher Clare Robinson.

Villa Maria Primary School at Hunters Hill is one of the first in the Sydney Archdiocese changing the way mathematics is being taught in Catholic Primary Schools.

Called Mathematical Expertise and Excellence, the innovative new program aims to provide the best possible mathematics education for every student of all abilities.

The most significant difference with the way maths is being taught is that the teaching point occurs after the students have worked through and solved a question.

The new approach is “flipping” the more traditional way of teaching around so students have the opportunity to apply their mathematical understandings to problems at the beginning of the lesson so they can immediately explore and solve the task in small groups themselves.

Students therefore launch into the learning straight away with classmates while the teacher moves around to provide support in the use of more efficient strategies to extend their ideas of mathematical concepts.

The point of teaching occurs later in the lesson, when students have been specifically targeted to share with the class what they have achieved, allowing the teacher to provide instant feedback and cater activities that are based on their learning needs.

Villa Maria Year 2 teacher Clare Robinson presenting the new maths program to students.

Villa Maria Year 2 teacher Clare Robinson says she has always been passionate about teaching maths but felt the way it was being taught needed to be overhauled so has welcomed the new program with open arms.

She said students are not simply recalling a fact or modelling skills, they are discovering that there is more than one answer for a question and multiple ways of getting to that answer.

“Students are able to demonstrate their knowledge of an area of maths without being directed as to what they have to do,” Ms Robinson said.

“It allows the students to demonstrate what they are capable of rather than a directive of one specific strategy.  In a sense they launch into their learning and after sharing their work, the teacher takes their points of learning from the discussion.

“The new system allows the students, particularly girls who quite often struggle with confidence when solving problems, as a group and then attempt harder, more challenging questions.”

Launched in term 1, Mathematical Expertise and Excellence is a four year invitational project open to all Sydney Catholic Primary schools.

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