Maths Scholars Welcome Webinar 2022

It was strange to start the Scholarship programme meeting online instead of in person, but despite the short change of circumstances (train strikes and the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II) the Maths Scholarship team (currently a one-woman team!) put together a fantastic welcome for us all.

After our welcome to the programme and information about the amazing meetings and events we had to look forward to, it was over to three Maths Scholarship Alumni who gave us a fantastic overview of how great their experience was, what they got the most out of, as well as some precious top tips.

We then had a quick run down on the history of the Maths Hubs and teaching for mastery – not a fad or programme, but the idea that everyone can gain a deep, secure, and adaptable understanding of maths – from Aidan Gollaglee, a Maths Hub Lead for London South East Plus Maths Hub and former Maths Scholar, and information on how we can access this now and going forward in our career. He showed us a fantastic head scratcher on how we teach division of fractions as multiplying by the reciprocal, but this isn’t necessarily the easiest way.

The main event was an introduction to the fantastic NRICH by director Dr Ems Lord. She spoke about the focus, certainly in England, on teaching fluency and reasoning in maths but lacking in problem solving. While we might know where our students will be after school and in their first or second jobs out of education life could take them anywhere after that, so we need to teach them skills and nurture them to be problem solvers.

NRICH has a plethora of activities, all arranged by key stage and mapped to the curriculum, to help develop these skills in engaging and world-relevant topics. She showed us one activity comparing graphs of Olympic activities to look through for patterns. The key to these is that they are ‘low threshold, high ceiling’ – that means all students, no matter their current level of achievement, can get involved in the activity and problem solving, but there’s also challenge built in there for the highest of achievers. Each activity has teacher resources to help guide running the activity and print outs, and many have a student solutions section.

What is really great is that students from our schools are able to submit their own solutions for live problems and get them posted onto the website and blog for other students and teachers to share and discuss. There’s a lot of opportunity with NRICH activities to bring discussion into our maths classrooms and get exciting and meaningful conversations going about our favourite subject.

Finally, we ended with our first visit to the common room. It was so helpful to be able to talk with the past Alumni about their experiences, and to start networking with all the other amazing scholars in the cohort.

We’ve already had so many great conversations about teaching maths, and there’s so much more to come. What a great start to the year!

by Christopher Collins

Follow Christopher on Twitter - @MathsCollins  




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