A new approach to teaching mathematics
There is a common belief that being ‘good’ at maths is something you’re gifted with, but after teaching maths for mastery for eight months, this clearly isn’t the case.
About six weeks ago when I began teaching decimals to my Year 5 class, I was initially nervous about teaching children how to read and write decimals with base 10 materials. Before I started my planning, I skimmed through my MNP textbook and let my eyes explore all the wonderful colours, pictures, and ideas. It looked inviting — not at all like the textbooks I had used as a child myself.
I hoped it would help build my teacher confidence in the classroom.
Teaching my first mastery lesson
Optimistic, but still slightly hesitant, I taught the first lesson on writing decimals using linking cubes and base 10 materials. To my surprise and relief, it was all straightforward and the children warmed quickly to the ideas presented, demonstrating engagement and understanding.
As the lessons progressed I noticed two things: firstly, I really enjoyed teaching the maths lessons, and secondly, my class enjoyed being taught! There was a sense of excitement (maybe a bit too much at times) when the children were ordering decimals using place value discs and base 10 materials. They naturally began to challenge and question one another. They were developing a strong number sense demonstrated by their accuracy in comparing, converting, and ordering decimals.
To help them further, I created an additional resource of a place value chart constructed around base 10 materials. Under each place value section, the associated base 10 materials were drawn next to it. This really helped my class visualise and make connections in their learning.
Accessible to everyone
Before starting this topic, I worried that it would only be accessible to the majority of the class and struggling learners would fall behind. But by the fifth lesson, all my doubts were gone. The low ceiling–high threshold tailored questions sparked ‘aha!’ moments and the children demonstrated engagement as well as progress.
As I reflected on the school term, I realised that I had built my teacher confidence in the classroom. I found that the most rewarding part of teaching maths for mastery was seeing the children enjoy themselves during maths class. This is especially reassuring, as my aim has been to foster a positive attitude towards maths in the classroom.