Sunday, 22 September 2013

A Head Start to a Mathematical Journey ...

A Head Start to a Mathematical Journey ...

Dear parents,

I am pleased to share with you of my latest reading on Numeracy, based on the first two chapters of ‘Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally’ (8th ed.) by Van De Walle Karp Bay – Williams.

Everyone is capable of teaching and delivering Mathematics even when the subject is said to be a challenging one.  However, according to the authors, ‘there are two essential components towards becoming an effective teacher of Mathematics and they are our knowledge of Mathematics and how students learn Mathematics’.  No doubt, as teachers (and adults who guide our young children or students) we tend to be rigid with our way of teaching Mathematics with the presence of and reference to structured resources and curriculum.  Giving our young children a head start in Mathematics is equally important as facilitating them with the recommended techniques suited to their level of readiness; simple to complex and concrete to abstract.  We know our children learn best through hands-on experiences and the more they manipulate items with their senses, the more able they will be in attempting problem solving.
There are many different ways of solving Mathematical problems and these are all dependent on the way we ourselves learnt Mathematics in our younger days.  Teachers can play their part in facilitating the children to acquire the skill of Mathematics by crafting from prior knowledge, providing opportunities to talk about the subject, reflective thinking, encouraging multiple approaches and many more.  When it comes to understanding Mathematical concepts and ideas, children can make use of various modes to represent their thinking and demonstrating their capabilities in acquiring it.  These can be in the form of, as mentioned earlier, the use of concrete and hands-on materials such as manipulative, counters, everyday items (like bread tags) and others; ranging to pictorial cards and written symbols. 
Children need to be encouraged and facilitated in an open ended channel so that they would be able to source for alternative strategy or solution to crack the Mathematical problems or concepts that they are working on.  They are, after all, constructors of knowledge.

It is no mean feat to get our children to gain proficiency in Mathematics.  With that, I do agree with the authors of this book, “To respond to students’ challenges, uncertainties, and frustrations you may need to unlearn and relearn mathematical concepts, developing comprehensive understanding and substantial representations along the way.”  
Signing off till another note,
Miss Khadijah Senan

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