I have always had an intrinsic desire to reflect on and research current teaching and learning pedagogies in order to constantly change and improve my practice. To this end I find myself engaging in research at varying and different levels on a rather frequent basis!
To date my main focus has been on children’s calculation strategies and also how children view their mathematics lessons.
Children’s calculations strategies
Many years ago I had the privilege to go and observe how children learn mathematics in Hungary. I took eight teachers with me from Norfolk and we spent one February half term in and out of classrooms in Budapest, Hungary. It was a fascinating trip for many reasons, but I was also struck by how powerful the number line method was for all four calculation strategies. Since then I have promoted this method as the main way for most primary aged children to work out their mental and written calculation strategies. In partnership with another colleague and the eight teachers that went on the trip, we wrote and published ‘The Power of the Number Line’ – a comprehensive teaching aid to support Norfolk teachers in using the number line method. Although this publication was for sale at the time, both through Norfolk LA and Beam, sadly there are no more copies left to purchase.
Following on from this publication, myself and a colleague have tracked how Year 5 children carry out calculation questions in the QCA test paper. We started this research in 2006, repeated it in 2008 and again in 2010. Results show that where schools employ the number line method as their main teaching strategy, children do better and results rise. All three papers may be accessed below; the 2006 and 2010 papers were also published by BSRLM, while a longer, more comprehensive paper which looked at the comparisons over the four year period is currently in draft and awaiting publication.
Children’s perceptions of, and attitudes towards, mathematics lessons
I am equally passionate about children loving mathematics! I believe that if children love mathematics then they are more likely to make better academic and social gains. In pursuit of this theory I decided to base my doctorate upon finding out what primary aged children think about their mathematics lesson, in order to help teachers better understand how children really think and learn. The abstract to the thesis is included below, while dedicated researchers may read the full doctorate at The British Library!