CMNetwork E-bulletin: April 2009

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New Members

New Conference:
3rd National Conference: Redcliffe Children’s Centre, Bristol - May 1st, 2009

News
Researching Effective CPD in Mathematics (RECME)

Final Report
 

During the past 2 years a team of researchers has been investigating a number of CPD initiatives throughout England.  Our local Children’s Mathematics Network Groups, was selected as one of the initiatives studied and is featured in the final report (focusing on the Bristol group) We are delighted that the researchers identified many positive aspects of Children’s Mathematics Network Groups as a powerful means of CPD.

These findings confirm our own beliefs in teachers and practitioners:

  • in the importance of collaborative dialogue
  • in the need to trust teachers and to give them back their professionalism in order to empower them
  • in the significance of research for teachers
  • in teachers as researchers
  • in teachers ability’ to co-construct their own pedagogical theories and understanding of children’s mathematical thinking
  • of the value of ‘grassroots’ networks ‘owned’ and shaped by the teachers and practitioners themselves

RECME’s findings also support the success of our local CM Network groups in supporting high levels of children’s mathematical thinking and contributing to deepening understanding of the standard abstract symbolism of written mathematics. This is captured in a comment from the RECMR research team: The standard of the mathematical understanding, thinking and reasoning was far higher than the specified curriculum objectives for children of this age’.

We would like to add our congratulations to the teachers involved and to all the members of the Bristol CM Network Group for the wonderful work they are doing in developing children’s mathematical graphics in their schools and settings!

The following quotes are taken directly from the report:

Teachers reported increased confidence to try things out, and it was apparent that the support of the school or department, or even a colleague, was important in building this confidence. Participant ownership of this initiative helps to sustain involvement and that the members support one another in sustaining this passion and enthusiasm. Overall, the initiative supported the participants in their professional change by giving them a space for the detailed and joint consideration of children’s mathematical thinking. It supported them in following up research sources that would support their analysis of the children’s mathematical graphics and enabled them to encourage children to take charge of their own mathematical activity. It also offered them a supportive and encouraging arena in which their professional concerns and difficulties could be discussed.

One of the Early Years teachers explained how she had become more aware of the mathematics of the children and of how she could help children. The standard of the children’s mathematical understanding, thinking and reasoning that the displays revealed was far higher than the specified curriculum objectives for children of this age.

They are developing confidence in their mathematical graphics which are valued, they are developing fluency and a willingness to talk about their thinking. By focusing on problem solving they are identifying meaningful problems, rising to the challenge and developing a sense of achievement and satisfaction in finding a solution. They are sharing ideas and drawing on prior experiences to inform their strategies. Hopefully this positive attitude to mathematics and problem solving will stay with them. The children are able to demonstrate their individual ability and explore concepts beyond the normal curriculum.

Another significant feature of this initiative is its focus on careful consideration and analysis of children’s mathematics, and the ways in which professionals can support and encourage the children’s mathematical thinking and reasoning. We were struck by the emphasis on observing and analysing children’s spontaneous mathematical activity. This emphasis seems to shift the teachers’ focus from teaching to learning and to give them the opportunity to consider the children’s mathematical understanding and thinking. The teachers are then able to use this to support the children in their mathematical development and to plan appropriate adult-led activities that help the children build their mathematical thinking and reasoning.

Summary of Case Study 5: CM Network Group (from the Report)

Full details of Case Study 5 from the Report

Download Final Report: RECME (2009)
 

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