Warwick Academy blazes a trail in maths
Over that past two years Warwick Academy Primary has been in the process to changing its approach to teaching mathematics.
Our transition began with a visit from a successful maths educator and trainer from the UK, Adam Urwin-Barry.
This was our first introduction to the Concrete Pictorial Abstract approach to teaching mathematics, also sometimes called the Singapore approach.
Teachers were immediately interested because this new approach addressed two of our ongoing concerns with the way we had been teaching maths.
Our maths curriculum was a tight spiral where we taught a topic for a week and then moved on. When we saw the topic again, in the next term, we were finding the need to reteach for many students rather than build on.
Also there wasn’t enough problem solving.
With the CPA approach, students are spending a longer time on topics to embed understanding. Through the uses of manipulative (concrete) all the way through Y6, students are able to see what the process looks like and understand why.
Then students are taught a variety of ways to visually represent (pictorial) their understanding, allowing them to make connections between topics and identify a variety of solutions.
Lastly comes the number sentence or algorithm (abstract), which until now was our main focus of teaching, and with the prior knowledge from the other two steps is no longer just memorising steps to get to the answer.
After gaining an understanding of the approach, we used a variety of texts to support our classroom teaching.
The Math No Problem text was one that many teachers felt was a great support material, so we sent three primary teachers to a No Problem training in the UK. Our teachers came back inspired and the journey continued. No Problem has two helpful texts, a great way to organise each lesson and problem-solving questions built in to every lesson.
All driven by the CPA approach. We are sending four more keen teachers to Maths No Problem training this summer!
It just seemed that everything was aligning for us in the ways of changing our approach to teaching math when we also had Rebeka Sousa join us in teaching maths in secondary, and also using her years of experience as a teacher trainer and her passion for teaching maths for understanding to support our transition in primary. Not only has she helped the primary department but she is also creating a bridge between primary and secondary.
Mrs Sousa along with and executive board and supporting members, is reinstating the Bermuda Council for Teacher of Mathematics which we has created an opportunity for teachers from across the island to share good practice and raise the profile for maths education.
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