Workshops from PMA Day

Photo from Pixabay


I had the privilege of attending the Primary Maths Association day a few weeks ago and what a great day it was.

I enjoyed taking part in three workshops and a keynote.
  • Where is Maths Going? (Keynote) See previous Post here
  • Counting Counts
  • Rich Tasks
  • Computational Thinking in the Maths Classroom
I have added a few notes I took during the workshops below.  These are just what resonated with me and what questions I had from the workshops.

Counting Counts

Presented by Anna Noy

What I took away from this workshop:
- Reminder about teaching sets, comparing sets and removing and adding items to a set
- The need to count dissimilar objects not just sets of the same objects (usually counters) and how we can count anything even if we can't touch it
- How to check students understanding of counting what do happens when they are asked to count a group that isn't in a line?  Can they stop at the right spot?
- Helping students know when to stop counting by using containers, movement and finger tracking
- Moving students from tracking by physically touching to hovering and then to eye tracking when counting
- Teaching 0 last and students needing to know that it means absence of quantity
- Ensuring students know that altogether they have counted the whole set and that the number they have at the end relates to what is there as a whole not just a tag on the last thing they counted.

Here is the Google Doc I added a few notes to:

Photo from Pixabay
Rich Tasks

Presented by Angela Stensness
What I took away from this workshop:

  • Put the fun back into math teaching! 
  • Rich Tasks = more than just do this, then this, really looking deep at mathematics and it's relationship to the real world
  • Don't always give students the step by step instructions of how to get to the end point you had in mind for a particular lesson or group of lessons.  
  • Go with passions, student questions, what is on top for your students 
  • Rich tasks shouldn't be massive undertakings - they should be quick to setup and relevant to your students they're meant to be open ended
  • The tasks should make your busy when you're with the students not before - you'll be attending to their wonderings with the task not planning what they're going to do
  • Providing rich tasks can help students access the curriculum, provide the opportunity for growth in their mathematical skills and knowledge, gives the ability to look at more than one strand at once, provides relevance for students 
  • Teach knowledge and skills required for your rich task outside the task itself
  • Give students a visual and ask probing questions 'what do you think about...?' 'what could we do with...'
  • Angela recommended looking at the work of Dan Meyer here's a Ted talk he did about making over a math class to encourage students to seek problems not just solve them 

Computational Thinking and the Maths Classroom

Presented by Megan Clune
Computational Thinking seems to have been a bit of a buzz word/s lately especially with the release of the new Technology Curriculum in New Zealand.  So I wanted to check out this workshop to look at how it might relate to the maths curriculum.  

Here are the notes I took during the workshop.  Megan gave us plenty of hands on activities to do so my notes here a quite brief:

I really enjoyed giving a few of the 'non-computer' activities a go that Megan had setup for us.  It's really important to realise that computational thinking and actually quite a bit of the technology curriculum that relates to digital technologies doesn't have to be done on a device.  It fits really well with looking at mapping, directions, solving problems and of course debugging when something isn't quite right.  

One of the activities called peer programming looked at getting your partner to draw a scene without them being able to see it.  This required each pair to work together but also forced us to think carefully about the language being used and how specific our instructions needed to be.  A great way to remind/introduce students to the need to tell a computer exactly what is required - a computer only does what we tell it to ... well that's assuming it's not equipped with decent AI which I think we can safely assume for teaching little ones at the moment anyway.  

Here's the results of one I drew with the help of my partner.
We also did a shape sorting activity a bit like running a very slow program to sort a selection of items.  It would be great for looking again at instructions with students and the need to be specific but also the way computers sort things and which ways are faster/slower.

We also used hash tables and Modulo another great concept that starts in computer science but is very useful for the maths classroom.

The last activity we looked at was Parity and Other Bits - looking at comparison and binary.  It was great to see how you could start this with younger learners and the potential for it to be used right through the primary maths classroom.