Classroom Practice · RQT

Maths Reasoning: ‘I Noticed That…’

Let’s be honest: I feel a fragment of my soul wilt away every time I see a child completely disregard key information in a reasoning question.

Throughout my one and a half years teaching maths reasoning, I have tended to just feel frustrated until I point out the crucial piece of information to them so they can finally seek out the answer.

Recently, I’ve realised that, for many children, it isn’t that they currently lack the ability to comprehend the problem or draw on a number of mathematical concepts. What is missing is the skill of taking in all elements of the problem before rushing headfirst to a conclusion.

Enter our fantastic (if I say so myself…) maths lesson with my year 5s on Friday.

In order to teach the children not to dash off and find the answer, but to notice information that may be of benefit instead, we spent the lesson looking at co-ordinate reasoning questions and writing down ANYTHING that we noticed about them.

Throughout the process, many of them managed to identify some fantastic features of the problems. It provided excellent opportunities for me to assess children’s understanding of concepts and the vocabulary. It was low threshold (non-threatening), high ceiling (plenty of room for extending) and the children, although baffled at first, really relaxed when they realised they weren’t actually looking for an answer. In our next lesson, I will be asking them to use what they have noticed to solve the problems.

I intend to do this ‘I Have Noticed’ activity much more often as a starter in lessons, or during our mini maths slots, to keep the children aware of the importance of just identifying information. Hopefully it can be of use to others too!

I shared this with a teaching group on Facebook and was struck with how some of their thoughts really resonated with mine:

  • “I do this like third space learning and it’s helped many of mine. We do what do you notice? Then what maths do you know? And it helped them loads x”
  • Spot on – when you make time like this for their common sense to blossom it’s explosive learning! Definitely do it again!
  • I think this is such a good approach getting children to focus on what they CAN see instead of immediately jumping to panic what they can’t.

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