Teaching for Mastery
The National Curriculum states that children should be able to solve a range of problems, alongside developing mathematical fluency and the ability to reason and explain their thinking. Through adopting the Singaporean model for teaching mathematics we are able to achieve this. We use the MathsNoProblem scheme of work as a vehicle to deliver a curriculum that revolves around teaching for mastery. Children are taught to develop a deep conceptual understanding as well as procedural flexibility, and through this they meet the aims of the National Curriculum.
A typical lesson
At the start of a typical lesson, children’s curiosity is ignited with an interesting problem, set in a real life context that children can relate to. This problem is then explored and referred back to throughout the lesson.
One of the key principles of the Singaporean style is the concrete-pictorial-abstract approach. This means that you will often see children working with practical apparatus, whatever their ability. More able children may move more quickly onto pictorial and abstract (symbolic) representations but reinforcement and deep conceptual understanding is achieved by going back and forth between the concrete, pictorial and abstract. Through this approach, and with careful questioning, children will notice patterns, make connections and begin to generalise.
Following the exploration of a problem, children will record their thinking in their journal. The purpose of the journal is to help children to embed what they have been doing and further refine their ideas. It is also used as a tool to help children improve their ability to communicate their thinking mathematically.
Throughout a lesson, you will hear the teacher and teaching assistants talking mainly in questions. This promotes thinking, and children have opportunities to discuss their ideas with talk partners as well as with the whole class. This enables them to refine their thinking and progress.
Alongside the MathsNoProblem lessons, all children receive extra basic skills practice in sessions as soon as they come into school. These sessions focus mainly on arithmetic, for example, multiplication tables or number bonds.
Children in Year 6 will be preparing for their SATs, and as such they still follow the National Curriulum but instead of using MathsNo Problem work is planned to the specific needs of their year group.
As set out in the National Curriculum, children are expected to move through programmes of study at broadly the same pace. In all year groups, children who grasp concepts quickly are extended through the use of effective questioning that aids higher order thinking. Children are challenged through the use of increasingly complex problems and are expected to show a variety of methods. Children who are less secure with a concept work more with practical apparatus and questioning is used to support and scaffold conceptual understanding.
Interventions are also planned for groups of children. These groups are fluid and based on assessment during mathematics lessons. They support children by giving those who find grasping mathematical concepts more difficult an opportunity to ‘catch up and keep up’.
The Singaporean model enables all pupils to receive high quality verbal feedback during each lesson. This is achieved through the effective dialogue between the adults and pupils that is embedded throughout each part of the lesson. There are also continuous opportunities for pupils to evaluate their own learning and the learning of their peers that run alongside the teacher-pupil dialogue.
Journals and workbooks are marked according to our school marking policy and termly assessments are carried out to support on-going teacher assessment.