Outwood Primary Academy, Yorkshire

25th March 2015 at 00:00

Delivering inspiring maths lessons using textbooks.

Outwood Primary Academy in Yorkshire has introduced a new way of teaching maths using textbooks to help develop mathematical pedagogy.

Year One teacher Katie Pitts explains how the new textbooks have helped boost confidence and enjoyment of maths among both pupils and teachers.

At Outwood Primary Academy Lofthouse Gate, we are currently in our fifth week of delivering ‘Inspire Maths’ to the Year One pupils. ‘Inspire Maths’ is a textbook-based set of resources developed by Oxford University Press, based on those used across Singapore. The textbooks lay out, very clearly, specific and evidence based methods and approaches for the delivery of maths.

We decided to trial the ‘Inspire Maths’ textbooks in Year One as we could see the huge benefits that having this strong direction would have in terms of planning lessons for our pupils. Knowing which strategies and approaches to use, that work, meant that we could spend more time on developing our mathematical pedagogy.

At first, we were anxious at the thought of mainly using a textbook to deliver maths after many years of being encouraged to move away from such regimental teaching. However, from day one on the training, we felt inspired by a completely new way of delivering whole class maths. It offered a different way of approaching our teaching - whole class and fast paced - and encouragingly, by not skimming through the curriculum, it presented us with an opportunity to prevent children from falling behind, which is all too common, as all pupils would access the same content in the lessons. The introduction by Sue Lowdes summarised it perfectly: ‘Preventing the gap rather than closing the gap’.

We were particularly enthused by the ‘mastery’ approach introduced during the training which ensures all pupils master a concept before moving on. The CPA notion (concrete, pictorial and abstract) was also something presented to us during the course and refers to Bruner’s theory that there are three steps necessary for pupils to develop an understanding of an idea. This concept has particularly helped us to deepen the pupils’ understanding through exploration, whilst still ensuring the learning is at a fast pace.  During the course we were surprised to learn that we would only be working with numbers from 0-10 for a considerably long period of time, however, upon reflection, we can now see that the children will build secure foundations and a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts.

Since the training, as staff, we have worked together to break down the teaching points into manageable daily lessons and we also created a ‘Smart Notebook’ template, highlighting the relevant lesson objectives and resources required.  This has helped us to smoothly manage the transition to this new way of teaching maths and saves us time when preparing for each lesson.

Refreshingly, the textbooks have been carefully planned - they are well structured and the National Curriculum objectives are infused with a new style of learning and teaching. As the structure of the lessons and materials is provided, our precious PPA time can now be used to plan how we will teach particular concepts, rather than having to spend copious amounts of time looking for resources. We can now plan to deliver and teach more creative lessons and our confidence and enjoyment in teaching has improved dramatically as a result. No longer do we have to reflect upon the ‘best’ way to teach our children because we know, based on evidence from Singapore, that we have a guaranteed way to deliver high standards.

Similarly the children have been inspired by ‘our new maths’. They have enjoyed the whole class approach and the ‘ping pong’ idea of constantly moving between the teacher and children, another idea introduced during the course, has already proved to be successful in the delivery of quick paced lessons. All of the children are fully engaged and having various different books and equipment has generally not fazed them. We have found that having a copy of the pupil textbook enlarged on the board has enabled the children to use the books more easily and teaching assistants are helping to support the children who find reading more challenging. The textbooks are enabling children to learn concepts in a highly scaffolded way which is perhaps something that would have been discouraged in the past for being too structured. However, we have already begun to see that by working together, in such a systematic way, the children are beginning to make mathematical connections independently and are becoming more confident mathematicians.

DfE is sharing examples of what is working in different schools related to the key areas raised by teachers in the Workload Challenge. The above blog constitutes the views of the author. For more information please email workload.solutions@education.gsi.gov.uk