Maths - Resource of the week - Double maths trouble

24th August 2012 at 01:00

Spot and solve pupils' maths problems with More Trouble with Maths, the follow-up book to The Trouble with Maths.

What are they?

The books are written by author, researcher and former teacher Steve Chinn. They are guides to identifying and diagnosing mathematical difficulties, including dyscalculia and mathematical anxiety, and offer practical advice for helping learners with numeracy difficulties.

Are they any good?

The issue I always have with academic research, no matter how credible its findings, is that the recommendations are very rarely accompanied by practical resources and ideas that will make an immediate difference in the classroom. I am delighted to say that these two books do exactly that.

In More Trouble with Maths, Chinn provides research evidence and tests to photocopy for identifying crucial mathematical difficulties that are prevalent in schools. Amid the coverage on conditions such as dyscalculia, there are also fascinating sections about learners' struggles with estimation and the crucial impact of short-term memory.

All these research findings are complemented nicely by The Trouble with Maths, where the focus is very much on practical solutions and strategies. My favourite part is the final section on fractions - a notoriously problematic topic for many pupils. The author pulls apart common approaches to teaching fractions, explaining clearly the misconceptions and difficulties to which they may lead. He then offers an alternative approach, including addressing multiplying fractions through paper folding.

I found these two books fascinating reading, but more importantly I know that they will have a long-term, positive effect on my teaching and my understanding of the difficulties many learners face with mathematics.

Craig Barton is an advanced skills teacher at Thornleigh Salesian College, Bolton. He is the creator of www.mrbartonmaths.com and TES subject adviser for secondary maths. He can be found on Twitter at @TESMaths.

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