Sunday, 6 March 2016

One of the factors of #whyiteach

The other day I taught a lesson about simple division and factors to a class of year 5/6s. It wasn't particularly noteworthy, no fireworks or fancy parades.  Most of the students made solid progress toward a deeper understanding though and ultimately that's the goal right?

I noticed a couple of girls who looked puzzled and offered them some extra time, a little later in the day, to work with me further.  You would have been forgiven for thinking I'd offered chocolate: they jumped on the opportunity. This is #whyiteach

While the rest of the class were working on the ten tweets they would send if they were constructing an online image of themselves (more about this another time), the girls and I pulled out counters, paper and a whiteboard marker. Yep, we drew on the desk with the whiteboard marker. (They seemed a bit shocked by this seeming bit of civil disobedience until I showed them how easily it cleaned off and then they loved the idea.)

We started with ten counters and physically manipulated them to see how many even groups we could create.  We worked through a couple of other numbers in this way with me continually asking:

"How do you know that's all?"

By the third number the girls could explain their thinking and demonstrate how they knew "that was all".

At this point I introduced the idea of working strategically to find pairs and recording our thinking in a way that would help us. We kept working with the counters to check our thinking.  (Have I ever mentioned how much I love having manipulative materials to use in maths lessons?)

Eventually one of the students explained to me that "if you start on the outside of the rainbow and work your way in, then you know when you've got them all because you can use your times tables to see that the middle ones just won't work".  Yes! Indeed you can. Again: #whyiteach

During this time I discovered that one of the students was struggling with odd/even so we used the counters to review that. English is not this young lady's first language and whilst her grasp of the language is brilliant I think this is one of the finer nuances that she hadn't learnt yet. It was fantastic to see the lightbulb moment when she made the link between the words odd and even and the concept she had already.   And another instance of #whyiteach.

Early in the session I reminded the girls about prime and composite numbers (I had reviewed these with the whole class earlier) so when they worked with 17 they were able to identify this. I love hearing kiddos use mathematical language to describe their thinking.

We also paid a super quick visit to rules of divisibility land. It was a flying visit, but you may be able to see the proof for the rule of divisibility for 5 on one of the sticky notes on the last photo.

This whole session took no more than 25 minutes but it stood out as one of the bright spots in my day. It's a prime example of #whyiteach

This relates to the following Australian Professional Standards for Teachers...
Standard 1 Know students and how they learn
Standard 2 Know the content and how to teach it
Standard 3 Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
Standard 4 Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments


  1. Loved reading this. Loved how you loved teaching maths and loved what an impact you made on those little people's understanding and passion for it :)

    1. Awww! Thank you! I do actually love teaching maths. And English. And History. And Science. And Geography. And Art. And... Ah, well, I was going to say Civics and Citizenship but that would be stretching the truth just a bit. You get the picture though. :)

  2. It's those teaching and learning opportunities that aren't just restricted to the 90 mins of a timetabled session. They are everywhere and there is nothing better than 'just in time' learning and experiencing those ah-ha! moments. You nailed it... this is #whyiteach

    1. Thanks! :) Those ah-ha moments make all the meetings, yard duties and paperwork worthwhile.