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Teaching Maths by @oldandrewuk

November 5, 2015

This is my contribution to the Starter For Five website, which collects advice for new teachers.

Starter for Five

Name: Andrew Old
Twitter name: @oldandrewuk
Sector: Secondary
Subject taught (if applicable): Maths
Position: Teacher
What is your advice about? Teaching Maths

1: Do not attempt to teach “conceptual understanding” of something unless you have first checked with somebody with a maths degree that *you* understand it.

2: Practice is the key to fluency. While questions should get harder, never shy away from setting dozens of questions on the same thing.

3: Sort out the basics first: time tables, number bonds and the standard algorithms.

4: There usually is one best way to solve a problem, so teach it and ask students to stick to it until they are good at it.

5: Teach algebra like it is a language, not a set of methods. Explain what is meant by “=”, “solve”, “expressions”, “term”, “find”, “substitute”, “rearrange”, simplify” etc.

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3 comments

  1. Completely agree with this. As year 6 (and a smattering of year 5) now includes algebra, could you write a post detailing what language you’d like primary school maths teachers to teach (or some misconceptions to avoid)?


  2. I’d have added…I know it’s only 5, but I’m pretending..
    6) Spatial awareness-they’ve either got it or they haven’t and there’s not much you’re going to do about it without neglecting too much of the rest.


  3. I agree with the practice thing, except, is it not better to spread it out over time.
    If they’ve ‘got it’ then I think it’s better to move on and then do some more questions next lesson and then some more in a weeks time than do them all in one chunk.



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