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Numercay and its use of ICT to engage children

For this report I have carried some observations in my own primary school. I carried work based task on numeracy across whole primary school. I have chosen these tasks to reflect our whole school policy on numeracy and its encouragement of the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the use of technology to engage and motivate children and through the use of the Interactive Whiteboards (IWB) for initial teaching and for extending children’s learning and the impact it has on children with special educational needs and children with English as an additional language. I will focus on embedding ICT into maths curriculum and its impact on children’s learning. I will also focus on area of children’s learning in numeracy and use of research and observation to back up my findings.

For this report classroom observations were undertaken and interviews with teachers and children were conducted before and after the observation. The objectives for this report are to highlight the use and importance of using ICT as a focus for whole class teaching and as a focus activity for small groups. Recent OFSTED guidance requires an element of ICT to be used in every lesson. It will also highlight recent and past research into how children became numerate. Throughout this report I will make reference to the school maths policy (Appendix) as it relates to the key areas that impact on teaching and learning.

How can an interactive whiteboard be used in a learning environment?

Interactive whiteboards impact on learning and teaching in several ways. They serve to raise the level of student engagement in a classroom, motivate students and promote enthusiasm for learning.

Interactive whiteboards support many different learning styles and have been successfully employed in hearing and visually impaired learning environment. DFES Research (2000) also indicates higher level of children’s retention.

In addition to student learning, my observation also indicated that planning lesson around interactive whiteboards could help teachers streamline their preparation and be more efficient in their ICT integration.

Interactive whiteboards are an effective way to interact with electronic content and multimedia in a whole class teaching and learning environment. This has formed a main part of the school’s math policy, promoting the use of technology. From the inset to present the policy some ideas for using ICT in numeracy was suggested.

As a whole staff on the 3rd November inset day we discussed that learning activities with an interactive whiteboards may include the following.

Manipulating text and images

Taking up notes and writing up children’s ideas and answers

Viewing documents as a group

Demonstrating or using software at the front of a classroom without being behind a computer

Creating electronic lesson activities with templates and images

Using presentation tools built into the interactive whiteboard software to enhance learning materials

Displaying children’s work

Learning has typically been a social activity for the simple reason that most human being needs to reinforce their beliefs and understandings by asking questions to others. Current learning theories promote students engagement and consider it to be a key component of knowledge construction. These learning theories include the following.

Constructivism- relies on the learner to select and transform information, construct hypotheses to make decision and combine learning through personalising knowledge. According to Vygotsky (1978), an essential feature of learning is that it awakens a variety of internal developmental processes

that are able to operate only when a child is in the action of interacting with people in their environment and in cooperation with peers. Therefore, when it comes to learning, the authenticity of the environment and the similarity between its participants are essential elements to make the learner feel part of this environment. In my opinion and through observations I feel that the use of technology encourages learning and engagement in lessons through vitual stimuli. This agree with Vygotsky’s view that children interacting with their environmental and visual stimuli, IWBs stimulate and encourage interactivity within the classroom and provide a wide variety of opportunities for children to be part of the learning process.

Active learning- learners actively engage in the learning process through reading, writing, discussion, analysis, synthesis and evaluation rather than passively instruction (e.g. lectures model of instruction)

Whole class teaching- brings the entire class together, focuses their attention and provides structured, teacher focused group interaction using technology and visual stimuli to engage children and promote enthusiasm.

The teacher can interact with the IWB at the front of the class and everyone can feel involved because of the size. The interactive nature of the product itself and its and its accompanying software allows for the development of classroom activities that are engaging for children.

“It engaged my class in my maths lesson......I was able to interact with the class, demonstrating, modelling and manipulating what was on the board by touch. I was not confined to, or focused on, a computer that separated me from the class....visual display in the form of diagrams, number lines, and pictures, as well as use of colours and shapes to highlight text, prompted engagement” (Yr 1 teacher, Barclay Primary School, November 2009)

Opportunities for ICT in mathematics

There are many obvious links between Maths and ICT. For example, ICT can make a valuable contribution to the teaching of information handling, databases, spreadsheets and graphing tools, using software such as MS Logo as part of ‘Shapes, Position and Movements’. There are numerous content specific software titles, which will contribute to the teaching of ‘Number Money and Measure’ such as RM easy teach or using Primary Maths Portfolio in work carried out in ‘Shapes, Position and Movements’. Much of the work already done in mathematics using traditional teaching methods could be carried out using ICT. This is promoted in the school policy. The main ICT strands that numeracy can contribute to are ‘collecting analysing’ and ‘control and modelling’. However other strands in ICT such as ‘Communicating and Collaborating’ and creating and presenting’ can also be contributed to as in the following example, (Figure 1) taken from the school maths medium term plans.

Using calculators in the classroom:

Another form of using technology in mathematics is the use of calculators. There is no research to show that the use of calculators in the classroom leads to poorer pupil’s performance. In the 1980s there was significant experiment in which clusters of schools implemented by a Calculator-Aware Number (CAN) project, which emphasised calculator use and mental strategies without teaching any standard written methods. Comparisons of numeracy standards between the pupils involved in the project and control groups found either stronger performance among the CAN pupils or similar performances in both groups (Ruthven 1988, Shuard, Walsh, Goodwin & Worcester, 1991).

In the late 1990s, calculator use was widely blamed for perceived low numeracy standards. However there is no evidence to support this, survey showed that calculator use in primary schools in fact reminded at very modest levels (School Curriculum Assessment Authority 1997).

A study related to classrooms where there was extensive use of ICT in numeracy teaching found short-term gains in performance in four out of five classed. However the researchers, (Mosely et al 1999), point out those effects of ICT are difficult to isolate as a teachers involved also differ from their colleagues in other way, for example in making greater use of collaborative work and less direct instruction or individual working. Since Mosely’s research, teaching training in ICT has been bought to the forefront, making it more common practice to integrate the use of technology into lesson. The training focused on the ICT skills they need to perform their work. The quality assurance of the whole programme is carried out by the Teacher Training Agency, an executive Non-Department Public Body, The programme ran from 1999 to 2000, in which almost all the teachers gained the ICT skills needed.

There have also been several studies evaluating the use of Integrated Learning System to teach numeracy. However the results have been inconsistent. There is some indication of better performance in basic skills and improved behaviour and attitudes, but not of improved performance in the type of numeracy reasoning tested in national tests (Underwood & Brown 1997)

Why and how numeracy plays an integral part in children’s learning?

The extent to which young children can benefit from the schools mathematics curriculum is influenced by their experience of maths and numbers in years before they went to school. Aubrey (1997) investigated that children knew about numbers and found that their knowledge was related to their skill in reciting conventional counting sequences (rote counting). Children who would perform well on this were well on the way to National Curriculum Level 1. However Aubrey concluded that children’s rich experience of number was frequently ignored at this level.

This may be the part due to the low status that is something given to children’s skill in rote counting. Traditionally the early year’s numbers curriculum was based on sorting and matching (National Curriculum), but it is now understood that social functions of counting play an important role, including the status that children attach to ‘being’ able to count’. While such counting may have no relationship with later skill in adding and subtracting, it does play an important role in providing children with access to talk about number (Munn, 1994).

British research into young children’s use of numbers symbols has focused on their invention of characteristics symbols. Using a game where children annotated tins to show how many bricks they have contained Hughes (1986) found that even some preschoolers were able to represent small quantities. However Munn (1994) Found that when children used their own idiosyncratic notation they were less successful at solving simple problems (adding a brick) than those children who used conventional methods.

Findings from my observations reveled that the number knowledge that children bring to school needs to be built upon, and preschool children need to experience counting in a variety of social contexts. Young children also need to be allowed to use a variety of ways, including conventional numeric symbols to support simple problem solving.

There is a general agreement from a number of research studies that, for the operation of adding numbers up to 20, children progress through a sequence of: count from the fort number, count on from the larger number, use known facts and drive number facts (Gray, 1991). There is also evidence that children can be taught progress through this sequence. For example, teachers involve in a research project worked with year 3 children who were relying heavily on counting methods. The teachers identified those few numbers facts that these children did know, mostly small doubles, and worked to help them derive unknown number facts. In an assessment following this intervention these children out-performed a control group with three times as many using known or derived facts (Askew, Bibby & Brown, 2001).

In the case of lower attaining children there is a worry that over-dependence on counting for calculating may lead to them no committing number facts to memory. However, even children who know many number facts and have developed a range of calculating methods still sometimes combines these facts and methods with counting techniques in order to develop unknown facts (Thompson, 1995) rather than try and encourage children to give up using counting techniques altogether, successful progression appears to rest on children’s learning to compress counting procedures, for example being able to cunt in 2s starting from any even number or in 5s from any multiple of 5, adding 7 to 38 possibly by partitioning the 7 into 2 and 5 and using the compressed counting on sequence 28, 30, 35. This form of addition was evident throughout my observations in year 5 (Appendix 1), when questioning children about their methodology, a large number of children didn’t know why this was the best method for adding one number to another. Most children’s interviewed suggested that they preferred the ‘old’ or column method of addition; they suggested that it was easier and you didn’t have to think so much. When I reported back this to teacher he agreed with the children but did suggest that some more able children find this way easier. It was apparent form talking to the teacher and children, that children to be encouraged to use more efficient counting processes and a method that suited their learning styles, some children need to be taught to develop links between known number facts and derived ones. Studies carried out in Holland suggest that while some children may tend to refer to use the participating method, they should be encouraged to use the column method for addition as the participating method lends itself more readily to subtraction (83 – 47 as 83 – 40 = 43: 43 – 7 = 36).

During mental/oral starters understanding the structure of number operation is essential for mental calculation strategies. While there is a general agreement on the order of development of strategies for adding number to 20, there is less agreement about the strategies involving the addition and subtraction of numbers from 20 to 100.

From research (Denvir & Brown 1986) suggests that there is no unique sequence, and that there is no clear relationship between order of teaching and learning.

One of the researches suggests two particularly common approaches (Thompson 1999). The first involves partitioning or splitting the number, as mentioned earlier. The second involves sequencing or ‘Jump’ method

i.e. 47 + 36 calculated as 47 + 30 = 77: 77 + 6 = 83

Scrutiny of such mental calculation strategies as used by children suggests that there is no evidence of what is normally understood of place value (tens and units) in their methods (Ruthven, 1998). Mental calculation strategies use what has been described as the quantity value aspect of place value, i.e. 56 seen as 50 and 6, whereas standard written algorithms draw on the column value (Thompson. 1999).

Nunes & Brayant (1996) suggest that as well as understanding the structure of a number in this quantitative way, children’s understanding of the structure of a number operation affects their mental strategies. Research shows that understanding the commutativity of number (a + b= b+ a) is related to the use of more efficient computation strategies. According to Nunes & Brayant, children’s understanding of commutativity of multiplication develops later than that of addition and is also influenced by the type of problem.

Nunes, Schliemann & Carraher (1993) also states that children’s understanding of the inverse relationship between addition and subtraction and of decomposition of numbers are closely related but these two are not related to knowledge of the number facts, and while children are able to use their understanding of multiplication to solve division questions, they can do this much earlier than they are able to think of using division strategies to solve multiplication problems.

How parents involvement can support children in Numeracy.

As we know that parents are the primary caregiver of their children and the support from the parents always has the biggest impact on children’s learning. If we look back on bullet point 5 Why & How numeracy plays integral part in children’s learning, from my observations and interviews parents and children I have found a number of ways parents could support children to be numerate.

By involving children in their test: children usually see tests as the last judgement.

Support children by teaching them everyday numbers such as on number plate, on computer, keyboards, and telephones.

By involving children in setting test questions, in inventing mark schemes, and in marking one another’s answers, parents could help children to achieve a differ view.

Marking homework: usually, when given level or marks, children look only at these and ignore suggestions of improvement. So the parents could concentrate on giving only comments, on which children are expected to take action to improve the work. This shifts attention away from competing for marks and merit, and towards each using the opportunity to produce their best work.

Lynne I will be adding more information on point 6) after Tuesday as I am doing presentation for parents with my year group leader on ‘ How numeracy is taught in early years and what they can do to support them’

Conclusion and recommendations

From my observation and research, using technology in the learning environment can promote classroom enjoyment and motivation. Interactive White Boards take teaching to another level, not only with interactivity but also with teachers’ professional development. From my interviews with teachers it was apparent that without the access to the IWB their lesson would need far more planning and more time have to be spent making and utilising resources. Other resources such as data logging software give children a more visual and challenging approach to learning, before technology thermometer and hand drawn graph were an acceptable form of recording data, there is no evidence to suggest there is anything wrong with that way and I’m sure that method holds as much today as it ever did, but in my opinion using technology gives a greater accuracy and a more visual approach to learning. This use of technology, form my observation, also enables children with English as an additional language the same advantage as children who’s first language is English, for example, during an observation, a ‘no hand up’ plenary was taking place, the teacher asked a child to name the object she was holding up, the child couldn’t recall what it was in English, but knew exactly what it was called in their mother tongue. The object was a thermometer.

Word Count: 2,977

Lynne I did 3-4 observation on Numeracy across my school. All the observation is placed in appendix. Most of the report is based on that. The observation has teacher signed as I gave them feedback on how well the lesson went.

I will then include a reference list at the end. Thanks

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