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How can children own the mathematics?

Created on 20 May 2010 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 08 April 2013 by ncetm_administrator


What about the learner in the maths classroom?

This strand is about the experience of the learner in the mathematics classroom.

In this strand you will:

  • consider the learner as central to the teaching and learning in the classroom
  • identify ways that other adults in the classroom can support learning
  • reflect on the role of dialogue in scaffolding learning.

When you have completed this strand you will have:

  • learned some strategies for building a more effective learning environment for the children
  • a deeper knowledge of the types of dialogue that supports mathematics learning
  • developed your thoughts abut how best to use the supporting adults in the mathematics classroom.
Mathematics was traditionally a subject which was taught as a bank of skills, rather than a more creative, emergent subject such as writing. Many adults who are engaged in mathematical activity as part of their work will tell you that the mathematics they use is creative. Accountants are a good example of this! Can you think of others?

Reflect on your own learning experiences in mathematics. Did you learn creatively?
Where on the line below does your own experience of learning mathematics sit?

Now reflect on any classroom observations that you have been involved with recently.
Where on the line would sit the children's learning experience?

Try to find time for a discussion with your senior leadership team.
Where would you like that cross to be in your school?
How might you change things to achieve this?

Watch the Teachers TV video Great Lesson Ideas - Primary Maths - Data Handling. Make a note of the number of times the children were making decisions about the mathematics.
Make a note of lost opportunities when the children could have made decisions, but the lesson(s) were not organised to support this.

In her article Stop the Meddling, Sheila Ebbutt discusses the advantages of a hands-off approach to learning in early years. National data indicates that children are, in general terms, very successful in the early years.

This text is also available as an audio file:

Download the latest version of Adobe Flash to listen to this resource.

Think about the last mathematics lesson you taught:

  • how much did you steer the lesson?
  • how much control did the children have?
  • if you could change one thing about the lesson, to give the children more control, what would it be?
  • how would this change the outcomes?

If you can, make a visit to a successful Early Years context. In particular, make a note of times when the children are engaged in mathematical learning, both independently, and directed.

Investigating change in your classroom

Try some 'action research' in your own class.
Identify one of the ideas above to try in your own classroom.
If you would like some ideas to help you with this, have a look at the Teachers TV series Great Primary Lesson Ideas.

The action research cycle involves you in:

  • focusing on something that you would like to change in school
  • making a plan of how to develop it, and how you will decide what impact your actions have made
  • putting your plan into action
  • reflecting on any changes that have taken place.

Whatever you decide to try with your children, try to make sure that your search involved the children:

  • being active
  • being in control
  • doing something different
  • being engaged and excited.
Make a note in your Personal Learning Space about:

  • what went well
  • what you would change for another occasion
  • what didn’t go well
  • what you consider to be the impact on the children’s mathematical learning
  • whether you could/would incorporate this approach into other lessons
  • what the implications might be for the rest of your school.






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