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'Teachers Talking About Teaching Mathematics' - NCETM Conference on 20th November 2007

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 08 January 2008 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 25 July 2008 by ncetm_administrator

Teachers working together will have the greatest impact of all in the mathematics classroom.

  1. Introduction 
  2. Welcome & Setting the Scene - Professor Celia Hoyles
  3. Plenary Speaker - Professor Terezinha Nunes
  4. Workshop & Poster Presentations
  5. Plenary Presentation - Susan Wall
  6. Plenary Presentation - Dave Hewitt
  7. Setting Up & Implementing a Research Project - Dr Els De Geest
  8. The Primary Review - Sir Peter Williams
  9. Photo Gallery
  10. Blogs from the day




The NCETM conference 'Teachers Talking About Teaching Mathematics' was an inspirational and memorable day for all those involved in mathematics education.

During thought provoking presentations, participants were led to think about approaches to teaching fractions, how teachers taking part in research can achieve more progress in developing teaching and how important it is to make your views know to the Primary Mathematics Review led by Sir Peter Williams.

During the group discussions it was a privilege to be part of reflections of current practice linked to the presentations. Watching change in action as teachers already considered different ways of working in the light of what was being said.

Click here if you want to find out what was shared in the different workshops.

Taking time to listen to teachers making poster presentations was more than worthwhile, offering so much food for thought and most importantly practical ideas that could be tried in the classroom the next day.


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Welcome & Setting the Scene - Professor Celia Hoyles

Professor Celia Hoyles, Director of the NCETM introduced the conference by recognising the importance of so many teachers taking part. Teachers working together will have the greatest impact of all in the classroom. The 20th November was a day to celebrate the NCETM grants scheme by "celebrating what teachers do and not telling them they should do". It was also an important occasion "To give voice to networks of teachers and their partners".

Throughout the day Teachers' Voice was both a powerful and constant reminder that solutions to many of our questions about teaching mathematics are being continually developed in classrooms around the UK.

The NCETM Grants - Current Funded Projects, is the place to visit if you want to find out what's going on!

 Click here to view Celia's presentation.


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Plenary Speaker - Professor Terezinha Nunes

Terezinha's work is focused on 'seeking to understand how children think'. Her presentation was based on work that has taken place in Lauriston Primary School, looking at the types of errors that pupils make when learning fractions and where these errors come from. Some of the key questions of her research are:

  • "How do children pay attention to both numbers in the fractions?"
  • "What can we learn from the errors pupils make?"
  • "How numbers are cultural constructions", and
  • "What experiences do children have in everyday life, relating to fractions?"

 Click here to view Terezinha's presentation.


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Workshop & Poster Presentations

 Click here to view all the workshop presentations
 Click here to view all the poster presentations

During the poster presentations participants were able to get to grips with different projects taking place around the country. There was a buzz of excitment that recognised the work and efforts of teachers making progress in continually improving their teaching:

Helena Hays from Hexham Middle School was working with colleagues to overcome their fear of teaching division. "If they didn't like doing it they would avoid doing it." Her approach was centred on making the teacher feel more confident by developing an effective numeracy policy that clearly sets out different methods in the context of a clear progression from Level 1 to Level 4 and 5 in year 6.

Stephen Wrigley from Our Lady's High was using his small grant to develop the Functional Skills Course. Their poster contained some inspirational starting points and related work from students:

"Construct a model showing the Fibonacci or another well known number sequence."

Duncan White from Holly Primary School was developing "Creative Learning Journey Materials" and had on display the results of a mathematical challenge to "Build a shelter in Sherwood Forest."

"This so mirrors what I'm doing." Said one delighted teacher as she realised that there were many more teachers on similar learning journeys to herself. Everyone was collaborating and sharing their practice. This comment summed up the value of teachers coming together on this day.

Nicola Ingham and Liz Russell from South Hunsley School had been involved in a project related to the Pilot for the Standards Park. They had restructured Year 10 into themes such as delivering lessons in the first half term topics connected to shape. This included teaching pythagoras, long multiplication using a grid method, algebra expansion of brackets, square numbers. Teachers in the department planned together and the project is still evolving. Collaborative planning has meant that planning has improved. "You know if its being used for other people you make more of an effort" and "The ownerships of the planning is so important". At the same time it was also important to recognise that "It is hard to deliver what other people have produced."

Martin McGregor from North Kesteven School and Hilary Povey from Sheffield Hallam University were representatives from a larger group, led by Sheffield Hallam, looking at collaborative professional development as a vehicle to help all teachers using ICT Geometry Pedagogy. Different departments used different models and by working together they developed higher expectations of themselves, improved their quality of thinking and had higher expectations of pupils outcomes. The impact is still being felt beyond the project and whilst the outcomes "Didn't turn out as expected they were still helpful to teachers involved".

Damian Griffiths from Failsworth School in Manchester worked upon developing "Cooperative Learning" using the Kagan principle that "When children work in groups they are individually accountable for their own learning." A particular focus of the work is developing students' ability to coach each other to make the best of this opportunity. For example, by offering sentence starters to encourage questioning - "I've got a different answer here ...", "How did you get that solution?".

The project began by introducing the idea of a 'cooperative learning environment' at the same time as explaining 'what's no longer allowed'.

The poster also included some thought provoking starting points to get the students thinking.

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Plenary Presentation - Susan Wall

Susan Wall, NCETM Regional Coordinator for Yorkshire & Humber talked about a grant project involving a cluster of schools in East Hull. Teaching was developed using key questions such as: What is the same what is different? and, encouraging learners to talk about their mathematics. Discussing misconceptions that arise in the learning of fractions and realising "How confident some students could be with their misconceptions." was insightful for all teachers in the group.

 Click here to view Susan's presentation.


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Plenary Presentation - Dave Hewitt

Dave Hewitt, Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham approached teachers learning about teaching mathematics through a different angle. He took us through a journey that teachers take when they begin research in the classroom from taking initial ideas through to turning ideas into research that involved a range of research methods. "I know there is something I'm interested in?" to "What is the question I'm really trying to find the answer to?" to "What methods best suit my question".

 Click here to view Dave's presentation.


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Setting Up & Implementing a Research Project - Tales from the RECME Project

Dr Els De Geest, NCETM Research Project Director, gave the audience a refreshing look at "Tales from the RECME Project". "What are the tricky bits" of the research and "What are the energising bits?". Her learning journey was based on the principle of "Co-constructing meaning with mathematics educators" in order to examine the question "What is effective CPD?". The "Energising Bits" of the research comprise a list that any teacher could make good use of when developing their practice:

  • Beliefs and resulting commitment
  • Curiosity
  • Working and making sense with others
  • Making sense of complexity, and
  • Wow, isn't this interesting!

 Click here to view Els's presentation.

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The Primary Review - Sir Peter Williams

Sir Peter Williams (Chair of the Primary Mathematics Review) concluded the conference by bringing the "Review of mathematics in primary and early years" and putting it on "your mat". The final report is due to be published on 17th June 2008. Information is bieng gathered by visiting schools, taking submissions and listening to Pupil Voice. Sir Peter posed some interesting questions and made some interesting observations:

  • "Is there a parallel to phonics in mathematics?" (at the same time recognising that "in mathematics we have yet to find an easy solution".)
  • In the Engineering profession there is a data bank of everyone's qualifications. Is it possible for a similar picture to be held regarding mathematics teachers?
  • What proportion of 3-5 year olds have a similar input from their school?
  • Pupils with experience of good early years settings take the benefit of that experience up to the end of KS2.
  • What is the role of technology in developing teaching and learning of mathematics?

At the end of the conference Sir Peter gave a significant amount of his time for teachers to talk to him directly about these issues.

 Click here to view Peter's presentation.

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Blogs from the Day

Read more about the day from attendees, the following blogs have been written.

 What a great day by Liz Webster
 Vibrant and worthwhile by Ray Sutton

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