Professional Development Module 1 - Primary
This module is designed to help you to explore the possibilities for facilitating mathematics learning outside the classroom. The module starts by asking you to share any work you already do which includes elements of learning outside the classroom. The main part of the module allows for some guided exploration of how the immediate environs of the school could be used to support mathematical activity outside the classroom. Finally, participants will be encouraged to plan some work in detail based on or near the school grounds.
Hopefully at least one teacher colleague will have some experience of teaching and learning mathematics outside the classroom and be willing to take a lead on its development. The activities outlined in this module are intended to support their efforts in leading the team.
Where are you now? (Allow about 10 minutes)
Either in small groups or pairs, discuss any aspects of mathematics that you already teach, or have previously taught, which incorporate elements of learning outside the classroom. Try to avoid being diverted into discussions of ‘reasons for not working outside the classroom’; one of the objects of this module is to give this sort of work a fair trial.
Take feedback from the groups / pairs before moving on to Activity 1.
Activity 1 (Allow about 45 minutes)
Your task is to go out and about in the school grounds, in pairs, to research the potential of this mathematically rich environment. Share out some areas of mathematics which could be investigated, so that you don’t all work on the same thing. The following list might help get you started, though you will probably think of others besides:
- Following and giving directions
- Shape and pattern
- Data collection
(Handout 1 uses the same eight starting points but has more detailed suggestions. It can be cut up into cards, one for each pair.)
Ask each pair to come back with:
- a clear idea where the activity would fit in the current mathematics curriculum (Topic, Year group, level and associated objectives etc.),
- a description of the location and which features would be used,
- at least two possible activities sketched out to share with colleagues (as an alternative, real and practical approach to some work you already cover),
- any opportunities to work in a cross-curricular way.
Handout 2 could be used to record notes in a common format.
Discussion (Allow about 20 – 25 minutes)
In small groups, containing one from each original pair, share the findings from the exploration of the school grounds.
As a group, choose up to 3 of the activities for further exploration.
Feedback to the whole team and decide on a manageable number of possible projects to work on in detail, maybe one per class or year group. The number of projects could well depend on the number of staff available to produce the working materials.
It is important to keep the notes of the original exploratory work, to form the basis of further work.
Agree on pairs who will work together, each taking one of the chosen projects to build up a package of materials to share with colleagues at a subsequent meeting.
The brief for the pairs:
Prepare a package of materials for the project, identifying:
- the relevant area of the mathematics curriculum, details of year group, levels and objectives
- lists of equipment and materials required,
- suggested timings (presented in the school’s usual planning format)
- references to associated available resources, web-sites etc. for further information.
Agree a date for completion of this stage of the work, when the packages of materials will be distributed to all colleagues, ready to use with classes.
Once the packages of materials are ready, each teacher should try out at least one of them with a class.
It would be helpful if colleagues could make notes on:
- what went well,
- the impact on learning
- the impact on the attitude of learners
- suggestions for changes and
- possible extensions / developments.
These could be shared at the follow-up professional development session
(see Module 2)