Mathematical problems

Using role play to solve mathematical problems can be effective as pupils can talk through scenarios and make sense of what is being asked of them together. Sharing ideas and exploring different strategies can give the children a more stimulating and enjoyable mathematical experience. I believe that if talk was missing from numeracy lessons they would be dull and ineffective.

Children need working together and discussing ideas with each other can take a lot of pressure off the teacher.In science, I observed a group task where children were given the opportunity to discuss their actions. The lesson was a practical session based on electricity and circuits. The groups of children were given three pieces of wire, one bulb, a baterry and a baterry holder. Swithches were not introduced at this level (year 2). The only instruction given by the teacher was that they had to work together, share their ideas and get the bulb to light up.

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The nature of the talk was investigative. They used the appropriate scientific vocabulary such as wire, bulb, metal, conductor, electricity etc. One child alone may have a restricted vocabulary but working together allowed them to build on their knowledge.

This collaboration was very effective and supported their learning, especially for kinaesthetic learners.During my foundation stage placement, the children were discussing their ideas all the time, especially in the sand and wet play area. Through practical experiences they were able to challenge their misconceptions themselves. The teacher, including myself, observed the discussion children were having with each other and with the teachers and support staff. The staff was also around to help challenge the children’s ideas and talk about their reasoning e.

g. filling the cylinder with water and putting stones in and watching the water over flow. I observed the children saying ‘oh! Look what happens when I put these pebbles in here’. I extended that discussion by saying ‘what do you think will happen if you use a different sized container?’ I introduced the children to predictions and investigation.I used this same technique in my year 4 placement this year. I covered the topic on ‘teeth’. I planned for the introduction of my lesson to be based on group discussion focussed on ways of keeping our teeth healthy.

Once the children discussed their ideas we had a whole class discussion where we shared our ideas and thought of ways we could improve the way we look after our teeth and then talked about the consequences of neglecting our teeth. They then created certificates for themselves for looking after their teeth and listed ways they achieved it. “It is also often claimed that interacting with partners while carrying out scientific investigations is beneficial to students’ learning and the development of their understanding.” ( )The interactive whiteboard is a very useful tool in the primary school. During my six week placement, I covered the ICT lessons every week.

I followed a software programme called Smart Learning and it offered step by step planning information with photocopiable work sheets. In both my placements, I have observed pupils paired into ICT partner or computer buddies. These are often in mixed ability pairs, one confident with ICT and one slightly less confident. These partners work well together and through collaboration and turn-taking they produce some lovely work.It can be extremely frustrating when you become stuck using certain software or if you encounter a problem using ICT. The contribution of discussion can help pupils work through their difficulties.

In this way they are receiving immediate feedback from their work. The presentation of their work is often very good when using ICT which automatically gives the child a sense of achievement.During my placement year four were working though an art package. We discussed artists such as Monet, Kidinsky and Mondrian.

The children shared their ideas in groups before sharing with the rest of the class. They talked about the tools the artists used and the feelings associated with the abstract painting. I could have given the pupils this information however, allowing them to discuss their ideas allowed them to think about ways in which the artists created particular effects. The children then created their pictures using the Smart Learning software. I challenged their thinking while demonstrating the tools e.g.

which one is the vertical line? Which is the horizontal line?Where would the line of symmetry be in this picture? Etc. During the plenary, I gathered the children to share their work with the rest of the class. It was clearly evident when some of the children had rushed their work on the computers and those who took pride in the presentation of their work. Children evaluated their work at this point and set themselves targets for improvement. They were beginning to identify their strengths and weaknesses and this allowed them to be more in control with their personal development.I would like to have seen more ICT lessons with collaboration and discussion incorporated into the planning.

“Diana Laurillard …highlights the benefits of student to student discussion in enabling students to find out what they do and do not know,..

.Within…discussion students can be encouraged towards critical reflection, examining practice by articulating it…

“(Loveless ; Dore, 2002, pg148)To conclude this assignment, I have discussed the role of talk within the Core Curriculum. Only after researching for this assignment have I realised how important oral communication is and how beneficial it is within the classroom. A majority of our university lectures are based on discussion and it is helpful especially when generating ideas as part of group. I have also learned how important it is to choose topics that cognitively challenge children and to expect children to give extended answers that will interest them and the rest of the class.I have also learned that it useless to expect children to formulate good ideas if they are not given appropriate time to do so.

However, I feel that teachers are pressured to produce written evidence for the work their class children carry out especially in the Core subjects, this results in less time being dedicated to developing talk. Due to new Government guidance teachers may have the support they have needed to develop children in this area.BiblographyAlexander, R, Available on www.robinalexander.org.uk/docs/nyorks_EVAL_REP_03.pdf, [Accessed on 3 March 2006] Behabviour4Learning, Available on www.behaviour4learning.ac.uk/viewArticle.aspx?contentId=10399, [Accessed on 1 March 2006]