The final post from me!

As many will know, the decision was made last academic year to no longer have a council wide development officer for numeracy or literacy which meant that aspect of my job came to an end. I was fortunate that I was able to continue in post but just continuing with the schools that were part of the Scottish Attainment Challenge Schools Programme. Unfortunately, shortly before Easter, I was told that the post would not be part of the renewed Scottish Attainment Challenge funding and as such that part came to an end too and the post now ceases to exist entirely.

I just wanted to write one final post to say what a privilege it’s been to work with so many wonderful people over the years in so many schools across Highland but also beyond. I am especially grateful for having had an opportunity to work closely with my predecessors and colleagues, Julie Brewer who started the whole Highland Numeracy journey with the Highland Numeracy Progression (and who I continue to work closely with now) and Kirsten Mackay who started this blog. More recently I’ve been fortunate to expand my knowledge of mathematics in the Early Years working with Seonaid Cooke and look more broadly at where maths sits with STEM by drawing on Kat Thomas’ experiences.

If you are in Highland and haven’t yet found it, a Highland Numeracy and Mathematics shared drive was set up during the pandemic with a whole host of resources far beyond what is possible to host manageably on this blog. All teachers in Highland have access to it by logging into your Highland Google account and looking in the ‘Shared Drives’ section. If you don’t see it then look near the top right hand corner for ‘hidden shared drives’ and you’ll find it there. It would be a shame for them to go to waste!

If you’re still interested in accessing blog posts by me and, at some point in the near future, additional resources related to maths, then I’ve just set up my own blog here and reactivated my twitter account (@SELeakey) where I intend to continue posting on all things maths related.

Thanks to everyone’s involvement in all things related to Highland Numeracy and Mathematics over the years. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to be immersed in what I love for so long!

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Scottish Mathematical Council Primary Journal

The latest issue of the Scottish Mathematical Primary Journal is out!

You can access this issue (as well as previous issues) here.

If you are a secondary teacher (or just want to access additional articles) then previous issues of the Scottish Mathematical Journal can be found here.

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SMC Conference – Registration is open!

Registration is now open for this year’s SMC Conference where you will find a wide range of workshops for those who are in primary, secondary or tertiary education as well as student teachers.

For the second year running the event will be held online and is an absolute bargain at just £10! If you’re a student you can sign up for free!

Date: Saturday 5th March

Time: 09:00 – 16:30

Location: Online

Registration is available via Eventbrite

I look forward to seeing people there.

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Maths Week Scotland is here!

Maths Week Scotland is upon us again – it’s always a great week and the events, resources and opportunities available during this week seem to get better and better each year.

For a full run down of the events, activities and resources go to the Maths Week Scotland website.

27th September – 3rd October

Maths Week Scotland Logo

There are a whole host of events taking place online both within school hours and after that you can access as a class or pupils could access individually.  Click on the Events section of the website to find out more.

I’ve already heard lots of schools planning what they will be doing throughout the week… and beyond!  If you’re taking part, don’t forget to pin your school to the Maths Week Scotland map.

If you’re in Highland and you teach pupils working at Second Level, remember that all Highland schools were given an Outdoor Maths Kit by the Science Skills Academy last year.  These should still be in your school and just as relevant now as they were last year.  The recordings of the training delivered for these can be found here

Education Scotland have put together this Sway to help you navigate the range of events happening.  You can access it here.

Finally, as a keen photographer myself, I wanted to highlight the Maths Inside photo competition.  This is open to both pupils and adults and the idea is to see the Maths Inside.  Entries need to be submitted by October 1st!  Take a look at the video below to find out more.

Have a great week and I look forward to seeing what people are up to around Highland and beyond.

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Choral Counting with the Marvellous Merkinchers

Some of the P7s at Merkinch had a go at their first Choral Count yesterday with Mrs Campbell.

Choral Counts are brilliant for helping pupils to think mathematically as they explore the patterns and relationships they see within the count and also try to explain why they think those patterns happen… what’s the maths behind what they see?

Take a look at the photos below to see the wonderful explosion of mathematical ideas the groups had.

See if you can think of some of the reasons these patterns occur – just like the pupils did as part of their discussion.

Are there any patterns that you can see that haven’t been identified yet?

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Highland Diagnostic Assessment Updates

We were making a few updates to some of the Highland diagnostic assessment materials towards the end of last year and these have now been finalised and I have updated the relevant materials on both the blog and the shared drive.

The two assessments that were amended were Grouping and Place Value and Basic Facts.  These amendments reflect the updates that were made to the Summary Documents which would have then been used to update the Highland Numeracy Progression (if the Development Officer post had continued).  Details of the changes are outlined below.

If you are using older versions of the assessments there is no need to start from scratch again although it may be useful to ask any ‘new’ or ‘amended’ questions but otherwise just continue from where is most appropriate for the pupil and update on the new recording sheets.

Grouping and Place 

  • Up to the end of First*:
    • There is no difference to the 2019 version.
  • Up to the end of First**:
    • We have added one supplementary question to provide a little more clarity on an existing question.
  • Up to the end of First***:
    • We have added an additional question that assesses previously assessed content but will provide a more accurate reflection of whether pupils show a greater understanding of grouping with numbers up to 1000 or are just using a procedure without the underlying mathematical understanding.
  • Up to the end of Second*:
    • A whole number problem was rephrased so that it is now within the range up to 10,000 (as opposed to 100,000).  The original problem has been moved to Second**.
    • We have also added a second decimal problem to explore pupils understanding of tenths within/to one whole.
    • An existing decimal problem has been moved to Second**.
  • Up to the end of Second**:
    • The whole number problem from Second* that was rephrased was moved to Second**.
    • A decimal problem was moved from Second* to Second**.
    • A rounding problem involving a decimal was moved from Second*** to Second**.
  • Up to the end of Second***:
    • A rounding problem involving a decimal was moved from Second*** to Second**.

Basic Facts

  • Questions from Tasks 1, 2 and 3 have been reorganised into two tasks and four additional questions that test an application of previously acquired skills have been added.
  • Up to the end of Early***:
    • Less emphasis is placed on instant recall (although many pupils will still be able to do this at that level).  Pupils can use materials, counting methods or strategies to solve the problems.  We think this will be a welcome adjustment.
  • Up to the end of First*:
    • Some of the add/sub facts WITHIN 10 have been moved from First* to First** (although many pupils will be able to instantly recall these).
    • The add/sub ‘ten and…’ facts have been moved from First** to First*.
  • Up to the end of First**:
    • Some of the add/sub facts WITHIN 10 have been moved to First** from First*.
    • The add/sub ‘ten and…’ facts have been moved from First** to First*.
    • Four additional problems have been added that look at application of known facts particularly with multiples of 10.
    • The use of the word ‘difference’ is included.
  • Up to the end of First***:
    • Some add/sub facts WITHIN 20 have been moved from Second* to First***.
    • Mult/div facts with 3s and 4s have been moved from Second* to First***.
    • Two additional problems have been added that look at application of known facts particularly with multiples of 10 and 100 as well as doubles within/to 40.
    • The use of the word ‘product’ is included.
  • Up to the end of Second*:
    • Some add/sub facts WITHIN 20 have been moved from Second* to First***.
    • Mult/div facts with 3s and 4s have been moved from Second* to First***.
    • Mult/div facts with 8s have been moved from Second** to Second*.
    • Four additional problems have been added that look at application of known facts – two of these are with decimals and two are with whole numbers.
  • Up to the end of Second**:
    • Four additional problems have been added that look at application of known facts.
      • One add/sub problem involving decimals to 1 d.p.
      • One mult/div problem involving multiplying single digit numbers by a two-digit multiple of ten.
      • Two mult/div problems involving multiplying and dividing by 10 (with decimals), and up to 1000 (with whole numbers).
  • Up to the end of Second***:
    • Three additional problems have been added that look at application of known facts and involve mult/div and subtraction with decimals.
  • Up to the end of Third*:
    • No changes.
  • Change in wording from First*** onwards in the ‘Decision’ column.
    • The wording has been amended to include the part in bold here: ‘could instantly recall (or very fast and efficient strategy)‘.  While this makes the expectations at that stage clearer perhaps, please keep in mind that this is still a knowledge assessment and the expectation is that the pupils can do this very quickly (so within about 3 seconds).  If they are needing to use a lot of thinking time, counting strategies or a part-whole strategy that isn’t almost instant then this is not yet knowledge.  It is however useful information and can inform your teaching.

All relevant materials associated with these have been updated and can be found on the shared drive including:

  • The recording sheets.
  • The problem cards.
  • The socially distanced/digital versions to speed up delivery (instead of needing to use the problem cards).
  • The spreadsheet for data analysis.

Finally some good news and bad news… we’ve developed an electronic version of the knowledge diagnostic assessments which we’ve been trialling and amending over the last couple of years and it’s finally finished having gone through some extensive revisions.  The assessment allows you to test P4 pupils and above as a whole class at once and hugely speeds up delivery and data collection and the ability to analyse and use the data is much easier too.  We’ve started rolling out training for this with the schools that we are still working with but with no Development Officer in post I’m not sure how it will get out to other schools – if I find a way to make it easily available on the Shared Drive I’ll put it there in the future.

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The end, the middle and the beginning

You may have noticed that it’s been a little quiet on the Highland Numeracy Blog for a while now.  Unfortunately early in Term 4 we were told that the Development Officer positions for both numeracy and literacy were being discontinued and Jenny (literacy DO) and I were moved full time over to work with the schools that are part of the Scottish Attainment Challenge Schools Programme within Highland.  Along with my colleagues, I have worked with these schools for the last 3 years and am excited to continue working with them full time however I am bitterly disappointed that the Highland wide work can’t continue for us.

Julie had also been seconded for the past two years working as part of the Development Officer team but with schools not being given the option this year to get numeracy support through PEF this means that she will be going back to her substantive post at Milton.  Again, while extremely disappointed not to be able to continue with the Highland wide work she is delighted to be able to continue to focus full time on maths and will be working across both Milton Primary and South Lodge Primary.

While some things have come to an end and we will no longer have capacity to run Highland wide training I will endeavour to try and share any materials that are created as part of the work I’m doing with the schools I’m working with where this is possible.

In terms of new beginnings, I’m also excited to have been accepted to start a PhD.  Unsurprisingly there will be a maths focus to this and I’ll be looking specifically at ways to adapt something known as ‘lesson study’ to support professional development in numeracy and maths in areas like Highland where schools can be very diverse from one to the next and the geographical spread of the schools poses a challenge when it comes to access to professional development.

So there’s a mixture of feelings, disappointment that the Highland wide work has come to an end for us but excitement to continue working with a number of schools and a mixture of nerves and excitement that the opportunities that embarking on a PhD will bring.

I hope you’ve all had a great summer and are looking forward to the year ahead.

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Music Survey – Can you help?

A colleague is carrying out a research study on music education in Scottish primary schools.

If you teach in a primary school and have 5 minutes to spare they would be very grateful if you could take the time to complete this survey.

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It’s not goodbye but see you later!

Today we sadly bid farewell to Seonaid who has been with the team for the past two years but as the title says hopefully it’s not goodbye but see you later!

Our positions are funded from various different sources and for reasons out with our control the funding that was allowing three of us to be out of class is no longer available and with a heavy heart one of us had to go back to class.

I feel like the last two years have been a bit of a whirlwind and as we’ve had to write various evaluation reports over the last few weeks it’s been a good opportunity to reflect on what we’ve achieved.  There are a vast array of resources and materials now available Highland wide and beyond that have only been made possible due to working in such a close knit team.  We are all quite different in some respects and all fiercely opinionated which as you can imagine makes for some fantastic discussions and in my opinion plays a vital role in terms of contributing to our improved understanding as a team and the quality of content that we produce for Highland and beyond.

Seonaid is, quite rightly, a strong advocate for ensuring pupils understand and enjoy mathematics and learn in ways that actually makes sense to them.  She’s been the driving force behind a lot of the Story Problem, Counting Collections and Choral Counting work we’ve been doing over the last few years and I’ve personally benefitted hugely from throwing myself into this whole heartedly and using it alongside the Highland Numeracy Progression.  We’ve seen some phenomenal progress with both children’s confidence, enjoyment and understanding as well as teacher enthusiasm for these approaches.

Seonaid is also very passionate about the Early Years and has been involved in this work in Highland for as long as I can remember and I’ve been very fortunate to learn a huge amount from her in that respect too.

Seonaid, you are widely respected and valued for your knowledge, passion and enthusiasm and I know the schools you’ve been working with are bitterly disappointed to see you go and I’ve no doubt you feel the same.

I hope we can continue working together in some capacity moving forward and hopefully one day the team will be back together again!

It’s been a pleasure Seonaid.

To everyone else, we hope you have a well deserved break!  Happy Holidays!

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CPD: Recordings from the SMC Online Conference 2021

If you missed us at the recent Scottish Mathematical Council Online Conference or our sessions clashed with other sessions you were attending but you still wanted to access the materials, we have now put links to the three sessions we delivered on the CPD section of the blog but for convenience have also added them here with a brief summary of what we were presenting on.  Click on the images to go to the session recording.

Counting Collections

Seonaid and Julie delivered a session on Counting Collections exploring how this can encourage all pupils to gain confidence in counting and develop better number sense.  It shares reflections from staff and pupils in Highland with the aim of showing how engaging, challenging and inclusive this activity is when supporting children working within Early to Second Level.

SMC Counting Collections Screenshot

Building Better Basics

Sarah presented this session based on work she’s been exploring over the past few years.  The presentation uses pupil work from all across Highland from projects that Sarah, Julie and Seonaid have been leading.

The presentation explores why some pupils may struggle to retain their basic facts if the starting point is not quite right, i.e. too abstract before solid understanding has developed.  It looks at the importance of building strong foundations through sense making, word problems and concrete materials/visuals/pupil drawings as well as making connections to prior knowledge.  It then looks at building on these strong foundations supporting pupils to develop fluency and apply their understanding with the overall aim of improving long-term understanding and retention.

SMC Building Better Basics Screenshot

Fractions Progression

Sarah and Andy (Northern Alliance) presented this session based on work that Sarah and Julie have been undertaking over the past few years.  The presentation uses work from pupils across Highland in schools where we’ve been running projects related to fractions.

The session explores a progression in fractions from Early Level to Second Level with particular focus on the measurement and quotient subconstructs.  The ideas shared aim to support pupils to make sense of fractions rather than just learn procedures to answer questions without necessarily developing strong understanding.

We are currently working on an update to the Highland Numeracy Progression and a fractions progression forms a large part of this update.  It has been a long time in the making… Sarah and Julie originally started this work back in 2015 but due to a number of other commitments and setbacks it has yet to be finished.  We are a lot closer now though and hope that we can share it more widely in the not too distant future!

SMC Fractions Screenshot

We hope you enjoy them and as ever if you notice any mistakes or disagree with anything we’ve said then please do get in touch.

For more of our recorded CPD, check out our CPD page.

If you want to take a look at other presentations that were delivered as part of the SMC Conference then you can find the presentations here.

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