Making Mathematicians

Written by Kate Milnes Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Edited and compiled by Robert J Smith @RJS2212

La Salle Education will be hosting @LaSalleEd MathsConf19 #MathsConf19 on Saturday 22nd June 2019, tickets still available.


'Making Mathematicians’ is a blog preview of Kate Milnes's #MathsConf19 session/workshop being run at #MathsConf19.

Students see mathematics as answering questions, yet the jobs mathematicians do require them to start with a scenario, ask themselves questions and then pursue a line of enquiry. This session will look at how we can build these skills in our students taking into account some of the challenges we face in our classrooms. We will look at ways of introducing elements such as conjecture and mathematical thinking in students within our current structures and schemes of learning.

Some further thoughts from Kate Milnes

Over the past two years we have been working hard to improve the culture and outcomes of a Maths Department in the centre of Blackburn. The difficulties students present again and again are with problem solving questions and when faced with exams they struggle to identify what knowledge to draw on or skills to use. I sat in the Complete Maths ‘Mastery’ CPD day in March and Mark McCourt helped me think about why they struggle so much with these things.

Our students see maths as answering questions. When they sit in an exam and don’t immediately see a starting point, or a path through the question they are considering, they feel disheartened, frustrated and think they ‘can’t do maths’. Mark’s statement that Mathematicians are presented with a scenario, ask themselves questions and pursue a line of enquiry made me realise that this approach is where our students fall down. This problem not only affects our students, it affects students up and down the country.

There is a plethora of excellent Maths CPD available nowadays and this session brings together the ideas I have seen and used that help students to think like mathematicians. I will describe some of the tasks I have seen and tried out that allow students to ask themselves questions, pursue a line of enquiry and generally think like a mathematician. These are ideas that can be built into pre-existing schemes of learning and tried in lessons immediately, they don’t require any extra planning. I will discuss my experience of trying some of the ideas and resources I have come across and where more like this can be found.

You can see Kate Milnes speak about "Making Mathematicians" during #MathsConf19 at the Penistone Grammar School on Saturday 22nd June

Don't forget in July we also have our 'FREE' Maths Teacher Network events in association with Oxford University Press and AQA.

We look forward to seeing you at our next La Salle Education Event if you don't already, follow us on Twitter @LaSalleEd

About the Author

Kate Milnes

Kate Milnes tweets as @KATBAN70 Kate has been teaching Maths for 12 years and currently leads an improving Maths department in Blackburn. Kate is also the organiser of the Blackburn branch of LIME (Leaders Improving Maths Education). Over the past three years she has been increasingly inspired by the maths specific CPD available, such as La Salle MathsConfs, Craig Barton and Mark McCourt and would like to share some of the ideas that she has found most useful and effective.

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