Maths Recovery

Mathematics Recovery Council UK & Ireland



Contents - summer 2007 edition

National and International Conference Reports 2007-10-03

US National Conference, Denver

172 Maths Recovery practioners from the USA and Mexico attended the four day Opening Pathways to Numeracy Conference in Denver at Easter.

Conference sessions were organized in three parallel tracks: Explorations in Numeracy, Developing MR teachers and Leaders, and MR In Action.

Keynote speakers opened each day. Dr Erna Yackel, Professor Emeritus of Purdue University addressed the conference on the theme Augmentation as a means of Learning and Evidence of Learning. The central theme was to encourage children's explanations of a problem and that they should be for the whole class, not just the teacher. The key prerequisite being to create a climate in which children are confident to speak even when their thinking is still tentative. Children are to be encouraged to respond and question what is said. Such a climate leads to the conclusion that the children will learn from the experience and that their speech reveals to the teacher what the children know and understand.

Beneath the Tip of the Iceberg: using representations to support student learning was the title of the keynote by Dr David Webb of the Freudenthal Institute USA. The title arises from the Speciaal Rekenen (Special Arithmetic) project in the Netherlands which supports teachers' thinking about learning processes and the strategies used by children. The iceberg has proved to be a very powerful metaphor to suggest how children need a broad range of mathematical representations and experiences to make sense of the formal mathematical representations.

Dr Robert Wright's keynote address was entitled Outcomes of a Research Project Focusing on Intervention with Low Attaining 3rd and 4th Graders. He reported the findings of his AU$ 300,000 research project The Numeracy Intervention Research Project (NIRP). This has the goal of developing pedagogical tools for intervention in number learning with low-attaining 3rd and 4th year pupils. He highlighted the areas in which these pupils do not make progress and showed how the project's intention is to bring powerful instructional sequences to each of the areas of weakness.

Dr Wright set out that his work has led to four further lines of enquiry:

  • a) Further analysis of low attainers' learning.
  • b) Refining the instructional sequences and their connections.
  • c) Assessing the children and teachers' responses to the intervention programme.
  • d) Developing pedagogical materials for intervention.

In addition to her keynote, Dr Yackel gave a presentation which provided a deepening understanding of the use of the Arithmetic Rack in the classroom setting. This culminated in a listing of activities which form the Arithmetic Rack Learning trajectory.

The conference also included hands-on workshops on using technology to enhance video for presentation, sessions on SNAP, Math Recovery and Add+VantageMR, and MR and AVMR updates led by Petey MacCarty and Kurt Kinsey.

Because the UK & Ire. Council is still in the process of building the website Jim Martland sought and has obtained the permission of Drs.The Yackel, Webb and Wright to reproduce their conference presentations and handouts for the membership of the UK and Ireland Council. I am pleased to say that all gave their permission willingly providing their work is acknowledged. Drs. Wright and Webb have also offered their PowerPoint presentations. Should a member wish to obtain a copy of the presentations please send a large self addressed envelope to Jim at 11, Station Lane, Mickle Trafford, Chester, CH2 4EH using the form on page 8. It is anticipated that when the website has been constructed a MR Council member will be allocated a password enabling them to download papers, presentations, research articles and materials.

The 2008 Easter US Conference venue and dates have not yet been confirmed but I have heard a whisper that it will most likely be in Chicago. Several members of the Council have attended and made presentations at the US conferences and have been very well received. The call for presentations for the 2008 conference will come in September and it would be beneficial if we could have presentations and/or attendees from the UK and Ireland. If you are interested in knowing more about the conference and how to apply log onto the International MR website: www.mathrecovery.org. You could also email: info@mathrecovery.org

Jim Martland

Dr. David Webb's Iceberg metaphor illustrated in the context of fractions. Could you draw on for a missing addend or subtractive task? This would be a good workshop exercise.

City of Edinburgh MR Conference "Sharing Experiences"

The annual Edinburgh Mathematics Recovery Seminar was held on 6th June at the Gillis Centre. This year Edinburgh colleagues were joined by others from Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City, Glasgow, East Renfrewshire, The Scottish Borders and East Lothian.

The morning session opened with the keynote speaker, Jim Martland, who outlined recent developments and research in Mathematics Recovery. He also reported that the authors of the three MR books had been approached by Sage to give their permission for the foreign language rights to be granted to Mexico and Spain. Interest in MR has been registered from Greece.

The second speaker was Mhairi Stratton from East Lothian. She began her work with Carole Cannon at Broomhouse Primary School but in October transferred authorities. She now works in a small rural school that is being very innovative with Mathematics Recovery principles and procedures and children learning through play.

The seminar divided into four groups and tackled a circus of interesting activities ranging from mathematical games, computer programmes and activities. Each activity was to be judged on its merits using the Learning Framework in Number and the Teaching Principles as guidance. Notes were made of each topic and are to be collated and distributed later.

Maureen Brice, Senior Quality Improvement Officer, Edinburgh, Carole Cannon, MR Development Officer, Mhairi Stratton, Humbie Primary School, East Lothian and Dr Penny Munn, Chair of the MR Council UK & Ireland, at the Gillis Conference Centre venue, Edinburgh.

After a splendid, convivial lunch the seminar continued with presentation by Rhoda Ross, a Support for Learning Teacher in Edinburgh. She shared her work in mathematics with two children with complex needs. This was done by means of a DVD and a handout with a running commentary of the difficulties and strategies they encountered. The outcome was that both children had grown by either two or three stages and the change in their confidence, articulation and self-esteem was clearly apparent.

Carole Cannon, the Development Officer for Mathematics Recovery in Edinburgh, concluded the seminar with a thought provoking presentation entitled The Trouble with Subtraction. She highlighted the complex situations in which subtraction appears and stressed the value of FNWS and BNWS and work on the Empty Number Line to create strategies.

Congratulations to the City of Edinburgh for hosting once again another informative, challenging and thought provoking day shared with the regions.

Mhairi uses a novel setting for screened additive and subtractive tasks.

Examining the value of various computer programmes

Carole Cannon

Scottish Maths Recovery

We have networks of Maths Recovery teachers in several areas of Scotland and we meet regularly in Edinburgh on a Saturday morning to keep in touch. In 2007/8 we will be using the Scottish Maths Recovery Network to arrange update training on the new interview schedules for Maths Recovery teachers throughout Scotland. A third cohort of students has just begun the Masters-level distance course in Maths Recovery at Strathclyde, with students from across Scotland and Northern Ireland joining the course this year.

Penny Munn

Forthcoming Publications

Dr. Rea Reason, University of Manchester and Dr. Penny Munn, University of Strathclyde, have co-edited a special issue of Educational and Child Psychology on Arithmetical difficulties. The aim of the special edition, which was published in July 2007, is to give Educ. Psychologists the information and motivation to concern themselves with arithmetical difficulties as part of their work.

Ruth Willey, Senior Educational Psychologist and Amanda Holliday, Primary Numeracy Consultant, Cumbria C.C. Children's Services, together with Jim Martland were invited to submit a paper. Following the peer review the paper was accepted and will be one of twelve articles. Interestingly, two other articles are by Mathematics Recovery experienced academics. Both are Australian. One is Dr Robert Wright, Southern Cross University, NSW and the other is Dr Ann Gervasoni, Australian Catholic University, Victoria. We present the abstract of the article below:

ACHIEVING NEW HEIGHTS IN CUMBRIA: raising standards in early numeracy through Mathematics Recovery.

This article describes how standards in early numeracy were raised within Cumbria by the application of the Mathematics Recovery Programme. It reports data showing how children's numeracy improved as a result of the programme, and describes effective elements of the in-service teacher training programme which was implemented. This work is an example of how teachers and educational psychologists can work together to develop and disseminate good practice in teaching, which is based on a sound theoretical and evidence base.

Mathematics Recovery (MR) is an evolving, research-based programme which was first developed in the 1990s, in order to meet the needs of children who were not reaching age-related expectations for numeracy skills. There is an underlying model of how children acquire strategies and numerical knowledge, and an explicit set of principles of good teaching. The MR materials include short-term, intensive, individual teaching programmes, as well as group and class teaching.

The paper reflects on the nature of best practice in assessment for learning* (DFES 2005b), which we argue is dynamic in character, in that the assessment is embedded in the teaching, with the assessor playing a mediating role, supporting the learner to construct and elaborate their own model of number. We show how Mathematics Recovery implements this approach to assessment and teaching, through the design, implementation and evaluation of programmes of short-term intervention. The paper concludes with some evidence of how the above has impacted on teachers' professional development and changed classroom practice in Cumbria.

Ruth, Amanda and Jim have shown how important it is to bring their work with children and teachers in Mathematics Recovery to a wider audience. One of the stated aims of the Council is to encourage MR practitioners to make presentations and write publications for a variety of audiences. We know that Maths Recovery works, and that children and teachers benefit from knowledge of our approaches in assessment and teaching. What makes it really important is that we can raise attainment. MR practitioners who reflect on their practice, and have the confidence to try new approaches in the classroom perform a valuable service in education. This is because by applying the principles they can see if they work whilst at the same time helping to refine the theory.

If you feel that no one would be interested in what you are doing, think again. It is not necessary to come up with a brand new theory of education but rather to see oneself making a small bump on the frontier of knowledge. Well, that is what my old professor used to say. At the time I never believed him but now more and more I do. You never know where your work in MR will take you.

The Council would like to support your work. One of the ways could be to contribute an article for the next newsletter and for the website when it is up and running. Another would be to think about making a presentation at the next MR Council UK and Ireland Conference in 2008. (Details in the next publication).

In Spanish

Edilar Publications (Mexico) have been granted the foreign language rights to produce the series of three Mathematics Recovery books over the next two years. Teaching Number in the Classroom with 4 - 8 year olds will be the first publication with the illustrations and photographs in colour. Representatives from Mexico attended the US Conference in Denver. At the same time as the above a request for use of MR publications came from Spain and so Sage are going to work with both countries. MR Community News

Welcome to New Colleagues in Mathematics Recovery

The last nine months since the Manchester Conference have been very busy with new cohorts starting on the training courses and the Council working groups putting in long hours in face to face meetings and by email.

Julia Sheridan is working with three new cohorts in Liverpool. To date she has trained over 65 numeracy consultants and teachers in the six assessment schedules and associated teaching. All this is addition to her on going work with Maths Recovery in Sefton MBC and Chair of the Accreditation and Training Sub-Committee.

Chris Porter, Salford, is working with Manchester Educational Partnership. Liz Clarke is the Manchester Senior Primary Consultant and she is one of five consultants on the course together with 20 teachers.*

Enthusiastic responses to a Partially Screened tasks in a Liverpool school.

Tens and Ones tasks

Jim Martland has spent most of his time working in South Wales with Newport City Council and the Vale of Glamorgan Council (Barry). Lisa Howden, the MR Trainer who did such innovative work in MR in Flintshire, started the Newport courses. Helen Thomas is theeracy Consultant for Newport and Judith Copley is the consultant in Vale of Glamorgan. Again a Senior Advisor, John Commissong has joined the group. Both the South Wales groups, like Liverpool, have selected their trainees for maximum impact in that they have both teachers and teacher assistants from the same school. Jim has also continued to train new groups in Flintshire.

Noreen O'Loughlin, Mary, Immaculate College, University of Limerick, has commenced a project to train 28 primary consultants and teachers who are on full-time release from their schools to support the implementation of Maths, Reading and Literacy in primary schools. The trainees will have particular responsibility for schools in disadvantaged areas (DEIS schools). The rationale is that investment in early education provision supporting the most vulnerable can be a powerful intervention yielding lifelong educational benefits. Jenny Stanley and Helen Heard-White, Education: Psychology and Learning Support Advisory Teachers, were trained by the Cumbrian MR Leaders. Jenny and Helen have successfully completed their first course as trainers with 12 teachers and teacher assistants with Tameside Metropolitan Borough.

Joan McCarthy, Charlotte Madine, Carole Cannon, Chris Porter, Mhairi Stratton, Penny Munn and Julia Sheridan at the recent Training and Accreditation Working Group in Edinburgh.

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