How is Mathematics taught at school?





The teaching of Mathematics at Clendon Park School is based on the Mathematics Inquiry Communities (MIC) approach, founded by Dr Bobbie Hunter.  This approach to mathematics is targeted directly at Maori and Pasifika learners and promotes a group-based approach to problem solving.


Students are introduced to word problems, many of which contain relevant cultural aspects and references, then encouraged to share their myriad methods of solving it with each other.  At the conclusion of each lesson, the teacher reinforces the ‘big idea’ that is being taught, along with any specific mathematical concepts that are being targeted.


This approach to teaching mathematics began as a way to raise achievement for students in South Auckland schools.  However, its success has been so pronounced that it is now branching out, not only to other parts of New Zealand, but to other countries around the world.


Here is an article from 2014 that expounds the virtues of ‘Bobbie Maths’.


As part of the MIC, your child is learning to:


  • enjoy working with numbers;
  • make sense of numbers - how big they are, how they relate to other numbers, and how they behave;
  • solve mathematical problems - whether real life or imaginary;
  • show that they understand maths, using equipment, diagrams and pictures;
  • explain and record the methods they use to work out problems;
  • accept challenges and work at levels that stretch them;
  • work with others and by themselves;
  • discuss how they tackle mathematical problems - with other students, their teacher and you!


The biggest difference in schools involved in MIC is that children are encouraged to learn a range of different ways to solve problems and to choose the most appropriate one for each problem.  You may be familiar with certain 'rules' for doing maths.  While these will still work, your child may learn different ways to solve problems.


Strand knowledge in Geometry, Measurement, and Statistics is an integral component of the way we teach mathematics at Clendon Park School and it is entwined in the MIC approach that our teachers use.


Here is a short video from the NZ Maths website that further explains how the MIC approach works.


Why Learning Basic Facts Is So Important.


At Clendon Park School, once your child has their numeral identification to 10 firmly known, their basic facts knowledge is tested regularly, including use of the IKAN assessments. It is very important for your child to have strong basic facts knowledge.a


Memorised facts are stored in a different part of the brain than those that are used for performing strategies (Sousa, 2008).  Separate activities are needed to explore and practise strategies than those which are used to build up and to reinforce memorisation of the basic facts.


While strategies are important, students need to progress to the point where they automatically recall the basic facts while they focus their full attention to other aspects of the mathematics.

Students need to randomly access their basic facts, rather than recover them sequentially. This is especially true for multiplication, where students need instant access to 7 × 4, without having to recite the four times table, starting from 1 × 4 = 4, 2 × 4 = 8, etc.


When we think of basic facts, the first thing that often springs to mind is "times tables".  But there is far more to basic facts than just this. We should memorise simpler facts, like our addition and subtraction facts. Often, these have been ignored. It is crucial that addition and subtraction facts, particularly to 20, are memorised.