Meaningful Math

Mathematics is all around us in everyday practises in the classroom. To help develop students' mathematical ideas, Room 16 integrates mathematics throughout the school day. This starts with something as simple as the daily roll. 

Here's just one activity that Room 16 does that is developing mathematical thinking using everyday contexts. 

Roll Call

“We have 19 children in Room 16 but 2 are away. How many children are at school today?” 

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A student’s name is chosen from our ‘Shaker Box’. The chosen student  uses the hundreds board to support and show their thinking. The whole class counts together up to 19 and then the student flips over the number of children who are absent. The students count back from 19. 

Comment:  “AJ and Paige are away so that means 17 are at school today. We count back 2.” they say.

Weather Watch and Class Calendar

Part of the Measurement Strand in the Mathematics Curriculum is teaching days of the week and seasons. An authentic way of introducing days of the week is to have our weather watch and class calendar as a routine every morning. Students enjoy moving the cards and talking about what they know about the seasons. It is also a way of introducing mathematical words like, yesterday, tomorrow, the day after, the day before.

Comment:  “Today is Monday, the 2nd of August. The season is Winter.”

Comment: “Winter is the coldest because it is snowing.” “Spring is after Winter and lambs are born.” “Autumn is when the leaves fall off the trees.” “Summer is when it is hot, and we can go swimming.”

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The Shorts Game

Movement and ‘hands on’ activities help students to engage in mathematical concepts and provide opportunities to work with each other and learn from each other.In Room 16 we played the Shorts Game. The class was split into two even groups. Students at the front of each line stand back to back. The other students determine which of these are the shortest and tallest. The shorter student takes the taller student to the back of the line. The process is repeated until all students have had a turn.

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Next, students drew their  faces onto a piece of paper, trying to make it the same size as their face. Students are paired up with their learning buddy. Their mission was to measure the height of each other. They realised that lying down was the best way to do this. With teacher support, the students took turns measuring with a piece of string. They then tied their string to the chin of their face drawing. All students were then asked to line their strings up in order at the front of the class. Guiding questions included: 

  • Where are you going to place your string?

  • Why do you think it goes there?

  • Who are you taller/shorter than?

  • Who is the tallest?

  • Who is the shortest?

  • Who is about the same height as (name)?

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As a teacher, it was interesting to just stand back and listen to the students as they interacted, discussed and questioned each other. This could be a fun family activity to do to compare heights in your families. 

Next time you think of mathematics, don’t think worksheets and sit down activities, think movement and hands-on everyday activities. 

Curriculum Links

“By studying mathematics and statistics, students develop the ability to think creatively, critically, strategically, and logically. They learn to structure and to organise, to carry out procedures flexibly and accurately, to process and communicate information, and to enjoy intellectual challenge.” (NZ Curriculum).

Keywords: 

Order and compare objects, length, area, volume and capacity, weight, angle, temperature

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