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ED 5662 Mathematics: Measurement and

Assignment 1 Reflection

Address the question of how your growing

knowledge of a range of pedagogical practices
may shape the way that you teach mathematics
in your classroom.

By Deirdre Westerhout
Mathematics EDUC5662

Mathematics is an integral part of society, helping us understand the world

we live in and allowing us to function on a practical, day to day level (Siemon

et al., 2015). Despite this, research suggests students regard maths as

boring, irrelevant and too abstract, while teachers struggle with narrow

assessments and meeting the needs of a wide range of student abilities

(Clarke & Roche, 2009). Progressive pedagogical approaches are needed to

overcome these challenges, engage students and enhance mathematical

learning. This essay discusses two teaching approaches to improve

mathematics education: the use of children’s literature and contextual tasks.

Underpinning these is the application of Cambourne’s seven conditions of

learning (Hopkins, 2007) to promote learning success, and the regular use of

manipulatives in exploring mathematical concepts. Incorporating these four

elements into the classroom will lead to more effective teaching and learning

outcomes and shape my maths teaching practice into the future.

Courtade, Lingo, Karp, & Whitney (2013) state story reading can play an

important role in mathematics instruction because many children's books

present interesting problems and illustrate how other children solve them.

Children’s literature can act as a springboard for rich mathematical

experiences (Clarke, 2002) and provides real-world contexts for

mathematical problems in authentic settings. For example, The Doorbell

Rang (Hutchins, 1996) places multiplication and division word problems

within a story about a group of friends sharing cookies. My recent experience

in preparing lesson plans based on Millions to Measure (Schwartz, 2003)

exemplifies the potential for improved student engagement and

Assignment 1 Reflection 1
Mathematics EDUC5662

understanding through story, as the characters search for answers to

measuring questions with Marvelossimo the Mathematical Magician.

Using a shared story to teach maths begins with selecting a book that relates

to a significant mathematical concept, then choosing a focus or concept

statement to help students focus on the main mathematical content.

Teachers then plan lesson activities using concrete examples and

manipulatives to explore the topic and concurrently incorporate formative

assessments to guide the teaching. Because shared story reading is

interactive, it provides opportunities to assess student learning during the

lesson, address misconceptions and adapt instruction if needed (Courtade,

Lingo, Karp, & Whitney, 2013). Reading and oral language also helps

students engage in dialogue about mathematical ideas and increases

subject specific vocabulary. A study of five classrooms utilising children’s

literature found children were better at explaining their reasoning and

strategies, they enjoyed mathematics and showed greater overall

persistence on difficult tasks (Clarke, 2002). In light of such findings it is

certain shared stories will play a part in my future teaching practice.

Teaching methods that both convey the maths and engage students are

important inclusions in any successful classroom. One such practice is the

use of contextual tasks which investigate maths concepts in an engaging,

relatable way for the student. Similar to the use of literature, contextual tasks

give students a framework to motivate learning and illustrate potential

applications of the maths concept in real life. They present opportunities for

Assignment 1 Reflection 2
Mathematics EDUC5662

mathematical reasoning and thinking, and encourage problem-solving. For

example the question “if one pre-paid card for downloading music offers 16

songs for $24, and another offers 12 songs for $20, which is the better buy?”

(Sullivan, 2011, p35) poses a realistic scenario rich in mathematical

strategies such as ratio calculation, comparison, rates and so on. It allows

students to develop strategies and adaptive reasoning rather than simply

calculating an answer. However the success of such tasks relies on the

teacher being clear about the maths focus and planning a lesson closure that

draws out the mathematical process and insights within the activity (Clarke &

Roche, 2009). Understanding the benefits and challenges of contextual

tasks, I feel confident incorporating them in my teaching practice to

encourage reasoning and problem-solving.

A final element influencing my future teaching practice relates to the

application of Cambourne's seven conditions for literacy learning to the

mathematics setting. A 2007 article by Martha Hopkins describes the seven

conditions of immersion, demonstration, high expectations, responsibility,

approximations, practice and feedback and their application to mathematics

learning. Hopkins argues that children will learn when they are fully

immersed in mathematics, trust they will and can use maths, and receive

feedback throughout the learning process (Hopkins, 2007). Cambourne’s

conditions of learning are a valuable backdrop to maths teaching and will

inform my future teaching practice.

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Mathematics EDUC5662

I envisage my teaching practice will incorporate the use of children’s

literature, contextual tasks and manipulatives within a supportive leaning

environment. Maths content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge are also

important factors which I will seek to continuously develop and improve

during my teaching career.

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Mathematics EDUC5662


Clarke, D. (2002). Making measurement come alive with a children's

storybook: The story of Alexander. Australian Primary
Mathematics Classroom, 7(3), 9-13.

Clarke, D. M., & Roche, A. (2009). Using mathematical tasks built around
"real" contexts: Opportunities and challenges for teachers
and students. Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom,
14(2), 24-31. Retrieved from

Courtade, G. R., Lingo, A. S., Karp, K. S., & Whitney, T. (2013). Shared
story reading: Teaching mathematics to students with
moderate and severe disabilities. TEACHING Exceptional
Children, 45(3), 34-44. 10.1177/004005991304500304

Hopkins, M. H. (2007). Adapting a model for literacy learning to the

learning of mathematics. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 23(2),
121-138. 10.1080/10573560601158446

Hutchins, P. (1986). The doorbell rang. New York, NY: Mulberry Books.

Schwarts, D. (2003). Millions to Measure. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Siemon, D., Beswick, K., Brady, K.M., Clark, J., Faragher, R., & Warren,

E. (2015). Teaching mathematics: Foundations to middle

years (2nd edition). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Sullivan, P. (2011). Teaching Mathematics: Using research-informed

strategies. Australian Council for Educational Review, 59, 31
– 39. ACER Press. Camberwell, Victoria. Retrieved from

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Mathematics EDUC5662


Assignment 1 Reflection 6