Tuesday, 13 August 2013

How children learn mathematics? What are the big ideas?

Today we got an opportunity to become learners in the class. We had the chance to experience what our children go through. It is something that I believe every teacher knows but sometimes I feel we need a little reminder. It is the importance of learning through exploration.

We were given a set of Chinese tangrams and told to use the shapes and form a rectangle. Sound pretty simple? Well, maybe to some. The challenge was finding different ways to form a rectangle and also to use different number of shapes to create a rectangle. It is through the freedom of exploration that along with my partner, we were able to come out with different ways of creating a rectangle.


This simple activity allowed me to see the importance of exploration and also the role the teacher plays in children’s learning. Here are some of the roles a teacher plays in this activity:
-         knowing the child’s prior knowledge and tapping on that
-         allowing room and ample time for exploration
-         role-modeling and creating a sense of wonderment
-         challenging the child to the next level
-         Scaffolding the child’s learning

My other big takeaway from today’s session was learning about Jerome Bruner’s Learning Theory. The theory talks about concrete, pictorial and abstract (CPA). It emphasizes on the importance of first having concrete experiences then moving onto pictorial (visualizing) and then going into abstract. Each stage is essential in learning.


I hope to be able to explore more on this CPA approach and also how looking at and understanding patterns will lead to visualization. More on this and the importance of problem solving in the entries to come. 

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