Teachers often ask me how to develop mathematical reasoning skills in the classroom, what questions to ask and where to take the children to next. This simple step by step guide breaks the reasoning process down into 3 areas: a) application- (working on a problem) – b) communication- (talking about their work and recording their working) and c) using the reasoning skills to test their answers and prove their theories.
It can be used with any age group with the first level targeting children in Years R and 1, the second level targeting children working in Year 1 and 2, the third level targeting years 2 and 3, the fourth level aiming at years 4 and 5 and the final level aiming at years 5 and 6. Working with older children who have not worked in this way before, it is important to start at the early stages in order to build confidence. Starting at too high a level will only cause confusion and a lack of motivation. Gradually build up the challenge in this area of maths to increase independence and to equip the children to investigate more effectively. The simpler levels can be employed using higher level maths as these questions are not task specific. (For specific activities and how to deliver them using this approach, please see my other material which is coming soon.
This approach can be used with any maths task to present the activity in a more open-ended way to increase the children’s engagement in the lesson. It becomes less about completing the task and more about what the child can learn through being involved in the activity. This approach maximises use of the ‘why’ questions and encourages children to draw on what they know already to make sense of what they do not as yet know.
Have fun with it.