The irreducible learning core in mathematics, with a focus on overcoming barriers in number

Thumbnail Image
St Aloysius Catholic Junior School Lesson Study Group,
Issue Date
Educational Level
ISCED Level 1 Primary education
Curriculum Area
Geographical Setting
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Background: The school is located in urban area of high deprivation. Teaching staff had noticed that a lack of understanding of number facts and place value was making it difficult for children to grasp more challenging mathematical concepts and tackle mathematical problems. Year 4 teachers undertook a lesson study to address this.

Aims: The aims of the lesson study where to improve teaching and learning of number bonds, number facts and place value, particularly partitioning; and also to evaluate the lesson study approach more generally.

Methods: The lesson study sequence involved introducing a range of new approaches to reinforcing number facts and carrying out partitioning including games, puzzles and problems. Resources such as Base 10 resources, hundred squares, counters were introduced into the classroom to give pupils opportunities to play with the practical resources and revisit prior learning. The teacher modelled these approaches and encouraged children to talk about the strategies they were using, to work in pairs and use key mathematical vocabulary as part of their oral reasoning.

Findings: The first lesson in the sequence highlighted the insecurity in many pupils’ knowledge of number facts and relationships so activities were included to support them with these along with alternative approaches. Reintroducing practical resources into a Year 4 classroom allowed children to revisit prior learning and address areas of weakness. Children were motivated by the new approaches and were keen to use them to solve problems; they were also able to use new vocabulary and in the course of the lesson sequence they became more willing and able to explain to teachers, partners and the class how they had solved problems. Children were also able to identify where their knowledge was not secure and this was a barrier to their progression.

Implications: This more open, practical approach to the teaching of maths, supported by the reintroduction practical resources alongside games, puzzles and open-ended problems has been very effective and motivating. Pupils benefited greatly from an opportunity to share, explain and discuss their understanding with their peers and the role of discussion will be the focus of further inquiries. We have also decided to introduce lesson study throughout the school. We have found that it provides an opportunity for teachers to observe closely a target group of pupils’ learning. This has already enhanced our understanding of how children learn, how they perceive us as teachers and what they do and don’t expect us to do.
Keywords (free text)
primary education , lesson study , mathematics , place value , partitioning , number bonds , mathematics problems , classroom talk
Permanent link to cite this item