Monday, 23 October 2017

Maths isn't hard, it's a language!

I have heard students who think that Maths is hard. These students are either students who speak English as their second language (ESOL), or students who are not in favour of reading. 

I hope that this video would help teachers to encourage their learners not to think like that. Maths language sometimes is the one that discourages learners from believing that they can do Maths. ESOL learners are more likely to be the ones fall into this category so what can we, as teachers do? 

I listened to this video and have shared some ideas with teachers at my school. Maths Wall, using of TALK MOVES, Number Talk, Picture Books and using of Problem Solving Approach are practices we use currently to tackle this problem.

Do you have children who think like this?

What about you? 

What about your school? 

What are you doing? 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Term 4 #1Hunch

Did I give my learners enough time to think, to explore and to think deeper before sharing their ideas with the rest of the class? 

I was teaching Maths in one class (older students) one day last term, and after the lesson before the end of the day, a student from that class came up to me and said, 'Ms, you did not give me enough time to think and explain my thinking'. I was a bit surprised because I thought the lesson went well and that everyone participated. This student made me think about the impact of 'wait time' on students' learning.

Therefore for the first three weeks of this term (Term 4), I will increase my 'waiting time' in Mathematics to support and help increase students' confidence, deeper thinking and independence.

In the above video the teacher says only one word and the children lead the conversation right through to the end. The teacher waits and gives these young learners plenty of time to explore and express their own ideas. 

Monday, 25 September 2017

Picture Book - Increase Student Talk and Participation in Maths for ESOL students

Looking through some notes from previous Maths PLG - I read notes about Picture Books in Maths and because some of my target students are still struggling to talk and use correct mathematical language, I think picture books sound good to try out next Term.

Why do we use Picture Books in Maths?

I have discussed this idea with teachers and we agreed to use picture books more often in Term 4. 

At the end, I want my learners to:

  • learn more Maths vocabs and use them confidently in their talk. 
  • experience a variety of Maths situations throug listening to the stories
  • increase their love towards Maths - Maths is fun

Monday, 28 August 2017

Term 3 #3 Hunch

Few students including 3 students from my target group have difficulty with being an active listener. They are very easily distracted and they usually fidgeted. I am going to give them roles - hopefully to keep them busy and engaged during learning time. 

Indicators of progress

Follow instructions quickly
Taking turn - wait for their turn and listen to what others are saying
Increase attention span

Rangimarie and House cards work but sometimes it can be distracting
Working in pairs seem to work better - not too many 
One problem per day is enough 

Friday, 25 August 2017

Presentation at the Manaiakalani Hui 2017

It was a pleasure to be part of the Manaiakalani Hui for 2017. We were given an opportunity to show and talk to teachers about our focusing inquiry for the year as part of our role as COL teachers.

I had lots of people visited and talked to me about my Maths focusing Inquiry. I was able to share my thoughts and ideas with them. We shared some of the common problems that we see in class and also some of the possible solutions for some identified issue in Maths especially for junior classes.
Common concerns on the day was, 'how are we going to increase student talk,  and to use academic language?' I was impressed with the fact that teachers are concerning about this issue and trying to address it in similar ways with what I have suggested. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Term 3 #2 Hunch

Continue using FRONTLOADING, MATHS WALL and NUMBER TALK to encourage student talk and provide students with more Mathematical vocabs. Some of my learners find it hard to count on / back from any number to 20. 


Problem Solving Approach

Some learners in my target group still struggle to talk, participate, or contribute in whole class discussion. These students are new entrants who are not yet confident, don't know the appropriate Maths language to use, and not familiar with the our class norm.

I discussed this problem at our team meeting with the junior teachers and we think the best way is to continue using the Problem Solving Approach but with a little FRONTLOADING at the beginning.

I can't wait to see how ideas above have impact on my students' learning and using of mathematical language; and understanding of strategies used to solve given Maths problems.

I am hoping that at the end of this year, my learners would be able to:
  • think independently and confidently
  • able to share their thinking using appropriate Maths language
  • able to unpack a problem and use appropriate strategy to solve problems

Talk Moves & ESOL students

Talk Moves is a tool that we use at our school to help increase student talk academically. It is a tool that I really like to use with ESOL students especially. Like I have mentioned before in my other posts, learning Maths language for ESOL students is learning ANOTHER language. It is a foreign language and us, teachers must use a tool that enables our learners (ESOL students) to talk more, think deeper, and explain their thinking with confident.


How to use Talk Moves and why?

Talk Moves is the only tool that I use in Maths because it goes along well with Problem Solving Approach in Maths. I have realised so many good reasons why using Talk Moves. One of them and I think it is important is learning from each other. Students are building their confidence when making mistakes. They learn to work collaboratively with a friend as part of this process.

At the end of this year, I believe my learners will:
- increase the ability to talk in Maths
- improve deeper thinking due to using of revoice, friendly disagree or agree and add-on.
- increase using of Maths language correctly
- work collaboratively with a friend and share ideas

Friday, 4 August 2017

Mathematical Theory - Teaching ESOL students

When learning a new number in class, I do not give them the number by itself, I use that number in a problem. I believe that I do not have to spend 15 minutes on learning about number 5, for example, just because my children do not know number 5. 

This is what I did. I used 5 in a problem such as : Kolo has 5 soft toys and Marii has 2 soft toys. How many soft toys altogether that they have?

Children are learning number 5 better when it is used in a context. It was hard at the beginning but I have realised that children enjoyed exploring using familiar contexts; and they learned to know and identify numbers faster in this way rather than learning the number in isolation.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Term 3 #1 Hunch


New Entrants don't know how to explain their thinking, they need the Mathematical language as most of them are ESOL students. Therefore for me, I need to be deliberate about the way I introduce, use, and reinforce mathematical terms. I will be incorporated mathematical vocabulary in my planning as key focus in the day-to-day teaching of Maths. I will be using these TESSOL strategies (Frontloading, Maths Wall & Number Talk) to teach students with correct maths vocabs and how to use them.
Indicators of progress

More student talk
Improve deeper thinking
Increase using of Mathematical language
Able to solve a Mathematical Problem using either count all or count on with materials 
Know numbers to 1-2 and be able to make/form a set of them correctly
Attempt working collaboratively with a friend or the whole class
Able to use ipad to record their work

Four of my target students are talking in Maths and using appropriate language to explain their thinking
Using NUMBER TALK enables students to think deep.
Work on: teach chn how to use ipad to record their work
- Working collaboratively with a friend
- Encourage thinking independently first before talking with their buddy

At the end of Term 2 - I have tested my target students and here are the results.

Number Talk


Jo Boaler talks about reasons for using Number Talk. Number Talks can be used at home by parents, too. It can be done in so many different ways for different reasons depending on what teachers need to achieve at the end.

At our schoool we did talk about this for a while and some classes have been doing it for a while. In my class, I spend 10 minutes everyday as part of my warm up doing Number Talk. Here are some of what my learners are doing as part of it. 

 Christian is explaing to the class what number seven looks like.

 Peiten is saying that the number after two is three. He is talking using his own experience and sometimes using others ideas to help him talk about our focused number. 

Frontloading, Maths Wall, Number Talk - Teaching Hypothesise

Frontloading  -
When planning a lesson, identify the vocabulary students will need in order to understand or explain ideas. Introduce these terms at the start of the lesson so that students for whom they are unfamiliar won’t be confronted by new words and procedures simultaneously later in the lesson. The meaning of the vocabulary can then be reinforced when students put it to use.

The “vocab session” can also be used to systematically review terms introduced in previous lessons. Include mathematical vocabulary in spelling lists. Provide opportunities for students to practise and use this new vocabulary throughout the lesson.

I will spend some time during warm up times to directly teach my students with the focus Mathematical language that will be used in our maths lessons.


Maths Wall
Create a “word wall” on the classroom wall. Students can post definitions, drawings, and examples next to the terms. The students can refer to the word wall throughout the lesson.

Number Talk - Maths Talk
I have been using 'number talk' all the time as part of my warm in Maths. Number talk is so easy and I believe that it really helps my students to make connections as they see numbers. 

It is hard for new entrants to make sense with this strategy but after a while they will get use to it and then they will start talking and making connections.

I am going to use this strategy again with my new target groups and I know that they will be able to make lots of connections after this four weeks lessons.

Indicators of progress
(What I’m looking for that shows I’m making a difference to student progress)

- More Student Talk
- Improve deeper thinking
- Increase using of Mathematical Language correctly
- Able to solve a Mathematical Problem using either count all or count on with materials
- Know numbers 1-20 and be able to make/form a set them correctly
- Attempt working collaboratively with a friend or the whole class
- Able to use ipad to record their work

Weeks 1 - 4 (18th August)


Four of my target students are talking in Maths and using appropriate language to explain their thinking. Using of NUMBER TALK have increased student talk.

Using Number Talk enables students to think deep. All of my target students are beginning to think deep in different ways. Eg. With 10 frames - two students are able to make connections with subtractions. 8 dots can also be explained as 10 take away 2 … therefore NUMBER TALK needs to continue. I will continue to use number talk as warm up of my maths lesson.

Maths Wall is good - some students are looking at it for clues … because it is their own work it is easy for students to make connections. These students often refer to the Maths Word for assistant. I really like the fact that they are able to use resources in class.

Still need to work on these:
Working collaboratively with a friend or the whole class. We are working on this using Problem Solving Approach. They need to talk and explore the problem with a friend and find the best possible way of solving that problem.

Using ipad to record their work - needs to continue and I need to give more time for students to practise.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Hunch #3 Term 2 (Maths)


Students are not using the mathematical language clearly and cofidently (half & quarter, altogether & take away & left with). I need to focus on this so they can confidently use the language and apply them correctly using diagrams.

Indicators of progress

1. confidently use mathematical language to explain their thinking.
2. explain how they solve a mathematical problem using an ipad independently
3. solve a mathematical problem independently
4. continue working confidently


Goal was achieved by some of my target students while others are still struggling to sue the mathematical language correctly in a sentence. They are all able to provide the correct word most of the time but very hard to explain their thinking clearly using those mathematical language. 

Term 2 #3 - Hunch

Students are not using word endings ('s' 'ing') in their oral langauge - need to focus on this so they can hear and record sounds accuratley in writing and recognise and use the correct.

Indicators of progress

- say words with a 's & 'ing' & 'ed' correctly 
- record words with 's' & 'ing' & 'ed' in their story correctly
- record letters that they hear for unknown words
- continue recording words correctly


- The goal was partly achieved as I was able to help students see those word endings in their reading but was difficult to use in their talk (oral) and their writing.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Expected Level in Maths - Year 1&2

Knowing expected levels in Maths helps with planning. I believe that this is very important, every teacher should be familiar with the curriculum content before planning for students. 

At the end of TERM 3, my targetted students are expected to work at stage 3 or above. Most of them are currently working at stage 1 with a few working at stage 2.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Problem Solving Approach - Increases student participation and engagement

Week 1-4
Goal: Students are not listening during Maths time. They talk but not Maths talk, they are talking about other things. I need to know how am I going to get them to listen and participated actively in group discussion.

Dated: 1 May 2017

Teaching & Learning  (Pedagogy & Ako)
How are you going to do it? What are the deliberate steps.   
(Include DAT, resources, PLD readings, support etc.)
Knowing the learner - LINK

Professional discussions with colleagues

Observation notes (sometimes share with TA about what I have noticed)

Student work and sharing of understanding
(Gap analysis and back mapping - depends on SEA test and anecdotal notes)
Maths planning sheets LINK

Multiple opportunities:  ipad, Problem Solving Approach, Using of materials, Responsibility - managing behaviour, and build a sense of belonging (being inclusive)

Indicators of progress
(What I’m looking for that shows I’m making a difference to student progress)
- all students will participate in terms of talk
- minimal teacher talk and more student talk
- students to elaborate their sentences a bit more
- confident in recording their work on ipads

- confidently use materials to help them explain their thinking

Problem Solving Approach

5 Parts to a Collaborative Problem Solving Lesson

Launch the Problem

Independent Thinking

Pair Share

Group Discussion

Link the knowledge to the strategy used

5 Practises 

Anticipating likely student responses to challenging mathematical tasks

Monitoring students’ actual responses to the tasks while students work on the tasks in pairs or small groups

Selecting particular students to present their mathematical work during the whole-class discussion

Sequencing the student responses that will be displayed in a specific order

Connecting different students’ responses and connecting

the responses to key mathematical ideas

I have been using this approach for a while and I quiet like it. Problem Solving Approach always go together with Mixed Ability Groupings. It is really hard to establish such approach but I reckon that this is really helpful especially trying to increase student talk and student understanding numbers.

- My students year level, they needed to know basic Maths knowledge
- It took a while for the little students to get used to the process
- Creating Rich problem that encourages talking / sharing
- Finding a student who has the courage to talk or share at the beginning
- setting classroom norm that helps managing behaviours

- positive attitudes
- cooperative skills

- interesting and enjoyable.
- student talk increases
- student helping each other in their own language
- no need to teach Maths knowledge separately
- students learn through talking 
- less misbehaving
- students see meaning in numbers
- students are able to make connections between numbers and real life 
- teachers plan collaboratively once a week - share ideas and create problems together
- increases teachers' knowledge about Maths content & curriculum

Problem Solving Approach helps students engagement especially with Pasifika students. 

Liten Up Activity

My learners are learning new words through listening to the teacher reading a story or part of a story while they listen up for words written on their paper.

My children love doing this, they are having fun and at the same time learn to recognise new words.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Listen Up and Word Walls

Goal: I will use TESSOL strategies such as Listen Up and Word Wall to support my students’ language development and deeper reasoning. This will enable everyone to participate in discussion and write a full sentence independently.

Date: 22 May 2017

Teaching & Learning  (Pedagogy & Ako)
How are you going to do it? What are the deliberate steps.   
(Include DAT, resources, PLD readings, support etc.)
Knowing the learner - LINK
Professional discussions with colleagues
Observation notes
Student work and sharing of understanding

Multiple opportunities: Approaches to teaching writing (Listen Up and Word Wall)

Indicators of progress
(What I’m looking for that shows I’m making a difference to student progress)
  • all students will elaborate their sentences more
  • all students will write more than one sentences
  • students will write their own sentences using known words correctly and record unknown words using letters with confidence.



Weeks 4 - 6

Increase in quality of student talk - some can elaborate more and use some topic words correctly. Still I have two who are a bit reluctant to do so without prompting.
All students have attempted to write their own sentence down. Still need work around this. Need to do a lot of 4, 3, 2 so they know their story well before writing it down.

I use Listen Up activity to increase my students words knowledge. Attending to one or few words while listening to a book enables my students to focus and to learn new words.

What I did on this video is an example of how I used 'Listen Up' in my classroom. I wrote words I needed my students to learn on a piece of paper and gave it to them to mark how many times they hear each word from the story I read.

One of the things that I have learned from doing 'listen up' activity is that not to give too many words for students. For my students, I gave 4 or 5 at first and then I have noticed that it was too much. At the moment we are only doing like one or two words a day. 

All students can record more than one letter for unknown words. Sight words are recorded correctly. This is really good because I can see that they have confidence to take risks in writing new words.

Continue 4, 3, 2 & cut up sentences & vanishing cloze - holding a sentence in their head for a while will always be a goal. They need to remember their story very well before they record it down. Ipads help sometimes but yet I have not tried. Next focus will be using of ipads.

I am very pleased with how much words on our walls have influenced my students ability to write. Words on our walls give students confidence and courage in writing stories. I have seen students walking around looking for topic words from the walls. For students to get up and look for words from the wall, for me is really big at this age group. I am very pleased with it.