Michael and Norrian are Secondary Mathematics teachers from Melbourne, Australia. We share a passion for teaching and enthusing students about Mathematics. Many students are turned off Mathematics simply because they believe that the only way to succeed is to learn a whole lot of rules and algorithms. This leads to them having no expectation of being able to understand the ideas of Mathematics.
If students have focused solely on rote learning rules, they are unable to apply mathematical concepts in more complex problems or in their everyday lives. They miss out on the beauty and power of mathematics and spend their lives afraid of it.
We know from experience how important basic number skills such as multiplication and division, decimals and fractions are for understanding and learning Mathematics. For this reason, much of our teaching was in Middle Years Secondary Mathematics classrooms.
"The difficulty of memorising all the rules of mathematics (without understanding the ideas) becomes so burdensome that the students generally reach a point when they give up trying. From that point on, further mathematics study is fruitless ... struggling students conclude that they are just poor at mathematics."
- Elementary Mathematics Pedagogical Content Knowledge. James E Schwatz 2008 p 26.
In our work since retirement from full time teaching, we have concentrated on developing resources for mathematics teachers that emphasise teaching for understanding. The Tables Strategies App, Teaching with Algebra Tiles and Decimals are all resources filling a gap by providing material that is not available elsewhere.
The Table Strategies App teaches efficient strategies to learn the Addition and Multiplication Facts, as well as providing the practice necessary to become fluent in these operations. Teaching with Algebra Tiles and Decimals emphasise conceptual understanding and the of use manipulative materials.
We taught Mathematics for over 30 years in Northern suburbs schools in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Mathematics Leaders in their schools.
As leaders we worked with teachers with a focus on teaching for understanding and using concrete materials to assist the learning in their classrooms.
Coaching in Primary Schools
Supported the Grades 4, 5 and 6 teachers to deliver the Scaffolding Numeracy in the Middle Years Program. This work increased our understanding of how Primary students learn Mathematics.
For over two decades we have presented a large number of Professional Learning Workshops for teachers. These have been for teachers at our own schools, and at other Secondary Colleges, as well as neighbouring Primary Schools and Networks. We have presented a number of workshops at MAV Annual Conferences over the last 10 years.
Through our tutoring, we have seen first-hand how a lack of understanding impacts directly on students’ ability to learn new work at school. By identifying weaknesses and misconceptions, we have been able to support students to make large improvements in their mathematical understanding and self-confidence, as well as performance.