Learning for Living – numeracy project

In response to a request from Leigh to Blog some of my work around teaching methods, I am making this post. I have been part of a TEC project called Learning for Living which has an Adult Literacy and Numeracy focus. Coming out of this project are new national assessment tools and teaching strategies tailored to learners’ strengths and contexts. Accurate assessment enables tutors to respond directly to a learners’ needs and monitor and measure progress over the course of a programme. The new assessment tools are based on the Foundation Learning Progressions, and aim” to place a learner on a step on the progression.

Many learners have maths anxiety generally due to their past experiences of maths. This results in a loss of self esteem and independence. As tutors we need to help learners regain confidence in their abilities and “turn them back on to maths”. The tutor has to work with the learner to find the right strategies for the learner and the context. There is no ‘one right way’ to perform a calculation, just as long as the correct answer is arrived at. It’s a common view that mathematics should be taught as a set of rigid rules with no relevance to learners’ lives. Learners’ own inventive strategies for performing calculations are often dismissed as being incorrect.

So to the point… We are going to attempt to bring in the assessment tool for use in all OP courses with maths content to find out if somebody’s poor ability in maths could be due to a small piece of maths logic that is missing. Maths is a subject that builds on itself and ideas won’t make sense unless the earlier building blocks are in place. If a person has a ‘spikey’ profile or gaps in their knowledge, these need to be filled before new content can be dropped on top. We are developing teaching strategies to address these specific gaps which are based on concrete concepts, real life contexts and sessions are planned so that learners experience success – whatever the constraints of time and curriculum. Learners will be listened to and we will attempt to build on any rough and ready informal methods they use to calculate answers. Bold claims – I know 😉 PD is being planned for maths tutors across the polytech.

Richard and I have our first planning meeting tomorrow so watch this space.

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