Maths: Everyone Can – an overview

It is so exciting to be able to work with the other hubs around the country in our quest to transform maths education.  The mantra of our hub along with all the other hubs is that everyone can succeed in mathematics.

We have put together a video that you can watch and then use in your classroom with your pupils. The one on this page is our first video, you can view our others and the accompanying videos via the relevant links above.

The video shares the message that there is no such thing as a ‘maths person,’ you are not born with a maths brain.  Indeed anyone can learn how to be a mathematician just like anyone can learn how to ride a bike or swim.  We can all do this through hard work and practice.  Above all pupils need a teacher who believes that they can achieve and can show them that they can be successful in maths.

We find it frustrating that there are still teachers at primary and secondary who will assess a pupil at the end of the year based on where they were at the start.  How can this be possible and fair?  Their mindset is already fixed and many of these pupils will never be given the opportunity to prove their capabilities to their teacher. It will take a long time to change everyone’s belief but we have to start somewhere.

Our aim is to get schools to undertake their own week of inspirational maths during the month of September.  The aim of the week is to inspire pupils and show them that maths can be exciting and fun and that everyone can succeed. If this can be achieved at the start of year it can set up a positive message for the rest of the year.

Ideas for inspiring your students

  1. Show our video and the videos on youcubed.org to teachers and pupils.
  2. Organise an assembly with each year group saying that everyone can do maths and that pupils are not allowed to say anymore “I can’t do it”. Tell them that mistakes grow the mind.  If you can’t do an assembly, maybe you could do it during form time or as a maths department during the first lesson with each new group.
  3. Send a letter home to parents asking them to support the work you are doing and have a similar open evening where you celebrate maths and spread the message that ‘Everyone Can’. See the advice for parents on the GLOW maths website http://www.glowmathshub.com/yesucan.html and sample letters on whiterosemathshub.co.uk
  4. Produce vibrant number displays in classrooms and along corridors to show the importance of number. The displays should not just feature numbers but plenty of visual representations as well.
  5. We should encourage pupils to be persistent and not allow them to give up when undertaking more challenging tasks.
  6. As teachers we should embrace mistakes and use misconceptions to deepen understanding.
  7. Let’s stop seeing maths as an unconnected set of objectives that we must simply just cover. As teachers we must show the connections and how everything links together.
  8. Take time to teach for depth, taking small steps one at a time. We have tried to encourage this in our schemes of learning.
  9. Throughout the year ensure that we teach maths for meaning and understanding and not just as a set of facts that need to be remembered. Visual methods and concrete materials often help pupils understand what they are doing.  Pupils will remember more when maths is taught for meaning.
  10. Ask questions that require pupils to reason and explain why and allow them to use diagrams and concrete materials to do so.
  11. Give pupils time to think about their solution to a problem and get them all thinking. Daniel Willingham says that “Memory is the residue of thought”.  Ask them then to share their answer with the person next to them before sharing it with the whole class.  Get them into the habit of explaining why.    Remember that speed in not important.
  12. Look at the five lessons on youcubed.org, the low floor, high ceiling tasks suitable for primary and secondary pupils and our own website www.whiterosemathshub.co.uk. http://www.glowmathshub.com/yesucan.html also has some great resources and links.