Procedures are not the enemy

So yesterday I took the trip to Manchester to see what the LeSalle Education Maths CPD conferences were all about. It was astonishing to see the number of Maths teachers freely giving up a Saturday to develop their own CPD.  The range of sessions that delegates had to choose from were incredibly varied and came from the perspective of teachers at different points in their careers. What a great model.

A few weeks back I decided to submit a workshop proposal to share some of my insights over a 20 year period in Maths education.  I was delighted by the response of delegates as over 100 attendees signed up for my session.  Slightly daunted by the fact that I was following Jo Morgan from (who delivered an excellent session on Indices in depth) and Simon Singh who is a best selling author, this was a great opportunity for me to give something back to a community of maths tweachers whose ideas have helped me support the large network of schools that I work with within AET.

My session was entitled 'procedures are not the enemy' and its purpose was to attempt to address the idea that efficient algorithms in Maths are not something to be ashamed of.  Once any conceptual journey has been completed, students should be encouraged to develop quick, efficient methods so that they focus their attention on bigger ideas or the problem solving aspect of a question. 

The workshop was well received and I had lots of interesting discussions with individuals during session intervals. Twitter has has already started doing its thing and some great conversations are happening around some of the ideas I presented.  Lattice multiplication v long multiplication in particular seems to be causing a stir.  I presented a 3x3 multiplication calculation and invited delegates to generate a solution using both methods. Looking objectively at computational steps, the lattice method was more efficient (if you can get the students to draw the grid in the first place). More importantly however, is that the lattice method can be easily connected back to the box method and the inter change in computational steps (multiply, exchange, add) is far less problematic.

All of the ideas that we explored in the session can be downloaded here and I also promised to share the amazing calculation policy here and proportion revision grids here that the AET Maths Team have kindly shared.

It is really important that we remain open to different methods in maths and question everything. Over the coming year, I plan to provide lots more examples that will hopefully keep these types of discussions going.