## Doug WilliamsThe aim of a Working Mathematically curriculum is to teach students to work like a mathematician - to generate student interest so they want to solve the problem - and to encourage different strategies for tackling the problem.As opposed to the traditional 'learn by rote' approach, the Working Mathematically curriculum facilitates investigative learning. The one page document Working Mathematically, details the process. It was composed by questioning mathematicians about their work and is pasted into student journals and enlarged as a class poster. Students learn to ask What might a mathematician do now? and to examine the document for a response.
Shifting from the traditional textbook approach to the Working Mathematically Process requires a balance to be struck between: - the process of being a mathematician, and
- developing the skills necessary to be a successful mathematician.
## Working Mathematically and Maths300Maths300 provides a rich resource of lessons based on this process, all prepared and trialed by classroom teachers. While content skills are important, the Working Mathematically Process emphasises application of skills. As such, it has pioneered a new frontier for excellence in mathematics education.A guiding principle of Working Mathematically is that we all have the same capacity to work like a mathematician, but not everyone has had the positive experiences and practice necessary for skills to flourish. A focus for the Working Mathematically teacher is to ensure students develop mathematical skills in the context of problem posing and solving. Afzal Ahmed, one time Professor of Mathematics at Chichester UK once quipped:
No doubt his gentle jibe contained a kernel of truth as far as his peers were concerned, but were he to direct it towards Working Mathematically teachers, it would be completely unfounded!
**Strategy development** Mathematicians also make use of a strategy toolbox. These strategies are embedded in Maths300 lessons, but may also have a separate focus. Poster Problem Clinics are a useful way to approach this component. A Poster Problem Clinic is perhaps one lesson per fortnight. Lesson 14,*The Farmer's Puzzle*, is an example of this component.**Concept development** There are relatively few major concepts in mathematics. Examples are place value, fractions and probability. Each took centuries for the human race to develop and apply, yet traditionally, students have been expected to understand such concepts after having 'done' them for a two week slot. Often the concepts are not revisited until the next year. A Working Mathematically Curriculum identifies such concepts and regularly includes development work.Typically one or two such concepts are visited and revisited (threaded) over a term, even if only a few minutes per session. An example of this component is the threaded use of Lesson 35, *Nine & Over*, which addresses Place Value.
## Other Key FeaturesAs you create your curriculum, look for opportunities to include:- estimation practice
- use of first hand data
- outdoor activity
- open-ended inquiry
- whole class activity
- concrete materials
- an investigative process
- links to learning theory
- recording and publishing findings
## In-House PDMany schools have reported success over time using these few steps. More than that, they report both teachers and students enjoying maths more.- Plan a Working Mathematically unit as a team.
- Play with it in the classroom to gather data about the students' learning.
- Review and refresh the plan based on the team's experiences.
- Record the trialed and polished version.
- Add a paragraph or two of teacher comment to guide other colleagues.
- Print your unit and other relevant ones to build up your syllabus document.
- Repeat from Step 1.
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