I have been teaching Maths Mastery using a Maths No Problem Scheme for 3 years – so here is my honest review of the approach!
The key emphasis of Maths Mastery is based on theorists such as Jerome Bruner and Vgotsky. Maths mastery heavily relies on children grasping understanding in maths through the Concrete, Pictorial and Abstract approach (more about this method of teaching will be outlined). Children are also engaged in a range of partner work and discussions throughout teaching this way. Children also stay together through a limited amount of differentiation – every child is meeting more or less the same objective. This may sound bizarre to those of you reading that do not know much about a maths mastery approach, however examples of this will help you to make sense of it!
Every Maths No Problem (MNP) lesson starts with an a problem. Known as the anchor task. I always present this on a smart board alongside the real object. For example:
My friend Sarah has 4 apples. Sam and Lucy give her 2 more apples. How many pieces of fruit does Sarah have now?
How do you know?
Algonside this picture I would also present children with the same coloured apples in a basket as shown in the picture. This really helps the lower ability children to relate the real objects and hold and count these if they need to.
Children will then go to their tables and solve the problem with their learning partner using a range of different methods.
Maths No problem encourages the use of different methods when teaching maths and my Year 1 class were confident in using these methods:
first placing 4 apples on the 10 frame and then adding on 2 more to work out the answer.
The number line method
when children recognise that the addition is 4 + 2= they are able to use the number line method to show the jumps and find their answer.
using pictures are a method – they may draw the apples themselves on a whiteboard and count how many altogether.
using unifix cubes or counters to represent the apples. I also explain to children that the apples have turned into cubes. How can you solve the problem?
They may use whole and parts as a method. This method is a great way of gaining knowledge of number bonds. I will create more blog posts based on number bonds too!
Children may use a counting on method where they place the largest number in their head and count on too. Some children also drew a thought bubble to represent this.
After the anchor task. Children lead the conversation of different methods by feeding back to their peers. I then focused on one teaching method – based on the objective for that lesson. For instance – We have come up with so many methods but today’s method is… the numberline method! We are all going to use this method to work out additions.
Our Maths No Problem friends help us too by giving us a ‘lets learn’ teaching step. This clarifies and reduced any misconceptions that children may have.
Here is a multiplication example of an in focus task which then leads onto lets learn:
After the children are confident in knowing the focus of the math’s lesson for the day. Chidlren then practice the method with thier partner.
This is known as the guided practice. I really enjoy this part of the lesson as it gives me the freedom to walk around and observe every partner and their ability to grasp a mathematical concept. At this point I can judge whether partners are able to work together to complete the task correctly or if they need more time and guidance before completing independent work.
The only thing I have needed to be mindful of at this point is – not to hold back those that find it easier. I have often created extra challenges for those children that have finished first. I also think it is important to identify those children that need more practice straight away. I also ensure my teaching assistant stayed with those children and continued to practice whilst I moved the rest of the children onto the final part of the lesson.
The workbook pages!
Every child has their own workbook. Some teachers may say this is very old school but actually workbook pages really identify children that are 100% secure in what they have just learnt, those that are getting there and those that really struggle independently.
Those that struggle severely – stay away from the workbook pages as this means they are not ready for the abstract principle. Instead, those children continue using concrete objects. In this instance, they could complete a range of additions using cubes. So that they make sense of the links in numbers such as:
The more able learners may fly through the challenge. But that’s a great opportunity to challenge their understanding by encouraging them to use reasoning skiills. Children complete journalling which consists of them using a blank book to record thier explanations and understandings.
For instance I sometimes say:
Jay is absent today, can you write a letter to him explaining what we have done? Use an example.
Can you invent your own method?
As a further focus for year 1 in particular I find specific problems for children to read and complete. For instance
True or False
8 + 2 = 12
Questions like this mean that children do not only have to work out if it is correct or not, they then have to write reasons and explain how they know. This gives them the ability to reason and demonstrate their understanding of addition.
So basically I LOVE the maths mastery approach and ideas around it and I really enjoy teaching MNP. I am so excited to train for MNP for the Early Years and blog about that in September too!
A quick summary of the pro’s and con’s of MNP.
Planning set out for you – less workload for teachers.
Lessons always have same structure – children thoroughly enjoy this.
So many methods – gives children choice.
ALL children feel SUCCESS!
Great partner work and discussions.
Takes YEAR 1 a lot of time to get use to.
A lot of training and perseverance – especially for wordy workbook pages.
Parents need help and support but once they know how – its great!
Some do critice the amount of challenge for more able children.
Is it appropriate for SEN children? A debatable case.
All in all I really cannot imagine teaching maths in any other way. Please share your thoughts. I will be creating more posts based on:
maths mastery challenge.
Journal work – with real examples.
Whole and parts and how these can be used to support all ages with numberbonds.
if you have made it to the end of this page then THANK YOU!
let me know your thoughts –
2 thoughts on “Teaching Math’s Mastery -An honest review of MNP”
I agree that hands-on learning is important and that it is vital for children to be able to visualise what they are doing before moving on to abstract work.
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As a parent I found this a very useful insight into how our kids are taught maths in school.