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Maths in primary
Article in SMH.


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#1 Kay1

Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:02 AM

SMH article

WDYT? I have thought that the learning outcomes for Kindy are woefully unambitious. My eldest (who is very bright) was counting to 30 easily at age 2. My 2nd who I would say is more 'average' can count to 30 now and has a year before starting school.

These low expectations in maths seem to flow through as well. DS1 is in Yr2 now and maths is still very basic. I don't think its a case of lots of kids being gifted, I just think the curriculum should expect more. In my area most school starters have typically had 2 years of high quality preschool education. Of course there will be kids who are not meeting these benchmarks and they should have lots of resources thrown at them to help them catch up. I think this is preferable to having all the other kids being made to wait a year or more to learn anything new so these kids can catch up.

I also believe (admittedly from anecdotal evidence) that kids often underperform significantly in the Best Start test....due to nerves, shyness etc.

Perhaps its just because I am the mother of a very frustrated young "mathamatishin". Tounge1.gif

Edited by Kay1, 17 February 2013 - 08:02 AM.


#2 tomson

Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:32 AM

I agree with you - I was stunned at the level of maths presented to my first child going into year one ( NSW). It was stuff that his 4 year old sister was capable of doing. I think the expectations should be higher.

However, I would be happy with something co ordinated in place to cater for the kids that need more. This seems to be sorely lacking at the moment.

#3 tadpole-bean

Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:37 AM

I don't know why there is an urge to  educate educate educate, great that they are into their numbers but they  should just concentrate on letting them be kids and let them play. Let  the kids lead the way if they want to explore more numbers (as if you  can stop them - incidentally my LO started kinder and the article practically describes his numeracy "skill") rather then try and formulate a newer system to  accommodate their talent. Don't build an unnecessary wall between the  kinders.

#4 liveworkplay

Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:37 AM

There is a big difference between being able to count to 30 (which all three of my dd's have been able to do well before fyos) and understanding relationships between these numbers. I think the curriculum isn't perfect, but I do think a thorough understanding if the basic concepts are vital for the continued enthusiasm for learning maths, and anything else for that matter. My kids could also write simple sentences and knew all their alphabet and how to write all their letters. Doesn't mean they didn't get anything out of the literacy program. Knowing "facts" is just the starting point. Foundations are so so important. If you haven't got these completely 100% then when the work does get hard and complicated, you will have no hope of keeping up.

Edited by liveworkplay, 17 February 2013 - 08:43 AM.


#5 Julie3Girls

Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:53 AM

I don't really have a problem with the base level of the curriculum being reasonable low, particularly in the first years of primary school.
I think it is immensely important for children to get the base level understanding rock solid and if that means a slow pace, that's fine with me.  I have a friend who is a teacher, in upper primary, and she has commented that some kids just seem to be missing the very basics, still "counting on" for very simply additions, rather than simply having that knowledge there.
I guess I also see the curriculum as something of a base level. This is what they must know.  Bt there should be nothing stopping the teacher from teaching beyond that. The kids also do assessments at the start of each year .. Usually a spelling test, comprehension test and a maths test. If the whole class in general is ahead, that should be obvious and you teach to the class level.

That said, I do think there needs to be something in place for the more advanced kids. Not even necessarily pushing them upwards, but extending sidewards.  Maybe moving into more practical applications of maths, problem solving etc.

I've actually been fairly happy with how our school has dealt with this sort of thing. Access to online programs where the child sets the pace for the work. .. Our school uses studyladder, as well as a variety of other maths programs. Allows the kids to work ahead if it suits them, and gives the teachers a good idea of which kids are advanced AND motivated/interested enough to push themselves.  My dd3 in kinder last year was doing studyladder in addition to the very basic homework, easily doing grade 1 work.
In yr5 and 6, the three 5/6 classes get split for maths, into graded classes. They cover the same sort of work, but the top class is largest, middle class a bit smaller, the bottom class is significantly smaller, in order to try and give the kids struggling more individual teaching time to help them catch up. Means the general pace can be a bit faster.  And the advanced class can spend some time doing some variations, or spending time on some mental maths etc, while the lower class has the teacher attention to cover the basic curriculum very solidly before all 3 classes move on to the next thing.

As for best start ... I think it is a helpful tool for some kids, and probably gives the teacher an overall view of the class in general. BUT, it can miss the mark completely for some kids. So on an individual basis, I'd prefer it if the teachers make their own judgement as they get to know the kids.  Dd3 did great in best start .. She is confident, chatty, very much at home at the school that she had been visiting regularly since she was 3 months old.
Dd2 on the other hand, had speech issues, which resulted in her being very softly spoken, and very shy, and she barely said a work to her teacher in the best start. The teacher caught me a week or so later, and told me that I shouldn't even bother picking up the results, because they were just so wrong. The very average results were nowhere near her actual abilities.

Edited by Julie3Girls, 17 February 2013 - 09:33 AM.


#6 Kay1

Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:55 AM

QUOTE
I don't know why there is an urge to educate educate educate, great that they are into their numbers but they should just concentrate on letting them be kids and let them play. Let the kids lead the way if they want to explore more numbers (as if you can stop them - incidentally my LO started kinder and the article practically describes his numeracy "skill") rather then try and formulate a newer system to accommodate their talent. Don't build an unnecessary wall between the kinders.


Do you mean that kids are being pushed to learn this stuff before school? I know our preschool program doesn't explicitly teach any numeracy or literacy skills but my kids have still picked it up - probably due to too much tv and computer. blush.gif

QUOTE
There is a big difference between being able to count to 30 (which all three of my dd's have been able to do well before fyos) and understanding relationships between these numbers. I think the curriculum isn't perfect, but I do think a thorough understanding if the basic concepts are vital for the continued enthusiasm for learning maths, and anything else for that matter.


Yes that's a good point. I am keenly aware that as I am not an educator it is likely that I am not seeing the small important details that he is learning, which is why to date I have not pushed too hard for extension. It is a balance I guess between ensuring that all content is thoroughly understood and going over learned material too many times. At the moment I feel that the latter is happening with my son as he's lost all his passion for learning and finds everything 'boring' at school and yet at home demands maths questions instead of bedtime stories. This is something I will be addressing with his school this year.

I am pleased to hear about this new 'gifted and talented' program and even more pleased that it is going to be in action in our school this year. I just hope that it actually delivers. It will be interesting to see what happens when DS2 starts school next year as I think he will be closer to the 'norm'.

#7 Kay1

Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:59 AM

QUOTE
That said, I do think there needs to be something in place for the more advanced kids. Not even necessarily pushing them upwards, but extending sidewards. Maybe moving into more practical applications of maths, problem solving etc.


Yes exactly. I am certainly not in favour of acceleration, I think that just pushes the problem forward to the future. I have been promised this kind of sideways extension before but to date it does not really seem to be happening.

#8 baddmammajamma

Posted 17 February 2013 - 09:23 AM

From what I've discerned from various threads on EB, some (many??) schools don't seem to be that well suited to extend sideways. Julie3Girls, it's good to hear that your school is finding ways to do so.

I would love to see more opportunities for kids who learn at a faster pace to be challenged with that type of extension. I'm not sure why some schools haven't figured out a better way to challenge advanced kids beyond simply giving them longer worksheets -- but I suspect a lot of it comes down to time & resources, as it does take both to cater to anyone who is outside the norm. It's sad that the net result is that there are kids who are losing their interest in and passion for learning.

And then there's the issue of how to deal with kids who are gifted or twice exceptional -- who process and absorb things in a different way from most of their peers...










#9 BadCat

Posted 17 February 2013 - 09:32 AM

I don't think it's a case of more gifted kids but rather a case of a less challenging curriculum.  But then I've always thought the bar was set pretty low.

#10 TurtleTamer

Posted 17 February 2013 - 09:45 AM

I thought some of the stuff my son did last year was pretty good for Kindergarten.  I remember him counting by 5s and 2s and 3D shapes, I know there was a lot more but I don't remember specifically, there was some basic fractions and division I think.  They expected them minimally counting up and backwards from 30 before they even started kindergarten.  My current kindergartener came home doing 99+5 type maths last week and we're in what?  Week 3?  I don't know if that was a class thing or during testing (private school, they did their own testing this past week) but I don't think that's too bad.

#11 Expelliarmus

Posted 17 February 2013 - 09:46 AM

IME the counting to 10 tested for on a best start assessment is not the same as the elaborations  required by the curriculum. I am finding that people examining the new AC are not fully exploring the elaborations and their implications.

#12 Kay1

Posted 17 February 2013 - 09:52 AM

QUOTE
I thought some of the stuff my son did last year was pretty good for Kindergarten. I remember him counting by 5s and 2s and 3D shapes, I know there was a lot more but I don't remember specifically, there was some basic fractions and division I think. They expected them minimally counting up and backwards from 30 before they even started kindergarten. My current kindergartener came home doing 99+5 type maths last week and we're in what? Week 3? I don't know if that was a class thing or during testing (private school, they did their own testing this past week) but I don't think that's too bad.


That sounds quite a bit more challenging than we get in our public school (NSW).

#13 TurtleTamer

Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:31 AM

They may have high expectations, I'm not sure.  It is a NSW Private School and has been Top 5 in NAPLAN for the past 2 years I think so they may be trying to protect that. Our eldest is not overly academic, our 2nd is more advanced (he reads competently entering kindergarten).

#14 Grumpy1

Posted 17 February 2013 - 05:10 PM

Kay1 do you mean that the majority of the class is way beyond this level or just your child and perhaps a few others?  I don't think it is typical for a 2 year old to be able to count so well so your child perhaps needs to be exended but what of the others...?  Are most of them working at a level that your child is?  I would think this is unlikely and we must be careful not to push the average or slower kids to far beyond their capabilities as they wil be left bewildered and believing they are simply stupid an dnot progress.  If you feel the need ask for extension.  Surely the teacher would be aware that your child could work at a higher level.  But yes they are still so young.  I did notice in Prep how diffuce the abilities were at the begining of the year and then how the gap closed towards the end of the year as many caught up.

I find it interesting that many parents seem to have kids getting A's since I was told on the phone by Qld Ed. that this wsa virtually impossible unless the child was gifted.  Also I noticed last year that although a number of our gifted kids blitzed the NAPLAN scoring in the triangle ie above level 6 for English no A's were given out that year.  That is on year 3 student was given an A on their report card.  Our principal told me that the teacher's at our school would not give out A's easily implying that some schools are more likely to.  If you want to keep parents at a private school happy to keep reaping in their money, for example, I would suggest that such schools have more of an incentive to give out more A's.  Is it possible that some schools or even some teachers are stricter in relation to awarding A's and even B's than other schools?

#15 baddmammajamma

Posted 17 February 2013 - 05:28 PM

QUOTE (Grumpy1 @ 17/02/2013, 06:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If you want to keep parents at a private school happy to keep reaping in their money, for example, I would suggest that such schools have more of an incentive to give out more A's.  Is it possible that some schools or even some teachers are stricter in relation to awarding A's and even B's than other schools?


Well, THIS private school parent is happy if teachers are creating an environment where my children are excited to go to school each day. original.gif I don't give a rat's ass about As if my kids are happy and learning every day. Our private school is quite stingy with As. They share the breakdown of As, Bs, Cs, Ds, and Es -- and only 4 As were given out in Literacy and 2 for Maths across 42 children. This is at a very high performing school, with a disproportionate number of gifted kids.

Just to clear up a misconception: Being gifted doesn't necessarily equal top grades. A child could be receiving As because they are bright but also working very, very hard outside of school (perhaps even being tutored). You could have an exceptionally or profoundly gifted kid who might be disengaged or unmotivated or who also has a learning disability or special needs. They could be far more gifted than any other child in their class, grade, or even school yet not have the highest grades.

Edited by baddmammajamma, 17 February 2013 - 05:34 PM.


#16 Grumpy1

Posted 17 February 2013 - 07:15 PM

I thought I might offend private school parents but it is a genuine question.  I will admit that I am anti-private schools as they make the divide bigger.  In countries with excellent education systems, such as Finland, there are no options so all kids go public and all money/resources etc are directed into these schools.  It annoys me that Govt. continue to put money into private schools when it should go solely into public schools where the majority of children go.  Also private schools are essentially a buisness.  Without money from parents they wouldn't exist.  Therefore it is in their interest to admit students who do well at school and exclude those that don't theyby ensuring that the school continues to achieve good results.  


Having said all that I will probably send my kids private for high school only because it is the closest school and they can walk to school.  If it hadn't been, or had have been to expensive, I wouldn't.  It's comparatively cheap, being a catholic schoo, otherwise there is no way in the world we could afford the fees of many private schools.  The principal at this particular school said that they never exclude any student on the basis of academic achievement or lack thereof as many private schools do.  Of course these schools will continue to attract the brighter students thereby setting up a cyclic system which other schools can never compete with.

#17 Expelliarmus

Posted 17 February 2013 - 07:43 PM

QUOTE (Grumpy1 @ 17/02/2013, 05:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Is it possible that some schools or even some teachers are stricter in relation to awarding A's and even B's than other schools?

The new AC actually provides a more accurate/better scope for inter school moderation and having a true picture across the country regardless of school.

#18 Grumpy1

Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:09 PM

Hi howdo

Maybe I am mistaken but it is not the case that private schools can themselves determine how much of the NC they implement and what they leave out?  Don't they have the autonomy to do this?

#19 Froyo

Posted 17 February 2013 - 09:01 PM

Counting is reciting a memorised sequence. It does not mean the child has number sense.

#20 Mission213

Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:26 PM

How do you know a public school has a genuine gifted program to cater for these kindergarten kids blitzing the "Best Start" assessments? What questions should you ask a school when your child is easily doing the Best Start requirements at the ripe old age of 3?

#21 Expelliarmus

Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:48 PM

QUOTE (Grumpy1 @ 17/02/2013, 08:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hi howdo

Maybe I am mistaken but it is not the case that private schools can themselves determine how much of the NC they implement and what they leave out?  Don't they have the autonomy to do this?

No idea, I am a public school teacher.

#22 TurtleTamer

Posted 18 February 2013 - 12:05 AM

Very few private primary schools are selective by ability (exceptions being Sydney Grammar etc).  Ours is definitely not and they still do well.  There is more to the reasons that they do well than being selective in their intake.

#23 Grumpy1

Posted 18 February 2013 - 06:56 AM

Turtle tamer what are the reasons they do well do you think?

#24 Kay1

Posted 18 February 2013 - 07:23 AM

QUOTE
Kay1 do you mean that the majority of the class is way beyond this level or just your child and perhaps a few others? I don't think it is typical for a 2 year old to be able to count so well so your child perhaps needs to be exended but what of the others...? Are most of them working at a level that your child is? I would think this is unlikely and we must be careful not to push the average or slower kids to far beyond their capabilities as they wil be left bewildered and believing they are simply stupid an dnot progress. If you feel the need ask for extension. Surely the teacher would be aware that your child could work at a higher level. But yes they are still so young. I did notice in Prep how diffuce the abilities were at the begining of the year and then how the gap closed towards the end of the year as many caught up.


Yes I know my son was unusual. He was also reading at a 9 year old level when he started kindy. But my second who is 4 now I would say is average and he can count to 30....with a few mistakes. As I imagine can most of his friends. He has a year to go before school. And he's not just reciting words, he can count with one to one correspondence, add numbers etc. But I do take this point.
QUOTE
Counting is reciting a memorised sequence. It does not mean the child has number sense.


As I said, I'm sure there is a lot more to it than I realise.

As for DS1, we have asked for extension, repeatedly and I am assured he is getting some. I am not entirely convinced and he seems to be bored so I will be upping the ante this year. But I still think that

Our school doesn't even do As and Bs. I really don't care what grades my kids get anyway, only that they are challenged and kept interested in learning. It just seems to me that often the bar is set too low lest the kids who are struggling feel bad but no heed is paid to what is happening to the kid who has been at school for two years and yet to be challenged. My son is quite cocky now as work is so easy for him, he doesn't need to try and he's getting lazy. That's not good IMO. But I guess this is why I'm in favour of streaming kids which it seems is out of fashion these days.

#25 TurtleTamer

Posted 18 February 2013 - 08:43 AM

Grumpy1 -- I think there are more factors than even I know. As for my kids' school, while not being selective, it is in a high socio-economic area.  To afford to live there and afford fees you need to be earning serious dosh (we travel from out of area and are subsidised for the record!), professional careers, mostly highly educated, most probably intelligent people who genetics as they are probably do produce somewhat intelligent children so whilst not selective there is probably a larger than average cohort that are above average to start with (my kid that I think would be average in our local school is towards the bottom of his class).  This is by no means all.  Parents who highly value education across the board that are eager to see their kids do well (but I don't know of any tutoring until much older except in cases of learning issues but that is more therapy than tutoring). I know many/most parents are the same, but you will get portions in your average public school that are not (and I teach public in western Sydney so I know how it can be).  Very good staffing.  Teachers challenging all kids to their level, differentiated learning.  Staffing ratios to some degree though my kindergartener has a much bigger class this year so not sure how that will go.  I believe the teachers get more time off to develop their curriculum -- the children have specialised teachers for a bunch of subjects (PE, art, music are all different teachers in different rooms, religion is also a different teacher but same room).

But you probably get a lot of that in a LOT of schools and those are just guesses.  Beyond that I don't really know why they do well specifically, it could be a fluke for all I know.




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