Category Archives: 2.1 Curriculum

Minecrafting Mathematics!

With mathematics being the least favourite subject in primary school with children, it is important to make their learning of maths fun so they can enjoy it and see it as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.  A fun way to incorporate mathematics into everyday learning is through the popular game Minecraft.

Minecraft offers a variety of mathematical concepts for exploration and children LOVE it!  For example, addition and subtraction, to find out how many blocks are needed to build, or if is a large area then multiplication can be used instead.  Spatial awareness is needed because the amount of space needed to build is important and overlapping is not possible.  Time must be considered because you only have a certain amount of it to build; a half finished house is no use to live in!  Volume is another concept integrated into Minecraft.

With multiple possibilities of mathematical understanding contained in one game, Minecraft can only enhance a learner’s understanding of mathematical skills and concepts.

Whilst I was on placement in my primary 5 class during my first year of university, I took a maths lesson and decided to include a division exercise which was Minecraft themed.  The children were to solve the division sum in each square on the page and each answer would give them a corresponding colour which they would use to colour that particular box.  Once finished, a picture would be revealed relating to Minecraft.  The children loved it and it changed their mind about learning maths – for that lesson anyway!

Art & Tessellation

Mathematics is everywhere in the world of Art for example, in symmetry and patterns, in architecture and even clothing.  Islamic art is a good example of tessellation as it comprises of pattern and repeats this throughout which creates a wonderful image to look at.  It can be found in many forms such as religion, architecture and pictures.  During this workshop for Discovering Mathematics, we were encouraged to try some paper folding to create various different shapes in order to promote the potential learning that could be had in our own classroom.  It is also an effective way to make leaning concepts in maths different and fun!

Tessellation is the term known for shapes that fit perfectly together without any gaps showing or overlapping occurring.  We spent some time figuring out what shapes we were supplied with would tessellate and which ones wouldn’t.  Over the course of the hour workshop, I learnt that shapes would only tessellate if the angle they made added to 360 degrees upon the vertices meeting.  A vertice is where two or more straight lines meet – I learnt that on placement when my class sang the wee song!

Typical examples of tessellation include regular shapes (where all sides are the same), pieces of a jigsaw, and tiles in the form of animals which cover the surface in a symmetrical way.

There is No escape!

Maths is literally everywhere in our daily lives so no, there is no escape!  We use it almost constantly and I for one, was not always aware of that. From things I do everyday without thinking to calculations in my Discovering Mathematics elective.  For example, I look at the clock immediately after waking up in the morning (so to think I actually do maths at 6.30am is pretty impressive for me!) and I do the shopping and work to a budget every week which tests my mental maths.  Even fun things I do with my youngest child Carly who was 3 in October involves maths.  We count the stairs in the house when going up them or coming down them, we sing rhymes that involve numbers like ‘5 little monkeys jumping on the bed’, ‘5 little ducks went swimming one day’, and ‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5, once I caught a fish alive’ to name a few of our favourites!  I cook, measure and sometimes weigh during cooking which are all concept of mathematics.

One thing that used to baffle me (and still does slightly!) was when trying to figure out how long to roast a fresh chicken for in the oven.  Instructions:  allow 20 mins per 454g/1lb plus 20 mins extra.  Erm…….what??!  All I can say is thank heavens for ‘roast in the bag’ and ‘pre-cooked, ready to eat’!  (Although my understanding has somewhat improved since then – honest!)

Mathematics play a part in each of these everyday life activities and also in many others.  It is important we have a good understanding to enable us to make sense of all the numbers and problems life will throw at us!

My Educational Philosophy.

There are so many people in the world, all with differing views on the purpose of education.  My view is that I believe the role of education is first and foremost, the way to provide a learning experience for all children which is equal to all regardless of their gender, religion race or social class.

I believe that the ethos of the school is an integral aspect of education and how the environment created within the school can include all learners regardless of ability.  Schools and its teachers must show an appropriate level of understanding towards discipline and the way in which behaviour is managed which is essential for the smooth and fair running of the school.  Showing a range of teaching methods across the different curricular areas is an effective way to promote simulating lessons which encourage learning.

But I believe that education is much more than just a level of attainment, achieving grades and enhancing learning.  It is also about supporting the needs of the pupils emotionally and encouraging them to become socialised within society ensuring the all-round enhancement of an individual.

The role of the teacher is to teach all children the norms and values of their society and culture in which they live.  Teachers are to guide children and young people on their journey to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors in all aspects of their lives.  Teachers should be able to provide a learning environment which is both interesting and stimulating, piquing the curiosity and eagerness of each child as an individual, encouraging them to not only progress in their learning but to want to learn and progress also.  This is the kind of teacher I want to become during my teaching journey.