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Statistics in Medicine

Today we had a presentation from Dr Ellie Hothersall on how statistics are used within medicine and how important it is to have the basic maths knowledge to be able to work out simple calculations that are very important for a medical professional.
Some of the many things discussed through the lecture included drug doses for children, fluid prescribing, NEWS test which could tell the doctor how well or unwell the patient was, BMI, foetal/bump growth, mortality rates and growth and reduction of diseases. All these things are vital for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to be able to carry out and all require pretty basic maths skills.
In school, when doing maths, a very general theme that can be seen is that you’ll never need to use this outside of school in the real world. But in reality, many professions do use maths on a day to day basis so it’s important to know the fundamentals so that you are able to do your work without embarrassment or fear that you may do something wrong. For a doctor, for example, when working out what drugs to give to a child you have to take into account their weight so that you do not give them too much or too little of a drug. A mistake in calculations could be potentially fatal, as if someone is given far too much or far too little of a drug their electrolytes can be harmed which causes damage to cells and bodily functions. Even though the calculations are very simple, one small mistake could cause a lot of damage.
This is the same with the NEWS test. This test is completed by doctors or nurses and is used to look at a person’s health when in hospital. Different variables are measured, such as temperature and heart rate, and are plotted on a scale. All the points are then calculated, and a final score is worked out. The more red that is seen on the chart or the higher the score is, the more unwell a patient is.
Statistics can also be used to show Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR) which is a bar graph which shows the mortality rates for different hospitals across a country, in this case, England. However, there are many variables that contribute to mortality rates such as how many patients come into the hospital, the age of the patients that enter the hospital, the reason they are in hospital including others. This means the tests have to be somewhat modified, the mortality rates that are included in the graph have to be altered so that the data that is compared between the different hospitals is as similar as possible. This is done to make the statistics fair, but is it really fair if they are being slightly altered? This is one big problem with statistics as they can often be manipulated to show what the company or product want people to see and other parts of the data can be ignored.
This ties in well the discovering maths module as it relates to Liping Ma and her suggestion that all teaching professionals need to have a profound understanding of fundamental mathematics including basic ideas – the beginning principles of maths taught from a young age. We need to be able to teach pupils the basic ideas of maths appropriately so that they can go onto use these skills in their future professions too.

Can Animals Count?

Yesterday in an input with Richard we were thinking about our number system and how we teach children everyday how to use it, how to count from 1-10 and so on.

The subject then progressed to if humans can count can animals count? We were told of different case studies including lions, ants, chicks and chimpanzees, which were the most interesting to me.

Here is the link to the video Richard showed us in class:

When watching this in class I found it fascinating! It was unbelievable how quick the chimpanzee could process where the numbers were in the correct order and get them all right even once covered up. We then tried this as a class through an online game. We were only successful one time out of three attempts, which I think was partially down to a bit of luck and guessing. Personally, I could only remember three numbers in each game which was definitely nowhere near as impressive as the chimp.

Although this video appears to show the chimpanzee is counting up to 9, I’m not convinced if it’s really counting or he just knows the symbols and shapes of the numbers and that’s what he has to do to get food. Either way, it certainly shows how much quicker the chimp’s brain can process the numbers and store the order and picture on the screen in his brain to be able to complete the task so quickly, impressive.

Making Maths Fun

Last week in an input with Eddie we explored how to make maths fun in our classrooms.

The activity we did involved looking at tessellation – fitting shapes together to make a pattern with no gaps. We had to cut out the shapes we wanted – from a choice of triangles, squares and pentagons – and design a pattern which involved the shapes fitting together with each other. We were then to stick our patterns onto card and could paint them if we wanted to.

My tessellation

When completing the task the atmosphere in the room was very calm and relaxing, everyone was focused on what they were doing and the basic processes of cutting, sticking and designing a pattern were somewhat therapeutic. I could feel zen in the room, or in myself at least.

So, the objective of the task was to show the importance of making maths activities fun for pupils. I personality wouldn’t use the word fun to describe it, but I have a different outlook of what fun is compared to a child in primary school, although it was enjoyable to complete the task. When I was doing something that I actually took pride in and wanted to finish I wasn’t thinking about how this was actually doing maths – which made me think it’s always important to relate to the maths side of the task and not just a fun arts and crafts activity, but both. It’s necessary to show the links to the mathematical concepts so that pupils are still learning.

I tried to take this on in my own practice and created 6 different angles stations in my formative observation in 1pp1b. Some stations included an angle tarsia, an angle treasure hunt and an angle poster which the pupils had to measure and name the angles on the poster created with bright tape. I could really see the concentration from the pupils when doing something active for a change, as there was a lot of textbook maths in my class. Doing tasks in different ways and allowing pupils to see there is not only one method or one way to do something is very important, bringing change into maths makes it exciting and not the same thing every day. (Boaler, 2009).

Boaler, J. (2010). The Elephant in the Classroom: helping children learn and love maths. London: Souvenir Press.


Why teaching?

When writing my personal statement to apply to university I was told many times not to state that teaching was my passion as it would be seen as cliché and cheesy but how else do you describe something that you’re so enthusiastic about?

The main reason I chose to study teaching was because of my love for working and interacting with children and seeing how your efforts allow them to improve and grow. Witnessing children progress with something they find tricky or doing well in a situation which they would usually feel uncomfortable because you have encouraged and helped them, is definitely worth the sometimes hard or difficult times you can have during university or work.

I enjoy being in a role of responsibility and being someone that people feel they can turn to for advice in tough times. Both of which are qualities that a teacher require as you need to be able to nurture your pupils enough so that they feel comfortable in your classroom environment. I think I can incorporate empathy and dependability into my teaching style so that pupils can put their trust in me in order to improve their school experience.

I am looking forward to be able to work with different year groups and different kids during university placement and gain the skills that will allow me to help children in the best way I can as that is why I haven chosen to study teaching.