Low Attainers in Primary Mathematics: The Whisperers and the Maths Fairy

By Jenny Houssart | Go to book overview

1

The children

It was my second week of working with children from the original Year 5 set. Within the set, the third of three sets, they were grouped by perceived ability into five groups. The teacher asked me to sit with one of these groups and to give particular help to one girl, Julie. He added that I would notice the difference between her and the child sitting the other side of me, Sean.


Introduction

The aim of this chapter is to introduce some of the children I worked alongside and to give a feel for their approach to mathematics. Subsequent chapters deal with particular types of mathematical task and most of the children introduced here are mentioned again in later chapters. I was often asked by the teachers to work with certain children and this chapter starts by introducing the group I worked with first. Some children from other classes are also introduced in order to indicate the types of children present. Before the children are introduced, the background reading section deals with some existing work on children in bottom sets as well as tackling the issue of labels and terminology. The chapter concludes that children in bottom sets can be different in many ways. It is difficult to make general statements that apply to all these children. Even to say that they are low attainers in mathematics is problematic for some children, who do not appear to have given a clear indication of their attainment.


Background

Who is in the bottom sets?

All forms of ability grouping carry the danger that certain groups of children might be over-represented in lower sets or streams. This

-8-

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Low Attainers in Primary Mathematics: The Whisperers and the Maths Fairy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Children 8
  • 2 - Maths Talk 24
  • 3 - Mental Work 41
  • 4 - Number Equipment 57
  • 5 - Practical Work 74
  • 6 - Written Work 91
  • 7 - Calculators and Computers 109
  • 8 - Easy Tasks, Hard Tasks, Elastic Tasks 127
  • 9 - Assessment Tasks 145
  • 10 - Conclusion 163
  • Index 177
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