Good Morning Numbers Day: Motivating for Mathematics: Salvador Vidal Ramentol Describes a Project Called "Numbers Day" That Was Designed to Improve Students Attitudes toward Mathematics. There Are Many Features of Numbers Day That Teachers Might Incorporate into Their Own Maths Activity Days
Ramentol, Salvador Vidal, Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom
The aversion that many girls and boys experience towards mathematics has been one of my major concerns since I started teaching and to this end I helped to create Numbers Day. The first Numbers Day was held on 29 February 1984. The experience was so successful that it continues to be held nationwide and is currently expanding worldwide. This activity is held every year and we have gathered a great deal of information about the event. We eventually decided to quantify this experience in a research project carried out over two academic years in two centres; one where Numbers Day was held, and another where this was not the case, in order to compare the results.
The following activity is used every year with the students of Didactics of Mathematics in the School of Education at the International University of Catalonia. We are really aiming for the school pupils to be competent in mathematics. In accordance with my current line of investigation we have undertaken a study of the didactics of mathematics in Catalonia.
The main objective of the experience was very clear: to improve motivation towards mathematics so as to get students and teachers enjoying learning and teaching mathematics.
There are also further related objectives, namely:
* to raise students' awareness of the use of mathematics in our daily lives;
* to strengthen group dynamics and integration of children with learning difficulties;
* to help students organise themselves and take responsibility for the control and development of games and foster self-regulation of results and rules;
* to stimulate creativity by designing new games, some of which were indeed original and challenging;
* to raise student interest in numerical curiosities;
* to take a cross-curricular approach to the games and involve every member of the teaching staff;
* to improve mathematical calculus;
* to consolidate individual reasoning and the ability to analyse results;
* to improve self-esteem and confidence--praising a pupil who does not normally do well in mathematics is highly motivating;
* to realise that everything you learn can be taught to others.
Activities carried out during the event
Once the objectives were clearly defined, the Department listed some activities to implement Numbers Day, since one of the problems we had at the school was the lack of time to get things ready and we thought that careful planning would be a good way to make things easier for the teachers. The teachers took some of the suggestions on board or changed them to suit their needs.
Activities that were carried out included displaying books about mathematical pastimes with mathematical puzzles. This display was put on with the help of the language department and aimed to promote pleasure for reading and for books with mathematical curiosities. There was also a Games Room where many pupils have learnt new mathematical reasoning games from the older pupils. The pupils themselves decided which games they would like to learn how to play. We looked on the market to see if there were any films related to mathematics and found "Donald in Mathmagic Land" by Walt Disney, which has been shown for several years to different groups.
To motivate the pupils we announced the event the day before. One of the parents accompanying their daughter told us that the girl had asked her mother to brush her hair really well because she was going to take part in Numbers Day and had to be pretty. We made posters advertising Numbers Day which were hung on the walls of the school corridors. We asked the secondary school students (14-16 years) to think of number-related games for the youngest pupils, and see if they could come up with anything better. The PE teacher wanted to contribute by demonstrating how the measuring devices in sport worked. In the week leading up to the event we gave the students some mathematical puzzles to work out with their parents and thus involve the family as well. …