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Reflections on Redcliffe’s 10th Annual Conference, 2016
Listening to Children’s Mathematics
10th November 2016
All hands were on board to organise our 10th Annual Conference. This year we decided to make it a small cosy mini-conference, morning only. People from all over the South West attended and we had 50 delegates. The morning offered a variety of mathematical ideas and discussions offered in opening talk, research talks and four workshops.
The main theme of the conference ‘Open Mathematics, Open minds’ developed from the initial talk asking delegates to consider a more open approach when it comes to mathematics education. Elizabeth Carruthers, the key speaker, talked about shifting minds from seeing maths as exact with right answers to more experimental and flexible, children then would be freed to think about mathematics using their natural open and curious minds.
Two aspiring researchers presented their mathematics projects funded partially by the Boolean Maths Hub in conjunction with Redcliffe and the Bristol E.Y. Teaching School Consortium. Sara Whitting from Redcliffe discussed data handling with young children and how her research had developed her curiosity in this area of mathematics and she uncovered that there was very little research in this aspect of early mathematics. Hannah Culverhouse from Archfield House researched outdoor mathematics and analysed her settings practice and her own assumptions. She identified areas that she thought could be developed and concluded that you needed to be aware that mathematics is everywhere and you must tap into it. Both presentations highlighted reflective practice within researching practice. Both speakers are keen to take their research forward.
The workshops all complimented the main theme and added a crucial richness to the morning. Sara Whitting and Emma Butcher’s workshop guided a powerful discussion about data handling as a concept in our lives. They stressed the importance of democratic choices and opening up the possibilities for young children to be data collectors.
Jeanette Hill, Jo Morgan and Michelle Butcher(SLE) designed a workshop about rich mathematical resources; encouraging delegates to move away from catalogue maths materials. Jo and Jeanette provided a floor full of materials from the scrap store, builders yard and charity shops.
Anjali Lockett and Jane Redpath’s (SLE) love of children’s literature extended through the 45 minutes of the ‘Maths Through Books’ workshop. A wonderful sight of quality children’s literature met the delegates as they entered the workshop room.
The fourth workshop led by Hugo Turvey and Elizabeth Carruthers gave the participants a challenge to think about calculation through problem solving. The workshop highlighted the importance of abstraction for young children’s mathematics.
All delegates received a bag of maths resources organised by Emma Butcher.
The delegates went out with a smile, a question and a lovely packed lunch by Jo, our celebrated chef.
A big thanks to Emma Butcher (SLE), for organising the conference and keeping her wonderful passion going as usual.
Elizabeth Carruthers, Headteacher, Redcliffe Nursery School and Children’s Centre, Bristol, England. November, 2016