Saturday, 19 October 2013

An Amazing Mathematical Story!

I've done a lot of research and reading over the summer about maths as I wanted to find a definite way forwards for the girls to suit them and their strengths. Eve is dyscalculic and struggles with the rote learning and formulaic side of maths but excels at the visual-spatial side of things and Faith is a whizz at formulae and mental maths but isn't so confident applying it logically to solve problems.... I have been plucking up the courage to dive in with some problem solving and today just so happened to be the right time!
I was unpacking a package of maths cubes and the girls began playing.......Eve made a hexagon and Faith made a square and I asked them to predict how many pieces they would need to make a second layer around the first one.... Eve had used six and predicted twelve for the second round... a good guess and based on sensible reasoning! She in fact used 18, and then thought that the third round would use 24, it in fact used 30 pieces to Eve's surprise!

I introduced the idea of recording what she was investigating on paper and gave her a notebook that I'd got ready a few weeks ago for just this purpose!To my amazement, she began to write..... and wrote and wrote and wrote, not only did she write about it, she turned her information into a maths mystery story for someone else to work out! For a dyslexic and dyscalculic child to jump enthusiastically into the two things she struggles with most was just magical to watch!

Halfway through I stopped her and we chatted about the emerging pattern in her investigation, she needed a little prompting to see it as she got cross with me for asking her things that she didn't know.... this is her stock response to many new situations in maths, she panics, shuts down mentally and gets upset, refusing to allow herself to think, automatically assuming that she won't know the answer! With a little patience and coaxing she talked me through it, telling me that the gap between 6 and 18 was 'two sixes' and between 18 and 30 was also 'two sixes' and that she thought that the gap between the next two would also be 'two sixes and therefore the next layer would need 42 pieces to complete.

She had got a bit tangled up in the idea of it being linked to the six times table but it was useful to be able to link it to the number of sides that a hexagon has. Faith had found a pattern in her squares linked to the four times table and I helped them to see that there were four sides to the square and there was a link there also. I'm looking forwards to suggesting that the girls investigate a triangle in the same way, and seeing if they pick up that it has three sides and that there might be a pattern to look for linked to threes.......