Very simply, my approach to creative maths planning is:
• have very clear learning objectives and expected outcomes
• teach your maths focus around a theme or context
• integrate problem solving and reasoning
• use data handling and statistics in every unit
• use small steps of progression to 'fine-tune' the planning
Clear learning objectives and specific expected outcomes are built into this planning package. They are presented in a clear and easy to use format within both the medium-term plans and the unit plans to help teachers plan with confidence.
The medium-term plans provide full coverage and continuity for each year from Reception to Year 6, with a spiral curriculum that provides regular revisiting of maths areas. There are direct links to the National Curriculum.
Clear objectives are essential, but an important element to this planning approach is having a context or theme to ‘hang the maths on’.
The unit plans guide you through selecting your theme and gathering creative problem-solving and investigative ideas linked to the context. A two-week unit gives time for the maths focus to be covered in depth. Teaching can go beyond the unit focus and include calculation, shape, measures, money or whatever makes the maths coherent and purposeful. You can also then use the theme to bring in other areas of maths you know your class need reinforcement in.
It is a flexible approach, not every lesson needs to be contextual. Some will involve teaching a technique or practising a skill - but if the theme is picked up and used at times through the unit it gives the maths some purpose.
Integrating problem solving and reasoning into every unit of work through the structure of the unit plans is at the heart of this planning package. The problem-solving and reasoning objectives are not taught as an additional unit of work, but as an overall approach to your teaching and the children's learning within every unit. This provides opportunities for children to explore and investigate practical mathematics, and they will have the chance to develop their problem-solving and communication skills as well as their mathematical reasoning.
A problem or open question is a good way to add purpose to a maths lesson, so these are often great starting points. Gathering ideas for rich activities and ‘mind-mapping’ thoughts when planning also gives the unit a good chance of being creative and purposeful. This stage of planning benefits from teachers working together and collaborating, sharing the workload and providing a greater bank of resources for each individual teacher to use when planning their own lesson plans.
The handling data and statistics objectives are also not taught as an additional unit of work, but put into each unit for a similar reason to the problem solving and reasoning objectives. Each unit should include opportunities for children to read, interpret and use tables, charts, lists and graphs. Plan activities and prepare charts and graphs linked to the theme that allow children to use data in different formats. This in itself will help to make the maths rich, creative and purposeful.
Small steps of progression for each maths area are essential to this approach of teaching primary mathematics. They show the development of each of maths strand and can be referred to when planning each unit, 'fine-tuning' the planned focus for the groups in a class. Each unit plan has the appropriate small steps of progression for that year, but the full progression charts help with those children working below or beyond their age. The charts help to improve deep subject knowledge and assist teachers to differentiate effectively – identifying gaps and where to take each child next.