Math Sense

WHAT IS MATH SENSE?

The term ‘Math Sense’ is adopted from game sense (see Den Duyn, 1997), used in the coaching of sports, particularly football. It refers to the ability to develop and apply situated knowledge in context rather than the ability of performing technical skills in isolation. In the coaching of football, game sense is a student-centred inquiry-based approach that contextualizes all learning within game specific situations. Underpinned by social constructivist learning theory, game sense offers a pedagogy that provides inclusive, enjoyable and effective experiences of learning to play (Light, 2004).

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The ‘Math Sense’ philosophy focuses on the learner. More specifically, it is oriented towards what the student knows and how she or he can contribute towards learning while engaging with the classroom community in solving tasks. As in the game sense approach, units of study begin with games, problems or tasks. As with problem-based learning, students are first exposed to problem situations that involve them in thinking about and using mathematics. So, students directly engage with the mathematical content specific to the situation. One might argue here that a number of the lesson tasks and situations proposed require that students have prior knowledge of the mathematical concepts. The curriculum assumes it is not necessarily so. In fact, students will be presented with problems, tasks and situations that they would not essentially know how to solve. This ultimately gives a sense that students need to generate some kind of knowledge related to their engagement in solving these kinds of problems. In doing so, students are expected to grasp technical skills implicitly within the context of solving the problem.

Just like the game sense approach to coaching, technical skills are integrated and develop as a consequence of solving problems. It is important here to mention that if teachers find that some students lack skills that they need to know, then they would need to adapt, adjust and plan lessons that teach students to practice on those skills. It is likewise important to keep in mind that the conceptual framework upon which this curriculum is envisaged is not to teach technical skills in isolation but to teach those same skills within the context of solving non-routine problems.

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WHY MATH SENSE?

IMS reflects much of what is needed in today’s world deep and lasting understanding by making sense of mathematics. Undeniably, globalisation and modernisation are posing new and demanding challenges to individuals and societies alike. Learning and education, hence, come into play as ‘changes in society and the economy affect the function of education’ (OECD, 2011, p. 107). Technological progress has shifted the demand for people capable of doing routine work to a demand for people capable of doing knowledge-based work – with a focus on the individual’s creativity and critical thinking skills so important to knowledge-based economies. In the face of such a reality, we should be working towards the development of learners who can manage such global effects. This implies more emphasis on learning underpinned by constructivism – focused on preparing young people who can create, innovate, collaborate, be critical, explore, communicate and make thoughtful decisions.

The idea of the approach presented is aimed to address students’ concerns with learning mathematics. ‘Math Sense’ enhances the experience of students as it encourages active problem solving. Within this constructive pedagogy, problems are presented and situated in context relevant and meaningful to the students. If used effectively, the proposed tasks have the potential to develop techniques, methods and strategies, as well as stimulate higher-order cognitive thinking skills and mathematical reasoning.

UNDERSTANDING MATH SENSE

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MATHEMATICAL TASKS

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STUDENTS’ ROLE

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ACHIEVABLE MATHEMATICAL CHALLENGES*
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*See Willis, J. (2012)

Learning to Love Math: Teaching strategies that change student attitudes and get results. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

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VIEW OF THE CURRICULUM

Slide09THE TEACHER’S ROLE

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WHY DO MATH SENSE…

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References:

Den Duyn, N. (1997). Coaching Children: Game Sense-It’s Time to Play! Sports Coach, 19, 9-11.

Light, R. (2004). Coaches’ Experiences of Games Sense: Opportunities and challenges. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 9(2), 115-131.

OECD (2011). Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education: Lessons from PISA to the United States, OECD Publishing.


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