Ann Williams has taught Maths over a period of about 30 years. She has taught in 3 different countries – the UK, Australia and Samoa. She has taught in a variety of schools – all boys, all girls and mixed. She has taught in both private and State schools – all boarding, all day and both day and boarding schools. Whilst teaching, Ann held a number of Lead teacher positions, including Head of Maths, Faculty Head, Year Level Co-ordinator and Co-ordinator of Life Skills.
Since retiring, she has tutored a number of children, some of whom have dyscalculia, and has now completed a Masters in Education – her area of interest being dyscalculia. She also frequently leads information evenings and professional developments to further understanding of dyscalculia and low numeracy – including at Kids Like Us. Watch this space for news!
This blog is Ann’s outlet to talk about all things maths, dyslexia and ‘other stuff’, exploring new ideas and giving useful insights.
Latest blog – Zero: Much Ado About Nothing?
Zero represents nothing and as such is very important in our Hindu-Arabic base ten number system. Its job is as a placeholder in our base ten place value system. I think place value is the most important part of the primary Maths curriculum. But, many children find ‘place value’ to be a very sophisticated idea and difficult to understand, which has serious implications for their arithmetic calculations. This difficulty is because the idea of place value is abstract and young children learn in a concrete way. They often see numbers as meaningless abstract symbols, so need lots of work with concrete materials such as Cuisenaire rods and/or paddle-pop sticks, before they can connect with and find meaning in such abstract concepts as numbers. Common difficulties are, for example:
Many children write five cents as .5 and fifty cents as .05. They also have difficulty when using the subtraction algorithm to find:
These difficulties reflect the fact that arithmetic is not a natural development of the brain. Rather, it is a cognitively complicated process, which does not have a biological origin. It has to be carefully learnt by children and carefully taught by teachers.
To read the full article, click here.