The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Extending Mathematical Understanding (EMU) in the Middle Years

This year, Scotch Junior School have introduced EMU in the Middle Years. Mrs Terri Phillips and I are very fortunate to be participating in the first Western Australian Teacher Training Program.  Underpinning the Teacher Training Program is an accreditation process that ensures the teachers involved maintain ongoing learning and share their expertise with colleagues to improve the mathematic pedagogy throughout the school, and to ensure best practice is at the forefront of teaching and learning. The program is very much about working within a whole school approach. The EMU specialist teachers work side by side with teachers within the classroom as well as working with small groups.

Similar to the Early Years Program, the Middle Years Program is an intervention to accelerate learning and understanding of mathematical concepts. EMU is a research-based program developed by Dr Ann Gervasoni.

The primary focus of teaching and learning for the middle years is on place value and multiplicative thinking. We want the students to think holistically whereby they use logic and efficient strategies to solve mathematical problems rather than relying on algorithms and procedural equations. We aim to build confidence and encourage the boys to tackle hard thinking tasks together so they understand the importance and effectiveness of collaboration.

Each EMU lesson is comprised of 4 parts:-

  1. Reflection on previous learning and home learning activities, learning intention and success criteria for the lesson.
  2. Mental mathematics activities: Games to develop fluency of basic and derived facts.
  3. Hard Thinking Tasks: Tasks that present mathematical problems that occur in daily life.
  4. Reflection: Thinking about the learning that occurred in the lesson.

This week has marked the halfway mark of the EMU program (50 lessons). The boys are fully immersed in the program. The boys have a very positive attitude. They are developing confidence and they are becoming better mathematicians. The examples of the boys' reflections are a testament to their commitment and learning. 

Reflections about learning:

  • I solved the question by doing an easier way than algorithms.
  • I need to consider what numbers to use on my number line.
  • I am pleased because I learned about percentages today.
  • The hard thinking I did today was trying to work out how to halve money using decimal points.
  • Maths was fun today because I LOVE calculating big numbers.
  • I know my answers are correct because I check them lots of times. I check them carefully.
  • I discovered I used my eyes to scan the numbers.
  • I'm still a little unsure of products and factors.
  • I now know how to calculate large numbers easily.
  • I showed my workings when I switched around my array.
  • The advice I'd give someone is make sure you number bust!
  • I am pleased I learned more about number lines and percentages.

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Mrs Janet Lopez

Head of Academic Support