No.4 November 2013 Our termly conference newsletter was originally inspired by the enthusiasm and questions generated after each annual conference. T

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No.4 November 2013

Our termly conference newsletter was originally inspired by the enthusiasm and questions generated after each annual conference. Through the newsletter we aim to keep this dialogue and contact going by:

Engaging with keynote speakers and workshop presenters
Follow up your questions
Reporting relevant research developments
Drawing your attention to resources & offering free downloads
Keeping you updated about our work, training and products

                                                  Alison Shorrock & Fil Came - Newsletter Editors


Teaching Mathematics Visually and Actively
By Tandi Clausen-May
With clear explanations and strong visual layout, this is an ideal resource for teachers, SENCOs and teaching assistants who want to motivate their learners with different and exciting ways of teaching and learning maths. Plus free CD of resources.
£25.00 + p&p

Click here to buy online

Daniel Ansari cropped

Keynote speaker Daniel Ansari responds to your questions
Question: Has all the research been done with Arabic numerals? Are there other symbolic systems where mapping symbol onto magnitude is achieved earlier and/or more easily? Read more…


Ingemar Karlsson - a note from Sweden
A former maths teacher and now a PhD student at Lund University in Sweden writes about his research for our newsletter Read more…


Research News: Infant’s Sense Of Numbers Predicts Math Skills
In Dustin Hoffman’s Academy Award winning performance in the movie Rain Man, the toothpick scene stands out as a defining moment in the movie Read more…


OECD international report
A major international comparison of adult literacy and numeracy skills was released earlier in October by the OECD. It shows England and Northern Ireland performing significantly below average Read more…

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Maths News Headlines
•   National STEM Centre
•   Maths Plus
•   Nantional Numeracy
•   DfE and use of calculators
Read more…


Free Downloads
In each issue we offer additional resources we feel may be of interest to you. These include:
•   Assessment resources from Daniel Ansari
•   Brian Butterworth's presentation to the 2013 BDA conference
•   Mike Askew's article about mathematical models
•   5th Dyscalculia conference presentations

Click here for more information


Events and Training
•  'The Elephant in the classroom' - don't miss your opportunity to hear Jo Boaler speak at next year's national conference
•  Advanced Diploma in Overcoming Barriers to learning in Mathematics

For up to date details on our upcoming events and training...
Click here


Feedback and Contributions
We would be delighted to receive your feedback about this newsletter and also any:

Recommendations for resources
Useful websites
Teaching tips
Suggestions for articles

Please use Fil's email to send in your feedback and ideas:

This year’s conference was very well received. Thank you to all of you who completed the survey.
Feedback from 2013 conference
"Very impressed - this was my first time attending. Very good central location and so close to underground station. The day was really enjoyable and the organisation was smooth and the staff where very helpful. Thank you!"

You can read the summary report by clicking here

mld label
Daniel Ansari cropped

Regarding Daniel’s research:
Question: Has all the research been done with Arabic numerals? Are there other symbolic systems where mapping symbol onto magnitude is achieved earlier and/or more easily?

Daniel Anari: Our research has focussed on Arabic numerals. Cross-linguistic research has been conducted. For example, Kevin Miller and colleagues compared counting development between children growing up in China and those growing up in the US. In English the count words in the teens are irregular. Specifically while we in English we say eleven but twenty-one, thirty-one etc, in Chinese the teens are regular and they say ten-one, ten-two. It turns out, as Miller and collaborators were able to show, that Chinese children learn the meaning of the count words in the teens faster than children who grow up in English speaking environments. Thus the transparency of our count list can have an effect on the development of numeracy skills. It turns out that the irregular linguistic structure of the teens makes it hard for children who grow up speaking English to learn the meaning of those numbers.

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Q. I would like to know more about the statistics being used by Daniel Ansari. What correlation coefficient is acceptable in order to make a statement that there is actually a correlation? Also regarding the sample: how are students/type of educational establishments selected and what is considered to be a minimum sample size for a study to be valid

DA. We use standard statistics for our correlations such as Pearson's correlations.We check for extreme outliers which may influence our correlations It is difficult to say what a reasonable correlation coefficient is. According to Cohen (1988) a coefficient that is larger than 0.5 is large, between 0.3-0.5 is moderate and below 0.3 is considered to be low. Our correlations between symbolic number processing and arithmetic are therefore in the range of effect sizes that would be considered 'moderate' according to Cohen's classification. The sample sizes have varied in our studies, but in most of our correlational studies we have tested more than 50 children. It is hard to say what a minimum sample size is. That depends on the method and scientific question. For correlational studies, larger samples are desirable to estimate the size of effects using a representative sample. In our latest study we tested around 1400 children from grades 1-6. It is critical to replicate correlations. Our research shows that the correlation between symbolic magnitude processing and arithmetic achievement replicates well. Thus this relationship seems to be quite reliable, which is critical. As I pointed out in my presentation, we do not mean to say that symbolic number processing explains all of the variance in young children's numerical and mathematical skills but that it seems to be one critical component of the pieces that children need to have in order to build solid foundations for higher-level competencies.

Q. I would like Dr Ansari to give us the 8 constructs that his research associates were working on so that we know which concepts are being studied by researchers at the moment. Also I would like to have the publication details of their research.

DA. This is thus far unpublished research. As soon as it is published I will be very happy to share it.

About identification:
Q. Please can you recommend some excellent diagnostic assessment tools for mathematics? We have WJ, Key Math and we will purchase Jane Emerson's book to look at children's math misconceptions. What else is out there?

DA. Currently there are no really 'excellent diagnostic tools' in my view. They are being developed. Among the published ones there are many that are useful and you list some of them. I am not sure whether it is available in the UK, but the Test of Early Math Achievement (TEMA) is good, but rather long (in terms of test administration) But I am not convinced that there is yet a measure that captures the latest research on the factors underlying Developmental Dyscalculia. Watch this space!

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About intervention:
Q. I would like to ask Dr Ansari what steps he would suggest schools take to support children identified as 'at risk' of dyscalculia

DA. Great question. I have to admit that I am not an expert on interventions or pedagogical support. However, it is clear from the research in my laboratory and that of others that children with Dyscalculia have a particular problem in understanding numerical symbols, such as number words and Arabic numerals. Therefore I would think that activities that scaffold their understanding of these symbolic representations of quantity and link them with non-symbolic representations (such as sets of objects) would be helpful. In general, I believe that integrating more talk about numbers and numerical relationships can be helpful (in formal and informal contexts). Beyond these cognitive factors, it is important to consider the emotional side of difficulties in learning about numbers. I would suggest that schools ensure that children who are exhibiting difficulties and may therefore be at risk find ways to build children's confidence about numbers and thereby avoid the potentially long-term, adverse effects of mathematics anxiety.

Q. If research is showing that infants have an innate ability to sense numerical properties, does this mean that we cannot do anything about it?

DA. This is an excellent question and a very important one. Just because infants can discriminate between numerical quantities this does not mean that Developmental Dyscalculia is an innate deficit of numerical quantity representations. Indeed, as I showed in my talk, our research and that of others seems to suggest that children with Developmental Dyscalculia have greater problems in dealing with man-made, culture representations of numbers such as Arabic numerals than they have with non-symbolic representations (e.g discriminating which of dot arrays is numerically larger). Therefore, it seems that it is in the connection between the innate and the cultural system of numerical quantity representations that a deficit arises. I therefore am quite confident that Dyscalculia can be remediated through finding more effective ways of helping children make this connection, thereby building a scaffold for the learning of more complex numerical and mathematical operations.

And similarly:
Q. What would Daniel Ansari say the fine line between dyscalculia and general maths learning difficulties is? If research is showing that children with dyscalculia have a biological deficiency, will they ever be able to do the same maths as their peers?

DA. It is important to recognize that a biological predisposition to developing a specific learning disorder does not mean that this disorder immutable. Take the example of Developmental Dyslexia. There is clear evidence that the brains of children with Developmental Dyslexia function differently and genetic studies suggest that it is heritable. Yet there has been much success in remediating Dyslexia and helping children who are affected by this specific learning disorder develop strategies to aid their ability to read. This example shows that a biological predisposition does not mean that there is nothing one can do about a specific learning disorder. One of the major advances in neuro-science has been the discovery of brain plasticity, which is the ability of the brain to change in response to experience. Research in Developmental Dyslexia has shown that structured intervention programs lead to brain plasticity. In other words, children with Developmental Dyslexia can reorganize their brains to improve their reading difficulties. This does not necessarily mean that these children will go onto become completely fluent readers but it may allow them to function normally and succeed at tasks in their lives that require reading abilities. There is nothing to suggest that this should be different in children with Developmental Dyscalculia. While biology places constraints on what we can and cannot learn, it is through the complex interaction of biology and the environment that our eventual strengths and weaknesses emerge over developmental time.

Q. From the research, how do I go about supporting symbolic number understanding? I realise language and exposure is a key issue but more concrete interventions would be helpful.

DA. Again, I am a researchers and therefore unfortunately not an expert on intervention. What I would suggest however, are activities that help children see the links between sets of objects and number symbols (words and Arabic numerals). Furthermore, there is research by Robert Siegler from Carnegie Mellon University showing that playing with number lines and linear arrangements of numbers in board games can enhance children's understanding of number symbols.
Daniels website:

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I have been a math teacher in my career and now I am a graduate student in educational sciences with specialization in mathematics education. I visited in June this year the conference Dyscalculia and Maths Learning Difficulties. The lectures were very inspiring and gave much knowledge that I can use in my dissertation.

Below is a brief description of my project which is called Students with low achievement in math - Causes and Remedies:

The problems to find a suitable explanation of the concept of dyscalculia have relevance to how we can give appropriate help to the pupils with special educational needs in mathematics.
Medicine, (mostly neurology), neuropsychology and remedial pedagogy are some of the areas which have contributed to illustrate this concept.
In the first part of my research project I aim to give a theoretical background to the concept dyscalculia and focus in what way this concept and various cognitive difficulties are scientifically established in the international research literature.

The second part will consist of a quantitative investigation containing facts about how many pupils who don’t pass the examination in mathematics in year 6, 7, 8 and 9. In one municipality I will also get a picture of how many pupils who do not pass the examination in the other subjects at school.

A third study will include interviews with the teachers of mathematics who have taught the pupils who did not pass the examination in year 6, 7 and 8. Furthermore I want to investigate the reasons why the pupils did not get the mark and the factors which caused their difficulties. This study will also consist of interviews with some of the pupils who have special educational needs in mathematics. In these interviews the focus will be on the procedures which have caused the difficulties in this subject.

The results of the study aim at a discussion not only about the specific reasons behind the pupils’ special educational needs of education but also about what appropriate measures can be taken in order to give these pupils maximum support in their mathematical studies. In the future it is very important that research within educational science can play a more outstanding part in the discussion about the origin of the difficulties and how school can help pupils with special educational needs in mathematics.

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In Dustin Hoffman’s Academy Award winning performance in the movie Rain Man, the toothpick scene stands out as a defining moment in the movie. In it, a box of toothpicks is dropped on the floor and his character immediately recognizes that there are 246 toothpicks on the ground. That ability, while extremely exaggerated in this example, is apparently innate in infants in a more basic form and is the subject of study at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences in Durham, North Carolina.

According to the research team, whose findings were published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the ability of infants to differentiate between large and small groups of items is likely a predictor of their skill in maths as they age.

To read the complete news item Click here

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A major international comparison of adult literacy and numeracy skills was released earlier in October by the OECD. It shows England and Northern Ireland performing significantly below average in numeracy. There are particular issues among the 16-24 age group where the UK came 21st out of 24 industrialised countries. For most industrialised countries the younger population are much better at such tests than the older generations. However, older adults in England performed better than our young adults and ranked 16th.

The Survey of Adult Skills was carried out as part of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). OECD says the survey measures the key cognitive and workplace skills needed for individuals to participate in society and for economies to prosper.

166,000 adults were assessed in reading, numeracy and problem-solving abilities. The survey was the first of its kind to measure people's actual skills and how they are used at work, instead of estimating them based on their educational backgrounds. The survey showed that almost one in four adults in England and Northern Ireland scored at the very lowest level, compared with the OECD average of fewer than one in five.

The PIAAC results follow the government’s 2011 Skills for Life survey which showed that virtually half the working age population in England have numeracy skills roughly equivalent to those expected of children at primary school.
To download the complete report Click here

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Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM)

National STEM Centre Website – Free resources
The ATM has provided the following resources and articles from their Journal "Mathematics Teaching", which have been divided into 3 sections:
• Resources for the Primary Mathematics Classroom,
• Resources for the Secondary Mathematics Classroom
• Articles from the ATM Journal
The Association of Teachers of Mathematics believes in providing teachers with the resources to help them develop their mathematics teaching in creative and broad-thinking ways. The ultimate aim being to develop a creative and thinking approach in mathematics learners.

Click here to download
Click here to visit the ATM site

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Maths Plus

“Plus is an internet magazine which aims to introduce readers to the beauty and the practical applications of mathematics. A lot of people don't have a very clear idea what "real" maths consists of, and often they don't realise how many things they take for granted only work because of a generous helping of it. Apparently, some people even have the idea that it's boring! Weird. Anyway, we hope that even if you're such a person now, you won't be after looking through one or two issues of Plus, and that you'll come back and read future issues as they come out.

Plus provides articles and podcasts on any aspect of mathematics, covering topics as diverse as art, medicine, cosmology and sport, a news section, showing how recent news stories were often based on some underlying piece of maths that never made it to the newspapers, reviews of popular maths books, and puzzles for you to sharpen your wits. We have a regular interview with someone in a maths-related career, showing the wide range of uses maths gets put to in the real world. And all past content remains available online, which besides making for good browsing is, we hope, a useful resource for maths school students and teachers.”
Click here to visit +Plus

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Essentials of Numeracy For All and

The Mathematical Journey

The National Numeracy website has a very interesting and useful model and interactive tool that aims to provide:
• An overall picture of the numeracy landscape and attempt to summarise all the key skills, processes, concepts and attitudes that define ‘being numerate’.
• The pedagogical basis for the assessment and learning in the National Numeracy Challenge.
• A model that can be used to ensure that learners gain an all-round appreciation of maths.

A number of schools are using the model to aid their planning on numeracy across the curriculum – visit Mr Collins Mathematics Blog to see how and more!

Click here to use the interactive numeracy model

Click here to visit the National Numeracy website


DfE underlines that calculators will not be allowed in KS2 tests next year

Next summer’s National Curriculum end of Key Stage 2 maths test papers for all pupils in their final year at primary school (Year 6) have been re-named, to underline the fact that calculators will not be allowed at all. Until now, pupils have been allowed to use calculators in one out of the three maths papers, a paper always called Paper B. The non-calculator paper has always been Paper A.
To avoid any confusion, The Department for Education’s Standards and Testing Agency has decided to change the system of naming papers, moving from letters to numbers. So from next May (2014) onwards, the three papers will be renamed as follows:
• Paper 1 (without a calculator)
• Paper 2 (without a calculator)
• Mental Calculation Test
Higher attaining pupils, as before, will have the additional opportunity to take a more demanding (Level 6) test next summer, consisting of two papers, one of which will still permit the use of calculators.

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In each issue we offer additional resources we feel may be of interest to you. Please click on the link at the end of the list to download the resources:

• 5th Dyscalculia and MLD Conference Report 2013
• Ansari Assessment Resources
• Butterworth BDA 2013 Arithmatic and the dyslexic student Handout
• Drews 2007 Do resources matter in primary maths teaching & learning
• EYFS Development-Matters
• Fazio Siegler 2011 Teaching Fractions
• Haylock Thangata 2007 - Pupil's errors in Maths
• Institute of Education Sciences What works fractions Practice Guide
• Mike Askew 2013 Models in Mind
• National Numeracy Essentials of Numeracy
• National Numeracy Essentials of Numeracy
• Starr 2013 Number sense in infancy predicts mathematical abilities in childhood

Dyscalculia Newsletter Resources page

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6th National Dyscalculia & MLD Conference 2014

26th June 2014
This not to be missed conference, now in its 6th year, brings together the worlds of research, maths teaching and SEN expertise and features:

• 3 international and nationally renowned keynote speakers
• 3 breakout sessions
• 11 workshop topics
• Exhibition

The National Conference will provide you with cutting edge research and opportunities to engage with leading practitioners from primary and secondary schools, FE and HE institutions.

Target Audience: For all teachers of numeracy and maths, SENCos and Learning Support teachers, LA inclusion and numeracy support teams and Educational Psychologists.

Full Fee: £290 + VAT

Special Offers available
Early Bird Discount: £260 + VAT - Per Delegate (Booking before 20th December)

Group Discounts available (3 or more) are also available. Please contact the office on: 01672 512914

Fees include pre- and post- conference resources, conference booklet, refreshments and lunch.

Full details and online booking: Click here


Advanced Diploma in Overcoming Barriers to Learning in Mathematics

Module 1: Overcoming Barriers to Learning Mathematics
Trouble with Maths? There are many factors to consider when a pupil or student is not succeeding in learning mathematics, e.g. a weak memory, poor organisation, a mismatch between teaching and learning styles or a curriculum that leaves the pupil behind! Based on the latest research, the course aims to provide you with the practical knowledge, confidence and skills to reach and teach those learners causing concern.
This is a new and improved programme that will be taught by a handpicked team of presenters drawn from Numicon and Babcock LDP. The presenters, who regularly teach and/or train teachers and learning assistants, will collectively bring a range of experience and knowledge that will cover early years, primary and secondary education.

Comments from previous participants:
“ Fil, as always was inspiring and such a fount of knowledge with a brilliant ability to bring the contents of another's session into an informed and succinct conclusion. What an inspiration!”
“ This has been such a useful course. I have learnt so much from each session, and have come away with tools to better understand the needs of my students.”
“ Alison was just outstanding – from my point of view it was worth every penny just to hear her. She was clear, concise, everything I could wish for in a speaker.”
“ I found each session useful and overall the course was a very good balance between theory and practice.”

white IoE Partnership-logo

Dates: Days 1 & 2 – 17/18 October 2013 and Days 3 & 4 – 5/6 March 2014
Venue: Uplands, High Wycombe
Full details and online booking at: Overcoming Barriers to Learning in Mathematics Course

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Teaching Mathematics Visually and Actively
By Tandi Clausen-May

Plus free CD of resources.
£25.00 + p&p

This practical book provides teachers in primary and secondary schools with advice and resources to develop a visual and active approach to teaching mathematics.

This exciting new edition comes with a helpful CD, offering resources and practical activities that make it easy for readers to try out the ideas in the book for themselves.

"This book offers creative and visual resources to support the teaching of mathematics in the classroom. Covers key concepts in mathematical coverage. A stimulating read for both students and experienced teachers alike."
Mr Manish Kothari
Department of Education, St Mary's University College

"Great book with innovative and creative ideas for teachers/trainee teachers to explore and engage with."
Dr Judy Sayers
School of Education, Northampton University

Click here to buy online


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The opinions expressed are those of the authors and are not held by Learning Works® unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute legal or other forms of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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