Teaching mathematics
Teaching mathematics

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Introduction and guidance

This free course is designed for non-specialist mathematics teachers of 8 to 14-year olds, teaching assistants and parents and draws on the established provision of mathematics education at the Open University. Course content introduces the underpinning pedagogical theory for the learning of mathematics topics including pre-requisite understanding, how learners access the important concepts, common misconceptions, and small steps that challenge learners. It includes learning activities which can be undertaken in the classroom and links to existing free resource banks. You will read about learning, try some mathematics and consider effective approaches to facilitate mathematics learning.

In a 24-hour course it is not possible to cover all of the middle school curriculum, nor is it possible to provide a full account of mathematics pedagogy. However, the aim for the course is to provide some ideas for effective approaches to teaching mathematics and a brief account of current philosophy behind the teaching of mathematics. This includes teaching for learners’ understanding, which underpins the idea of Mastery being promoted in many schools.

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • develop understanding of mathematical content in the middle school years, ages 8 to 14 years
  • begin to understand how learners learn mathematics
  • identify effective strategies and approaches for teaching mathematical topics
  • become more confident in the mathematics classroom.

Moving around the course

Working through the individual sections of this course you will meet points where you will be asked to do some mathematics. In this case you will see the word ‘Activity’. When you have completed the maths, there will usually be a solution given. Click on the button labelled ‘Reveal answers’ to check your working.

Sometimes the Activity will prompt you to think over what you have read, or you will be asked to reflect on your understanding of the learning and teaching of mathematics. After this there will usually be some further suggestions or context. Click on the button labelled ‘Reveal discussion’ to access these suggestions or context.

In the ‘Summary’ at the end of each week, you will find a link to the next week. If at any time you want to return to the start of the course, click on ‘Full course description’. From here you can navigate to any part of the course.

It’s also good practice, if you access a link from within a course page (including links to the quizzes), to open it in a new window or tab. That way you can easily return to where you’ve come from without having to use the back button on your browser.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.

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