Teacher-made Teaching Aids
Mathematics is seen as an abstract subject by some people. Certain mediums, such as mathematics teaching aids, are needed in mathematics education to bridge mathematics concepts that are abstract to students, in order to be more easily understood. Therefore, teaching aids are an important tool for mathematics education.
Teaching aids can be developed in various forms and media and can be used to:
1. make concepts more easily understood;
2. strengthen acquired concepts; and
3. motivate students;
Teachers should be able to create teaching aids, especially from simple materials. SEAQiM over the past 5 years was been working with educators to develop their capacity in designing, creating and implementing teaching aids for their specific learning contexts. This experience has made the Centre an expert on the current issues and psychology of teaching aids and the design of learning models incorporating teaching aids to support student activities.
Joyful Mathematics Learning
Students tend to be unmotivated and scared of mathematics. To overcome this problem Joyful Mathematics Learning is needed. Mathematics teachers are expected to develop ideas to motivate students by using interesting joyful activities, such as discovering, exploring, constructing, designing, setting strategy, and solving problems wrapped in mathematics games, puzzles, and hands on activities. Joyful student-centred learning experiences can improve student’s motivation, interest, creativity, initiative, inspiration, independence, and spirit of learning.
With this in mind, SEAQiM has developed an array of strategies based on joyful learning to encourage and enable teachers to develop creative ideas that can motivate students to learn mathematics. In maintaining the most up-to-date knowledge on joyful learning, the Centre regularly collaborates with experts in the field.
A single class is likely to contain students with different characteristics, such as levels of understanding, readiness, learning styles, and interest. Teachers are expected to be able to accommodate these different characteristics to minimize the gap of knowledge between students in each class. Differentiated Instruction is an approach based on the premise that instructional approaches should vary and be adapted to individual and diverse students in classrooms. Many classes consisting of students with diverse learning characteristics require a teacher capable of designing teaching strategies that accommodates all these characteristics. A teacher who is capable of designing teaching strategies that accommodate all learning styles and abilities will not only improve students’ mathematical thinking and reasoning skills, but will also nurture a positive attitude toward mathematics.
SEAQiM’s work on differentiated instruction stresses that instructional approaches should vary and be adapted to take into account the diverse individual needs and learning abilities of every student in the classroom. The Centre does this by helping mathematics educators to improve their ability in designing mathematics teaching and learning materials that are suited to individual student needs. SEAQiM brings both theoretical and practical strategies together to offer teachers and other educational personnel the tools they need to better serve their students.
IT-based Mathematics Learning Media
Information and Communications Technology has become an integral and accepted part of everyday life for many people. With the world moving rapidly into digital media and information, the role of ICT in education is becoming more and more important and this importance will continue to grow and develop in the 21st century. It is expected that ICT in education has the capacity to increase the quality of people’s life by enhancing teaching and learning activities.
The ability of IT applications to display texts, pictures, sounds, graphics, animations, and videos will allow teachers to create interactive and joyful learning materials for students. Learning may also be adapted to suit each students’ speed of understanding, and learning can take place anytime and anywhere. .
Given that multimedia applications give positive effects toward education, SEAQiM has worked extensively to develop strategies to utilise IT-based mathematics learning media. This knowledge includes how to use various IT-based teaching materials for mathematics, using hand-held devices applications for mathematics teaching and enhancing the competence of educators in selecting, using and creating IT based mathematics teaching and learning materials.
Lesson Study in Mathematics Education
Lesson Study originated in Japan in the last quarter of 19th century and is now a world-wide known approach for teacher-led action research in the classroom. It is also used for curriculum development and implementation, developing innovative teaching approaches, as well as facilitating teachers’ professional development. It is an effective model for teachers to actively join in with activities which improve their teaching.
The Lesson Study activity incorporates three steps. The first step begins with developing a lesson plan in which a group of teachers pose, analyse, and solve problems from student’s perspectives. In the second step, a model teacher implements the lesson while other teachers observe the lesson. The third step is reflection of the lesson. Japanese teachers’ experiences show that they can improve the quality of mathematics teaching and learning by implementing lesson study. These three steps are usually termed as Plan-Do-See.
SEAQiM works with educators to apply the Lesson Study process in schools, by guiding them through the plan-do-see steps.
Plan: Participants and facilitators work collaboratively to develop the lesson plan;
Do: A model teacher implements the lesson plan in a real classroom while others (teachers, the headmaster, and facilitators) observe the lesson; and
See: The teacher and observers conduct a lesson evaluation and reflection.
Lesson Study is beneficial for mathematics teachers as it encourages mathematics teachers to be more professional and innovative and to become learning researchers. With the knowledge and experience SEAQiM has in Lesson Study, the Centre is able to provide teachers the opportunity to understand the Lesson Study process in mathematics education and a chance to implement and participate in guided lesson study activities.
Clinical supervision is one of the approaches used to improve the quality of mathematics teaching and learning. It is designed to engage supervisors and teachers in a supportive and interactive role through instructional feedback, diagnosis, and problem solving. It is also designed to assist teachers in developing strategies to promote learning, motivate students, and improve classroom management.
There are three main purposes of clinical supervision, namely (1) developing professionalism, (2) monitoring teaching quality, and (3) developing motivation. To be successful in clinical supervision, the relations between teacher and supervisor should be equal, collegial, and collaborative. The clinical supervision process starts with the identification of problems which are faced daily in the classroom. The problems are analysed to obtain a solution based on mutual commitment and understanding between supervisor and teacher.
Accordingly, the clinical supervision approach in mathematics education requires supervisors’ competence on mathematics topics, methods in teaching the topics, instruments of supervision and observation, supervision practice as well as ability in developing good collaboration with teachers. SEAMEO QITEP in Mathematics has developed a course to provide participants with the opportunity to observe and supervise mathematics teaching and learning process using observation instruments developed during the course. In addition, the Centre also may also provide other Clinical Supervision based services such as consultancies, supervisor audit and review, coaching, and instrument development.
Realistic Mathematics Education (RME)
A curriculum based on Realistic Mathematics Education (RME) uses real context as both a route into mathematics and also as a means of developing students’ understanding. Through this approach, students are led to reinvent the mathematics for themselves and gradually, over time, to use increasingly sophisticated methods.
RME encourages students to understand a context which is used not only to illustrate the applicability and relevance of mathematics in real world situations, but also as a source for the learning of mathematics itself. Students should be able to engage the context in a way which make sense to them. However the way a student in America or England relates a mathematical concept to their everyday life may be very different to how a student in Indonesia does.
In response to this, SEAQiM designed a RME inspired programme, the Southeast Asia Realistic Mathematics Education (SEA-RME) which was developed based on the regional culture, nature, and characteristics of the Southeast Asia nation and society. This expertise allows SEAQiM to collaborate with educators to provide the opportunity to design teaching models, create lesson plans and even to experience mathematics teaching based upon Southeast Asia RME.