What is Shared Education?
Shared Education refers to ‘the organisation and delivery of education so that it delivers educational benefits to learners, promotes the efficient and effective use of resources, and promotes equality of opportunity, good relations, equality of identity, respect for diversity and community cohesion.’
Claddagh Glen Shared Education Partnership
The Claddagh Glen Shared Education Partnership is made up of four primary schools in County Fermanagh: Florencecourt PS; St. Mary’s PS, Killesher; St. Mary’s PS, Mullymesker; St. Naile’s PS, Kinawley.
The schools have chosen to use Izak9 as a mechanism to support their Shared Education programme. Their hope is that the effective use of this resource will enhance and fulfil their Shared Education criteria as well as providing an innovative way to offer progression in the subject area of mathematics and numeracy.
Firstly, the teachers from all 4 participating schools completed a joint introductory Izak9 training session in Enniskillen. Following this, six Izak9 sessions were planned for the spring and summer terms. Fifteen pupils from each of the four schools come together in a central venue to focus on improving their learning in mathematics and numeracy. Working together in small groups the children will solve a diverse range of Izak9 tasks. This shared learning environment will provide the ideal forum for collaborative work including opportunities for self-expression, discussion and debate.
Izak9 supports a range of learning styles i.e. visual, kinaesthetic and auditory, thus allowing each child to contribute in his/her own way to solving the problems posed by their online facilitators, Abacus and Helix.
In these photographs, which were taken during the first session, the children can already be seen working together happily in groups.
Not only does this forum support the aims and objectives of the Shared Education programme and help facilitate progression in the subject area of mathematics and numeracy as laid out in the Inspection Framework, it also gives unprecedented opportunities to develop key skills – flexible thinking, problem solving, reasoning, fluency and resilience. Also, as can be seen below, young children are able to present their mental maths strategies and problem solving techniques to others.
During our second session, one of the tasks the children were asked to work together on, focused on the wall of Prime Numbers. The question posed was ‘How many ways can you find of making 25, using three numbers from your wall and the number operations plus, minus, divide or multiply?
The children collaborate on the task, finding many different ways and then presenting these to the other groups.
As well as working on mathematical tasks, children also develop team building skills and learn to appreciate how important effective group work can be. In the task below, children have to collectively memorise a wall of numbers, having only been able to view an image of these numbers for 3 seconds. The groups are only given one minute to build their wall from memory!
We also had some additional participants this week – some year 12 pupils from St. Aidan’s High School, Derrylin arrived to work with the younger children. This also marries well with the aspirations of the EANI’s Transition Project. This school now wants to send pupils every week for the duration of the project.
At the end of each session, the pupils are tasked with rebuilding Izak9 back into its original form. Each child has a different idea on how to go about this task, so there is obviously going to be a lot of discussion and debate within the group, as is evident from this piece of video. Only time will tell the extent to which they will improve at this task over the course of the 6 sessions!
As the schools had only recently acquired the Izak9 cubes for the purposes of delivering a Shared Education project through mathematics, the partnership’s four participating teachers wanted to see the Izak9 task facilitation modelled, before they tried doing it for themselves. Now, during the third session, these teachers took on the facilitation role and were absolutely magnificent.
In the video below, the children were asked to explain their plan for rebuilding a wall of cubes, having been shown an image of the wall for 3 seconds only. You can see not only the efficiency of the strategy they created, but also how well they have gelled as a group to implement it.
After only 2 previous sessions, pupils are already very confident in using the Izak9 cubes and are comfortably able to handle the stretch afforded them by their teachers. For example, using the wall of prime numbers below for a second time, following on from the second session, teachers tasked the children to make 50 using 3 numbers and any combinations of the 4 operations, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Here are some examples of the many solutions presented by each group.
( 3 X 11) + 17 (23 X 3) – 19 (3 + 7) X 5 (3 X 19) – 7
In addition to the solutions they provided, children also made significant observations, like:
We tried making 25 with two numbers so that we could multiply that by 2, but it we couldn’t make 25 because all the numbers apart from 2 are odd, so you can’t get an odd number by adding any two of them together.
We tried multiplying some of the numbers by 5, then subtracting a number to try and get 50. This doesn’t work because there is only one multiple of 5 on this wall of numbers.
If we had more cubes, the next prime number would be 29, I could do 3 times 7 plus 29 to make 50.
The combination of solutions, explanations and observations from this task alone, showcases how children can fully explore the aims of the curriculum. The children find being able to share and present their findings highly empowering and it is magnificent to see their confidence grow. This is exactly what we need if we want to prepare pupils for the transition from primary to secondary phases.
Week four will be facilitated by the teachers themselves, without us taking part. We will be back with updates on this and future plans for this partnership’s further development of this programme, which will extend into next year.