Why was Izak9 originally designed?
Well, for 3 reasons really:
- To allow children in upper primary and early secondary schools to re-engage with learning through play
- To create a genuine shared learning experience that would cater for a combination of all preferred learning styles
- To positively impact on pupil transition between Primary and Secondary phases
We are discovering more and more every day the extent to which Izak9 is working with the above groups of children. What we are also discovering however, is that younger children and early years’ teachers are also being attracted to what Izak9 has to offer.
In Ireland there are many hundreds of small rural schools that may have only one, two or three classrooms. This means that children of different ages are taught together. Teachers need resources that offer opportunities for differentiation and peer mentoring. In the video clip below from County Clare, we can see all the pupils of Clohanes NS rebuilding Izak9 together, after a morning of maths held outside, on a summer’s day.
We have come across many instances in schools where pupils in upper primary will want to share their experiences of Izak9 with younger children in the school. Please visit our blog on Mercy Primary School for examples.
We often see evidence of Izak9 being used for free roaming play by young children. This video from Christ the King PS, Omagh shows children exploring Izak9. The fact that there are so many combinations of number, colour and shape means that children have so much scope to experience discovery and wonderment.
Small children use Izak9 to explore patterns in colour, number and shape. This five year old stopped with us on Grafton Street, Dublin during Mathsweek Ireland. She identified the digits one to nine and started to build them in order. It is interesting to see how she chooses a 3 by 3 arrangement and how she is able to place the ‘8’ before she finds the ‘7’.
Pupils use Izak9 to build number pyramids (misnomer I know). These can be created at a variety of levels, starting with children working from the bottom up, with 3 numbers on the bottom row. They can then move on to finishing partially completed structures, or they can attempt more difficult tasks whereby they may be given a number to place at the apex and have to complete the rest of the structure beneath. An example is shown below.
The Eliminator task opens doors for children to create and pose questions at all levels, making it an ideal task for younger children. Eliminator is a physically active task and allows children to be stimulated by the multifarious nature of the cubes’ properties. Young children and indeed early years’ teachers, tend to be less formulaic in their approach to question design and are prepared to take more risks in this area. Often, during whole school staff training sessions, the greatest variety in the writing of eliminator questions will come from early years’ teachers. Many examples of Eliminator questions can be found in the user area.
Language development and foreign language
The feedback we receive most often from teachers’ and principals’ first experiences of seeing Izak9 in action with pupils, is that level of ‘maths language’ and ‘maths talk’ in the classroom is unprecedented. This will be talked about in a separate article. What we also come across increasingly more often in schools, is teachers using Izak9 to support the teaching and learning of a foreign language. Children and teachers create games of their own to make cross curricular links between language and mathematics. This short clip shows a visiting Erasmus Programme Teacher playing a game in French. There is so much scope here, as Izak9 presents so many opportunities by way of the cubes being so versatile for so many physical maths games.
This article showcases only a fraction of the additional ways in which schools use Izak9 with younger children. One thing is for sure, the aims of the maths curriculum can be met, irrespective of whether the content be at early years, upper primary or secondary school, in Ireland, North or South, elsewhere in the UK or abroad.
If you have any examples of Izak9’s use that have been designed by your own teachers and pupils, we would be delighted to share them. Please contact us anytime on firstname.lastname@example.org.