On Friday 8 March 2019, Dr. Natthapoj Vincent Trakulphadetkrai (Lecturer in Primary Mathematics Education) was invited to meet with representatives of Ireland’s National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) in Dublin including Dr. Jacqueline Fallon (Director of Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA) and other NCCA representatives in charge of developing Ireland’s new primary mathematics curriculum to be rolled out in 2022.
Dr. Fallon has recently read a research article co-authored by Dr. Trakulphadetkrai reporting key perceived barriers to and enablers for the integration of story picture books in mathematics teaching as reported by Irish primary teachers. Since then, Dr. Fallon and NCCA are interested to learn more about the approach, particularly its adoption across the primary curriculum and not just at the pre-school level.
Dr. Trakulphadekrai said “What I hope, of course, is for there to be explicit recommendations in Ireland’s new primary mathematics curriculum for teachers (particularly of older primary school children) to consider using story picture books to enrich their mathematics teaching. This would clearly signal to Irish primary teachers that the use of such resource is not something that only pre-school teachers use, but that it is something that primary teachers could use and benefit from as well.
Special thanks go to Dr. Lorraine Harbison (Associate Professor in Mathematics Education at Dublin City University and a co-author of the research paper) for organising and hosting this meeting.
Upon Dr. Harbison’s earlier invitation, Dr. Trakulphadekrai also ran his popular Maths Through Stories training workshop for around 70 primary teacher trainees from both Dublin City University (Dublin, Republic of Ireland) and Ulster University (Coleraine, Northern Ireland, UK) later that afternoon. The workshop was also attended by the NCCA representatives.
The workshop was very successful and well received. Jacinta Regan (Education Officer, NCCA), for example, commented that:
“Maths Through Stories is a fantastic and practical workshop that enables practitioners to think about how Mathematics can be taught in an integrated and enjoyable way through the use of picture books. Picture books are an essential part of every classroom and this course challenges practitioners to consider their additional use outside of the English reading lesson. My participation in the course was very informative and will assist me in my work with primary school teachers moving forward. I look forward to sharing this playful pedagogy with our teacher networks.”
Dr. Lorraine Harbison (Associate Professor in Mathematics Education at Dublin City University, Republic of Ireland) commented of the event that:
“The Maths through Stories workshop was skilfully facilitated by Vincent where two cohorts of student teachers from Northern and Southern Ireland collaborated for the first time on a SCoTENS project on the use of story picture books in the primary school mathematics classroom. There was a senses of fun and excitement throughout the day with a lively exchange of learning. Students went away with not only a positive experience of the workshop, but also with some very rich ideas that they intend to implement on school placement over the coming weeks”
Shauna McGill (PGCE Primary Course Director at Ulster University, Northern Ireland, UK) said:
“The Maths Through Stories workshop offered a cross-curricular platform to demonstrate connecting learning between Numeracy and Literacy. The range of supporting maths stories were expertly evaluated and the potential for using them effectively in the primary classroom excitedly explored. Vince’s delivery was dynamic and enthusiastic. We were very grateful for his contribution to our Scotens University collaboration project.”
Some of the trainees’ comments included:
“It was a great workshop. Vincent gave me lots of good ideas. He is so enthusiastic and made me want to be a better teacher and be creative all the time 🙂 ”
“I found it very interesting and extremely helpful for my placement. I will now try to use more story picture books in maths lessons as I never really thought to use them before with maths.”
“Very informative, active and fun experience. Vince is very engaging and inspiring. Really enjoyed this 🙂 ”