Here are my top 5 tips for Primary Teachers
1. Be clear about the difference between thinking and reasoning. Are you clear about the differences? Thinking involves thoughts that may have no connection, like "what shall I have for dinner?" "I wonder what's on TV tonight?" Mathematical Reasoning is thoughts that are connected to one another in a logical manner.
2. Reasoning skills are many and need to be fostered as they rarely happen by accident. These skills need to be rehearsed and shared and experienced by children many times until they become a kind of toolbox to be dipped into when the maths problem needs that tool.
3. I think that some of the main skills are conjecturing, convincing, organising and pattern spotting. I don't believe these are hierarchical skills but that they need to be fostered from Early years onward in a systematic (there's another one!) way that isn't just left to chance.
4. Children need to be using the language of reasoning to be able to communicate with each other, so make sure they hear you modelling it every day and in every maths lesson. Using stem sentences is a great way to rehearse this. Even by saying to children "What's your conjecture?" is enabling them to hear the vocabulary of reasoning.
5. Remember to visibly make mistakes. Children need to understand that mistake-making is where learning lies and is crucial for reasoning. If the teacher makes mistakes then it must be ok for me too. Problem-solving often involves some blind alleys that are a result of mistakes. This all helps to build resilient and confident mathematicians.
Please get in touch if you would like a reasoning workshop at your school.