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The power of mathematics for describing and analysing the world around us is such that it has become a highly effective tool for solving problems. It is also recognized that students can appreciate the intrinsic fascination of mathematics and explore the world through its unique perceptions. In the same way that students describe themselves as “authors” or “artists”, ISB’s programme also provides students with the opportunity to see themselves as “mathematicians”, where they enjoy and are enthusiastic when exploring and learning about mathematics.

In the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), mathematics is also viewed as a vehicle to support inquiry, providing a global language through which
we make sense of the world around us. It is intended that students become competent users of the language of mathematics, and can begin to use it as a way of thinking, as opposed to seeing it as a series of facts and equations to be memorized.

It is fundamental to the philosophy of the PYP that, since it is to be used in real-life situations, mathematics needs to be taught in relevant, realistic contexts, rather than by attempting to impart a fixed body of knowledge directly to students.

How children learn mathematics
Constructing meaning about mathematics

Learners construct meaning based on their previous experiences and understanding, and by reflecting upon their interactions with objects and ideas. Therefore, involving learners in an active learning process, where they are provided with possibilities to interact with manipulatives and to engage in conversations with others, is paramount to this stage of learning mathematics.

Transferring meaning into symbols

Only when learners have constructed their ideas about a mathematical concept do they attempt to transfer this understanding into symbols. Symbolic notation can take the form of pictures, diagrams, modelling with concrete objects and mathematical notation. Learners are given the opportunity to describe their understanding using their own method of symbolic notation, then learning to transfer them into conventional mathematical notation.

Applying with understanding

Applying with understanding can be viewed as the learners demonstrating and acting on their understanding. Through authentic activities, learners independently select and use appropriate symbolic notation to process and record their thinking. These authentic activities include a range of practical hands-on problem-solving activities and realistic situations that provide the opportunity to demonstrate mathematical thinking through presented or recorded formats. In this way, learners are able to apply their understanding of mathematical concepts as well as utilize mathematical skills and knowledge.

As they work through these stages of learning, students and teachers use certain processes of mathematical reasoning.
  • They use patterns and relationships to analyse the problem situations upon which they are working.
  • They make and evaluate their own and each other’s ideas.
  • They use models, facts, properties and relationships to explain their thinking.
  • They justify their answers and the processes by which they arrive at solutions.
Wherever possible, mathematics is taught through the relevant, realistic context of the units of inquiry. The direct teaching of mathematics in a
unit of inquiry may not always be feasible but, where appropriate, prior learning or follow-up activities are useful to help students make connections between the different aspects of the curriculum. Students also need opportunities to identify and reflect on “big ideas” within and between the different strands of mathematics, the programme of inquiry and other subject areas. ISB teachers create maps of authentic connections to units of inquiry.
Links to the transdisciplinary themes are made, whether or not the mathematics is being taught within the programme of inquiry. A developing understanding of these links contributes to the students’ understanding of mathematics in the world and to their understanding of the transdisciplinary theme. The role of inquiry in mathematics is important, regardless of whether it is being taught inside or outside the programme of inquiry. However, it is also recognized that there are occasions when it is preferable for students to be given a series of strategies for learning mathematical skills in order to progress in their mathematical understanding rather than struggling to proceed.

ISB has framed its language scope and sequence document around the conceptual understandings outlined in the PYP document, but developed learning outcomes differently to incorporate the different ways that language is learned depending on children’s language profiles.
  • Each learner is a unique individual with different life experiences and no two learning pathways are the same.
  • Learners within the same age group will have different proficiency levels and needs; therefore, teachers consider a range of phases when planning mathematics learning experiences for a class.
  • Learners are likely to display understanding and skills from more than one of the phases at a time. Consequently, it is recognized that teachers will interpret this scope and sequence according to the needs of their students and their particular teaching situations.
PHASE Data Handling Measurement Shape and Space Pattern and Function Number
1 Learners will develop an understanding of how the collection and organization of information helps to make sense of the world. They will sort, describe and label objects by attributes and represent information in graphs including pictographs and tally marks. The learners will discuss chance in daily events. Learners will develop an understanding of how measurement involves the comparison of objects and the ordering and sequencing of events. They will be able to identify, compare and describe attributes of real objects as well as describe and sequence familiar events in their daily routine. Learners will understand that shapes have characteristics that can be described and compared. They will understand and use common language to describe paths, regions and boundaries of their immediate environment. Learners will understand that patterns and sequences occur in everyday situations. They will be able to identify, describe, extend and create patterns in various ways. Learners will understand that numbers are used for many different purposes in the real world. They will develop an understanding of one-to-one correspondence and conservation of number, and be able to count and use number words and numerals to represent quantities.
2 earners will understand how information can be expressed as organized and structured data and that this can occur in a range of ways. They will collect and represent data in different types of graphs, interpreting the resulting information for the purpose of answering questions. The learners will develop an understanding that some events in daily life are more likely to happen than others and they will identify and describe likelihood using appropriate vocabulary. Learners will understand that standard units allow us to have a common language to measure and describe objects and events, and that while estimation is a strategy that can be applied for approximate measurements, particular tools allow us to measure and describe attributes of objects and events with more accuracy. Learners will develop these understandings in relation to measurement involving length, mass, capacity, money, temperature and time. Learners will continue to work with 2D and 3D shapes, developing the understanding that shapes are classified and named according to their properties. They will understand that examples of symmetry and transformations can be found in their immediate environment. Learners will interpret, create and use simple directions and specific vocabulary to describe paths, regions, positions and boundaries of their immediate environment. Learners will understand that whole numbers exhibit patterns and relationships that can be observed and described, and that the patterns can be represented using numbers and other symbols. As a result, learners will understand the inverse relationship between addition and subtraction, and the associative and commutative properties of addition. They will be able to use their understanding of pattern to represent and make sense of real-life situations and, where appropriate, to solve problems involving addition and subtraction. Learners will develop their understanding of the base 10 place value system and will model, read, write, estimate, compare and order numbers to hundreds or beyond. They will have automatic recall of addition and subtraction facts and be able to model addition and subtraction of whole numbers using the appropriate mathematical language to describe their mental and written strategies. Learners will have an understanding of fractions as representations of whole- part relationships and will be able to model fractions and use fraction names in real- life situations.
3 Learners will continue to collect, organize, display and analyse data, developing an understanding of how different graphs highlight different aspects of data more efficiently. They will understand that scale can represent different quantities in graphs and that mode can be used to summarize a set of data. The learners will make the connection that probability is based on experimental events and can be expressed numerically.  Learners will continue to use standard units to measure objects, in particular developing their understanding of measuring perimeter, area and volume. They will select and use appropriate tools and units of measurement, and will be able to describe measures that fall between two numbers on a scale. The learners will be given the opportunity to construct meaning about the concept of an angle as a measure of rotation. Learners will sort, describe and model regular and irregular polygons, developing an understanding of their properties. They will be able to describe and model congruency and similarity in 2D shapes. Learners will continue to develop their understanding of symmetry, in particular reflective and rotational symmetry. They will understand how geometric shapes and associated vocabulary are useful for representing and describing objects and events in real- world situations. Learners will analyse patterns and identify rules for patterns, developing the understanding that functions describe the relationship or rules that uniquely associate members of one set with members of another set. They will understand the inverse relationship between multiplication and division, and the associative and commutative properties of multiplication. They will be able to use their understanding of pattern and function to represent and make sense of real-life situations and, where appropriate, to solve problems involving the four operations. Learners will develop the understanding that fractions and decimals are ways of representing whole-part relationships and will demonstrate this understanding by modelling equivalent fractions and decimal fractions to hundredths or beyond. They will be able to model, read, write, compare and order fractions, and use them in real-life situations. Learners will have automatic recall of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. They will select, use and describe a range of strategies to solve problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, using estimation strategies to check the reasonableness of their answers.
4 Learners will collect, organize and display data for the purposes of valid interpretation and communication. They will be able to use the mode, median, mean and range to summarize a set of data. They will create and manipulate an electronic database for their own purposes, including setting up spreadsheets and using simple formulas to create graphs. Learners will understand that probability can be expressed on a scale (0–1 or 0%–100%) and that the probability of an event can be predicted theoretically. Learners will understand that a range of procedures exists to measure different attributes of objects and events, for example, the use of formulas for finding area, perimeter and volume. They will be able to decide on the level of accuracy required for measuring and using decimal and fraction notation when precise measurements are necessary. To demonstrate their understanding of angles as a measure of rotation, the learners will be able to measure and construct angles. Learners will understand the properties of regular and irregular polyhedra. They will understand the properties of 2D shapes and understand that 2D representations of 3D objects can be used to visualize and solve problems in the real world, for example, through the use of drawing and modelling. Learners will develop their understanding of the use of scale (ratio) to enlarge and reduce shapes. They will apply the language and notation of bearing to describe direction and position. Learners will understand that patterns can be represented, analysed and generalized using algebraic expressions, equations or functions. They will use words, tables, graphs and, where possible, symbolic rules to analyse and represent patterns. They will develop an understanding of exponential notation as a way to express repeated products, and of the inverse relationship that exists between exponents and roots. The students will continue to use their understanding of pattern and function to represent and make sense of real-life situations and to solve problems involving the four operations. Learners will understand that the base 10 place value system extends infinitely in two directions and will be able to model, compare, read, write and order numbers to millions or beyond, as well as model integers. They will develop an understanding of ratios. They will understand that fractions, decimals and percentages are ways of representing whole-part relationships and will work towards modelling, comparing, reading, writing, ordering and converting fractions, decimals and percentages. They will use mental and written strategies to solve problems involving whole numbers, fractions and decimals in real-life situations, using a range of strategies to evaluate reasonableness of answers.