ATM Conference 2011
ATM has been involved in the business of the professional development of mathematics educators for over fifty years. The Easter Conference is the annual highlight of ATM’s programme of professional development events.
Conference 2011 • Celebrating Gattegno
Mon 18–Thu 21 Apr 2011
University of Wolverhampton, Telford Campus
It was 50 years since the first ATM conference. Over the years many people have been inspired and challenged by all that conference has to offer. For me, conference is an opportunity to enjoy doing maths with others, to share ideas and improve my teaching. I always leave filled with excitement, looking forward to trying out everything I’ve learned with my students.
ATM was founded in 1950 by a group of enthusiasts, especially Caleb Gattegno. 2011 was the 100th anniversary of his birth and so the 2011 conference included a strand of sessions exploring how his philosophies influence the learning and teaching of mathematics.
Karen Wintle • The Conference Team
Special Primary Day • Tuesday of Conference
By popular demand, ATM Conference 2011 included a Primary Day, specifically aimed at primary practitioners.
There were many professional development opportunities for primary years teachers at the ATM Conference.However, we deliberately placed the most attractive workshops and sessions on one day for those that can only spare one day away.
Primary teachers and educators were invited to come on the Tuesday of Conference week (Tue 19 Apr 2011) and select from a rich set of sessions specifically aimed at Early Years and Primary mathematics teaching.
We also introduced a special rate for just the day for these Primary Years sessions: just £120.00 for a full day of professional development with lunch and time to visit the many exhibitor stands.
Rich professional development and networking
Some conference snapshots: why they were there and what they gained.
Gattegno: The man and his legacy
Caleb Gattegno made a significant impact on teaching and thinking about education not only in the UK but also in many countries around the world. Within mathematics this includes the creation of ATM, the promotion and use of Cuisenaire Rods, the creation of geoboards, developments of the animated geometry work of Nicolet, and the Gattegno ‘tens’ chart for number. He also worked extensively on the learning of reading and foreign languages with ‘infused reading’ and ‘the silent way’. In addition he challenged many in the educational world to consider what is involved in learning and how our actions as teachers should be subordinated to the way in which children have already proved they can learn as a pre-school child.
Caleb Gattegno grew up in Alexandria, lived in Cairo, London and New York, but worked all over the world. He was a world citizen who in a life-long study of learning not only created a number of important innovatory techniques for the teaching of languages and of mathematics, but also made a remarkable, seminal contribution to the understanding of the learning process at all ages. His personal influence was profound and there are many people whose lives have been changed by the experience of working with him in seminars in various countries over the last few decades.
The first English translator of Piaget, he was influential in spreading awareness of developmental psychology. He invented geoboards; and he introduced teachers to Cuisenaire rods and the mathematical films of Nicolet. Use of these aids was developed in classrooms - he would teach children of any age or ability, anywhere, at any time, and do so publicly in front of other teachers.
A few months before he died, Gattegno gave a moving talk at the 1988 ATM Easter Conference. ‘A Gattegno Anthology’ opens with an edited transcript of his final talk to the Association. You can buy it here.
It is the sessions and workshops that make the ATM Conference the best value professional development you could possibly get. For the cost of a half-day of a consultant you can choose from over fifty different topics and themes. Fill your week with new discoveries, new ways of thinking, new ideas for the classroom whether you are teaching early years or in higher education.
A huge range of over fifty workshop sessions provided the best professional development anyone could wish for. They covered every age range of mathematics teaching and learning from the early years to higher education and more.
The Gattegno Strand
The people running sessions within the Gattegno Strand identified that a part or the whole of their session would have some relation to the work of Caleb Gattegno. It is important to note that this did not mean that other sessions within the programme would not be influenced by Gattegno as over the years many sessions at ATM conferences have had this influence.
The Plenary Sessions
Opening Plenary: Alf Coles • ‘Towards a Science of Education’
Alf offered activities, ideas and images related to Gattegno’s call for all teachers to become scientists of education in our own classrooms.
Alf is currently working part-time as a senior lecturer in education at the University of Bristol, finishing a PhD, and working with a Primary School on developing student creativity in learning mathematics. Alf previously taught mathematics in secondary schools in Zimbabwe, Eritrea, London and Bristol. He spent thirteen years at Kingsfield School in Bristol, seven of them as head of mathematics and two as an assistant headteacher. Alf has been involved in research in mathematics education for over ten years; his interests include the role of the teacher in creating a space for inquiry in the classroom.
Special Plenary: Piers Messum & Roslyn Young • ‘Visible & Tangible Language’
Many people around the world know of Gattegno but have no idea that he was a mathematics educator. They know him because he also worked on the teaching of literacy and foreign languages. We will describe and demonstrate some of the ways in which his understanding of the learning of language led to his innovations in language teaching. We will use French as the target language for you in our demonstrations.
Gattegno called his approach to teaching foreign languages the ‘Silent Way’, reflecting one of his most striking discoveries: that pronunciation is best taught by a ‘silent’ teacher, not by one who asks her students to ‘listen and repeat’.
His work on language and literacy demonstrates that his model of the learner can be applied beyond the learning of mathematics. In fact, it helps us to understand the learning of all human activities, at all ages. Piers Messum first came across Gattegno when he learnt Japanese by the Silent Way in the mid 1980s. He went on to do a PhD inspired by Gattegno’s ideas that examined how children learn the pronunciation of their mother tongue. He now teaches English to adult migrants in London and continues his research in child language. Roslyn Young met Gattegno in 1971 when she was looking for a better way of teaching English as a foreign language. She began using the Silent Way immediately. She obtained a doctorate in Linguistics in France in 1990 on Gattegno’s work in the teaching of French and English, as both native and non-native languages. She is now retired but continues to train teachers in the Gattegno approach.
Closing Plenary: David Fielker • ‘Fifty conferences’
David Fielker, who has attended more conferences than anyone else, looked back over their changing nature during the last fifty years and considered possibilities for the future.
David Fielker was always actively involved in ATM, and among other things was editor of Mathematics Teaching from 1972 to 1983. Before retirement he taught in secondary schools in London, and was Director of Abbey Wood Mathematics Centre.
The ATM Workshop
Situated conveniently in the Student Union Bar. Claire Beckett and the team welcomed delegates to the workshop which is always at the heart of the Conference.
This special place for individual or shared activity was open from early till late, with space to build models, discover new materials, discuss problems, solve puzzles or simply think about mathematics. Everything you ever imagined to make mathematics work for you was there, ready to be explored.
Student Union Bar
For those real ale enthusiasts the student union bar was the place to be, there was locally produced ale plus a fully stocked bar.
The ATM bookstall was in the Foyer and was open throughout the conference, giving an opportunity to view and buy ATM materials at special conference prices.
All day Tuesday and Wednesday in the Refectory.
A variety of publishers and educational suppliers were exhibiting, in the Refectory.
The campus offered wireless Internet access in the Conference venues and in bedrooms.
Beyond the Worskhop Sessions
Special Event: • Doing Mathematics together • 19:30–21:00
Celebrating 50 years of doing mathematics together: working with others on problems old and new.
Primary Day • 9:00 – 17:30
Priorslee Hall hosted the conference Primary Day. As well as sessions focusing on teaching Key stages 1 and 2 there was a special Primary Education Lunch.
Quiz • 20:00
Phil Dodd once again agreed to write the ever popular quiz for teams of up to five people. It was a great way to make new friends.
Student and Newly Qualified Teachers Lunch • 12:30–14:00
All students and newly qualified teachers were invited to a special lunch. A chance to get together and share ideas and experiences.
Cocktail/Wine Reception • 19:00
Orchard Room, Priorslee Hall kindly sponsored by OUP.
Musical Evening • 19:30–21:00
Delegates were invited to take part in the musical evening, a long standing tradition at ATM conferences with a wide variety of musical styles and talents.
Many thanks to Chris Messenger for once again organizing the Musical Event.
Ceilidh • All Blacked Up • 21:00
‘All Blacked Up’: Highly acclaimed, driving six-piece band with two melodeons, keyboards, drums, saxophone and guitars producing great dance music.
“All Blacked Up...bring jazz and R&B to an infectious traditional English groove.” • Barry Callaghan, Hardcore English.
“Throbbing rhythm, pulsating beat.” • Stroud Ceilidhs
“[A] delicate balance between original and traditional material, jazzy improvisation and clear melody.” • What’s Afoot Magazine
The ATM Easter Conference provides opportunities for delegates involved with mathematics education related to any age to:
- Share in successful practices
- Develop their own mathematics
- Tap into recent pedagogical and curriculum research
- Learn about international developments and practice
- Evaluate recently produced resources
- Find out about and experience the most recent ICT developments
- Join new research networks and projects
- Learn about the most recent developments in mathematics education
- Make new and renew contacts with mathematics educators
- Have fun
- Leave the conference re-energised and full of ideas
Is it a Conference or a Course?
In the sense that everyone meets to confer on the subject of mathematics education in a very wide sense – it is a conference. In the sense that the participants can choose from a wide selection of workshops and extend their knowledge and outlook – it is a course.
What is it Really Like, Though?
A teacher in their second year sent us this:
“I have personal experience of conference and offer the following anecdotes:
“Quiz Night • Don't need to know anyone - just sit with a group and start...
“Music Night • Seeing people like Anne Watson on stage and thinking – why are some people born with so much talent? How dare she be able to teach and sing?
“Sessions • FULL of ideas, ideas and more ideas. Sitting with people for an hour and a half before you realise they wrote the last book you read.
“Lunchtime • People coming to sit next to you just to chat, finding out they wrote the last book you read! No top table...
“In other words, despite the fact that these people are at the 'top' of their profession there are no airs or graces, no big 'I am' - these are people willing to offer help and advice to anyone who asks for it. I recently posted on the ATM mailing list for a copy of Starting Points and received 5 replies. Including one from one of the authors! And then I was given a second copy at conference!”