Friday, 1 December 2017

Another year and it just keeps getting better

Wow, I find it hard to believe that I sit here reflecting on a full year of Number Agents, almost done and dusted (other than our office party.)

This year saw some changes in agency as I approached it as a full blown Mantle and added some bells and whistles.  The world has been so much better developed this year with puppets taking the role of villains and the Professor and Cowgirl Calculation taking a hero role to assist us in our development.  It is fun to look back at this post reflecting on two weeks in and see that I was already seeing these benefits at the beginning of the year.

I was also able to use drama a whole heap more and quickly found that children became confident taking the role of clients.  More recently they took an active part in communicating with our recon agent 556.  The more they became a part of the drama, the more they connected to agency.

Another change for me, from a teaching perspective, was to throw away a large degree of the overview planning I was doing and deeply focus on Number Sense and integrating strand through the problems and particularly the character of The Three Headed Colour Changing Dragon.  This video is  an example of one of the problems.

This is my Number Sense mind here

My planning became much more mind map based like this, and I found it to be very successful.

Another huge addition to Number Agency has been dot talks and other use of visual images.   The video below shows a dot talk, it is pretty basic, but I have been working hard to develop this skill over Term 3 and 4.  The images are examples of the type that I have been using.

I have found visual images to have made a remarkable difference to children's flexibility with number and ability to see groups in different ways.  Remarkably these visual images have really benefited children in terms of being able to understand the true meaning of the digit or numeral that they write down.  Number bonds that would previously been hard are now something that comes quite naturally.  Using these images has also had a huge impact on maths language and a great spin off into oral language capacity.

The other thing that has come out of visual images is an increased capacity for children to see groups and to start to develop the concept of 'groups of.'  I had not intended to extend agents into this type of thinking, but it happened naturally.  I became easier for them to see problems in this way and in turn skip counting etc began to make much more sense to them.  It has something I have just gone with, those that are ready, have run with it, those that are not, continue to use other strategies.

This spin off into grouping has seen me begin to think about a new villain to join agency...still working on the name.

A piece of knowledge I have found to be absolutely crucial to my agents is doubling and halving.  We have used this knowledge a lot in agency and I think it has been a huge factor in their increased flexibility with number.

We use this song frequently as a warm up.

When I was first introduced to Number Talks in 2016 I thought my five year olds would find this quite hard...I was very happy to be proved wrong.  They are now able to state what they notice, if they agree, if they disagree and able to challenge each other's thinking.

These number talks (or agent talks) as we often call them have been something that have truly strengthened their understandings.  We all know that talking about our learning and it has had the same effect for our agents.

Materials have continued to play a very important part in agency, I think materials are crucial in building number sense and think that we are far too quick to take them away.

I am overwhelmed by the success of agency this year and it has fitted seamlessly into our play-based environment which has also been another area of great positivity this year.  Loads of mathematics also comes out of this play-based environment.

Children make a strong emotional connection to agency.  This connection seems to ensure they are in a great mindset to make the most of everything they are learning.  They are open and eager to learn.  Mathematics is fun, they are successful, they absolutely love it.  The feedback from parents has been humbling, children step into the world of agency, and are immersed, they talk about it at home, they share what they are doing.  Although the world is imagined, it has great importance to them.

I can not wait to start again next year and look forward to some of this years agents helping our new agents to develop their understandings.  

At the moment the villains are in prison, but we know that Head Villain is clever and has threatened to escape and once again wreak havoc for our clients....I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens.  I will once again share my journey right from the planning stage next year, for those starting out :)

I am so glad to have started this journey and this year to share it with others.   I hope that more people will try this way of delivering mathematics next year.  It truly is worth it.  I am happy to help out where I can and can be emailed at

Leslee Allen

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