Tag Archives: maths

the big award, the bigger surprise

Presentation Night was here.

Leading up to the end of term I had considered Mac might, in light of his performances this year, garner an award.

However, as the night drew nearer there were no questions raised as to how Mac might make it up on stage, where he would sit etc – so I pretty much ruled it out.

Over dinner, before presentation night, we discussed with Mac the likelihood he wouldn’t be getting an award.  We explained how so few awards are actually given out it means the majority of students don’t get them and how, some people never, ever receive an award despite working hard their whole life.

On arrival at our local ‘Entertainment Centre’ (our venue for the evening) we were greeted by Mac’s teacher, Mrs R, who pointed me in the direction of the rest of the class.

Unaware of what was happening behind me Mac and I trundled off to get him seated.

Meanwhile, Mrs R had pulled Shawn aside and said

“right, Mac is getting an award – can you check the best access route onto the stage for me… oh, and don’t tell Gina as it is a surprise”.

Needless to say I was enormously proud of our little boy for receiving his first ever ‘big’ award for “Maths and Communication” – proud that he truly earned this award and proud, once again, that his teacher took the extra effort to explain to the entire audience how Mac does his work to ensure this was not seen as a ‘sympathy’ award.



I was also absolutely thrilled to have had the opportunity to get the same “surprise” other parents get to enjoy.

I have (occasionally) reflected privately on the fact that as Mac’s mum I don’t really get to experience surprises with the ‘little things’ like other parents do.  There always seems to be planning and involvement in most areas in order to simply make things appear to happen spontaneously.

To have Mac’s teacher go to the effort of ensuring this was a surprise was almost overwhelming – I felt, and still feel, so very privileged at the amazing gift she gave me.

I know as parents of children with disabilities we often talk about the concept of “getting it”.

Mrs R absolutely “gets it”.

We have had a great 12 months – it certainly feels like this was “our year”.


Filed under Access all Areas, Accessing the Curriculum, Inclusion... straight up!, Technology - things that help

smart money

In class Mac has been learning about money, how to calculate amounts using different coin denominations.

We created a set on the Macaw to help him get to his totals, tell us if he is planning on adding more coins and also to let us know when he is finished.

It didn’t take long for Mac to well and truly had the hang of it – literally one explanation and one run through modeling it to him – then he was sorted.

In class Mac used his Macaw while the other kids used the SMARTboard.

When called on by the teacher for his suggestion on what coins he might use to make up the amount of $1 Mac gave an insightful response.

With a very sly grin for his teacher, Mrs R, Mac chose “one dollar” & “that’s all” which he followed with a giggle.

Mrs R explained to me when I collected him that afternoon that she “chastised him for being a ‘smart aleck’ ”.  She was laughing to me about the incident because, for her, it was nice to see a bit of ‘naughty coming out’.  She figured #1 he was being “smart” with his answer… it was as clear as day in his face and #2 it is quite good for him to get in trouble in front of the other kids – just as they do.  I added #3,  there is kudos in getting into trouble at school.

So all in all, Mac earned a bit of ‘respect’ for all the wrong reasons but gave his teacher a little chuckle along the way.

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Filed under Accessing the Curriculum, Inclusion... straight up!

puzzling puzzles

Mac likes maths.  He really likes it when we give him ‘super duper hard maths’ questions (if we call them that they sound exciting) and so each afternoon for the trip home from school I give him a maths puzzle to ponder.

He answers it when we get home.

I am still trying to work out just what he does and doesn’t know in his maths concepts so we jump all over the place.  I also try to bombard him with lots of extra information to see if he is able to extract just what is important considering he needs to do all these in an auditory fashion.

Some of the recent puzzles have been.

  • When I was walking down the steps today there were three lizards.  A big one, a little one and a middle sized one.  Lizards have four legs, how many lizard legs did I see?

METHOD:  Yes/No switches with possible answers starting at zero and going up by one.

  • Today, when I was coming to collect you I saw four tractors.  A red one, a blue one, a green one and an orange one.  Tractors have four wheels each…  How many tractor wheels did I see?

METHOD:  Auditory Scanning on the Macaw numbers 0-14 then chose the “I need more numbers option” chose 16 from the Macaw numbers 15-30

  • When I went to the shop I saw Natalie, Gabby, Sally and Will.  Natalie, Gabby and Sally are girls and Will is a boy.
    What fraction of the group were boys?
    a) half
    b) one quarter
    c) three quarters

METHOD:  Yes/No multiple choice options

  • What fraction of the group are girls?
    a) half
    b) one quarter
    c) three quarters

METHOD:  Yes/No multiple choice options

  • On my way to school today I passed the bike shop.  There was a trike and two bikes out the front.  A trike has three wheels, and bikes have two wheels each.  How many wheels did I see all together.

METHOD:  Auditory Scanning on the Macaw numbers 0-14

  • If you were to add together the ages of your cousin Alex, your cousin Lucy and you what would the total be.  Alex is 13, Lucy is 10 and you are 6.
    We have just started getting Mac to tell us the digits to write the number ie “What is the ‘tens unit’ and what is the ‘ones unit’ ie positional notation for numbers to see if that is easier for him”.

tens unit = 2  ones unit = 9
METHOD:  Auditory Scanning on the Macaw numbers 0-9 using the positional notation of numbers

  • On my way to collect you I saw three people picking apples.  I asked them ‘how many apples have you picked?’  They said “15 and we are going to share them equally”.
    How many will they each get?

METHOD:  Auditory Scanning on the Macaw numbers 0-9

  • What if they picked 18 apples?

METHOD:  Auditory Scanning on the Macaw numbers 0-9

  • What if they picked 30 apples?

MAC’S ANSWER:  Is it greater than nine? YES
tens unit = 1, ones unit = 0
METHOD:  Auditory Scanning on the Macaw numbers 0-9 using the positional notation of numbers

Out of interest I then asked him what 3 x 6 = and he answered 19. 
Phew, finally he showed some fallibility with his maths

  • I was talking to a farmer today.  He had 56 sheep but sold six of them at the market.  Then he had 10 new baby lambs born.  So he had 56, sold six and ten more were born.  How many does he have all together.

This one took a while for Mac to decide to answer – when I suggested he didn’t know the answer which was OK, considering he is only in first class, he quickly told me what it was.

MAC’S ANSWER:  Is it greater than nine? YES
tens unit = 6, ones unit = 0   60
METHOD:  Auditory Scanning on the Macaw numbers 0-9 using the positional notation of numbers

  • Tonight we are having ‘chicken’ for dinner.  How many letters in the word chicken?

(although he went through his numbers twice hovering on 8 the first time)
METHOD:  Auditory Scanning on the Macaw numbers 0-9

The good thing is that we can relax a little knowing Mac is currently having a reasonably easy time of understanding basic maths concepts.  He is well and truly coping with the Year One concepts and having a wonderful time being challenged with ‘tricky maths’.  It is nice for him to ‘catch a break’ so he doesn’t have to work quite as hard in every aspect of school.

I have tried to find out how he knows all this stuff, he claims he ‘just knows it’.  I assume there is a strategy there somewhere, but hey, if it works for now, I won’t interfere.

I remember how much I loved doing maths in primary school so I can understand where he is coming from.


Filed under first grade here I come