The emphasis in *children’s mathematical graphics* is on **children’s
own mathematical thinking, meanings** and **understanding about
all aspects of written mathematics and symbols**. The value of
using paper to explore their thinking is that their own *
representations* support understanding by allowing children
to see some of their emerging understanding of ‘written’
mathematics. In a sense *children’s mathematical graphics* are their
mental methods – on paper. Using their own *mathematical graphics*
helps young children to 'translate' between their early informal
marks and the standard symbols and written language of mathematics.
Children need to be free to choose how they will represent their
mathematical thinking that best fits their purpose, the particular
mathematical context or calculation they are exploring, or the
problem they wish to solve.
In children’s own *mathematical graphics*
the emphasis is on *processes of mathematical thinking* (creative thinking,
reasoning, meanings, understanding, problem solving, negotiation and
co-construction of understanding) rather than *products*
(recording something done practically). Real contexts for their
mathematics will allow children to make greater sense of their
mathematics when they explore their thinking through their own
representations.
*Recording* what they did following
a practical activity has limited value and involves lower levels of
thinking. Children do not need to record mathematics if they can do
it mentally; neither do they need to record something they have
worked out in a practical context. *Recording *places the emphasis
on marks and drawings as a *product* and is a lower level of
cognitive demand (thinking) in mathematics. The difference between
*representing mathematical thinking* and *recording* is
one of quality and depth of thinking.
**Understanding, supporting and
assessing**
*Children’s mathematical graphics* also have tremendous value for
teachers since they reveal each child’s thinking about all aspects
of written mathematics. Annotated pieces also offer an invaluable tool for
assessment in mathematics when used with the
taxonomy. |