Inclusive Mathematics 11-18

Author(s) Mike Ollerton and Anne Watson
Publisher Continuum
ISBN 0826452019
Reviewed by Ray Huntley
Anglia Polytechnic University, Chelmsford, Essex
Review published 1 December 2004

This book is from a series on Special Needs in Ordinary Schools, and considers how mathematics can be taught effectively in secondary inclusive classrooms. The authors have extensive teaching experience and are in a good position to offer a blend of tried and tested teaching approaches and a consideration of key topics.

The book is set out in two main sections; in the first, the notion of mixed ability teaching is considered, including issues such as individual learning programmes and how to address high expectations for all pupils. In thought provoking chapters, ways of sharing teaching approaches are outlined and careful consideration is given to ways of encouraging mathematical interaction. The authors’ experiences are evident through their descriptions of classroom scenarios in which they outline the practice of mathematics teaching in general terms.

In the second section they explore particular examples of how to teach topics such as trigonometry, proof and fractions. They set out useful starting points in terms of questions to pose to engage mathematical thinking, appropriate mathematical language and a range of teaching and learning strategies.

One exemplification of the approach throughout the book is the chapter on ‘Aspects of shape’ in which triangles with 30-60-90 and 45-45-90 degree angles are moved around on the coordinate grid. A useful list is given comparing the questions to ask for various movements with the underlying concepts. The chapter goes on to consider differentiation approaches and contexts for practising skills, and ends with a list of strategies including use of diagrams, linking shape work with number, generation of student questions, deduction of general rules and connections to later learning to enable recall.

The questions posed for the teacher are in some cases brief but in others require some deeper consideration of practice and how to develop it. The authors make the point that they rely more on the ‘intrigue and surprises inherent in mathematics’ to motivate interest in learners, and the issues discussed are backed up with reference to relevant research.

The closing chapter provides a summary of the key issues raised and pulls together the various strands presented regarding the inclusive mathematics classroom. I found the book a thoroughly useful read, and one which I know I will refer back to for its excellent ideas on approaches to mathematics teaching.