Saturday, 26 August 2017

What I love about this time of year in agency

I love this time of year in agency, by this stage of the year Agency is humming.  It is no coincidence that the name I have given to this approach includes the word agents and can be referred to as agency, because it truly involves a huge degree of student agency.

By this stage of the year children believe absolutely in the world that is Number Agents.  They know the characters inside and out, I don't even need the puppet on my hand to become the character...they know them so well by voice.  The know and love the characters so much that even when we are not in agency they blame the villains for issues we may be having.

By this time of year they truly love the heroes and have a love-hate relationship with the villains.  They look forward to being in agency so much that they will remind me if they think I have forgotten that day.  They also spend a lot of time inventing their own agent adventures during play-based time.

By this time of year they slip so easily in and out of agency that I can simply say "is it ok if for a moment we look at this problem as agents."

The strength of this approach clearly comes shining through at this time of year.  Children have a real strength in the imaginary.  They can exist in many different worlds and Number Agents feeds beautifully into this.  It is also at this time of year that parents notice how amazing their child's mindset to maths is and often tell me how much their child loves maths and being an agent.  Embracing this approach at home makes helping with maths easy.

I also love this time of year because it is absolutely possible to include a range of curriculum areas into the one approach.  Children equally love to read and write as agents.

While we have 42 children in our agency now, you often wouldn't know it, they are engaged and still work just as well as they did in the small group.  By this time of year many agents have a deeper understanding and flexibility with numbers and are able to 'teach' and support other agents.  The teaching and demonstrating is learning in itself.

I also love this time of year because talk moves are humming.  Agents engage in number talks and are able to clearly explain strategies and what they notice.

This time of year allows me to get a bit more creative with what we do.  Planning out adventures for the agents and going into character more myself.  This week I have a kidnap of Head Agent planned.  The agent's maps will have led him straight to the hiding place of Head Villain, unfortunately it was a trap and Head Villain is ready and waiting.  We will receive a message from Head Villain and the villains will be wreaking havoc.  We will need the assistance of Peter the Policeman to solve a variety of problems, getting the right answer to each one in order to crack the code to the padlock that is securing the door to where Head Agent is being held.  The agents loved the last time I was kidnapped I know that they are going to eat this adventure up!

I know that this approach can be a little confusing at first and for some I know it will seem a little unnatural for some teachers to use drama in this way.  My advice is to persist, the children love it and you will get to a place like me, where it all comes naturally.  I plan to create some videos of us in agency soon, so hopefully that will help others along their journey.  I have been using this approach for three years now and each year I get better!  I can use any materials I like to teach in this way, but the key is tapping into the imagined world of a child, this is the difference between agents and teaching maths in a regular way.  Anything that works well in your current approach will work even better through Number Agents.

Head Agent is in danger, will we be able to rescue him?

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