Interview with Peter Stannard, Firefly Education

The Educational Publishing Awards are committed to rewarding excellence and innovation in the publishing industry at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. We have put together a series of interviews with the publishers, editors and individuals involved in the creation and development of educational resources. We caught up with Peter Stannard from Firefly Education to talk about Think Mentals, a shortlisted entry for the Primary: Student Resource – Mathematics (Numeracy) award.

What challenges do you think teachers face when teaching mental computation?

Maths can be scary for young learners. Without being explicitly taught effective strategies for tackling mental computation students can become overwhelmed and stumble upon everyday maths problems. Given that most of the maths we do every day we do in our heads, mental computation is an essential skill for students to learn. Likewise, teaching mental computation can also be daunting. Unless you’re equipped with a variety of computation strategies it’s difficult to teach students how to solve a maths problem quickly, easily and accurately. Think Mentals provides teachers with a unique and easy-to-use approach to teach mental computation, which in turn gives students an easy-to-understand approach to tackle mental computation.

How does Think Mentals make learning mental computation easy?

Think Mentals is all about making numbers friendly. It teaches students how to use strategies to break maths problems into friendly, manageable chunks so they can calculate answers fluently. The easy-to-follow weekly structure includes worked examples of strategies and carefully graded practice activities. Each Student Workbook builds on the strategies and skills developed in the previous year. The same friendly language and layout is used from Years 1 to 6, so students will learn new skills every year in a familiar context. This consistent approach not only helps students consolidate their learning, it makes life easier for teachers too.

Why does your product deserve to win at this year’s EPAs? Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge and thank for making this product the success it is?

I’m sure every product that’s made the shortlist deserves to win, but what’s special about Think Mentals is its innovative approach that systematically teaches students a range of mental computation strategies. Put simply, Think Mentals makes maths friendly. The unique Think Mentals strategies are ‘how-to’ guides for making maths calculations easy. By learning and practising Think Mentals’ friendly strategies, students can train their brains to solve maths problems quickly and easily.

As for acknowledging the efforts of everyone involved in Think Mentals, of course I’d like to thank our team of authors; Mary Serenc who wrote Year 1, and Chris Linthorne, Peter Williams and Sandra Williams who wrote Years 2–6. As with all of Firefly’s programs, the authors are practising Australian teachers which ensures a relevant connection to the classroom. With a manuscript in place, it was over to the Firefly Education team to bring Think Mentals to life. Everything from page layout to refining the strategies and even creating the gang of friendly monsters that feature on the front covers was carefully crafted to create this unique mental computation series.

Good luck and all the best Firefly Education!

The Educational Publishing Awards are held on Thursday, 6 October at The Pavillion, Arts Centre Melbourne.

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