Grace Gowland – Numeracy Coordinator
As teachers we already have so much to think about when planning a lesson, so here are 5 easy ways to make sure you are having an impact on the development of every student’s numeracy, every day!
1) Play a game:
Have 5 mins free at the end of your lesson? Or maybe you are just looking for a super engaging starter. Then you really can’t go past Countdown! Students love to play along at home and they will love playing it in your lesson. Have students race against each other, or for a more collaborative approach, work in groups and race against the clock. You could use a clip from youtube, or use this fantastic generator. I’m sure you’ll find yourself wanting to play along too!
Of course Bingo is another classic loved by all, and so versatile. Use it to close gaps in knowledge, check for understanding, or as a plenary to consolidate learning. Your Bingo doesn’t necessarily need to use numbers, since the skill here is about looking for patterns. If Bingo isn’t your thing, then how about a number puzzle or brain teaser – anything to get them to think outside of the box and exercise their problem solving skills.
2) Use real world problems:
Numeracy is an essential skill needed to function in the everyday world. We use it every second of every day: to be on time, to schedule meetings and to make sure we don’t burn our dinner at night! Where possible give students the opportunity to interpret timetables, draw timelines or graph the tension in a scene. Ask students to estimate how long it will take them to complete a task, so they can set realistic expectations for themselves.
3) Reward your students:
If one of your students has a lovely little maths moment in your lesson then make a big deal out of it! Girls tend to have less positive attitudes towards numeracy when compared to boys. They have higher levels of maths anxiety and lower levels of confidence in their maths skills (Ganley, 2018). This tip is really about building their confidence and encouraging them to engage with numerical tasks. Students love stickers and stamps irrespective of their age, and better still, use the internal rewards system at your school. This year at Sarah Bonnell School, we are launching the Numeracy Achievement Point as a way of tracking and monitoring student engagement with numeracy.
4) Challenge your students:
- When they ask how long it is until the end of the lesson, rather than just telling them, give them a problem to solve. For example, it was 25 minutes until the end of the lesson 15 minutes ago!
- When returning student work, give them a mark as a fraction and ask them to convert it to a percentage.
- When students ask what day it is, tell them it is Thursday in three days.
- And when they inevitably ask you what the date is tell them it has been a week since the 4th of September!
All of these are small ways you can engage the numerate mind and encourage mental fluency.
5) Set a target and use a timer:
I’m sure this is a quick win that many of us already use. As a class, decide how long you will need to complete the task. Involving students in this decision holds them accountable and gives them ownership of the activity. I have found that a real life egg timer is especially motivating for students who struggle to keep on task. You can pick them up on Amazon for next to nothing and pop it on their desk! Or go digital and use one of these engaging timers. They will love to watch the sand drain out, or the candle melt down, and be motivated to complete their task in time.