Numeracy and Our School
Numeracy encompasses the ability to use mathematical understanding and skills to solve problems and meet the demands of day-to-day living in complex social settings.
There are numerous Maths programmes and practices in place in Scoil Chroí Naofa to improve standards in numeracy amongst our pupils…..
Mrs Scully, who retired in 2016, attended in-service on a programme entitled Mata sa Rang based on the Maths Recovery Programme in 2012. From this course, an in-class numeracy support programme entitled ‘Mathsblast’ was conceived. It is a Maths programme based solely on number. As part of the programme, children are divided into four groups and each group explores three domains of number through the use of concrete materials and games. The three domains focus on developing:
- a facility with number words and number word sequences
- the ability to recognise, identify and write numerals
- emerging strategies for adding and subtracting,
- emerging knowledge of the tens and ones aspect of the numeration system
- emerging methods of notation in arithmetic
This programme was first piloted in the two Senior Infant classes over a three week period in term 3 of 2013. It is now implemented by the support team and class teacher in each class from Senior Infants up to Sixth Class each year.
According to parents surveyed since its introduction , Mathsblast has been a very positive experience:
- All parents surveyed reported an improvement in Maths
- Parents mentioned that the children were taking much more notice of numbers in the environment, signage, cereal boxes, packaging, 2D and 3D shapes.
- Parents remarked that the children were more interested in maths. They were taking notice of numbers in their environment and playing counting games at home and in the car.
- Parents also commented that the children have less problems completing their maths homework, particularly when it involves addition, subtraction and counting money.
- Many parents expressed a desire to see it repeated.
- Problem solving is a major means of developing higher order thinking skills. These include the ability-
- To analysis mathematical situations.
- To plan, monitor and evaluate solutions.
- To apply strategies.
- To demonstrate creativity and self-reliance in using mathematics.
Problem-solving also requires other skills such as the ability to plan, take risks, learn from trial and error, check and evaluate solutions and think logically
- Our Problem-solving policy was comprehensively revised in 2013 to reflect recommendations and inservice received from the PDST (Professional Development Service for Teachers) as well as problem-solving workshops attended by several staff members
- In the aftermath of our inservice, we decided to prioritise the following areas in problem solving
- Word problems
- Use of ICT
- As part of a set of agreed actions, our School Maths Plan considers the following:
- Teachers model solving problems using various strategies.
- Children are taught a variety of strategies and experiment with applying the same strategy to different problems and different strategies to the same problem.
- Children are given ample opportunity to try them out concretely, orally or in a written task.
- Teacher will structure problems so children can experience success.
- Children are encouraged to re-read a problem.
- Co-operative work and class discussions of results encourage children to respect ideas of others, to try different approaches, to offer alternative solutions and try these out on the blackboard.
- Children may also be given problems with irrelevant information or with no solution possible, because missing information encourages them to analyse what they are being asked to do. This encourages critical thinking.
- Children can invent problems for others to solve and discuss the results.
- We have agreed to use the following Clue sheets to act as guide for children in more senior classes:
- Examine the problem:
- What does it tell me?
- What does it ask me to do?
- How will I do it?
- Have I all the information I need
- Solve the problem
- Have I done what I was asked to do?
- We collectively use the RUDE strategy from 1st onwards in problem solving exercises and teachers display this poster on their Maths wall
- Read the problem
- Underline the key words
- Draw a diagram of the problem
- Estimate your answer and then solve the problem
- Teachers encourage the children to use a variety of strategies or approaches to solving problems e.g.
- Construct a model.
- Draw a diagram to illustrate problems.
- Make a chart/table of the information.
- Look for patterns in a problem.
- Make a guess and test it out.
- Break the problem down and solve each part.
- Write a number sentence for the problem.
- Use appropriate equipment/ concrete materials to solve the problem.
- Use a calculator
- Act it out
- Solve a simpler version of the problem
- Each class is explicitly taught the language for each operation
- Staff teach 6 problems orally each week as part of their Maths lesson. Teachers are aware that Problem solving begins in Junior Infants/Senior Infants with all problems solved orally.
- Teachers also set aside every Friday as Problem Solving Friday or a day that suits them. On this day, teachers and pupils engage in problem solving activities either online or with manipulatives and do not rely on the class textbook
- A one week Maths Problem Solving workshop is provided to the three senior classes by two support teachers and the class teacher each year
The School Policy on Tables was revised in recent years to include a variety of activities to reinforce tables. Below is a list of such activities in use throughout the school:
- Skip counting (forwards & backwards) either individually or as a group
- Multiplication Bingo/Tables Bingo
- Break the chain (either skip counting or tables): Children ask each other tables and try not to break the answer chain by giving an incorrect answer. If every child asks and correctly answers a table, the group has successfully maintained the chain.
- Tests: timed written tests/tables speed test. Children are given a set amount of time to complete various operations. If they succeed in getting all correct, they get less time the next day to complete the same.
- Reciting tables every morning
- Sponge ball: Ask someone a table and throw a sponge ball to them at the same time.
- Concentration: clapping (circle)
- Doubles: asking number doubles i.e. 7×7, 6×6 etc.
- Rote learning, different language (5 fours)
- Pair tables: Two pupils compete to answer a table. The winner goes on to compete against a winner from another pair, and so on………….
- Around the world: A child stands behind another child’s chair. Teacher asks them a table. If the child standing gets the correct answer, she moves on to the next chair thus travelling around the world. However, if the child sitting gets the answer first, she takes the other child’s place and moves around the room.
- Skip, recite, game
- Loop cards/games
- Fizz & Buzz Multiples
- Target board – using the target board as inspiration i.e. multiply the first number on row 1 by the last number on row 3 etc.,
- Singing their tables/Rapping tables
- It was agreed that tables were to be recited at the beginning of each Maths lesson in accordance with the language of tables for the four operations as devised and agreed by staff in the past
- Staff administer the Ballard Table Test a few times over the year from 1st up to 6th class in order to assess standards in tables
- Aistear is a structured play programme where children develop skills and strategies for observing, questioning, investigating, understanding, negotiating, and problem-soling, and come to see themselves as explorers and thinkers. They also learn and make sense of the world around them and develop key Mathematical skills and concepts in doing so.
- Aistear has been implemented by several teachers in our school for several years
- In partnership with the class teacher, the children learn to:
- Recognise patterns and make connections between new learning and what they know
- Demonstrate their ability to reason, negotiate and think logically
- Use their creativity and imagination to think of new ways to solve problems
- Come to understand concepts such as matching, comparing, ordering, sorting, size, weight, height, length, capacity and money in an enjoyable and meaningful way
- Develop a sense of time, shape, space and place
- Use letters, numbers, signs, colours, shapes and pictures to give and record information
- Build awareness of the variety of symbols (pictures, letters, numbers and words) used to communicate
- Develop higher order thinking skills such as problem-sloving, predicting, analysing, questioning and justifying
- Class teachers as part of Maths Week formally take pupils on Maths trails around our school environment.
- Each class teacher designs a trial consisting of a sequence of designated sites along a planned route, whether indoors or outdoors, where pupils stop to explore Maths in their environment.
- Maths trails are designed to:
- Encourage mathematical thinking and talking
- Encourage problem solving
- Emphasis the process of problem solving as opposed to the answer
- Make the children active learners
- Emphasise the practical application of Maths to the world around them
- Allow children to take responsibility for learning
- Allow children the opportunity to engage in collaborative group work
Mr. Wallace has played a draughts league in his 1st class for a number of years. The class is divided into a number of leagues where each pupil plays everyone else in their group. A third pupil acts as referee in each match. At the end of all the matches the children look at the amount of wins each has achieved and determine which eight children reach the quarter-finals. Eventually a final is played and the winner receives a medal. During the league draughts often becomes the dominant topic of conversation in the class and the children enjoy the simple but skilful game. Draughts is proven to help children with mathematical and critical-thinking skills and the children in Mr Wallace’s class alway rise to the challenge. Below are some photos of the first class children enjoying the experience.