Education in Wales is changing to better prepare our learners for the future. Learners need to be equipped with the skills that employers need to run successful businesses such as literacy, numeracy, problem-solving and using data to make informed decisions.
To become fully numerate, learners need to understand numerical processes and be confident in applying those processes to a wide range of contexts.
Teaching numerical reasoning requires an approach that focuses not just on ensuring learners develop procedural skills, but also on encouraging them to think mathematically, choosing what to do and how to do it.
These materials have been developed to support such teaching. They include a wide range of classroom activities that promote the development of numerical reasoning, and also offer direct help in preparing learners for the National Numeracy Tests (Reasoning) that commence in 2014.
Reasoning in the classroom
At the core of these Reasoning in the classroom support materials is an extensive range of activities for teachers to use within the classroom. For each year group (Years 2 – 9) a menu of activities is provided, covering different topics and delivery media.
Activities are easy to assimilate and supported by whiteboard and resource sheets as necessary. Teachers are encouraged to adapt activities and to use them as a springboard to further ways of promoting learners’ enjoyment of numeracy and ability to reason numerically.
A starting point in achieving this, however, is to have a shared understanding of what we mean by numerical reasoning. What is numerical reasoning? provides a short explanation of the approach that underpins the classroom activities and the National Numeracy Tests (Reasoning).
The National Numeracy Tests (Reasoning) provide teachers with a formal assessment of how their learners are able to apply their numeracy and reason numerically. The markschemes have been developed to support teacher interpretation of learner responses: exemplars are provided with commentary and common errors flagged up.
This approach of supporting teacher understanding of learner performance has been replicated in the Reasoning in the classroom support materials for teachers.
Each activity starts with an item that mirrors those found in the National Numeracy Tests (Reasoning). This provides learners with insight into the format and style of the tests and can be used for assessment purposes or adapted for general classroom use. Some activities start with a stimulus, just as they do in the tests, so teachers’ scripts and PowerPoint presentations have been provided. The contexts are then extended into a range of linked, but different, classroom activities, all focused on increasing learners’ exploration of, and pleasure in, numeracy, and their ability to reason numerically.
A further tool to support the teacher is the document Avoiding the test pitfalls which highlights common learner-failings in test situations. However strong the numerical reasoning ability of the learner, test awareness and strategy are crucial to performance, so understanding what to do and what not to do is essential in preparing learners for the tests.