Tag Archives: Numeracy

Active Approaches to Numeracy


Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Officer of the Service and School Improvement Team recently organised a professional learning opportunity entitled ‘Active Approaches to Numeracy’. 57 colleagues from Primary, Secondary and the Curriculum Support team (including QIO) spent the day examining a range of active strategies to improve attainment in mental mathematics.

 Helen MacKinven, from Big Maths provided an overview of strategies including: jigsaw numbers, CLIC and partitioning. Colleagues were also treated to the experience of a ‘Beat That’ mental maths quiz.

Clusters then worked together to look at ways forward to improve attainment in mental maths. Feedback from this day has been extremely positive.

A number of colleagues have put their names forward to be part of the Numeracy Mobilisation Team. This work will inform the update of Falkirk Council’s numeracy strategy. The first meeting for this group is being held on 12th February. For further information on this, please contact Sharon Wallace at sharon.wallace@falkirk.gov.uk

Interactive tools for teaching primary numeracy and maths at second level

Malcolm Wilson, ICT Curriculum Development Officer in the Curriculum Support team of Falkirk Council Education Services, presented a session to teaching staff giving a hands-on opportunity to explore a range of interactive software and online tools to support teaching numeracy and maths at second level.

Resources explored in this session included:

RoamerWorld – a simulated programmable on-screen robot. It is a graphical version of Logo. It provides concrete implementation of shape, position and movement abstract concepts. It has 16 in-built curricular-related activities.

Number Magic – spreadsheets to help with a series of calculations that need to be repeated often. Once they are set up they can be used to explore the effect of changing one number on the others. The data can also be displayed very easily as a graph or chart. Number Magic has a number of in-built curricular examples – in Blue level exercises folder.

National Numeracy Strategy Resources – Interactive flash resources to support mathematics available on every Falkirk primary school network PC in shared documents. Each has an associated set of instructions. These Flash files can be dragged into an open SMART Notebook page (or just used in an Internet browser). These included tell-the-time, thermometer, shape-sorting, symmetry, fractions and angle resources.

SMART Notebook resources – there are many tools and mathematics-specific resources in the SMART Notebook Gallery Essentials for Educators, and there is a huge number of pre-created SMART Notebook resources in the shared documents folders of every Falkirk primary networked PC.

Manga High – free online games-based maths teaching resource aimed at 7-16 year-olds. This combines development of maths skills with video game format games. The teacher selects specific maths/numeracy areas and level within the Curriculum for Excellence which assigns pupils teaching activities and game. The teacher can get reports on progress of individual pupils.

Other online resources included:

Primary Games Arena – a wide range of free online games matched to developing different numeracy and mathematics skills. 

Math is Fun – inlcudes games and a dictionary of mathematcis concepts for pupils.

Maths in the City – providing ideas for taking learning in mathematics and numeracy outside

Sumdog  – numeracy actvities where pupils can compete with others in a safe environment

Wolfram Alpha – described as a computational search engine!

Active Numeracy

Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Officer, Curriculum Support Team for Falkirk Council has delivered a lecture to 91 second and third year ITE students at Stirling University entitled ‘Active Approaches to Numeracy’.

The aim of the session was to provide an overview of how Falkirk establishments are using active methodologies to increase attainment in mental mathematics.

Sharon explained that numeracy is a skill for life, learning and work. It is not just a subset of mathematics, it is also a life skill which permeates and supports all areas of learning. (Maths and Numeracy Principles and Practices paper).

Sharon asked the students to make a list of all the numbers they had encountered on their way to Stirling Uni that morning and the students surprised themselves at how many numbers there are in society. Answers included: car number plates, alarm clocks, measures on their breakfast cereal/ milk, house numbers, cash line etc.

After giving the ITE students a short mental maths ‘quiz’, Sharon encouraged the students to share the strategies they used to calculate the answers. One question was ‘If a loaf of bread is £1.19, how much would four loaves cost?’ There were a range of strategies used and discussed.

Sharon then shared the ‘Every day’s a learning day’ numeracy video which is available on Falkirk Council’s you tube channel.

The session went on to look at ways in which pupils can benefit from more active approaches to numeracy with examples.

Sharon also provided the students with examples of how asking effective questions can gain a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts.

The students had to devise their own numeracy problems for a class they are currently supporting using just the answer as a starting point. There were a wide variety of questions devised which stimulated lots of thought and discussions.

Sharon then went onto ask the students to consider how they can create effective maths environments looking at inside and outside spaces.

The final part of the course looked at a variety of different numeracy websites available to enhance and increase knowledge and understanding of mental maths.