Teaching Numeracy

Effective relationships and effective practices are key factors that enable positive teaching and learning in numeracy.

The Numeracy Pedagogy Guides (NPGs) are a set of guides that translate the Unpacking Numeracy document into specific NCEA learning areas and subjects. These may be useful when considering how you can incorporate numeracy into your classroom.

Effective Relationships that Support NCEA Numeracy

Every school leader, kaiako, ākonga and whānau member has a role in the development of numeracy. By considering how everyone can work in a connected and coherent way, numeracy learning can thrive within and beyond educational settings.

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Effective Relationships

Supporting literacy and numeracy development
Supporting literacy and numeracy development

Effective Practices that Support NCEA Numeracy

As you read through the following practices, consider:

  • What effective practices are already a strength for you? How do you know?
  • What practice do you want to further develop or strengthen? Who or what could help?
  • What can you do now to reflect on and further develop your numeracy teaching practice?
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Effective Practices that Support Numeracy

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  • Model approaches to unpack complex problems, such as ‘thinking out loud’ to identify key pieces of information in the problem.
  • Support ākonga to seek out further information and make sense of the problem in a context they can relate to.
  • Challenge ākonga to consider multiple numeracy strategies and explain how each strategy works.
Example 1: Discussing symmetry as part of a painting analysis
Existing Practices Additional Numeracy Supports
Prior knowledge about symmetry is assumed. Some ākonga stay silent about their lack of understanding. The painting analysis goes well, but some ākonga do not contribute fully. Ākonga do an investigation on symmetry and apply that knowledge to the painting they analyse. The painting analysis is richer for all ākonga due to this experience.
  • Challenge the myth that there are “maths people” and “non-maths people”. Everyone can be numerate.
  • Acknowledge the value of incorrect responses by finding the brilliance in the thinking, and use this to begin conversations that move the learning forward.
  • Have high expectations for all ākonga.
  • Clearly state when numeracy is part of the lesson in your learning intentions.
  • Use a range of scaffolding practices so that all ākonga can access the task.
  • Model good numeracy strategies.
  • Give ākonga time to prepare their ideas and share their thoughts with others (think-pair-share).
  • Provide ākonga with coloured cards or paper, or a mini whiteboard so that everyone can be part of class discussions. Select ākonga to justify their choices or explain their thinking to a partner.
  • Ask ākonga to provide wrong answers for a particular problem and have them explain why this answer is wrong. This helps ākonga consider the reasonableness of their responses.
  • Encourage ākonga to share and develop ideas using Talk Moves.
  • Use mixed-ability groups so ākonga can build on each other’s numeracy skills and learning area knowledge.
  • Support ākonga to take intellectual risks, like providing partial understandings that can progress the collective thinking.
Example 2: Using algebraic skills to rearrange scientific equations
Existing Practices Additional Numeracy Supports
Ākonga are asked to rearrange scientific equations. If the class appears to be struggling, the kaiako may show the answer on the whiteboard, asking for contributions from a few ākonga. In small groups, ākonga are asked to discuss how they might use their algebraic skills to rearrange scientific equations. While they are working, the kaiako wanders the room, using a range of scaffolding practices with ākonga.
  • Have a repertoire of questions that you can use to uncover the thoughts of your ākonga.
  • Encourage ākonga to be curious and ask questions too.
  • Encourage ākonga to share their experiences, and design activities that build on their experiences and integrates numeracy into your learning area.
  • Talk with kaiako in other learning areas to identify transferable numeracy skills. Consider how you could use this in your planning and teaching. 
Example 3: Using accurate measurements to design a nest box for penguins
Existing Practices Additional Numeracy Supports
Ākonga come up with a range of ideas for a nest box to keep penguins safe. These ideas vary from entirely possible to wildly out of scale/proportion. This is left unacknowledged, because the purpose of the activity was to discuss endangered species and the role we take in protecting them. Ākonga are asked to share their experiences relating to shelter and taonga they want to protect. Each ākonga designs a shelter for their taonga. In small groups they evaluate the effectiveness of their design. This includes thinking about the scale and measurements used in the design. Ākonga then use this experience to think of ways they could create a nest box for penguins to keep them safe.
  • Express numeracy ideas using words, pictures, diagrams, graphs, symbols, and equations. Make connections between these different representations.
  • Use concrete and visual aids such as manipulatives, and pictures to illustrate abstract numeracy concepts with ākonga.

Further Reading

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Kaiako Action Plan

Use this template to prepare for the new NCEA Numeracy standards. 
Use this template to prepare for the new NCEA Numeracy standards.