Creating a numeracy rich KS2 environment is an important element of developing learners’ numeracy skills. Ensuring learners have good quality opportunities to apply their numeracy skills across the curriculum and have the opportunity to use real-life purposeful investigations, is an essential part of developing this environment.
Estyn’s overview of good practice in provision for numeracy (Annex 4), suggests that they would expect to see:
- a rich and dynamic environment, where numeracy is given high status
- plenty of good quality opportunities for pupils to apply their numeracy skills in all areas of the curriculum
- the use of real-life purposeful investigations to solve mathematical problems
It is important that we give learners opportunities to explore and develop mastery of mathematical skills independently. In the Foundation Phase, the use of continuous provision provides this opportunity but this can often be lost in the more structured KS2 classroom.
Developing a challenge area is a simple way to address this, offering learners authentic opportunities to develop skills in multiple ways, and independently apply the concepts to new problems in unfamiliar situations.
The challenge area can be set up anywhere in the classroom or if space is limited, challenges can be kept in a challenge book hung behind a door, shared areas can be utilised or learners can work on the challenges in their own seats. Creating an area where resources are available and learners can work in groups can really enhance the tasks.
Challenge areas can be purely mathematical, or more effectively, linked to the class theme. Activities given should be of an open-ended, investigative nature to allow learners’ to progress at their own pace, should offer real-life, purposeful activities to solve mathematical problems, and should offer learners the opportunity to apply skills they have been taught in lessons. How challenge areas are introduced and used is key to their success. Learners need to be given the opportunity to use their skills for real purposes or it can become just another task.
This example of a St David’s Day Challenge Area would be most effective if learners actually had input into organising a St David’s Day eisteddfod and the best timetable was implemented, and if learners have the opportunity to complete the practical tasks giving them a real reason to work out the answers.
Next month's blog: Ensuring useful, progressive mathematic displays across the school.