Numeracy is often seen as the after thought to literacy and literacy is vitally important. However it is just as important that we develop highly numerate students.
My experience is that parents often ‘excuse’ poor numeracy with the oft said phrase “well I wasn’t any good at maths at school” and our fellow colleagues from other departments don’t help here either often compounding this. It seems acceptable to say you aren’t good at mathematics but how many would say I’m no good at reading?
As part of my role we are trying to develop common approaches across key departments. I’ve used a version of the excellent numeracy audit developed by @missbresources in her great book “40p each or 2 for £1” (which I definitely recommend reading if you haven’t).
Our school are using the acronym WAVES to try to get across the key aspects to staff of how to approach mathematical problems in their subjects…
Working out must always be shown
Approach – you must use the common approach we teach in mathematics to avoid confusion
Vocabulary – ensure you are using precise mathematical vocabulary
Estimate – always estimate your answer to check its ‘reasonableness’
Scientific Calculator – ALL students are expected to have one and be able to use one
It may sound a bit twee and contrived but gives us something to hang our hat on.
We have a numeracy policy which you can see below:
We have also developed a booklet which we are making available to parents. Our hope is that parents can then see the methods we teach and, for those where numeracy and mathematics has been a problem, give them a little confidence in their own skills. This can be downloaded below:
To help consistency of approach across subjects, we’ve also developed a series of posters – these are being made available to other departments to display in their classrooms and cover the main areas of mathematics that appear in other subjects:
To try and promote numeracy across the staff we have also begun a numeracy challenge each week which we email to staff to try and get them doing some puzzles and mathematics each week. We did a special Pi-Day edition as well (thanks to whoever created the PiDoku puzzle).
To get an idea, below is our Pi-Day special and the one we released just before Easter:
We have other things planned over the coming weeks including training some students to become numeracy mentors and doing some workshops with parents of our new year 7s to promote numeracy. When I have more details I will post them here.