At present ACT school's curriculum is guided by the Curriculum framework for ACT schools Preschool to year 10 document – Every Chance to Learn.
At Isabella Plains Early Childhood School our staff use Pearson & Gallagher's (1983) Gradual Release of Responsibility Model as a guiding framework for teaching numeracy and a Balanced Numeracy Program as promoted by the ACT's Literacy and Numeracy Section. A Balanced Numeracy Program incorporates a variety of numeracy strategies, carefully selected materials for each activity, and a responsive teacher. Below is a brief description of what happens in the classroom at these times.
The essential learning achievements for numeracy as set out in the Curriculum framework for ACT schools Preschool to year 10 document – Every Chance to Learn are:
- #16 The student understands and applies number
- #17 The student chooses and uses measures
- #18 The student recognises and represents patterns and relationships
This time is used to tune the children in to mathematics and get them thinking mathematically. The lesson begins with the whole class working together on a strategy or skill in a fun and interactive way eg counting with a number chart, a familiar number game or song etc. The warm up usually takes approximately 5 minutes.
Whole Class Teaching
The focus of this session is to build a community of learners focused on a common aspect of numeracy. This is the time when the teacher will introduce a new strategy or concept or revisit a familiar one. The teacher will at times model something to the class or involve the children in a shared approach where the teacher and children jointly work through a process or concept. When using a shared approach the teacher prompts students, questioning and supporting them as they reinforce, modify and extend their skills and understandings. Whole class teaching sessions usually last for between 10-15 minutes.
During Guided Maths the children work in small groups with children of similar need to think, talk and work their way through mathematical experiences. The teacher may use this time to explicitly teach or revisit a strategy or concept specific to the group of children. This is a time when extra support or challenge can be provided to individuals or small groups. The teacher uses specialised questioning in order to elicit responses from the children in order to determine their understanding and development with a concept. You will hear the teacher saying "How did you know?"
" Show me...." "What if ...."
Children are regularly provided opportunities to independently practice and apply the skills and strategies discussed during whole class teaching sessions. This may take the form of a game, a learning experience using concrete materials or a paper and pencil learning task. The teacher is continually taking note of children's developing mathematical understandings.
Reflection is a time for children to share their mathematical learning and language with their peers. It may take many forms from individual sharing in front of the whole group to a circle time format. It is the role of the teacher during this time to emphasise connections, encourage the children to use mathematical language and reinforce and link concepts taught.
There are many incidental ways to promote mathematical thinking at home. Some examples are – playing cards, counting items into the shopping trolley or pieces of fruit on a plate, sorting pegs, socks or kitchen utensils, playing games involving dice. All of the above mentioned tasks promote fun and natural opportunities for children to develop pre-numeracy skills and see numbers represented in a wide variety of every day forms.