Our Learning Leaders across all subjects continue to do important work this term with students to develop their literacy skills; the ability to read and understand texts and therefore access learning. Increasingly Maths requires students to understand language in order to work out what the problem is asking of them. George McMeel our Mathematics Learning Leader has led a focus for his team on teaching students how to understand the vocabulary in worded problems. George has used the international assessment test P.I.S.A. samples as well as creating original problems that offer contexts students may or may not be familiar with.

Below are some thoughts from Dan Madden’s year 9 Advanced Maths students who were working hard on unpacking worded problems this week. When asked, ‘What is the relationship between words and numbers in Maths?’ They offered:

‘Worded problems are from real life.’ – Tayla

‘The questions that are asked are always worded and helps relate to the real world.’ – Melissa

‘Words help you find the equation.’ – Lyla

‘Words describe what’s happening.’ – Simona

Dan and our other Math’s teachers are providing students with ways to cope with the uncertainty of new language in Math’s, to build their confidence and ability to persist when encountering it. Whilst the current unit is trigonometry, this is necessary in all units at all year levels.  When students in Dan’s class were asked, ‘What strategies do you use to help you understand language in Math’s?’ They had the following to offer:

‘I ask if I don’t understand or find similar words and work it out.’

‘Re-read the question and highlight the words.’

‘Rephrase the question, highlight different words.’

Liz Sullivan
School Improvement Leader: Learning