Numeracy project at St Aloysius Junior School, Balzan

Numicon imageWritten by Rosette Gatt:Numicon Accredited Trainer

Lately work and research has focused on the understanding of why some children keep failing in numeracy whilst doing well in other subjects. This has been of major importance to all concerned especially teachers and parents.

Recent studies have shown that children will comprehend maths when this is taught in a way that they can understand and relate to. Whereas in the past, the developing of mathematical skills of students was seen as something belonging to the maths lesson and in the classroom, we now know that students will learn maths more readily when this is presented using a multi-sensorial approach within and outside of the classroom. Children need to use and apply these skills in various contexts. They can only do so if they are encouraged to acquire and use the proper mathematical language during the learning process as well as be actively involved in the exploration and generalisation of concepts being taught. This can only happen if the right resources support their mental imagery of these concepts and ideas. As the children manipulate the Numicon shapes they begin to understand and develop the mental imagery of these ideas and to understand number values and relationships alongside the written numerals. They acquire sound calculation skills as opposed to having to count.

So what is Numicon?NUMICON

‘Numicon is a multi-sensory and progressive teaching resource ingrained in real-life context, using concrete objects and mathematical conversation to build a sound understanding of maths.’ OUP

With this in mind, in May 2016, a project was launched between Inspire’s Learning Centre and St Aloysius Junior School, Balzan. This project will last for 3 terms and will support the school to introduce the Numicon programme using a whole class approach, to 6 classes in the Junior School.

In addition to the range of resources that the school has been supplied with for trial purposes, Inspire’s accredited trainers, provided CPD for the class teachers and LSAs working with students at these levels. The trainers will continue with in-school consultancy support, throughout the three terms. Teachers are encouraged to continue to plan according to the Primary Framework, whilst incorporating Numicon, as part of quality first teaching.

Inspire also set up parents’ workshops to help promote the involvement of the parents in helping their children learn and understand mathematics. This helps to ensure that learning doesn’t end at the classroom door.

Currently in Malta various other schools are implementing this innovative resource as a whole class approach, whilst inclusion co-ordinators across the island are also introducing children with learning difficulties, to this resource.