My previous role as a member of Fife Council’s Pedagogy Team included improving outcomes for children in Numeracy. Our focus was to promote conceptual understanding, using a range of teaching approaches, and support teachers in using diagnostic assessments to inform next steps in learning. We devised baseline assessments for P1, P3, P5, P7 and S2 which were taken or adapted from: First Steps in Mathematics: Number (Department of Education and Training WA, 2013), Developing Number Knowledge: Assessment, Teaching and Intervention with 7-11 Year-Olds (Wright, Ellemor-Collins and Tabor, 2012) and Numeracy Professional Development Projects - Book 7: Teaching Fractions, Decimals and Percentages (New Zealand Ministry of Education, 2008).
The assessments were given to approximately 175 children in each targeted year group. Common themes emerged which correlated with key messages taken from our own professional learning, and which mirrored international research. Our findings were shared with teachers across Fife through bespoke professional learning. The aim was to raise awareness of children’s misconceptions and how these might have been avoided. Misconceptions are a natural part of a child’s numeracy development. An awareness of which misconceptions may occur at particular developmental stages allows teachers to plan appropriately to take account of these.
The following is a summary of recurring themes which emerged at P7 and S2.