How do we build number sense at Living Faith?

Learning Landscape Tuesday, 21 July 2020

How do we build number sense at Living Faith?

At Living Faith, our students participate in short number talks several times a week. This involves students solving problems as part of a whole group discussion, then talking through their thinking with their peers. Students are invited to share the different strategies or ways they went about solving a problem. This method encourages students to recognise that there are many different ways that problems can be solved. It also builds mathematical vocabulary and students' ability to verbalise their thinking.

Number talks are an important part of our Maths program as they help students develop number sense and learn number facts. During the Number Talk, we promote a growth mindset as mistakes are celebrated as learning opportunities that benefit the whole group.

What are number talks?

A number talk is a short Maths discussion where the teacher poses an abstract math problem such as 18 x 5 and asks students to solve the problem. Students share their thinking and strategies with the teacher who demonstrates them on the board and looks at why they work.

For example, a teacher may pose 18 x 5 and find that students solve the problem in these different ways:


What we encourage

Researchers have found that the difference between low and high achieving students in Maths is that high achievers used number sense whereas low achievers did not know how to use numbers flexibly or recognise different ways to look at problems. Research tells us that the best mathematics classrooms are those in which students learn number facts and number sense through engaging activities that focus on mathematical understanding rather than rote memorisation.

At Living Faith, we want to provide students with a toolkit of different strategies to solve mathematical problems. We encourage students to believe that Maths is about deep thinking rather than speed and therefore encourage students to be creative with the ways they solve problems. At Living Faith, we place a focus on deep understanding rather than instant recall as rote learning encourages only superficial learning and teaches students to simply recall instead of understanding. 

Bianca Ravi, Director of Learning