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# Secondary Magazine - Issue 49: An idea for the classroom

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Created on 10 December 2009 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 22 December 2009 by ncetm_administrator

# An idea for the classroom - images of addition and subtraction

Have the excellent resources in Improving Learning in Mathematics ('the Standards Unit Box’) prompted a change in practice in the mathematics classroom? I am no longer surprised when I see pupils engaged in a card sort or other activity which encourages them to think and reason as a normal part of their mathematics lessons.

I know that I started to use ‘multiple representation’ types of activities from ‘the Standards Unit Box’ because they seemed a bit different, pupils seemed to enjoy them and there was a good learning atmosphere in the classroom. After a while I began to realise that the activities were more than a diversion – pupils were actually learning in a different way and I could use these types of activities as integral parts of my teaching rather than bolt-on extras.

While we seem to be good at using a ‘multiple representation’ type of activity for pupils to see different representations of a mathematical idea when the idea is ‘hard’, perhaps we don’t always think of using them for something more mainstream – so here is an activity which encourages pupils to sort through different images of addition and subtraction calculations.

How would I use this in the classroom?

• pupils can ‘sort out’ the cards, they seem to get the idea of putting them into groups quite quickly
• the cards have been written to cause some ‘confusion’ which pupils need to resolve in order to deepen their understanding
• for me, the purpose of the activity is the process that the pupils go through, not the finished product, so there are occasions when nothing further happens to the cards however…
• some pupils can make a poster of their finished groups
• other pupils may make up a new set of cards for a given calculation (you may want to differentiate here by choosing an appropriate calculation for particular pupils)
• each pupil may stick one group of cards in his/her book and write an explanation of why they are grouped together
• you may want to write a written comment about that pupil’s work.

Do tell us how you got on.

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