Ahipara School: ALiM report

Number of
Year Initial stage
Final stage
Time in programme Predominant
12 5/6 1 student - stage 2
1 student - stage 3
4 students - stage 4
6 students - stage 5
4 students - stage 4
7 students - stage 5
1 student - stage 6
2x35mins/week Addition strategies
Place value
Basic facts

Pieces of advice

Teachers' pedagogy and content knowledge of mathematics and statistics.

  • Teacher attended P. Hughes’ postgraduate university papers, Auckland University.
  • Teacher recognised and acted upon teaching opportunities that arose.

Assessment for learning

  • Analysing data and using it effectively.
  • Using ongoing formative assessment throughout the lesson.
  • Knowing the essential knowledge needed before moving onto each stage.
  • Knowing the progressions of basic facts acquisition and place value understanding.

Appropriate use of teaching methods

  • Selecting tools and representations appropriately to allow the students to make connections and providing support for students thinking.
  • Using the strategy teaching model: materials ->imaging ->number properties.
  • Knowing how to use materials effectively.

Incidents or times that stand out as being significant

The students came to the sessions with a positive attitude and with enthusiasm. The student voice was heard and the use of appropriate materials was successful.

I used materials that linked words, digits and a physical representation. Read, Say, Do times two. For example, READ: the word twenty and digits 20 correctly. SAY: twenty as two lots of ten or twenty singles. DO: make two bundles of ten ice block sticks and twenty single ice block sticks.

I developed the link between home and school with a take-home pack. It had materials to use at home and a description of how to use them in parent language. My feed back and next learning steps were in homework books. Students chose stickers when home work practice was completed.

Organisation: I had a specific room to use in each session. It was a quiet space. It had storage so I had my materials at hand when I needed them. Students had their own recording books so they could reflect back. I used group teaching books so we could reflect on prior learning. I had pencils and felts available for them to use when they came to me. We wasted no time getting pencils and books. When asked why this group worked well for them, a student responded, “If we get stuck you are right here to help us.”

My Principal gave total support in this project. The support provided by Team Solutions was invaluable at assessment time and also with ideas and support throughout project.

I have done two postgraduate university papers in maths which provided me with in-depth pedagogical content knowledge. 2010 paper: Mathematical Literacy for Lower-Achieving Students.

I had worked with most of these children previously so it didn’t take long to rebuild positive relationships with the children.

A short profile of the school, teacher and students involved

Our school is a decile 3 rural primary school in the Far North based at the south end of Ninety Mile Beach. It serves years 0 – 8, and there are 230 students, 66% of whom are Maori. We have nine teachers. The students from our school were from year 5 and 6. They had been identified from the school wide data GloSS test as performing at stage 4 or below. They should be at stage 5 or 6. Once the initial testing for this project had been done, it showed that some of the children were actually working at stage 5 already. The decision was made to continue with these children and to consolidate their early part-whole thinking and increase their place value and basic fact knowledge as this was low.

Teachers' Mathematical Knowledge:

  • School was involved in Effective Numeracy Content Pick Up sessions.
  • School has run a Home School Partnership programme in 2009.
  • Six teachers, including the principal, attended postgraduate maths papers in Kerikeri.
  • Lead teacher attended Lead Teacher workshops.
  • Ongoing support from Team Solutions maths facilitator.


  • Teachers attended various content courses.
  • Three teachers including principal continuing with postgraduate maths paper in Kerikeri.
  • Lead teacher attends Lead Teacher workshops.
  • Ongoing support from maths facilitator from Team Solutions .

Key features that made it work

The 13 children were divided into three groups of between two and six children. These groups were based on initial gathered data.

Assessment for learning and building on students' thinking:

These groups changed based on formative assessment data. Each lesson began with a diagnostic snapshot which enabled the teacher to build on existing proficiencies. Formative assessment was used throughout the lesson to enable the teacher and student to identify what they knew and next learning steps.

Making connections:
In each session the children learnt about place value, basic facts and this was usually linked to an addition strategy to make these connections explicit. Each session lasted for 30 – 40 minutes. The sessions were on two mornings each week. Each student had a personal take-home pack which included materials, information for parents and students, and a recording and practice book to follow up and reinforce each lesson.
Mathematical problems were set in every day contexts and in the students' real life situations by using stories rather than just the mathematical symbols. Examples used farming and sea contexts.
This learning was aimed at the right level for the children and materials were used to build on previous knowledge. This made the learning easier for them I think. A student's comment when it was time to return to class was, “I don’t want to go back to class and do school work.”

I believe that the use of appropriate materials was a huge part of successful learning. The children were able to manipulate materials to help build understanding of new concepts and ways of thinking. They moved to the imaging stage but had materials to fold back to if needed.
When asked how materials helped, students said, “So I don’t forget the numbers I’m working with.”
“I had something to use to help me learn.”

What I might do differently next time

The place value test we developed should have been extended to a higher level to cater for the students who got 100% at the beginning as this made it hard to show progress over the term for these children. This test will show progress that the Diagnostic Interview might not.

The five day gap between sessions was not ideal as it was harder for the students to get consistency. It would have been better to have half an hour each day per group over the week with a planning/assessment release block as well.