Awapuni School: ALiM report

Number of
Year Initial stage
Final stage
Time in
5 3 students - year 1
2 students - year 2
1 student - stage 1
4 students - stage 2
1 student - stage 2
1 student - stage 3
3 students - stage 4
Number knowledge

School: Awapuni School (Gisborne)
Teacher: Bridget Goodwin

Focus Group: five students were instructed daily as a group (two year 2s, three year 1s).

Identification of students: this was done from data collected on these students in June. They were all children who were just below their expected curriculum level (one at stage 1, four at stage 2).

Lesson: this was instead of the normal maths lesson in class for these children and was taken daily from 1.30 - 2.10pm, five days a week. Time was allocated for the journal writing by the teacher until 2.30pm.

Daily structure of the lesson: counting, ordering, saying numbers, dictation, memory, basic facts, revise known strategies, revise a known game, number rhymes.

Aim: was to raise the achievement of these students by one to two maths stages in the seven weeks of teaching time allocated.

Focus: on filling the gaps that had been identified in these children’s knowledge and then begin working on strategy development.

To be noted: four out of five of these children were or had been in other specialised programmes within our school to raise their achievement in literacy.

After the pretest: the following strengths and needs were identified for individuals and the group, in order to give a clear focus, and to identify and teach to meet the individual learning needs of each child.

General strengths

All children:

  • could read numbers to 10
  • could count to 32
  • could count backwards from 10
  • enjoyed learning maths

Needs analysis of the group

All children needed to:

  • increase memory spaces
  • work on patterning
  • learn basic facts
  • know groupings within 5 and with 5
  • learn to order numbers to 20
  • learn about and understand the language of maths
  • learn to explain their thinking and how they worked out their answer in maths
  • learn before/after numbers

What worked well

    • Following a set routine daily: the children knew what to expect, we had a clear focus, there was no down-time or wasting time, the children knew from the very first lesson they were there to learn and that every minute counted. The lessons were fast paced, with high but achievable expectations, and the children were all thinking and highly engaged at the task at hand.
    • Building confidence and building a community of learners: as soon as the children viewed themselves as being good at maths, and as being 'mathematicians' they seemed to want to learn and were more willing to have a go at an answer even if they weren’t sure if it was right. Building the environment and 'climate' in which the children felt safe to take these risks was also very important from the beginning.
    • Precise teaching: having a clear learning intention for each lesson, knowing exactly what I wanted the children to learn and having a clear focus or next step for each lesson and for each child.
    • Teaching to identified needs: by identifying the children’s individual learning needs from the pretest was one of the best things I did. This made it very clear to see the knowledge the children already had, and to see the gaps I needed to fill. I found I referred to this piece of paper (although a very simple idea) constantly throughout the term and it kept me very focussed on what each child needed in terms of teaching and learning.
  • Identifying needs from robust test (as previously mentioned) and using this data to identify individual needs such as counting backwards from 24. This was also a way of identifying achievable goals with the children and for the children, which helped keep them clearly focussed as well.
  • Goal setting: when the children knew what they needed to learn/achieve and when they were able to verbalise this, they seemed to focus more on that goal. Their learning was broken down into small achievable pieces and they were motivated and trying hard to reach each small goal and we celebrated when they had achieved this.
  • High expectations: having high expectations for behaviour, attitudes and engagement in learning all helped to keep the children focussed, on task, and motivated to learn.
  • Making learning fun: I found that when we were using rhymes and games the children were completely focussed and interested. I tried to make all areas of our maths programme fun each day, incorporating games, competitions and challenges. This was something that the children really enjoyed, and of course they were doing lots of learning without actually realising it. 
  • Repetition, repetition, repetition: Going over and over the same thing and presenting the same thing in many different ways, to ensure the children had caught the learning.
  • Metacognition: Getting the children to teach each other or a friend the new game or to explain a strategy they had just learnt was a good way of seeing if the children really understood what they had learnt. It also gave me the opportunity to stand back and listen and watch and see if the children really understood what they had learnt and if they had caught the learning.
  • Use of equipment: This was vital in every lesson because of the maths stage of these children. It worked well to use a variety of equipment so that the children could show a number/strategy in a variety of different ways, for example on the hundreds board, on the abacus, and make it out of a group of teddy bears. This meant they saw the number many times in many different ways
    • Teaching the language of maths: It was evident from the start that these children did not have a lot of ‘maths language’. When asked how did you work that out they would say, “My brain just thought it,” or ‘I just know that,” or a simple shrug of the shoulders. They were not able to clearly articulate exactly what they had done to work out the answer. I had to make sure that every day and in every possible way I was feeding in the language of maths, by modelling, questioning of the children, and providing explanations and examples of what different maths words meant. I noticed that once they understood the language more, they were then able to begin to use it when explaining how they had worked out or come to an answer.
    • Making links: making links and building on prior learning was a good way of extending and moving these children on. Starting with patterns to five and using fives frames, then moving on to tens frames didn’t seem such a big jump when I was able to base the ten knowledge and activities on what we had done with the fives. We followed the same routine using double sided counters for both fives frames and tens frames. We ordered numbers to five and then moved onto ordering numbers to ten etc.
    • Feedback: I found that providing immediate feedback to the students was a useful way of ensuring the children knew what they had to do next time (solve a problem correctly). This feedback during our sessions was always verbal feedback, but it wasn’t just evaluative feedback such as “good boy” but focussed on what they were actually doing and linked to the learning intention for the session. We didn’t do worksheets during these sessions as we used whiteboards for recording, or recorded ideas on big pieces of paper to go up on the walls for revisiting or to help us remember what we had done.
  • Patterning: the students had perceptual understanding (recognise patterns, for example on a dice) and we spent time working on the conceptual understanding of how the number was constructed and the arrangement of parts to recognise the whole, for example 4 + 1.

General strengths (post ALiM)

  • all children could count forwards confidently to 100
  • three out of five children could backwards from 25
  • all children could read numbers to 100
  • four out of five children could say before and after numbers to 20
  • all children were excited about coming to maths everyday
  • all children could recall basic facts to five
  • four out of five children could recall basic facts to ten
  • all children could order numbers to 25 confidently
  • all children could explain ‘how’ they had worked things out and explain their thinking


Attendance: The time of year (winter term) meant winter illnesses and children being absent at this time. As well, I was away sick for a week. All meant the actual time spent teaching was less than the eight full weeks that had been allowed in term 3. This was evident when the children had been absent for more than a few days, but on their return they did seem to manage to ‘catch up’ with the learning due the repetitive nature of the daily lessons.