Kerikeri School: ALiM report

Number of
Year Initial stage
Final stage
Time in
11 6 3 students - stage 4
8 students - stage 5
3 students - stage 4
7 students - stage 5
1 student - stage 6
3x35mins weekly Place value, Basic facts,
Subtraction strategies

Key outcomes/points from our project that we recommend to teachers of similar projects

Pupils confidence/self-efficacy - the biggest single impact.

  • Although our measured improvements in achievement were modest (all children made improvements but most often were within a numeracy stage), there was an overwhelmingly positive endorsement from the children that they found the maths sessions positive, helpful and that they were making progress.
    • All the children initially had a poor image of themselves in maths. As the sessions progressed, most students developed a belief in themselves as mathematical learners (Effective Pedagogy in Mathematics (EPiM): 1 An ethic of care).

The key factors affecting improvement in confidence/ self-efficacy:

    • Extensive verbal feedback/feed-forward. The small group, regular scheduled sessions (3 x weekly) allowed for individualised interaction between pupil and teacher. Feedback was very specific, always with an acknowledgement of the successful thinking shown.
  • Learning intentions were stated, and it was shown where they fitted into their current stage of learning and where they were headed next. Students were also given clear learning progressions in order to see where their current learning fitted in, and their next learning steps. “I can” sheets were included in their maths recording books at the beginning of the project and referred to.
  • A focus on ‘showing thinking’. This allowed an emphasis to develop on the maths process involved, rather than ‘getting the answer’. Therefore, there was positive feedback on the part of the process that worked.
  • Scaffolding of thinking. Pupils would often get a start at a maths problem then get bogged down. The small group sessions allowed for those situations to be quickly remedied by intervening. The solving of a particular problem was not allowed to run-on too long.
  • Problem based programme. A majority of the sessions were taken up with quick warm-ups, hands-on activities and new learning based on solving a problem (drawing heavily on Numeracy Project resources). Several Digital Learning Objects were used, and occasionally  a data projector was used. No follow-up ‘practice work’ was employed. (see below)
  • There were minimal requirements of children recording their work. (see below)
  • The sessions were not ‘stressful’ for the children.  They knew quickly that the sessions were not performance places, but that exploring thinking was encouraged and making mistakes was acceptable and part of learning.

The conclusion is that in terms of achievement, children made positive progress as a result of the project opportunity. Given the lower level of achievement at the beginning of the project, the conclusion is that the children made more gains as a result of the project than would have been the case in the existing classroom programme.

Recording: scrapbook style, emphasis on "show your thinking".

  • Large scrapbooks were used. There were no ‘tidiness’ requirements (but not a graffiti place).
  • Mistakes were acceptable. As the project moved on, we had a ‘no rubbers’ rule to de-emphasize the ‘right/wrong’ approach that the children brought with them.
  • The emphasis was to ‘show your thinking’.
  • The intention was for children to use successful examples as models for themselves and others in the group. This skill did not develop in the time of the trial, but would be an emphasis in the case of the group continuing for another phase.

Arrangement for learning

  • A quiet, settled, orderly learning environment was important. Initially, the intention was to work in the child’s existing classroom. Quickly, for both groups, it was clear that it was harder to for them to concentrate (for whatever reason – the classrooms were not unruly. Issues of noise, influence of others around them, movement of others etc. may have played their part). In follow-up discussion, many of the children remarked on having the quiet orderly environment was important.

    Key factors why this arrangement for learning was successful:
    • Distraction factors were largely eliminated (a real issue for several).
    • There was a focus on maths.
    • Meaningful feedback/ feed-forward at an individual level was possible and timely.
    • The project had a ‘physical’ element – a clear start/finish time, the children moved to it marking the beginning of the session etc.

    There were drawbacks to this arrangement however:
  • Constant organisation of materials and resources: given the need for hands-on materials, this was inconvenient.
  • Display of material (such as modelling of strategies) was not always possible other than arranging before each session. The space, the school hall foyer, was used for a variety of other uses and materials could not be left in place. This meant that it was not always possible to model and promote children's  independent work. Modelling materials not directly related to the days learning were not always at hand.

Use of materials

The use of hands-on materials was extremely important to improving children’s understanding. Every new learning point began with materials that the children used themselves. The majority came from the numeracy resources.

  • From observations, it was clear that having the children use the materials, particularly with verbal direction from the teacher, helped in clarifying understanding of key concepts.

  • The children only occasionally sought out and used materials to help them independently, despite the use of them in the initial teaching. They would do so when encouraged.

Group and school profile

Kerikeri Primary is a large decile 7 contributing school, with a roll of 580, of whom 27% are Maori.

There were two project groups totalling 11 children at year 6 level. Originally, there was an extra child, however after the PAT testing and a short time involved, it was clear that she was well in advance of the other children and she elected to have her class programme alone.

Group A involved three boys and two girls, of whom two were Maori. All spoke English as their first language.

Group B involved one boy and five girls, of whom two were Maori. All spoke English as their first language.

From initial NumPA testing, these children were working at early EA (stage 5) Numeracy. Two children, one in each group, were operating at less than this, transitioning AC (stage 4) to EA (stage 5).

All the children had made minimal progress in classroom programmes over the course of the year.

Programme summary

The programme involved three sessions per week for each group. Each session was about 30 – 35 minutes. After initially operating in classrooms, group sessions were conducted in a withdrawal situation.

Sessions involved all children around a large shared table. Sessions began with a problem (or two) which involved previously covered concepts. New content was introduced with materials. Scrapbooks were used for recording.

From NumPA testing, key concepts for teaching were isolated. They were:

  • Place value (stage 5 level)
  • Basic facts (securing = and – to 20, then moving into 5x, 3x and 4x tables (2x and 10x known))
  • Subtraction strategies (stage 5 level)

In addition, two other elements were seen as important:

  • Student voice: listening to needs, showing thinking, engaging in discussion.
  • Using materials effectively.

Later in the project, based on observations from the facilitator, we moved onto a focus on developing multiplication understanding and strategies (stage 5 level) in order to address the learning of the multiplication basic facts and place value. A short time was also spent on fractions (stage 5 level).