Matamata Intermediate School: ALiM report

Number of
Year Initial stage
Final stage
Time in programme Predominant
6 7/8 3 students - stage 4
3 students - stage 5
1 student - stage 4
3 students - stage 5
2 students - stage 6
4x35mins weekly
6 weeks
Place value

Accelerating learning in maths

Approach for Accelerating Learning in Maths Project (MOE)

  • Prior IKAN and GloSS assessments to select target group of six students.
  • Full Diagnostic Interview at the beginning and end of six week programme.
  • Six week structured programme consisting of four 30-40 minute sessions four days a week out of the classroom.
  • Programme consisted of:
    1. reviewing previous days work
    2. setting the goal and teaching it, making links between knowledge and strategy, as well as making connections to real life experiences
    3. celebrations, next steps and journal entry. (Equipment was used in each session.)
  • Teaching as Inquiry (NZC, page 35). The base programme used was a maths facilitator booklet titled “Understanding Place Value Intervention Booklet 3 – Hundreds to a Million”. Observations and next steps were noted in the teaching scrapbook.
  • Each student kept a notebook to write their goals and reflections in.
  • Support, reflective learning discussions and professional readings from maths facilitators.

Purpose of the study

The NZCER aims of this study are to explore:

  • changes in student achievement and attitudes before and after the interventions
  • aspects of the interventions that are likely to have influenced student achievement and attitudes
  • factors to investigate in future research.

The findings from this study will provide information that supports teaching and learning of mathematics in the classroom.

The initial IKAN and GloSS results identified evidence-based learning needs. The most common area of weakness was in the domain of place value. Therefore the focus for this target group was just that, firstly place value with whole numbers then place value with decimal numbers. Fractions was the second weakest domain.

Student attendance

Reasons for absence
Student 1 Te Reo, Kapa Haka, Netball, AIMS (Sports Competition)
Student 2 Interschool Cross-country, trip to Australia to stay with his father
Student 3 Flute lesson, choir lessons, drama group, sick
Student 4 Drama group and choir
Student 5 Drama, Choir and Keyboard
Student 6 Te Reo, sick

Significant incidents and key pieces of advice for other teachers and principals who want to accelerate learning for students below standards in their school.

Over the past six to seven weeks of focused maths instruction I have come to realise how important the learning conversations with students are and that the skills of effective communication need to be taught, modelled and practised to ensure students are confident and comfortable to participate in discussions.

Throughout the process, I also developed a deeper understanding of mathematical pedagogy and realised that I could trust my own skills and knowledge to meet the needs of the students to make a significant difference in their learning. I was comfortable adapting a more creative rather than linear approach to instruction and using a variety of resources rather than just the ‘Pink Books’.

In my opinion, the key reasons for positive change during this intervention are firstly, allocation of time for the teacher, secondly, the arrangement for student learning and thirdly, reflective practices using a journal.

  • Allocation of time for the teacher to plan, assess, make or research for specific resource(s) and read theoretical underpinnings.

The 0.2 time allocated with this study and support from management in this school, meant effective pedagogy could be put into practice. Time for gathering evidence to work out suitable strategies for each student and time allocated after each session to reflect on what happened as a result of the teaching as well as discuss what the next steps are, became a valued part of this intervention.

Having time to make resources such as a game that meets the next goal, helped to make the learning fun and was able to be taken home and shared with parents. Time to check scaffolding and call on an expert if need be was also reassuring.

  • Arrangement for student Learning

The students and I appreciated having the use of a withdrawal space as it meant we were able to think and work independently or collaboratively, without the demands of the whole class.

Learning conversations could take place in a supportive environment. The two students who asked the most questions and challenged ideas made the greatest progress and I will be working to develop more learning conversation skills with my class.

Having a group of six students with similar learning needs meant they could confidently share ideas and learn in pairs or as a small group. When back with the whole class, the notably increased confidence of the Alim group students meant they were happy to answer questions.

Plenty of equipment and tools were utilised as well. Having space meant we could spread out. Money, place value blocks, place value houses, decipipes and decimats were used the most with these year 8 students. The decipipes became my favourite item of equipment. I would say, “Picture the decipipes in your marvellous mind and describe what you see for (1.82).” They were fantastic for demonstrating addition and subtraction of decimal numbers and the students enjoyed using them.

I ended up using them for a warm up or revision activity with the whole class and had more students smiling as they made connections and had the ‘aha’ moment. Money was also a big hit and perfect for the money problems. I never thought of using the place value houses for this year level until it was suggested by our maths facilitator and I was so glad I did. I was surprised how many students could not read a large number correctly. Reading large numbers became a daily routine for the whole class for two weeks and will be on the wall for the rest of the year.

  • Student Journal

Each student was given a new notebook to write in daily reflections. This provided insight for me as to their attitude and feelings throughout this process. They were self reflecting and gave student voice which created next steps for their learning.

However, there were days when I thought the students were rushed to put something in their journal and in hindsight I would provide more guidance and scaffolding to make the journal more purposeful.

Short profile

Our School

Part of the special nature and culture at this intermediate school is being able to offer a variety of professionally tutored courses for students to develop their skills, in subjects of their choice. Some of the student absence was due to their commitment with other lessons or sporting commitments representing our school. Although the students tried to catch up on missed work they could not of course catch up on missed learning discussions within the group. Hence, some students did not get consistent group discussion or instruction.


I have been teaching in New Zealand schools since 1990. I have an associate teacher role, tutor teacher role and an HOD role this year. I have been doing the numeracy project for five years.

A short summary of the programme

In conclusion, all six students successfully gained a stage in at least one domain of NumPA assessment over the six week instructional period. Two students gained three stages in the focus area of place value (from stage 4 to stage 7) which is a great achievement for them.

I believe the key features that made this work are:

  • 0.2 time allocation and supportive deputy principal arranging teacher release
  • being creative not linear – meeting the needs of the students as they arose and having more effective teaching practices
  • making connections into other subjects and to real life, for example, connecting decimals and timing sprints for athletics, and money
  • consistent student attendance
  • quiet withdrawal space
  • use of equipment
  • support and modelling from maths facilitator
  • learning conversations with the DP of Pahoia School, also doing this intervention in her school.