summer


Numeracy Working Walls

Setting Up A Numeracy Working Area

Whiteboard MathsNumeracy working walls are becoming ubiquitous in UK primary classrooms but  they run the danger of becoming just a display. Displays that the children don’t connect with and use regularly quickly become ‘wallpaper’.
I think it is important to put the emphasis on children using displays as a visual tool to help them learn. It helps to talk about how ‘real’ mathematicians use whiteboards to help them do their work and to encourage the children to see the wall area as a tool rather than a display. You can set up a numeracy work board like this on a fairly small scale and still have a really useful learning zone.
Ideally you’ll need a wipe clean surface, perfect for quick working out, jotting things down, trying out solutions, or even just some fun shape drawing! You could use blackboard paint on a board but using a whiteboard  ‘idea paint’ and colored dry wipe markers is much more interesting. Idea paint can be painted straight onto the wall and gives a wipe clean surface just like expensive whiteboards. Amazon do some self-adhesive, wipe clean Magic Whiteboard stickers that look very good. (Perhaps you saw them on Dragon’s Den?)

Limit Your Colours

Limit the number of colors you use in this area. It is tempting to make everything bright and colorful but that can be distracting. Try to stick to a neutral  (white or black), two main complementary colors and a bright accent color. Sticky putty will hold up any light items but sticky pads or small velcro squares work better for heavier things. You can also put up trimmed plastic wallets mounted on colored card to easily slide in work or pictures.

Ideas to Help You Set Up Your Numeracy Wall

Use some of these ideas to get the children thinking positively about maths. Of course what you choose to use depends on the age of your class.

  • A puzzle challenge area for quick activities. You can get as creative as you like with this area. Change the challenges frequently, get children setting the challenges. Maths cube (Unifix) art  would make an interesting challenge. If you are practicing mental maths you could record the questions on a ‘talking postcard’. These re-recordable ‘talking’ or ‘voice postcards’ are not too expensive  A child can listen to the question then record their answer on another.
  • A  maths words area – cards with math vocabulary for the topic you are currently exploring printed on one side, definition on the other that can be taken down to copy, use for games etc. Don’t forget the children can make these and will learn a great deal by doing so. Definitions they have found for themselves, either from the internet or from a book, are much more memorable than anything we tell them.
  • A working area that focuses on one area of maths that you are currently exploring – this is where children can stick up work they are pleased with, questions they are interested in, things they want to find out. One way of doing this would be to divide the area into 3 sections using paper tape. Add the headings What We Know, Our Questions, and How We Plan to Find Out. This sort of self-directed working is really useful for all learners but especially for independent learning times.
  • Take lots of photos of the class doing things that involve maths. Get the children to sort and label  the photos into groups according to the kind of maths involved. Throw in some wild cards and see if they can work out how something like driving the car or tidying the room might involve maths. Make a display of the sorted and labeled photos. You can use bright colored post-it notes to label the groups of photos, that way it is easy to take them down and re-sort them in a different grouping. (Most activities will involve more than one kind of maths.)Everyday maths is also part of putting up displays. From measuring the spaces between letters and working out proportions and ratios, to getting the angles for placing things right.

It is best to avoid too much visual clutter in a learning area so just choose a couple of these ideas at a time. Change them  frequently so they never become just pretty wallpaper. There is lots of evidence that involving children in making choices about their learning environment improves their engagement so get them involved at every stage.

Suzanne says "I link the QR code to theme of week. Children use class ipad to link to file or game! Last week we were fractions so the link was to fraction games." (via the Classroom Displays Facebook Page)  Learn more about using QR codes on displays in the  Advanced Course

Suzanne says “I link the QR code to theme of week. Children use class ipad to link to file or game! Last week we were fractions so the link was to fraction games.” (via the Classroom Displays Facebook Page) Learn more about using QR codes on displays in the Advanced Course

Working wall

Heidi says “I’ve velcroed clipboards to my display board so I can quickly change children’s work according to the topic. I also use speech bubbles which the kids can write in to explain their work.” (via the Classroom Displays Facebook page)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources
Idea Paint (US)

Muraspec (UK stockists)

They do a Home kit which covers 6 square feet or get a 20 square feet can and make a literacy working area  too. You will also need a special base coat and the area needs to be specially prepared.  This is probably a job for the school caretaker or janitor and not a DIY idea.

UK stockists Muraspec say:

Kit options
 We can offer customers Lil’ Bit Kits that cover an area of 3 square ft (0.28m2). At just £24.67 (ex VAT)  these kits are perfect for testing ideapaint out on a small area and contain; a roller sleeve & handle, stir stick, tray and installation instructions. Each standard kit covers 4.65m2 (50ft2).

Ideapaint is available in five colours: White, Off White, Light Beige, Light Grey and White Sand.

Dry Wipe Stickers  from Amazon

Try Magic Whiteboard, or even blackboard stickers if you feel retro! Less fuss than ideapaint these are better for making temporary display whiteboard areas.

Click here to find these and other similar products in the Classroom Displays Amazon Bookshop

 

Re-recordable ‘voice postcards’ from TTS

These are excellent but be sure to get the 30 second version as the 10 second ones will be too short for your working area. Talk Time Postcards

Talk-Time Postcards


What is the point of classroom displays? 2

2 large peacocks

Is this display celebrating diversity or a waste of valuable teaching assistant time?

In the first week of my summer term online Classroom Displays Course  we are once again looking at the thorny question of just what is the point of all these displays in UK schools.

Back in 2005, when I was doing my degree research, I worked out how much teaching assistant time was spent on displays in our school in one week. It was a scarily large amount. During the period I monitored I spent around 5.5 hours a week just working on classroom, hall and corridor displays.  After checking with colleagues I discovered that was around the school average.  That is a lot of TA time that might not be being spent directly with pupils.  So what exactly is it all for?

book Display in the ClassroomEvery time the course runs we come back to this question. There is a good deal of discussion of this point in Display in the Classroom: Principles, Practice and Learning Theory (ancient and out of print but 2nd hand copies do come up). If you are doing degree level work on displays it’s a great starting point.

The Level 2 Teaching Assistants courses usually ask you to cover the following purposes for displays:

•  As a learning resource
•  To celebrate achievement
•  To celebrate diversity
•  To promote a sense of community and belonging
•  To improve the environment
•  To provide information
•  To prompt feedback

One of the most important reasons for making displays as far as I’m concerned is as learning resources. The time spent making them does not have to be wasted TA time. It can be very valuable pupil learning time. Working with the TA in small groups to produce a great display can give pupils who need it extra time to take in concepts and learn topic vocabulary. It just needs a little extra planning and remembering to keep the conversation on topic.

How do you make sure your displays are not just pretty wall paper that take up hours of TA or teacher time?

 


Classroom Displays – Rainy Day Reads

Classroom Displays of Project Work

Following on from the Renoir Umbrellas and as a further part of the Take One Picture 2009 project comes this excellent classroom displays idea from Caroline Lennox. Caroline is a member of the Classroom Displays Flickr group and she also has a very fine blog (Learning Parade)

In her blog post Rainy Day Reads Caroline explains more about the process of designing and making the display.

The class first explored lots of illustrated children’s books about rain from the library.

The puddles were painted based on photographs the children took in the play ground.

The wellies were made by drawing round someone wearing a pair!

I love the idea of getting the children to draw round their wellies! Isn’t it great? I’ve never done that although we’ve all drawn round children’s hands and feet or even used them to print. I think drawing round the wellies is quite inspired.
It really reminds me of a children’s book illustration but I can’t think of the name of the book. (Meh! Having one of those moments when I can picture the book cover perfectly but can’t read the title!)

It was an American book about a child posting a birthday invitation on a rainy day. Anyone know which one I mean?

Favourite Rainy Day Classroom Displays

We get plenty of rain in the UK and weather is a good focus for all sorts of classroom displays. I’d love to gather up some more display ideas on this topic.

What’s your favourite way of making a classroom display about rain?

Update :  Splish, Splosh, Sploosh

Sunflower Lily, one of our members, was inspired to have a go at this one. I think she’s done a lovely job, don’t you?
Splish, splosh, splash, sploooosh!