Module 5 Numeracy in the Middle Years

1 Numeracy defined

‘All teachers are teachers of numeracy.’

Discuss this statement with reference to your understanding of numeracy.

The inherent use of numbers, mathematical terminologies and concepts overlaps all subjects in school and is present in most, if not all, of out of school life.  Defined in ACARA (2009), Numeracy is the “capacity, confidence and disposition to use mathematics to meet the demands of learning, school, home, work, community and civic life. This perspective on numeracy emphasizes the key role of applications and utility in learning the discipline of mathematics, and illustrates the way that mathematics contributes to the study of other disciplines.”

Therefore as teachers, we incorporate numeracy as part of our teaching both explicitly and implicitly.


2 Numeracy and the Australian Curriculum

Take your own notes about each of six numeracy elements.


Estimating and calculating with whole numbers

Developing strategies to solve problems that require the suitable use and knowledge of numbers and mathematical strategies.


Recognising and using patterns and relationships

Analysing existing data to determine trends etc in order to predict future effects on a similar situation.


Using fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios and rates

Students developing an understanding of relationships of shapes, numbers, quantities and parts thereof and how to create and interpret these representations.


Using spatial reasoning

Using strategies and techniques to identify two and 3 dimensional shapes and locations and relationships between these.


Interpreting statistical information

Ways of collecting and recording (creating) and interpreting data and developing forecasts for future events based on the information.


Using measurement

Familiarisation with the measurement systems used (time, metric measurements) throughout Australian society, how they are used, recorded and notated.


With reference to different learning areas, identify some ways in which you can develop numeracy in The Arts, Health and Physical Education and Humanities and Social Sciences for Grade 5 & 6.


Within the following subjects, numeracy can be included to develop students’ skills by:

Arts – relationship between musical notation and timings

Health & PE – recording and analysis of times taken to complete various tasks (i.e. running times) and appropriate record keeping.

Humanities and Social Sciences – extraction of statistical information (e.g. population) from various sources including tables and/or charts.



3 Numeracy in the curriculum


  1.  How would you describe the relationship between mathematics and numeracy?

Numeracy is the concept of using numbers and numerical values to understand situations encountered in everyday life.  Mathematics is the specific use of numbers and mathematic tools to solve problems.  Therefore, numeracy is the identification of the situation where a mathematical approach can be taken, and then interpreting the results.  Mathematics is the ‘what’ but numeracy is the ‘how’ and ‘when’.


2.  List five reasons for why good numeracy skills are important.


Numeracy skills are important for the following reasons:

  • Numeracy is intrinsic in many aspects of modern life (such as preparing food, deciphering a timetable, managing household budgets.)
  • Numeracy can be used to make decisions based on the correct use of mathematical systems – e.g. the value of a supermarket item
  • Numeracy is knowing when and how to use mathematics – it gives the study of mathematics greater relevance and therefore importance to most students’ schooling and out of schooling lives.
  • Increased availability of information means that summaries of information are being sought too – therefore, being able to make decisions and form opinions based on the summarized information can be important.
  • Most, if not all, aspects of life and living require numeracy skills


3.   What are the key behaviours that are essential to being numerate?

  • Fluency in the use of mathematics (e.g. which operations and strategies to use)
  • Using mathematics in the appropriate context
  • Critique the findings
  • Communicate the inputs, outputs and discuss the results.


  1. What factors do teachers need to consider when planning for the numeracy opportunities that arise across the curriculum?


  1. What does the term ‘critical numeracy’ mean to you?

The ability to know when to use mathematics and be able to critique the outcomes.  It is the empowerment and confidence one has when faced with a task comprising elements of numeracy and mathematics.


  1. How can a teacher encourage their students to take a critical numeracy perspective across the learning areas?

Teachers can include numeracy within their teachings by allowing time for students to delve into the problem and take time to investigate or solve.  Whilst giving the answer straight away might be easier and time-efficient for the teacher, it eliminates the opportunity for a student to solve a real-life and meaningful problem using mathematics.



4 Strategies for teaching numeracy in the middle years

List and briefly describe five strategies you will use for teaching numeracy to middle years students.

  • Allow students time to think about, and the opportunity to solve the numeracy moments within other subjects
  • Use authentic learning materials students can relate to (i.e. use of cups and fractions of cups when discussing volume, rather than litres or above)
  • Create the link between mathematics and how it relates to everyday activities (i.e. use of cricket statistics)
  • Provide a scaffolding approach when introducing mathematical concepts and relating back to familiar terms (such as fractions – using familiar concepts such as dividing a pizza, sandwich etc)
  • Differentiate teaching by positioning around the room to provide challenge to capable students whilst assisting those requiring further assistance.



ACARA, (2009) Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics Retrieved from:

Askew, M., Brown,M., Rhodes, V., Wiliam, D., Johnson, D., (1997) ‘Effective Teachers of Numeracy in Primary Schools: Teachers’ Beliefs, Practices and Pupils’ Learning’
King’s College, University of London (2016). ‘Numeracy – Key ideas – The Australian Curriculum v8.2. Retrieved from:

Gunningham, S. (2002). A process for understanding mathematics.Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 7(2), 4-6.

Siemon, D. (2011). Teaching mathematics : Foundations to middle years. South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press.

Watson, J. (2008).National Literacy and Numeracy Week 2008 Critical Numeracy in Context [Video file]. Retrieved from




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