Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.
Early numeracy is a huge focus for both my district and campus this year. Too many students arrive in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade without the prerequisite skills to be successful with the more sophisticated math they are expected to do. But what does “teaching numeracy” look like? Earlier this year, I was introduced to the book you see pictured above, lovingly referred to as the ‘purple book’, and to me it was the missing piece of the numeracy puzzle. The book lays out a continuum of skills that students pass through as they develop numeracy. It contains a series of assessment performance tasks and instructional activities designed to help teachers determine where their students are and move them forward along the continuum. That’s huge! We have to know where kids are to address their particular needs.
My 1st grade teachers gave the assessment to all their students at the beginning of the year with the help of our amazing Academic Support Teacher (who actually introduced me to the book), and it was an eye-opening experience for them. Previously, they knew some kids struggled, but they had a hard time articulating students’ exact deficiencies. Now, they can pinpoint exactly where each student is along the continuum and design instruction to move each child forward. I presented this material to my Kinder and 2nd grade teachers yesterday during a professional development session. Today, one of my dear 2nd grade teachers flagged me down in the hall. She had given the assessment to several of her low babies, and she was blown away by what she learned about their mathematical thinking in such a short amount of time. We hugged and had a neat math geek moment.
Now, the book is fabulous, but another colleague shared a link to a website that is a perfect compliment to the book. It’s the New South Wales (NSW) Numeracy Continuum. Do I have to YELL, or will you just trust that this is a website to bookmark? The author of the ‘purple book’ is a contributor to the website, so you’ll get to see the book in action, so to speak. There are sections for each of the aspects of numeracy which include a chart (shown below for Aspect 1) laying out the progression of skills, videos (see the clip below) showing the assessments being given, and lots of background on the progression of skills. It’s a LOT to take in, but a wealth of information. Seriously, it’s like a college course in numeracy.
So, I’ll leave it at that and let you explore. I’d love to hear your comments!