Our tried & tested strategies for Teaching Number Sense will make your students confident, fearless and flexible with numbers. Start using them today!
Strategies For Teaching Number Sense
Teaching Number Sense is a key component to any maths program and when teaching numeracy, teachers should be aware that student achievement levels are directly linked to number sense.
The term Number Sense refers to a student’s “fluidity and flexibility with numbers,” (Gersten & Chard, 2001). Teaching number sense involves strategies that develop student understanding of what numbers mean, how they are connected, are able to perform mental maths, understand symbolic representations, and can use numbers in real world situations.
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Teaching Number Sense
Teachers need to plan to teach students number sense if their maths programs are to be effective. Students with good number sense can reason flexibly about numbers, they can spot unreasonable answers, understand how numbers can be taken apart or partitioned, and put together in different ways, see connections, and figure things out mentally.
The National Council of Teachers in 1989 identified the following five components that characterise number sense:
- Number meaning
- Number relationships
- Number magnitude
- Operations involving numbers and referents for number
- Referents for numbers and quantities
These skills are considered important because they help students to lay the foundation for mental arithmetic as well as more advanced mathematical skills. Researchers have linked good number sense with skills observed in students proficient in the following mathematical activities:
- mental calculation (Hope & Sherrill, 1987; Trafton, 1992);
- computational estimation (for example; Bobis, 1991; Case & Sowder, 1990);
- judging the relative magnitude of numbers (Sowder, 1988);
- recognising part-whole relationships and place value concepts (Fischer, 1990; Ross, 1989) and;
- problem solving (Cobb et.al., 1991).
Dr. Jo Boaler describes what happens to low achieving students who don’t have good number sense:
How do you teach number sense?
A large body of research has shown that number sense develops gradually, over time, as a result of exploration of numbers, visualising numbers in a variety of contexts, and relating to numbers in different ways.
Marilyn Burns suggests the following key, research-based teaching strategies to build numbers sense:
- Model different methods for computing
- Ask students regularly to calculate mentally
- Have class discussions about strategies for computing
- Make estimation an integral part of computing
- Question students about how they reason numerically
- Pose numerical problems that have more than one possible answer
Teaching Resources For Number Sense
One of the easiest ways to incorporate teaching number sense into your maths lessons is to include “Today’s Number” or “Number of The Day ” activities in your program.
Our 5 Number of the Day Activities pack includes 5 different activities that:
- promotes number sense,
- extends mathematical language and vocabulary
- builds fluency & flexibility with numbers
This activity pack includes:
- Number of The Day – 5 Spaces for 8 activities everyday of the School Week
- Number of The Day Think board
- Today’s Number – 21 Tasks & Thinkboard
- Wanted Number Poster
- Frayer Model Thinkboard – Definition, Characteristics, Examples, Non-Examples
Number of the Day
This think board includes a a weekly template for your students to practice flexibility with numbers every day. Tasks include write the selected number:
- In digits
- Word form
- Expanded form
- draw Base 10 representation
- the number before/after
- 10 more/ 10 less
Laminate & reuse this template for the whole Year!
Number of the Day Think Board
This template is great for group work. There are four sections on this template for a group to work together to complete. Includes:
- In digits
- Word form
- Expanded form
- Draw Base 10 representation
- The number before/after
- 10 more/ 10 less
This activity can be played like a bingo game or done independently. It includes 21 number sense tasks for students to complete.
Wanted Number Poster
The ‘wanted’ poster is another open-ended activity that allows students to demonstrate their knowledge of relationships between numbers. Easily differentiate this activity for a range of abilities in your classroom.
Frayer Think Board
The Frayer Board Think board Template is a graphic organiser, designed by Dorothy Frayer and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin in 2001. The Frayer Model helps activate students’ prior knowledge about a concept or word. Using the Frayer Think Board Template provides students with the opportunity to clarify a concept and communicate their level of understanding. The Frayer Board encourages students to create a definition, describe characteristics or properties of the word or concept, list examples and non-examples from their own prior knowledge of the concept or familiarity with the term.
Easily Differentiate these activities for groups, pairs, independent work and math rotations. Suitable for morning work, homework, warm-ups and early finishers. Buy Now
The A Plus Teacher has been a Primary School Numeracy Curriculum Leader and Coach for 16 years and now advisors A Plus Teaching Resources about Teaching Numeracy
The A+ Team is Passionate About helping educators to save time so that they can concentrate on the most important job in the world… Teaching! The Team Creates Time Saving, Tried & Tested, Hands-on, Teaching Resources, Ideas, Organisers, Checklists, Printables, Posters, & Games!