The Numeracy Programme in JTBCS started in 2013 with a focus being placed on the improvement of First Year Student’s attitudes towards Mathematics in general and their skills with integers in particular. The aim of which was to increase the percentage of competency on the topic of integers in first years from 44% in 2014 to 50% in 2015 and to 55% in 2016. A pre-test on the topic of integers with first years showed poor levels of competency with an average result of 44%. A survey on their learned experience also showed that students displayed over confidence with regard to their estimated success rate in Integers.
As part of the initial phase of the Numeracy Programme in JTBCS, teachers were made aware of the rationale of The National Numeracy Strategy at a staff meeting. The staff were addressed by Mr. Jerry McCarthy on making sense of Numeracy and Numeracy Literacy. Subject Departments also met to discuss how Numeracy moments can be identified and integrated into their subject areas and these were recorded as part of their subject plans and schemes of work. This continues to be implemented at present, and these numeracy moments are further developed, reviewed and built on each year by subject.
The respective subject areas also explored ways to ensure that Numeracy would be taught, identifying areas where there should be uniformity between various disciplines to ensure a more uniform educational experience for our students at JTBCS. A Numeracy team was set up who offered support to teachers within their subject areas and to raise awareness among teachers of the need to teach integers and graphs.
This year a specific numeracy link person has been designated to each Department tin the school, to further strengthen this supportive role. The learning environment in JTBCS serves a pivotal role in supporting student learning. A Numeracy rich environment was created throughout the school with particular emphasis across 1st year students. There was a display of integers, Distance and estimates in all First Year classrooms by 2013-14. Number lines, graphs and fractions became a visual component of the learning in school with particular emphasis in all First year classrooms to reinforce use and competency in integers. This numeracy rich environment acts as a resource in the usefulness of numeracy in the students’ lives. Students are encouraged to find ’practical’ numeracy experiences within the school and home environment. Numeracy board has been put up in staffroom and is updated regularly. A whole school initiative, involving both literacy and numeracy and cross curricular disciplines, called ‘The Murder Mystery’ was staged and all staff and students involved.
In 2014-15 a continued focus on improving the awareness of and competency in the use of integers was encouraged in every subject, in particular in First Year and promoted across all disciplines and all year groups. Further to this, an emphasis on Data Interpretation e.g graphs was encouraged in first year and graphs were displayed in every room in First Year and promoted across all years. This involved a whole school approach and included all subject areas. The aim was to increase the percentage of students, who said they used Maths outside school from 25% to 30% with particular emphasis on data interpretation e.g. graphs. The programme sought to raise awareness of the importance of data, to teach first years the numeracy language and to teach students to organise and interpret information.
- As part of this programme there was a display of graphs in all first year classrooms and school environs in the year 2014-15.
- The numeracy classes took part in class projects on Integers, Estimations and Data Interpretation and these were celebrated at the end of the year in First Year.
- Higher level thinking relating to data analysis was encouraged, linking in with the implementation of effective questioning strategies in JTBCS.
- Awareness drawn to Bloom’s Taxonomy which was included in the teachers’ journal and in the students’ homework journal.
- Student feedback, seen as integral to the process, was received through quizzes held at Christmas and Summer.
- Students provided feedback on the use of integers, graphs and fractions through homework and house exams.
- The Numeracy team coordinated with the subject Department Co-ordinators with regards to Numeracy strategies and teachers identified strategies to use both integers and graphs and to develop thinking skills in line with those, in their subject Department meetings. An emphasis was placed on exposing students to a broad range of learning methodologies appropriate to each of the subject areas to further develop these numeracy aspects.
- Furthermore teachers were encouraged to develop the key skills of organising information and thinking and working with others within their students.
Fractions, percentages and decimals:
In 2015-16 the Numeracy programme in JTBCS sought to build on the effective implementation of the previous years, and focused on continuing the implementation of integers and data interpretation, and furthermore to focus on developing awareness of and competency in students use of fractions, percentages and decimals. A self-assessment cover sheet for in house exams for students was devised and rolled out to staff. This raised awareness of the use of fractions, percentages and decimals in teaching and learning in our school, as well as in assessment.
A template has been designed to provide a concrete and visual aid to encourage awareness of and use of fractions, percentages and decimals in the teaching and learning in JTBCS. The learning wall provides additional resources linked to effectively teaching fractions, percentages and decimals in an engaging manner.The numeracy team and numeracy link teachers will liaise with department co-ordinators throughout the year in relation to a common teaching strategy for the conversion of fractions, percentages and decimals