1. Using number charts in groups

It is important that you help pupils get a sound understanding of number work, in order to lay a solid foundation for their future mathematics education. In this part, you will learn to use guiding questions to lead pupils to investigate a number chart and increase their skills in the basic operations of numeracy. By asking them to work in groups, you will be helping them learn to cooperate with one another. They will also be making their thinking explicit as they explain their ideas to others. See Key Resource: Using group work in your classroom for ideas [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Case Study 1: Using guiding questions to encourage investigation of a number chart

Mr Musa in Nigeria planned to help his pupils investigate number work using 100-square number charts (see Resource 1: 100-square number chart).

He brought copies of 100-square charts to the class and divided the pupils into groups of four, giving each group a copy of the chart. He asked them to investigate their chart, noting any patterns they observed. He asked guiding questions (see Key Resource: Using questioning to promote thinking) such as:

Going across the rows, what can you say about the numbers?

What is the difference between a number and the one to its right?

What is the difference between a number and the one below it?

Can you identify multiples of 2 and multiples of 5 in the chart?

As his pupils were working, Mr Musa moved around the class, checking that everyone was participating. When he noted those who were having difficulties he provided support by suggesting strategies or asking questions to guide their thinking. After 20 minutes, he brought the class back together. He asked the pupils to share the patterns they had observed and try to formulate the rules for the patterns. He summarised these on the chalkboard (see Resource 1) to help everyone see what they had achieved).

Activity 1: Four in a row

Prepare a 100-square number chart on a chalkboard or hand out copies to groups of four in your class.

Cover or mark four numbers together in a row or column.

Ask the groups to make up some sums. The answers should be the numbers that are covered.

e.g. if 10, 11, 12, 13 are covered, the sums might be:

  • 5+5=
  • 13-2=
  • 3x4=
  • 9+4=

The first group to finish asks the class the sums and chooses a person to answer. If all the sums provide the right answer the group gets a point.

Ask other groups to share their questions with the group next to them. If they are correct they gain a point too.

Continue the game for 10 or 15 minutes to give them practice in making up sums.

Resource 2: Thinking about your lesson gives some examples of the kinds of questions that will help you evaluate this activity. Use these and other questions you may think of to reflect upon the activity – it may be particularly helpful to do this with a colleague.

Section 2: Patterns in number charts

2. Encouraging pupils to ask questions