Talking Numbers in Perth

I had a really enjoyable morning in Perth yesterday when I linked up with an old friend and colleague Tom Renwick of MathsOnTrack to present a joint seminar on Literacy and Numeracy in Curriculum for Excellence. It was a bit of an experiment for both of us, as we had a notion that the skills and strategies required to develop numeracy and literacy were not so very different, but we had prepared separately, so in the event anything was possible. calvin-hobbes-imaginary numbers

Fortunately the delegates, who ranged from primary teachers and headteachers to secondary English, maths and science specialists were happy to throw themselves enthusiastically into the discussion and to help us debate the issues. Whether it was guessing the weight of a golfball or trying to work out how many golf courses there are in the USA, it was agreed that the quality of the thinking was very much dependent on the quality of the language being brought to bear. Likewise, in devising strategies to improve reading, the idea of looking for patterns in a text had resonances in looking for patterns in number. 

We examined in detail the language of the learning outcomes for numeracy and mathematics, and concluded that they are as much about literacy as they are about number, and at the end of the morning, when we asked the question, “Does it make sense to discuss literacy and numeracy together?” the answer appeared to be a resounding YES. Thanks to all those who turned out on a cold damp morning. Hope you have taken something away with you to benefit yourselves and your schools.


10 thoughts on “Talking Numbers in Perth

  1. Hi,

    I was one of those delegates who signed themsleves up for this course. When the alarm went off in the morning, I was wondering why I had chosen to do this – within 10 minutes of the seminar starting, it was clear that this seminar was extremely valuable and relevant to what’s happening in education right now.

    I had a great morning and came away with lots to think about and much to tell my colleagues, who I’ll be sharing this learning with during our in-service days this week.

    Thanks to both Bill and Tom – it was a pleasure to listen to both of you.

  2. Hi Shelagh,
    When my alarm went off at 5.00am I wondered whether it was such a good idea as well but the response we had from yourself and others made it worthwhile. Thanks for coming, thanks for your very positive contribution, and thanks for the generous comments.


  3. Hi Bill,
    I thought I was possibly mad attending a seminar on a Saturday morning however it proved to be one of the most worthwhile seminars I have attended. There certainly were a few lightbulb moments! It has given me lots of ideas for taking forward literacy and numeracy in my school. Thankyou both for a most enjoyable, entertaining and worthwhile morning.


    • Thanks for coming Jenny, and for contributing to what was a really good discussion. Good luck with the literacy and numeracy developments in the school – make sure you come back to the blog and let us know how it’s going.


  4. Hi,

    Another one! I thoroughly enjoyed the day, particularly the numeracy section (as A PT English, not my usual cup of tea) when I realised all the things I didn’t know!

    • Hi Lisa,
      I think we’re all beginning to realise the things we didn’t know! However, like you I find it quite exciting to discover that what maths and English teachers are trying to do is actually not so different after all. What was the volume of that golfball in cubic centimetres again?
      Remember to check out social bookmarking and Twitter.


  5. Hi Bill

    Thanks for a great morning. Was great to have the opportunity to have informal discussions with colleagues and yourself.
    It was a good idea to have Literacy and Maths together as it highlighted lots of links – very CfE!

    A fun and informative seminar! Thanks again.


    p.s. I think it was 40 cubic centimetres… but don’t quote me! 🙂

    • Hi Kirsty,
      Glad you enjoyed it. And thanks for the positive comments on having literacy and numeracy together. We were quite confident it would work but it worked even beyond our expectations I think.

      PS I think you’re right about the volume but what would I know!

  6. Yes, this was definitely an enjoyable morning with lots to take back to school! The idea of a joint seminar with literacy and numeracy worked well, especially with everyone now having to take responsibility for both these areas. Thanks to both Bill and Tom for a very wothwhile morning!

    • Thanks Elaine. I’m glad you felt that the joint seminar worked as the links aren’t always immediately obvious. If you have responsibility for both however, I would guess it makes the task easier if you have a clearer idea of the links in your head. Good luck as you take some of these ideas forward in the classroom.


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