Stage 3 - number – subtraction

8 Ways of Learning for Aboriginal students. Tell a story. Make a plan. Think and do. Draw it. Take it outside. Try a new way. Watch first, then do. Share it with others.

Supporting speakers of Aboriginal English


Consider how you can include the following 8 Ways of Learning for Aboriginal students in your teaching strategies.

  1. Story Sharing: Approaching learning through narrative.
  2. Learning Maps: Explicitly mapping/ visualising processes.
  3. Non-verbal: Applying intra-personal and kinaesthetic skills to thinking and learning.
  4. Symbols and Images: Using images and metaphors to understand concepts and content.
  5. Land Links: Place-based learning, linking content to local land and place.
  6. Non-linear: Producing innovations and understanding by thinking laterally or combining systems.
  7. Deconstruct/Reconstruct: Modelling and scaffolding, working from wholes to parts (watch then do).
  8. Community Links: Centring local viewpoints, applying learning for community benefit.

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1

Open ended mathematical problems starting backwards. Students utilise the maths graphic organiser below with the given mathematical problem in the centre. Alternatively place answer in the centre and students create their own problem and then work backwards to solve the problem.

For example, 480 in centre

Students can work out a number sentence to get to it by thinking of a situation that would involve that number. Think that 480 is a number divisible by 10 and 48, and 48 is divisible by 4 and 12. A baker has time to bake 10 batches of bread rolls for a party, he has 4 trays which hold up to 12 rolls, how many rolls will he make? Use Newman's prompts to help guide students in comprehension.

Students are able to choose how they wish to represent the information and can change the subject in the number sentence to make it more relevant e.g. football players, community members, etc.

Discussion time at the end to compare results and explore strategies they used which was the most effective, what worked best, and what didn’t work, etc. Highlight and model as the teacher the correct mathematical terminology to use.

  • Use Newman’s prompts to help guide students in comprehension.

Activity 1

Activity 2

Concealed mathematical problems using concrete materials: For example, Blocks under a Bowl from DENS (Developing Early Numeracy Skills from Count me In Too) hide cubes underneath the bowl and model subtracting a few at a time and then creating a sentence about it. Students work out answer mentally and check through concrete materials when bowl is lifted. Students experiment and subtract cubes in pairs or small groups with their own materials and bowls. This will help develop language and understanding of how to both solve and create concealed subtraction problems through mental strategies. Teachers can then model writing a number sentence before having students also write an appropriate number sentence.


Australian curriculum

ACMNA123 Select and apply efficient mental and written strategies and appropriate digital technologies to solve problems involving all four operations with whole numbers

NSW syllabus

MA3-5NA: Selects and applies appropriate strategies for addition and subtraction with counting numbers of any size.

Teacher resources

  • Teach This has an online graphic organiser similar to the one above.

Numeracy app

Math Doodles: Doodles introduces three challenges plus an additional Soap functional sneak peek challenge. Each Challenge provides plenty of mathematical practice, within a recreational math setting. The mathematical puzzles allow users to play, explore, and experiment with mathematical concepts, while developing and strengthening their strategy and problem solving skills. Math Doodles challenges are designed to allow for multiple solutions and strategies.

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