Maths Working Walls are a great way to keep young minds focused on maths. They are a place to support current and future learning in maths and also celebrate excellent examples of pupil's work. The working wall should be purposeful, helpful, relevant and above all useful. So what should we include on our maths displays to help pupils make progress in maths and how can we do this in a manageable way?
In my experience, an effective working wall for maths is one that can be referenced by both the teacher and students both during and outside of maths lessons. Teachers should be able to use it as a reference whilst teaching and pupils should find it useful when working on maths activities. Therefore, it should include some or all of the following elements.
Developing maths vocabulary is such an important part of maths at primary school. We need to stress the use of precise mathematical vocabulary when teaching instead of using informal language, and having the vocabulary on display on the maths working wall and constantly referring to it can really help children to both remember and use it.
Display of children's work as WAGOLLs
Every child likes to see their work on display so why not use their work for your working wall? It saves you time and, additionally, helps to celebrate success. Sometimes its nice to use pupil's work as a reference too during a lesson. Depending on the age of the children, this could range from pictures of the children doing maths activities, creating colourful fraction walls with paints or putting QR codes on the wall for the children to scan and have a look at on the ipads. Furthermore, Post-it notes also make a really quick and easy way to add children's work to the display.
For example, in year 4 you could run a competition to create the most effective guide to column subtraction. Give the children the success criteria, add a bit of scaffolding for the less able, let some children work on the computers and see what they come up with. Its much more compelling for children to see WAGOLL (what a good one looks like) from other children rather than the teacher. This helps to lift expectations for everyone.
To promote independence, I've found it useful to put resources on the working wall to support learning. These include, but are not limited to:
- Hundred square
- Times table grid
- Number line (can include fractions and decimals if appropriate)
- Fraction, decimal and percentage equivalences
One that I particularly like is this one, as the advent of digital clocks has made teaching time something that a lot of children struggle with as they don't have analogue clocks at home:
Maths resources can be permanently attached to the working wall, or detachable so that children can take them away to their desks to use.
Using and applying
Giving the children challenges on the working wall is a great way to get them engaged with maths. Here is an example of this in use:
Nrich also provide maths problem solving posters for use in displays.
Higher order maths questions
Higher order maths questions add another dimension to a maths working wall, creating a useful reference for both teachers and pupils during the maths lesson. Some examples of higher order maths questions are as follows:
- How do you know?
- What strategy did you use?
- How can you check your answer?
- How did you get that answer?
- Tell me everything that you know about ....
- Can you draw a picture to prove that?
- Can you explain what you've done so far?
- Can you prove that ___'s answer is correct?
- Explain why you think that ___'s answer is wrong.
- Can you explain what I thought in a different way?
See my earlier post for questions that extend mathematical thinking which can also be utilised to create a maths display.
Learning Objectives as Learning ladders
Each of the objectives being covered can be made into a ladder so that the children can see what the next steps in their maths learning are. You could put each child's name or face on the ladder and allow them to move themselves up when they are secure in a learning objective. This can be a great tool for self assessment as well as being aspirational for the children.
The old sublevelled APP system for maths was useful for this as, regardless of year group objective, you could see quite clearly what the next steps in the children's learning were. For example,
- 2b I can find a half or a quarter of a set of objects.
- 2b I can use my knowledge of halving numbers to help me to work out half and a quarter of a set of objects or a shape.
- 2b I know doubles of numbers up to 20 and I can use what I know to work out halves.
- 2b I can fold a piece of paper into halves and quarters.
- 2c/2b I can find a quarter of a number of objects by sharing them into four equal groups.
- 2c I can find half of a number of objects by sharing them into two equal groups.
- 2c I understand the connection between doubling and halving.
- 1a I can find half of the water in a jug by pouring it into two glasses so that each glass has the same amount.
- 1a I can find half of a small number of objects.
- 1a I can find half of a piece of paper or string or half a shape.
Chalkwelll Hall Junior School in Essex have created their own learning ladders which can be found here.
Make them interactive
Finally, here are some great examples of interactive maths displays that can make your working wall come to life:
Just use your own creativity to come up with ideas, or use other's ideas from Pinterest.
As you can see, maths working walls can be a really effective part of the KS1 and KS2 maths teachers' resource kit. They can be used to support independent working and learning as well as supporting children who become stuck. Working walls can be used in a number of diverse ways from directing children to new tasks when they have completed their work to celebrating success. Please make the best use of your space to promote learning.