Mathematics for Teaching Algebra Guest Post: Supporting Older Students Who Struggle with Maths

Guest Post: Supporting Older Students Who Struggle with Maths

Often as teachers we struggle to support those students for whom maths is challenging. As a teacher myself, I found many of these students experienced difficulties which continued from their primary years right through until adulthood. Working with these students is what inspired me to write ‘Real World Maths- building skills for diverse learners’ ISBN 9780987542724 – a new publication for Banksia Publishing, distributed by Admark Education. I decided to make this title available as both a print paperback book and a full colour PDF e-book so that teachers can access the information and student pages in the way which suits their classroom needs the best.

real world mathsSometimes students who struggle with maths might have additional needs such as an intellectual or learning disability, be learning English as an additional language, or have missed significant periods of their schooling due to reasons such as illness or travel. Some may have a condition known as dyscalculia, which makes learning and retaining maths and numeracy skills extremely difficult. Often these students in particular have trouble with skills such as memorizing times tables or performing calculations which work in a backwards direction, such as subtraction tasks. They also tend to have difficulty with using their working memory to keep facts or signs in their head whilst they read the rest of a question, or remember which steps to perform next in a process and which they have already done. They might experience difficulty visualizing objects such as three dimensional shapes and imagining what might happen if these objects are turned or transformed in some way. This makes answering questions related to space and transformation quite difficult to do.

As the rest of their class moves forwards, often these students continue to struggle and can becoming increasingly frustrated with their inability to retain skills and progress with their peers. This can lead to acting out in class, failure to attend, personal frustration and distress and a decrease in self esteem and confidence. As teachers, it is critical to identify which students are struggling to keep pace with their peers and the expected learning outcomes, and take steps to provide age appropriate work which is success focused and will ensure skills are able to continue to develop over time.

Real World Maths – building skills for diverse learners’ (Banksia Publishing, 2013) provides a wide range of practical, easy to use resources for upper primary and junior to middle secondary students. It is an innovative title which focuses on addressing areas of need for students who struggle with their maths skills. It includes:

o    Strategies for supporting visual and auditory working memory

o    Ideas for student goal setting and skill building in maths

o    Place value

o    Fractions, decimals and percentages

o    Working with maps, distances and directions

o    Time, dates and calendar skills

o    Managing money and building financial literacy skills

o    Working with shapes, patterns and designs

o    Collecting and using maths information through practical activities

o    Over 50 copiable student pages to use in the classroom

-Article Author: Anne Vize M.Ed (Special Education).

Feel free to email Anne Vize with any queries to


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