Calculating Changes in Brief

Constructed from classroom experiences, Calculating Changes helps teachers to engineer their classroom so that 'aha' moments happen more often. As a result, children's number sense is enhanced beyond what is normally expected for their age.

Through professional development teachers engage with activities combining hands-on learning, calculators and children's efforts to learn. Web based networking offers interchange between teachers and schools and a growing bank of rich activities.

As teachers experience and reflect on these activities, their vision of what students can do is altered. Deeper and richer activities, and more open-ended teaching practices are introduced. As a result, children's number sense is enhanced.

How many plugs has the teacher uncovered today?
Can you check your answer another way?
Can you do it without touching the plugs?
You can use your calculator to help you.

Based on more than twenty years of classroom research, including the work of the Calculator Aware Number project, teachers... an environment which:
  • encourages open access to materials
  • encourages open access to calculators
  • creates time for children to construct their own learning
  • builds on learner's efforts
  • values learning in community
  • encourages mathematical conversation
  • celebrates 'aha' moments
  • applauds mental strategies
  • asks Can I check this another way?
  • challenges current conceptions
  • supports risk-taking
...and use activities which:
  • are colourful & tactile
  • encourage learner ownership
  • involve personal recording in a maths journal
  • offer a partnership between concrete, symbolic and personal recording
  • encourage mathematical conversation
  • are non-threatening
  • uplift the learner (they feel better about themselves)
  • place number sense in problem solving situations
  • offer opportunity to revisit and be challenged anew and therefore can be threaded


... Rich activities
... Familiar structure
... Fresh challenge
... Short, frequent visits

It was like a journey that we all approached together because we were all students; it became extremely enjoyable and a very valuable learning experience. The children were keen to do these activities and even the repetition made them feel more secure and none of them complained.
Kate Thureau, Poly Plug, Proportion & Percent, Member Activity

  Threading is a teaching technique in which rich activities are used 3 or 4 times a week for a few minutes each time over several weeks. The structure of the activity remains constant (and therefore familiar), but the challenge within it is fresh each time. Examples are Ten Friends and Predict A Count. This technique gives children a chance to construct their own learning, eases preparation because teachers do not need to constantly look for 'something new in maths' and offers opportunity to share time with groups to gather assessment information.

For more information, see the article Threading Works by Nicholas Dale, a South Australian teacher. Also explore our Sample Stories from other teachers and the article Aha! Teaching Maths is Simple first published in Primary Mathematics, Mathematical Association, UK, Spring 2010.

In summary, our focus is on professional learning and Calculating Changes brings together these components to encourage more 'aha' moments for more children:

Calculating Changes ... is a division of ... Mathematics Centre