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How to make your maths displays engaging and active

Monday, 12 September 2022
A lively and engaging maths display is an important element of the classroom, helping children understand the concepts, skills or procedures of a particular maths topic and providing opportunities to celebrate their achievements. Many governors, heads and subject leaders use learning walks to get a feel of the maths going on in a class and the obvious place for them to look first is the maths display.

There are many types of maths display some may be small, focussed and static, while other displays may be large, interactive, complex and change daily to reflect the progress of learning on a specific maths topic that continues over a week or two.

Whether static or interactive it is important to make good use of any display as a teaching aid, referring to specific parts of them at key points in a lesson. Also ensure that it is accessible for children to study and use at their own pace and in their own time throughout the day. 


Learning journeys and working walls

Maths displays that are interactive provide many teaching and learning opportunities. A good starting point, perhaps a question that sets a problem or poses a challenge, is an important part of any interactive display, immediately catching the children's imagination. Children can regularly add comments, questions and examples of their work.

Working walls and learning journeys are good examples of interactive displays.  

• Learning journeys show the focus of a unit of work with specific learning objectives, support with the skills and procedures through models and images alongside some of the small steps of progession and displays child-friendly expected outcomes.

• Working walls are displays of the work in progress, showing different approaches to solving problems and the children's developing understanding of the mathematics involved.

Working walls and learning journeys each have their own distinct features, but can be combined successfully to provide a good way for your class to be actively involved in their learning.

Handy tips for maths displays

  • Be selective – don’t be tempted to add everything relating to that maths topic or add every bit of work the children produce. It is often helpful to let children choose your display materials and those from the class that they feel clearly explains or visualises a concept, skill or procedure.

  • Ask children to get their work ready for display – this will require time. Have high expectations of the quality of the work that is ready for display and if some children find this difficult, ask them to get a small section ready to go on the wall.

  • Don’t forget photographs of the children working to show their progress with the maths and to help instil the values of perseverance and team work.

  • Use post-it notes so children can contribute to the wall throughout the day.

  • Keep the more interactive parts of the working wall at child height so it is easy to add new material. The more static elements such as key words could be higher up and make the font size large enough to read at a distance.

  • 3D objects can enhance a maths display, this obviously works for shape but you could include a table of objects. For example, groups of cubes or Cuisenaire rods - ‘all about 5’ for KS1 or different arrays of 24 to show factors for KS2.

What could be included in an interactive maths display?

Maths objectives and expected outcomes 
This is to show the focus of the maths, make them child friendly so that children can use them for self-assessment.

Models and images
Number lines, bar models, arrays, hundred squares, addition and subtraction trios, etc. The important thing is to use the best models or images for a particular concept or skill to support the learning and then refer to them during the lesson.
Key questions
These will help direct children onto the next task within the unit of work. There can also be prompts to help when children need support.
Key words
Vocabulary can be introduced by the teacher and children can use the list when needed. 
Worked examples
Showing step by step procedures for calculation, for example. This will help children when they get stuck, so keep that in mind when you plan the examples.
Problem solving tasks
This could be the starting point for a unit. Start with the task set out as a question, this gives purpose to your maths. What is the problem that needs to be solved? Then leave space for children to add their own work as they complete different parts of the problem.
Progress of the children’s learning
Often part of a learning journey display, these are a work in progress that evolves with the unit of maths.

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