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Thank you to Brett Meek for his informative session on Literacy in the Numeracy classroom.

Newmans Analysis



Newman’s prompts

Taken from Curriculum Support

Finding out why students make mistakes

The Australian educator Anne Newman (1977) suggested five significant prompts to help determine where errors may occur in students attempts to solve written problems. She asked students the following questions as they attempted problems.

1.       Please read the question to me. If you don’t know a word, leave it out.

2.       Tell me what the question is asking you to do.

3.       Tell me how you are going to find the answer.

4.       Show me what to do to get the answer. “Talk aloud” as you do it, so that I can understand how you are thinking.

5.       Now, write down your answer to the question.

These five questions can be used to determine why students make mistakes with written mathematics questions.

A student wishing to solve a written mathematics problem typically has to work through five basic steps:

1.Reading the problem Reading
2. Comprehending what is read Comprehension
3. Carrying out a transformation from the words of the problem to the selection of an appropriate mathematical strategy Transformation
4. Applying the process skills demanded by the selected strategy Process skills
5. Encoding the answer in an acceptable written form Encoding

The five questions the teacher asks clearly link to the five processes involved in solving a written mathematics problem.

We want to take our students from the concrete -> pictorial -> abstract. It is important to teach explicit strategies in the pictirial area.

Dan Meyer uses visual literacy in his Mathematics classroom.

Then….. just for fun!

A fabulous website with random mathematics pictures designed to start a conversation:

Finally some excellent websites for you to look at:


  1. jvillis on Monday 28, 2012

    Thanks for sharing. I uploaded the same videos on my edublog and referrenced you as my source.
    Joanne Villis
    Year 3 Teacher
    You may be interested in my blog post about future technologies for schools and a paper that I wrote Just scroll down to ‘future technologies…’

  2. candicedelgado on Monday 28, 2012

    This is really helpful! I find that my students get so excited about math but when we have to tackle problems their confidence quickly goes down. For many of these students they cannot comprehend the problem therefore they can’t get to the the root of the problem. I appreciate the video explaining how valuable visual literacy can be in math. Giving students a picture or better yet a video and allowing group discussion allows for a more leveled playing field. Redefining word problems will be a positive change for students.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. rpugliese on Monday 28, 2012

    This was really helpful information. We spend so much time talking about “real world ” problems and authentic learning but I had not specifically said to myself that I should use a real picture to show a math problem. Clipart is just so cute.

    I particularly liked the first video with the four steps to a good math problem. Make it short and let the students come up with the longer questions makes so much sense. We are very involved with teaching math journaling in our classes right now and I think this could make it easier. We need to start shorter and then let the kids make the problem theirs.