Scenario 3: How do I create a contextualised numeracy diagnostic for my introduction to farming programme?

Here’s the next scenario:

• You’re an agricultural tutor. Your learners are new to farming. They’re adults, but you have a wide range of ages and abilities. You suspect that you’ve got some learners who are used to hiding their poor maths abilities, and then possibly others who might be quite proficient but who keep quiet in the group for fear of standing out.

Your learners are also working towards unit standards in farming and agriculture. Your course is a taster course. Those that are interested may be able to continue with the rest of the New Zealand Certificate.

When you’re out in a paddock on a rainy day there is no time to use a calculator. Yet farmers need to use maths and numeracy all the time. And they have to be able to work out many kinds of calculations in their heads.

2. Revisit your learning outcome for numeracy

You write the following learning outcome. This is your intention for the first few weeks of training when you’ll have time in the classroom before you get on to the practical work:

• Use number facts knowledge in the context of an introduction to farming and agriculture.

You decided that because your course is an introduction you can leave things like area, volume and application rate calculations for later on.

What you need to know right now is who can do some basic calculations in a farming context. This will help you focus your classroom time on the most important aspects of number work and basic facts before you get out on the farm.

3. Unpack the calculation or task

This is a new course with a new qualification. But you’ve been teaching programmes like this for a while now. You already know from experience the kinds of mental calculations farmhands need for their work.

But you ask yourself the following question anyway:

• What maths or numeracy tasks do I need to do and know in order get started as farmhand?

You brainstorm the following list with another tutor. You’ve already mapped your training using the learning progressions. You know that your learners need to:

• Count stock.
• Know basic addition and subtraction facts by memory.
• Know the multiplication (and division) tables up to 10 x 10 by memory.
• Use addition and subtraction in a farming context including using multi-digit numbers.
• Use multiplication and division in a farming context including using multi-digit numbers.

4. Develop some diagnostic questions based on what you’ve unpacked

What you decide you need is a range of questions so you can get an overview of where each learner is at in the group in relation to the steps in the Learning Progressions.

At least one of your learners has major literacy issues, so you know that you might have to use these questions verbally.

Here are the questions that you come up with:

Numeracy diagnostic questions for an introduction to farming

6 cows + 5 calves = ____________ animals in total.

Farmer Brown has six \$5 notes in his wallet. He has \$ ____________ altogether.

A farmer had 63 pigs but 11 of these died. That left ____________ pigs.

The last ear tag used was number 68. Write the numbers for the next five ear tags that you will use for another five calves: ____________, ____________, ____________, ____________, ____________.

If you were to put 90 calves into a shed that already housed 13, how many calves would you now have to feed in total? ____________

You need to divide 27 lambs equally into 3 pens. How many lambs would you have in each pen? ____________

A dairy herd of 5000 cows needs to be grazed in 10 separate paddocks. How many cows would be in each paddock if they were divided equally amongst the ten paddocks? ____________

One bag of supplement weighs 25kg. You use 1/4 of a bag to dust a paddock. How many kilograms are left in the bag? ____________

If one bag of supplement costs \$20, how much would 21 bags cost? ____________

If one cow produces an average of 25 litres of milk per day, how many cows would it take to fill a 25,000L vat? ____________

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...