Numeracy is the essential skill that refers to the ability to use numbers and to think in quantitative terms. The materials listed below relate to understanding numeracy and teaching math skills to adults. They are for literacy and numeracy practitioners, teachers and tutors, learners, or anyone interested in numeracy for adult learners. Every title in the list below is available, either online or through the library.


Background and Definitions

Adult numeracy: research review, review of research and related research.
By Diane Coben. London, UK: National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy, 2003.
» The purpose of this research project was to review what is known about adult numeracy, identify gaps in knowledge and understanding, discuss implications for practice, and formulate recommendations for future research. The review covers English language sources around the world.

Definitions: numeracy. (online)
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, (HRSDC). [Ottawa, ON], 2011.
www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/workplaceskills/LES/definitions/definitions.shtml#numeracy

Numeracy. (online)
Workplace Education Manitoba, 2011. Online at www.wem.mb.ca/numeracy.aspx

Numeracy indicator: a guide for employers. (online)
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), 2007. Online at http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/jobs/les/docs/tools/numeracy_indicator.pdf

Numeracy self-assessment. (online)
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), 2013. Online at
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/jobs/les/docs/tools/numeracy_self_assessment.pdf

Reader’s guide to essential skills profiles: numeracy. (online)
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, (HRSDC). [Ottawa, ON], 2013. Online at http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/jobs/les/profiles/readersguide.shtml#h2.5
» Read additional information about numeracy and how it is interpreted as an essential skill. Includes information about complexity ratings and math skills summaries.

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Family Numeracy

Family math fun!
Kate Nonesuch. Duncan, BC: Vancouver Island University, 2008.
Available at the library or on-line at: www.en.copian.ca/library/learning/familymath/familymath.pdf
» This extremely popular manual of family numeracy activities can be used in early literacy programs, day care centers, primary grades and literacy programs. Nonesuch focuses on connecting spirit, heart, body and mind in the activities presented in the manual. Nonesuch teaches that when spirit, heart, body and mind are in balance, math becomes part of our lives rather than something to be feared. Patterns, recipes and handouts are included for the whole family.

I love when we count. (DVD; public performance rights included)
By Leah Tremain. [BC]: Tremain Media, Inc., 2008.
» Designed for parents and caregivers, this DVD emphasizes the importance of family in developing children’s numeracy skills. Experts offer recommendations on easy activities that parents can do to promote numeracy in children from birth to seven years old.

Linking 1-2-3- and A-B-C: all about numeracy and literacy.
By Beverly Kula. Edmonton, AB: Centre for Family Literacy, 2007.
» Adults and children will both benefit from the addition of numeracy activities to family literacy programs. This manual provides information and support for early numeracy development to parents and caregivers, and the early education specialists who support them in this role.

Yahtzee story. (CD)
By Kate Nonesuch.
» Kate describes how learning to play Yahtzee in a family numeracy project influenced the lives of members of one family. The video was produced during a RiPAL-BC gathering in April, 2008.

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Teaching Numeracy

ABE fundamental level mathematics I: a guide for instructors.
By Kate Nonesuch, et al. Victoria, BC: Centre for Curriculum and Professional Development, 1994.
» Aligned with the BC Provincial adult basic education mathematics curriculum, the teacher’s guide provides a formal structure for pair/group settings that may be customized. It includes suggestions for objectives, materials, and procedures. See modules 1-3 below.

Adult numeracy core curriculum.
Basic Skill Agency. London, UK: Department for Education and Skills, 2001.
» Based on British standards developed in 2000, the core curriculum sets out learning goals for all adults who have difficulties with literacy and numeracy. This book on the numeracy core curriculum covers (1) numbers, (2) measures, shapes and spaces, and (3) handling data. It sets out a skill, gives examples and sample activities. It is meant to be used by adult literacy and numeracy teachers to develop learner programs.

Changing the way we teach math: a manual for teaching basic math to adults.
By Kate Nonesuch. Duncan, BC: Malaspina University-College, 2006. Also available online at www.en.copian.ca/library/learning/mathman/cover.htm
» A manual written for ABE math instructors who are interested in changing their teaching practice to more closely follow the recommendations from the research on teaching numeracy to adults. The manual sets out some best practices from the literature, then outlines some difficulties instructors may face and makes suggestions for overcoming them. Includes activities requiring little or no preparation which provide examples of how to implement the best practices.

Dealing with dyscalculia: sum hope2.
By Stephen J. Chinn. London, UK: Souvenir, 2007.
» Written for people who have difficulty with math, this book explains basic principles of math and how they can be used in everyday life. A wide range of math skills are covered. Includes material on dyscalculia and case studies. British currency will need to be changed to Canadian.

Everyday number sense: mental math and visual models, teacher book.
By Mary Jane Schmitt. Emeryville, CA: Key Curriculum Press, 2006.
» A teacher’s guide for a math program for adults that develops useful math skills through exercises that are relevant to real-life situations. Looks at problem solving and mental math strategies with whole numbers. See the student book.

Formative assessment in adult literacy, language and numeracy.
By Jay Derrick, Kathryn Ecclestone and Judith Gawn. Leicester, UK: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, 2009.
» Contains ideas for teachers of adult literacy and numeracy in lesson preparation, teaching and assessment. Student autonomy is at the heart of the process.

Intake assessment materials for fundamental level English and math.
By Laurie Gould. Vancouver, BC: Vancouver Community College Basic Education Department, 1999.
» This manual provides Fundamental Level (0 to grade 8 ) instructors and with a short and easy-to-use procedure for assessing a student’s educational goals and experiences. The manual is intended for use by experienced adult literacy instructors. The student assessment contains a specific section for math assessment.

Kitchen math.
By Susan Brendel. Portland, ME: J. Weston Walch, 1997.
» Versatile activities to encourage your students to practice fundamental math skills as they solve real-life cooking, shopping and planning scenarios.

Math dance with Dr. Schaffer and Mr. Stern.
By Karl Schaffer, Erik Stern and Scott Kim. Santa Cruz, CA: MoveSpeakSpin, 2011.
» Whole body math and movement activities for the K-12 classroom.

Maththatmatters: a teacher resource linking math and social justice.
By David Stocker; illustrated by Zenith Chance. Ottawa, ON: CCPA Education Project, 2007.
» 50 thoughtful and accessible lesson plans that explore links between mathematics and social justice. Designed for grades 6-9 math levels. Designed to make math relevant to real life.

Number sense and number nonsense: understanding the challenges of learning math.
By Nancy Krasa and Sara Shunkwiler. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brooks, 2009.
» Designed for educators and researchers, this book looks at how the brain and mind work during math learning in children. There is a comprehensive research review and bibliography.

Numeracy.
By Jon Swain, Barbara Newmarch and Oonagh Gormley. Leicester, UK: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, 2007.
» A guide to update teachers on research about teaching numeracy to adults, and to encourage reflection on applying research findings to practice.

Overcoming difficulties with numbers: supporting dyscalculia and students who struggle with maths.
By Ronit Bird. London, UK: SAGE, 2009.
» This book provides detailed strategies for teaching numeracy skills through a progression of practical activities and visualization techniques. Topics include games and puzzles for learning number components, bridging, multiplication, division and reasoning strategies. The CD contains accompanying resources, games, activities and puzzles. While written for those working with students aged 9 to 16, it can be adapted for use with adults.

Rethinking assessment: strategies for holistic adult numeracy assessment.
By Beth Arr. Victoria, AU: Language Australia, 2003.
» A practical and theoretical resource about assessment in maths.

Teaching numeracy: 9 critical habits to ignite mathematical thinking.

Margie Pearse, K.M. Walton. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press, 2011.
» This book outlines nine critical thinking habits that foster numeracy, the ability to think through math logically, solve problems, and apply math outside the classroom. It details practical ways of monitoring and repairing students’ understanding, representing mathematics non-linguistically, developing students’ mathematics vocabulary, and creating numeracy-rich lesson plans.

Thinking strategies for numeracy: a practitioner’s guide.
By Vanya Wong, Julia Lew and Claire Lloyd. Burnaby, BC: SkillPlan, 2008.
» This guide teaches practitioners how to teach adult learners thinking strategies that can be applied to workplace numeracy tasks. These thinking strategies translate a work problem into a set of mathematical operations needed to complete a task. Thinking strategies are the step that comes before calculations; this guide does not teach specific mathematical skills. After teaching the problem-solving strategy, practice is given in using lists and tables, entry forms, graphs and maps, mimetic documents and documents with reading material.

The trouble with maths: a practical guide to helping learners with numeracy difficulties. 2nd ed.
Steve Chinn. London: Routledge, 2012.
» This book looks at learning difficulties in maths from several perspectives, including the language of mathematics, thinking styles and the demands of individual topics. It offers a complete overview of the most common problems associated with mathematics teaching and learning. Combining advice, guidance and practical activities, this user-friendly guide covers: developing flexible thinking skills; using alternative strategies for pupils to access basic facts; understanding the implications of pre-requisite skills, such as working memory, on learning; recognizing maths anxiety and tackling self-esteem problems; tackling the difficulties with word problems that many pupils may have; and selecting appropriate materials to enhance understanding.

A tutor’s guide: assisting learners solve written numeracy problems.
By Susan Reid and Ginnie Denny. Aukland, NZ: Workbase, 2005.
» Tutors can help learners develop numeracy skills by ensuring that the problems are written as clearly as possible. They can also relate skills to everyday activities that are relevant to learners’ lives. This guide offers tutors a process to use when learners experience difficulties with numeracy problems. It will inform teaching practice by pinpointing which strategies are not working with learners.

A tutor’s guide: developing a learner’s calculator skills: part 1, basic operations.
By Susan Reid. Aukland, NZ: Workbase, 2005.
» This guide will help develop a learner’s skills in using a calculator. Ideally, a learner will work through the guide with a tutor who can answer any questions the learner might have and offer guidance and support. Focuses on basic calculator functions.

A tutor’s guide: developing a learner’s calculator skills: part 2, more advanced operations.
By Bettina Schwender; edited by Ginnie Denny and Susan Reid. Aukland, NZ: Workbase, 2005.
» This guide will help develop a learner’s skills in using a calculator. Ideally, a learner will work through the guide with a tutor who can answer any questions the learner might have and offer guidance and support. Focuses on advanced calculator functions.

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Workbooks and Student Guides

ABE fundamental level mathematics I.
By Kate Nonesuch, et al. Victoria, BC: Centre for Curriculum and Professional Development, 1994.
» The three modules and teacher’s guide help to explain mathematics in the context of real life by encouraging learners to write about mathematic ideas, create word problems and keep journals, use case studies and physical items to help understand abstractions, and build learning partnerships with instructors and other learners. Aligned with the BC provincial adult basic education mathematics curriculum. Titles include:

  • A guide for instructors. A formal structure for pair/group settings that may be customized. It includes suggestions for objectives, materials, and procedures.
  • Module 1: A new way to look at math. Student strategies for dealing with mathematics anxiety and different methods of learning.
  • Module 2: Natural number sense. Provides learners with a basic understanding of the number system we use.
  • Module 3: Natural number operations. Instruction and practice using number theory and tools to solve problems with natural numbers.

Basic skills (series).
By Jerry Howett. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Cambridge Adult Education, 1980.
» These student workbooks contain exercises, activities and applications that are specific to each math skill. They promote an understanding of the basic concepts using plain language alongside the appropriate “math-specific” vocabulary. Titles include:

  • Basic skills with decimals and percents: a step-by-step approach.
  • Basic skills with fractions: a step-by-step approach.
  • Basic skills with math: a general review: a step-by-step approach.
  • Basic skills with whole numbers: a step-by-step approach.

Bingo plus: for literacy and level 1. (game)
By Donna Bowler. Vancouver, BC: successintesl, 2009.
» For low literacy and level one students, this resource contains 20 bingo board masters and 20 other number games and handouts intended to help learners with their numeracy skills.

ESL bingo.
By Donna Bowler. Vancouver, BC: successintesl, 2009.
» Includes everything needed to play two types of bingo: For regular bingo, students need to know the numbers to 100. For ESL bingo, students will need to know cardinal (one, two, three) and ordinal numbers (first, second, third), plus directions (east, west) and Canadian money amounts.

Everyday math skills workbooks series. (online)
Yellowknife, NWT: Northwest Territories Literacy Council, 2009. Available in the library and online.
» Created to help adult learners recognize that math is used everyday – in the workplace, at home and in our personal lives. The workbooks have a variety of topics and worksheets, and help learners with different math operations needed for this series. Designed for adults to use on their own or with others. These resources are written for northern and Aboriginal communities but are also appropriate for Community and Family Settings. Titles include:

Everyday number sense: mental math and visual models, student book.
By Mary Jane Schmitt. Emeryville, CA: Key Curriculum Press, 2006.
» A math program for adults that develops useful math skills through exercises that are relevant to real-life situations. Looks at problem solving and mental math strategies with whole numbers. See the teacher’s guide.

Number & money wizard.
By Donna Bowler. Vancouver, BC: successintesl, 200?.
» Intended for ESL learners, contains sets of easy and difficult math problems, money amount cards, coin problems, real coin sets and laminated bills. Designed to allow students to learn about Canadian money while playing games that develop math skills.

The numeracy pack.
By Diana Coben and Sandy Black. London, UK: Basic Skills Agency, 2004.
» A resource for improving basic mathematics skills. It consists of four books: Introduction to numbers; Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; Fractions, decimals, percentages and rations; Measurement.

Real life learning: budgeting and banking.
Project Literacy Victoria. Victoria, BC: Project Literacy Victoria, 1997.
» This resource includes information on how to create a budget, how to fill in a monthly budget sheet, how to open a bank account, ABM machines and how to use them, credit cards, savings and banking. Activities for learning and ideas to discuss or write about are also included.

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Workplace Numeracy

Build on your talents: using trades math.
Ottawa, ON: Construction Sector Council, 2001.
» This materials was designed to promote essential skills within the construction industry, particularly amongst youth considering careers in construction. It is designed to help develop a highly skilled workforce that will support the future needs of the construction industry in Canada. For students who have been out of school, or who have “rusty” math skills. Designed to refresh skills by applying math operations to typical construction workplace tasks.

Building workplace essential skills.
By Paul Anderson. Calgary, Alberta: Bow Valley College, 2000.
» This workbook for adult learners is intended to build workplace literacy and numeracy skills for front-line occupations. The exercises in the workbook are based on authentic workplace documents and work on actual tasks that learners would face as employees in the workplace. The workbook includes sections on graphs, charts, numeracy, invoices and budgets. It can be completed independently and in any order.

Graphs & charts: book 6 (workwrite series).
By Marisa Mazzulla and Karen Geraci. Toronto, ON: Preparatory Training Programs, 2008.
» This instructional resource provides learners with opportunities to practice reading, writing, document use and numeracy skills within a workplace context. It contains an overview of many common graph types used in workplaces today, including how they are created, who uses them and how they display information. Each unit covers a different type of graph.

Lifelines 22: developing literacy, language and numeracy in the workplace.
By Sue Southwood. Leicester, UK: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, 2006.
» This resource focuses on the field of workplace literacy, language and numeracy. Providers are encouraged to target learners within the workplace. It supports those working with employers to provide programs within workplace and includes case studies.

Lifelines 24: working with unions to support literacy, language and numeracy in the workplace.
By Judith Swift. Leicester, UK: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, 2008.
» Union-based learning is growing and it is essential that teachers and union representatives work closely together in order to promote high-quality learning experiences for people in the workplace.

Numeracy: book 7 (workwrite series).
By Marisa Mazzula, Karen Geraci and Aleksandra Popovic. Toronto, ON: Preparatory Training Programs, 2008.
» This instructional resource is designed to provide practitioners with numeracy and other essential skills activities for literacy learners seeking employment. It looks at the following topics: count items, add prices together, make change, take one-step measurements, compare costs, monitor inventory, prepare schedules, finding totals: quantities, costs and rates, convert and calculate measurements, calculate and interpret patterns and trends. The book provides many different activities to make sure that learners understand each topic before they move on.

Numeracy at work.
Edited by Lynda Fownes, Elizabeth Thompson and Julian Evetts. Burnaby, BC: SkillPlan, 2002.
» A collection of workplace examples which illustrate on-the-job applications of numeracy: Money Math, Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting Math, Measurement and Calculation Math and Data Analysis Math. These applied work activities are intended as a resource for educators to enrich their instructional activities.

Trades math workbook. (online)
Gatineau, QC: Human Resources and Development Canada, 2010. Available at http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/jobs/les/docs/tools/trades_math_workbook.pdf
» “This workbook will help you improve your numeracy skills and increase your success in an apprenticeship program. It includes a variety of exercises to help practice your numeracy skills and learn how these skills are used in the trades” (Front cover).

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