Powerful learners

Powerful learners

square grid

What do you see as the most critical aspect of being a powerful learner of numeracy and literacy?
Powerful learners connect ideas together, they can compare and contrast concepts, and they can transfer learning from one context to another. They can devise their own solutions to problems, and they can explain their thinking to others.

Powerful learners are willing to persist at tasks,

  • ...they see failure as an opportunity to learn,
  • ...they are willing to take risks, and
  • ...they both contribute their ideas and listen to the contributions of others.

What conditions and/or practices best promote engagement for powerful learners?

  • The best conditions for promoting engagement are in a supportive classroom community …
  • … in which all students work on tasks that encourage students to connect ideas together, to make their own decisions on how to solve problems, and listen to others when they are explaining their thinking.
  • A necessary condition is that teachers differentiate those tasks so that they are challenging for most students, the tasks are adapted for students experiencing difficulty and are extended for those who finished quickly.

If, as a teacher, I wish to build more powerful numeracy and literacy learners among my class/es, what, in your opinion, would be my first step?

  • First, find out what students know (as distinct from what they do not, which seems to be the focus of many commonly available assessment tools in current use).
  • Then build on what they know to create connected and challenging learning experiences (learning one idea at a time is disabling, but connecting ideas together is powerful)
  • At the same time, take actions to both model persistence, affirm persistence when you see it, and explain the importance of persistence.
  • Never criticise failure, but affirm failure as a step on the path to powerful learning


  • Working through a “lesson”
  • Discussing the pedagogies
  • The notion of “high expectations”
  • Thinking about the language and representation

An experience

The teacher said the grade 2 class were starting on arrays for multiplication

Arrange 12 counters is some sort of pattern
Arrange numbers on the square grid in patterns ( seen on right)

[Contribution by Professor Peter Sullivan]

Culturally responsive Mathematics Pedagogies

Culturally responsive Mathematics Pedagogies Powerpoint supports the audio recording of the webinar.