Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 178

Tutorial letter 501

Orientation to Intermediate Phase



Year Module 2019

Department of Mathematics Education


©  2018 University of South Africa

All rights reserved

Printed and published by the

University of South Africa
Muckleneuk, Pretoria





1.1 What is mathematics? People’s views 1
1.2 A classroom environment for doing mathematics 4
1.3 What does it mean to learn mathematics? 6
1.4 What does it mean to understand mathematics? 10
2.1 What is a problem? 17
2.2 What is problem solving? 17
2.3 Routine and nonroutine problems 19
2.4 Good problems have multiple entry points 22
2.5 A three-phase lesson format 23
Learning unit 3: NUMBERS AND OPERATIONS 30
3.1 Numbers, numerals and digits 30
3.2 The Hindu-Arabic numeration system 31
3.3 Understanding place value 32
3.4 Models to illustrate place value 33
3.5 Operations on whole numbers 36
3.6 Large numbers 49
3.7 Illustrating numbers on the number line 51
3.8 Rounding off 52
3.9 Prime numbers 52
3.10 Rules of divisibility 53
3.11 Multiples54
3.12 Factors55
Learning unit 4: FRACTIONS57
4.1 Basic fraction concepts 57
4.2 Fraction models 58
4.3 Fraction notation 59
4.4 Non-unit fractions 60
4.5 Number line presentations 61
4.6 Equivalent fractions 62
4.7 Comparing fractions 64
4.8 Addition of fractions 65
4.9 Subtraction of fractions 67
4.10 The meaning of “of ” 68
4.11 Multiplication of fractions 69
5.1 What is a pattern? 75
5.2 Numeric patterns 76
5.3 Geometric patterns 82
5.4 Generating number patterns using flow diagrams 85

Learning unit 6: SPACE AND SHAPE 89
6.1 Introduction to shapes 89
6.2 Van Hiele’s levels of geometric thought 90
6.3 Flat shapes 92
6.4 Polygons93
6.5 Triangles94
6.6 Quadrilaterals95
6.7 Space shapes 99
6.8 Practising how to draw 3D objects 103
6.9 Nets of polyhedra 104
6.10 Drawings from different views 105
7.1 Introduction107
7.2 Transformation geometry 108
7.3 Translation109
7.4 Reflection 110
7.5 Rotation113
7.6 Combination of transformations 114
7.7 Summary and conclusion 116
Learning unit 8: MEASUREMENT119
8.1 Introduction to measurement concepts 119
8.2 The meaning and process of measurement 120
8.3 Measuring units 120
8.4 Piaget’s theory of readiness 124
8.5 The role of estimation 125
8.6 Measurable attributes 126
8.7 Measurement content 128
8.8 Conclusion/summary139
9.1 Why do we need statistics? 141
9.2 Data collection methods 141
9.3 Organising and interpreting data 142
9.4 Measures of central tendency 150

Appendix 1: Activity for Dienses Blocks 154

Appendix 2: Fraction resources 160


Welcome to the module OPM1501, Orientation to Intermediate Phase Mathematics.

This module is compulsory for all students who not be following the mathematics
stream of the BEd (Intermediate Phase).

If you were unsuccessful in mathematics in high school, you should not feel
overwhelmed by having to study this module. If you work through this tutorial
letter meticulously, you might find that concepts become clearer, and that you actually
start to enjoy doing mathematics!

In this module, we endeavour to move away from the traditional way of teaching
mathematics. We focus on understanding the basic concepts, which form the
foundation of the learning of mathematics.

There are many activities in this study guide, and we advise you to buy an exercise
book and make an effort to do all of them.

The purpose of this module is to prepare you as teachers to offer mathematics at

school level in the intermediate phase


The module consists of two sections. In the first section (units 1 and 2) the emphasis
is on the teaching of mathematics. The discussion is around what it means to do
mathematics, as well as teaching through problem solving. In this section, we hope
to open new doors for you to the ways we do mathematics with understanding. In
the second section (units 3 to 9) the emphasis is on the content and the various topics
that form the mathematics curriculum. The content is explained in such a way, that
while you are working through the content, you are also introduced to some ideas
of how to teach the content for understanding. In other words, we are building your
pedagogical content knowledge. This means you will not only know WHAT to teach,
but also HOW and WHY you teach in a particular way. As you progress through the
tutorial letter, you will gain more knowledge and confidence to teach. However, there
is no easy way to master the material. With hard work, commitment and a positive
disposition you will succeed. Believe in yourself, and “carpe diem” (seize the day)!


You will be expected to download a copy of the Intermediate Mathematics Curriculum,
or the CAPS (Curriculum and Assessment Policy document) from the following

The curriculum is divided into three main sections.

Section 1 deals with the general aims of the curricula in the South African context.

Section 2 contains the specific aims of the Intermediate Mathematics Curriculum
and the skills that learners should develop while studying mathematics

The teaching and learning of Mathematics aim to develop

•• a critical awareness of how mathematical relationships are used in social,

environmental, cultural and economic relations
•• confidence and competence to deal with any mathematical situation without being
hindered by a fear of mathematics
•• a spirit of curiosity and a love for mathematics
•• an appreciation for the beauty and elegance of mathematics
•• recognition that mathematics is a creative part of human activity
•• deep conceptual understanding in order to make sense of mathematics
•• acquisition of specific knowledge and skills necessary for
–– the application of mathematics to physical, social and mathematical problems
–– the study of related subject matter (e.g. other subjects)
–– further study in mathematics

To develop essential mathematical skills the learner should

•• develop the correct use of the language of mathematics

•• develop number vocabulary, number concept and calculation and application skills
•• learn to listen, communicate, think, reason logically and apply the mathematical
knowledge gained
•• learn to investigate, analyse, represent and interpret information
•• learn to pose and solve problems
•• build an awareness of the important role that mathematics plays in real life
situations including the personal development of the learner

In section 3, the curriculum is unpacked, with examples of what learners should be

able to achieve.

On the next four pages, you will find a brief summary of the curriculum. It gives
you an idea of what has to be taught in the four school terms.








Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS)


In the preliminaries of this document, the following is stated:

The National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12 aims to produce learners who are
able to:

•• identify and solve problems and make decisions using critical and creative thinking;
•• work effectively as individuals and with others as members of a team;
•• organise and manage themselves and their activities responsibly and effectively;
•• collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information;
•• communicate effectively using visual, symbolic and/or language skills in various
•• use science and technology effectively and critically showing responsibility towards
the environment and the health of others; and
•• demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising
that problem solving contexts do not exist in isolation. (DBE NCS 2011:5)

The teaching and learning of mathematics aim to develop (Department of Basic
Education 2011:8):

•• a critical awareness of how mathematical relationships are used in social,

environmental, cultural and economic relations
•• confidence and competence to deal with any mathematical situation without being
hindered by a fear of mathematics


•• a spirit of curiosity and a love for mathematics

•• an appreciation for the beauty and elegance of mathematics
•• recognition that mathematics is a creative part of human activity
•• deep conceptual understanding in order to make sense of mathematics
•• acquisition of specific knowledge and skills necessary for
–– the application of mathematics to physical, social and mathematical problems
–– the study of related subject matter (e.g. other subjects)
–– further study in mathematics



After working through this unit, you should be able to

•• discuss the traditional approach to the teaching of mathematics

•• explain what it means to “do mathematics”
•• explain what a classroom environment for doing mathematics should look like
•• explain how people learn mathematics
How would you describe what happens when you are doing mathematics? In the rest
of this unit, we will explore what it means to “do” mathematics. We hope that, after
you have worked through this unit, you will have realised that outdated ideas about
mathematics are not acceptable if you expect to be a quality teacher. Combining the
best of the old ideas with fresh ideas about teaching and learning will enable you to
become a better quality mathematics teacher.

Before you read any further, we need you to think about what mathematics means
to you.

Write a short paragraph on your experiences as a learner in a mathematics
class when you were at school. Write at least one good experience and one bad


Most people acknowledge that mathematics is an important subject at school.
However, few really understand what mathematics is about and what it means
to “do” mathematics. People often define mathematics as a collection of “rules”,
arithmetic computations, mysterious algebraic equations or geometric proofs that
need to be learnt in order to pass an examination. In general, people tend to feel
that they are “no good at mathematics and that it is difficult”.

Such people often believe the following:

•• Mathematics requires a good memory.

•• Mathematics is based on the memorisation of facts, rules, formulas and procedures.
•• You have to have a special brain to be able to do mathematics.
•• Mathematics is not creative.
•• There is a best way to do a mathematics problem.
•• Every mathematics problem has only one correct answer and the goal is to find
the answer.
•• Mathematics problems are meant to be solved as quickly as possible.


•• Mathematics is all symbols and no words.

•• School mathematics is useless.
Much of this restricted (even negative) view of mathematics stems from
somewhatauthoritarian (which some people have called “traditional”) approaches
to the teaching of mathematics. In such “traditional” teaching, the teacher “tells”
learners about or explains a mathematical concept or idea to them. The teacher
“tells” the learners how to “use” a mathematical idea in a certain way in order to
arrive at the correct answer. Learners then practise the method and rely upon the
teacher to tell them the correct answers. This way of teaching produces a follow-the-
rules, computation-driven, answer-oriented view of mathematics. Learners exposed
to this way of teaching accept that every problem has one solution only and that they
cannot solve a problem without being told a “method of solution” beforehand. The
“rules” often do not make sense to learners and there is little excitement in lessons,
particularly if you cannot remember the rule!

The stereotypical traditional view emphasises procedures and the solving of routine
problems, with teachers showing and telling, while learners listen and repeat.

Carefully look at the six pictures/photos below.

Each of these describes a situation in a mathematics classroom.

Picture 1

Picture 2

LEARNING UNIT 1:  What it means to do mathematics

Picture 3 http://outstandingtogood.blogspot.com/2013/08/groups-v-pairs-v-individual-

Picture 4

Picture 5


Picture 6

Write a paragraph to describe what you think each of the pictures (photos)
represents. Do not rush through the activity. Write as much as you can about the
situation depicted in each picture.


As you work through the rest of this unit, you will be challenged to rethink and
reconstruct your own understanding of what it means to know and do mathematics
– so that learners with whom you work will have an exciting and more positive vision
of mathematics. Doing mathematics (mathematisation) will be eventful, compelling
and creative.

(1) Name the words that you can relate to teaching and learning in a traditional
mathematics classroom.
(2) Look at the verbs related to the “doing” of mathematics in a mathematics
classroom as mentioned in the text. Use each of them in a sentence to relate
them to the doing of mathematics.
(3) Describe the role of the teacher and the learners in a classroom where they
are doing mathematics.

It is the job of the teacher to ensure that every child learns to do mathematics, but
for this, the right environment is important.

An environment for doing mathematics is one in which learners are allowed to

engage in investigative processes and where they have the time and space to explore
particular cases (problems). They can then move slowly towards establishing, through
discovery and logical reasoning, the underlying regularity and order (in the form of
rules, principles, number patterns, etc.).

LEARNING UNIT 1:  What it means to do mathematics

Learners can create a “conjecturing atmosphere” in the classroom if the teacher

assigns appropriate tasks to them and promotes learner thinking and discussion
about these tasks. This atmosphere is one in which the rightness or wrongness of
answers is not the issue, but rather an environment that encourages learners to make
conjectures (guesses) about the regularity (sameness) they see. They then discuss
these conjectures with others without fear of being judged wrong or stupid, to listen
to the ideas expressed by others, and consequently, to modify their conjectures.

The mathematical processes involved in doing mathematics are best expressed by

action verbs. They require reaching out, taking risks, testing ideas and expressing
these ideas to others. (In the traditional classroom, these verbs take the form of
listening, copying, memorising, drilling and repeating – passive activities with little
mental engagement, involving no risks and little initiative.)

The classroom must be an environment in which every learner is respected, regardless

of his or her perceived “cleverness”, and, where he or she can take risks without
fear of being criticised if he or she makes a mistake. It should be an environment in
which learners work in groups, in pairs or individually, but where they are always
sharing ideas and engaged in discussion.

A Grade 6 learner did the following calculation to find the product of 2 175 × 26:

(1) Did the learner do the multiplication correctly?

(2) What is the meaning of each of the little numbers in the top row?
(3) Do you think what the learner did can be described as “doing mathematics”?

Does the process of “doing” mathematics (mathematisation)

•• provide a real problem-solving situation?

•• encourage enquiry, exploration and investigation of numbers?
•• stimulate the learning of regularity and order of numbers?
•• require the teacher to guide learners and ask thought-provoking questions?
•• involve learners in actively doing mathematics and discovering rules?
Perhaps you are wondering, after working through that rather complex example in
activity 1.5, what mathematics teachers are supposed to do about basic skills? For
example, you may be asking, if learners do not need to count accurately, know the


basic facts of addition, multiplication, subtraction and division of whole numbers,

fractions and decimals, and so on?

The fact is, that when we teach an algorithm in mathematics (like long multiplication)
and then give learners exercises to do in their books, they are not “doing” mathematics.
This does not mean that teachers should not give learners this kind of exercise, which
is simple drill-work, but that drill should never come before understanding.

Repetitive drill of bits and pieces is not “doing” mathematics and will never result in
understanding. Only when learners are capable of making sense of things by “doing”
mathematics in the classroom will they be truly empowered.


1.3.1 A constructivist view of learning

The constructivist view requires a shift from the traditional approach of direct
teaching to facilitation of learning by the teacher. Teaching by negotiation has to
replace teaching by imposition; learners have to be actively involved in “doing”
mathematics. This doing does not always have to be active and involve peer discussion,
although it often does. Learners will also engage in constructive learning on their
own, working quietly through set tasks, allowing their minds to sift through the
materials they are working with, and consolidating new ideas with existing ideas.
Constructivism rejects the notion that children are “blank slates” with no ideas,
concepts and mental structures. They do not absorb ideas as teachers present them,
but rather, they are creators of their own knowledge. The question you should be
asking now is, “How are ideas constructed by learners?”

1.3.2 Piaget’s ideas of assimilation and accommodation

How do we construct “meaning” from our thoughts?

The general principles of constructivism are based largely on the work of Piaget.
According to Piaget, when a person interacts with an experience/situation/idea, one
of two things may happen. Either the new experience is integrated into the person’s
existing schema (a process called assimilation) or the existing schema is adapted
to accommodate the new idea/experience (a process called accommodation or

•• Assimilation refers to the use of an existing schema to give meaning to new

experiences. Assimilation is based on learners’ ability to notice similarities between
objects and match new ideas to those they already possess.
•• Accommodation is the process of altering existing ways of seeing things or ideas
that do not fit into existing schemata. Accommodation is facilitated by reflective
thought and results in changing or modifying existing schemata.

LEARNING UNIT 1:  What it means to do mathematics

The diagrams below give a visual representation of the ideas of Piaget.

Explain the following:

(1) assimilation (2) accommodation

(3) disequilibrium (4) reflective thought

1.3.3 Sociocultural theory

The sociocultural theory of how we learn mathematics was influenced by the work
of Les Vygotsky. The zone of proximal development (ZPD) is a concept for which
Vygotsky is well known. It refers to the observation that children, when learning a
particular task or body of information, start out by not being able to do the task. Then
they can do it with the assistance of an adult or older child mentor, and finally they
can do it without assistance. The ZPD is the stage in which they can do it assisted,
but not alone. Thus, the teacher often has to guide a child or group of children as
they encounter different learning challenges.

While there may be wide variation of activities and content in a Vygotskian classroom,
the following four principles always apply:

(1) Learning and development are social, collaborative activities.

(2) The ZPD can serve as a guide for curricular and lesson planning.
(3) Classroom activities should be reality based and applicable to the real world.
(4) Learning extends to the home and other out-of-school environments and
activities, and all learning situations should be related.


1.3.4 Implications for teaching

Mathematics learning is likely to happen when we

•• use activities that will build upon learners’ experiences

•• use activities learners will regard as powerful and interesting
•• provide feedback to learners
•• use and develop correct mathematical language
•• challenge learners within a supportive framework
•• encourage learner collaboration, consensus and decision making

The following tasks are given (translated into a South African context):

(1) Four children had three boxes of Smarties. They

decided to open all three boxes, to share the Smarties
fairly. There were 52 Smarties in each box. How many
Smarties did each child receive?

Now look at two attempts from Grade 4 learners to solve this problem:

(a) Explain in your own words how the two learners solved the problem.
(b) What is an algorithm?

(2) LPQ Toy Store is filling small boxes with three Smarties in each. If they have
24 Smarties, how many small boxes will they be able to make?

Both learners in the above activity display conceptual understanding. They did not
follow the formal division algorithm, but made up their own strategies.

Consider the following subtraction using the vertical algorithm, which a learner
did, and answer the questions:

LEARNING UNIT 1:  What it means to do mathematics

(1) What calculation error did the learner make in the subtraction?
(2) What conceptual error did the learner make? (Think of place value.)
(3) Did the learner clearly understand the rule, “borrow from the next column”?
Explain your answer.

1.3.5 Construction in rote learning

All that you have read so far shows that learning and thinking cannot be separated
from each other (especially in mathematics). In many classrooms, reflective thought
(or active thinking) is still often replaced by rote learning with the focus on the
acquisition of specific skills, facts and the memorisation of information, rules and
procedures, most of which are soon forgotten once the immediate need for its
retention has passed.

Learners need information, concepts, ideas or a network of connected ideas in order

to think and they will think according to the knowledge they already have at their
disposal (in their cognitive schemata). The dead weight of facts learnt off by heart, by
memory, without thought to meaning (that is rote learning), robs the learner of the
potential excitement of relating ideas or concepts to one another and the possibility
of divergent and creative thinking (Grossmann, 1986).

Constructivism is a theory about how we learn. So, even rote learning is a construction.
However, the tools or ideas used for this construction in rote learning are minimal.
You may well ask: To what is knowledge, which is learnt by rote, connected?

What is inflicted on children because of rote-memorised rules, in many cases, is the

manipulation of symbols that have little or no attached meaning.

This makes learning much more difficult because rules are much harder to remember
than integrated conceptual structures that are made up of a network of connected
ideas. In addition, careless errors are not picked up because the task has no meaning
for the learners and so they have not anticipated the kind of result that might emerge.

According to the stereotypical traditional view, mathematics is regarded as a “tool

subject” consisting of a series of computational skills. The rote learning of skills
is all important, with rate and accuracy being the criteria for measuring learning.
This approach, labelled as the “drill theory”, was described by William Brawnell
(Trapton, 1986) as follows:

Arithmetic consists of a vast host of unrelated facts and relatively independent

skills. The pupil acquires the facts by repeating them over and over again until
he is able to recall them immediately and correctly. He develops the skills by
going through the processes in question until he can perform the required
operations automatically and accurately. The teacher need give little time to
instructing the pupil in the meaning of what he is learning.

This approach has the following weaknesses:

•• Learners perform poorly, neither understanding nor enjoying the subject.

•• They are unable to apply what they have learnt to new situations, as they soon
forget what they have learnt.
•• Learning occurs in a vacuum; the link to the real world is rarely made.


•• The facilitator pays little attention to the needs, interests and development of
•• Knowledge learnt by rote is hardly connected to learners’ existing ideas (i.e. the
child’s cognitive schemata) so that useful cognitive networks are not formed –
each newly formed idea is isolated.
•• Rote learning will almost never contribute to a useful network of ideas.
•• Rote learning can be thought of as a “weak construction”.

Read the section above about “rote learning”. Seven weaknesses are listed at the
end. Write your own interpretation of each of these weaknesses (do not simply
repeat what is said here).

Teaching strategies that you need to use for successful teaching of mathematics are
informed by constructivism, and sociocultural perspectives are informed by the
following ideologies:

•• Build new knowledge from prior knowledge.

•• Provide opportunities to talk/communicate about mathematics.
•• Create/build in opportunities for reflective thought.
•• Engage students in a productive struggle.
•• Encourage multiple approaches.
•• Treat errors as opportunities for learning.
•• Scaffold new content.
•• Honour diversity.
•• Create a classroom environment for doing mathematics

Discuss each of the strategies in a paragraph of about five points each.


We are now in a position to say what we mean by understanding. Grossmann (1986)
explains that to understand something means to assimilate it into an appropriate
schema (cognitive structure). Recall that assimilation refers to the use of an existing
schema (or a network of connected ideas) to give meaning to new experiences and
new ideas. It is important to note that the assimilation of information or ideas into
an inappropriate (faulty, confusing or incorrect) schema will make the assimilation
of later ideas more difficult and in some cases even impossible (depending on how
inappropriate the schema is).

Grossmann (1986) cites another obstacle to understanding, that is, the belief that one
already understands fully. Learners are often unaware that they have not understood
a concept until they have to put it into practice. How often has a teacher given a class
a number of similar problems to do (after demonstrating a particular number process
on the board), only to find a number of children who cannot solve the problems?
Those learners thought that they had understood, but they did not. The situation
becomes just as problematic when there is an absence of a schema – that is, no schema

LEARNING UNIT 1:  What it means to do mathematics

to assimilate into – but just a collection of memorised rules and facts. For teachers
in the intermediate phase, the danger lies in the fact that mechanical computation
can obscure the fact that schemata are not being constructed or built up, especially in
the first few years – this is to the detriment of learners’ understanding in later years.

Understanding can be thought of as the measure of the quality and quantity of

connections of an idea to existing ideas.

Understanding depends on the existence of appropriate ideas and the creation of new
connections. The greater the number of appropriate connections to a network of
ideas, the better the understanding will be. A person’s understanding exists along
a continuum. At one pole, an idea is associated with many others in a rich network
of related ideas. This is the pole of so-called “relational understanding”. At the other
pole, the ideas are loosely connected, or isolated from each other. This is the pole
of so-called “instrumental understanding”.

The picture below illustrates the continuum of understanding as illustrated by Van

de Walle (2007).

Knowledge learnt by rote is almost always at the pole of instrumental understanding,

where ideas are nearly always isolated and disconnected.
Grossmann (1986) draws attention to one of Piaget’s teaching and learning principles:
the importance of children learning by their own discovery. When learners acquire
knowledge through self-discovery, the knowledge has more meaning because
discovery facilitates the process of building cognitive structures (constructing
a network of connected ideas). Recall of information (concepts or procedures) is
easier than recall of unrelated knowledge transmitted to the learner.
Through the process of discovery (or investigation), a learner passes through a process
of grasping the basic relations (or connections) of an event, while discarding irrelevant
relations. In this way, they arrive at a concept (idea) together with an understanding
of the relations that give the concept meaning. They can therefore continue coping
with a good deal of meaningful new, but in fact highly related, information.
We infer from the above that the learner arrives at a concept that is derived from a
schema (a network of connected ideas) rather than from direct instruction from the
teacher. This produces the kind of learner who is independent, able to think, and able
to express ideas and solve problems. This represents a shift to learner centredness −
where learners are knowledge developers and users rather than storage systems
and performers (Grossmann, 1986).

(1) Explain the difference between relational understanding and instrumental
(2) Explain why relational understanding has a far greater potential for
promoting reflective thinking than instrumental understanding.


(3) Explain what it means that understanding exists on a continuum from

relational to instrumental understanding. Give an example of a mathematical
concept and explain how it might be understood at different places along
this continuum.

Understanding is about being able to connect ideas together, rather than simply
knowing isolated facts. The question, “Does the learner know it?” must be replaced
with “How well does the learner understand it?” The first question refers to
instrumental understanding and the second leads to relational understanding.
Memorising rules and using “recipe” methods diligently in computations are to
know the idea. Where the learner connects a network of ideas to form a new idea
and arrive at solutions is called “understanding the idea” and contributes to how
a learner understands.

Read the above description about “understanding mathematics”.

(1) Write down your own the definition of understanding.

(2) Now answer the following questions based on the definition:

In the drawing alongside blue dots (B) are used to illustrate ideas we already have,
and the red dot (R) shows the new idea that we construct. In this way, a network
of connections between our ideas is established. The more ideas used and the
more connections made, the better we understand.

(a) Try to draw a picture similar to the figure alongside.

Explain the relationship between this picture and
the definition.
(b) What is the difference between the following two
words used in the definition of understanding?
Quantity and quality (of connections)
(c) Explain the word “measure” in the definition.

1.4.1 Conceptual understanding of mathematics

Conceptual knowledge of mathematics consists of logical relationships constructed
internally and existing in the mind as a part of the greater network of ideas:

•• It is the type of knowledge Piaget referred to as logico-mathematical knowledge.

This is knowledge made up of relationships between objects, which are not
inherent in the objects themselves, but are introduced through mental activity.
•• By its very nature, conceptual knowledge is knowledge that is understood.

1.4.2 Procedural knowledge of mathematics

Procedural knowledge of mathematics is knowledge of the rules and procedures
that one uses in performing routine mathematical tasks.

LEARNING UNIT 1:  What it means to do mathematics

In mathematics, we often use the term “algorithm” to refer to a procedure. An

algorithm, according to Njisane (Moodly, 1992), is a procedure that consists of a
finite number of steps that lead to a result.

A simple example of an algorithm is the set of steps used to perform the addition
of fractions, for example, 1 + . The use of algorithms is often helpful, but, to be
3 6
helpful, algorithms must be understood. Njisane (Moodly, 1992) comments that an
algorithm that is properly understood may free the mind for further thinking, whereas
using an algorithm without insight may be frustrating. This is the difference between
the “how” and the “why” or between procedural and relational understanding (i.e.
forming a network of connected ideas). If the procedure refers to what we do when
following a set of steps, then relational understanding refers to why we do whatever
we do.

Mathematics consists of more than just concepts. Of course, there are step-by-step
procedures for performing tasks such as the following:

56 × 74 (multiply two digit numbers)

1 932 ÷ 28 (long division)
0,43 × 0,25 (multiplying decimal numbers)

Concepts are represented by special words and mathematical symbols (such as π, =, <,
>, //, ≡, ∠ABC = 45°, and so on). These procedures and symbols can be connected
to or supported by concepts − however, few cognitive relationships are needed to
have knowledge of a procedure (since these could be diligently memorised through
drill and practice).

In mathematics, we use a number of different symbols that indicate

procedures that need to be followed. For example, if we write (8 + 7) ÷ 3
+ 10, it means a different procedure has to be followed than if we write it as
8 + 7 ÷ (3 + 10). We obtain different answers when we follow different procedures.
Therefore, we find that

(8 + 7) ÷ 3 + 10 = 15 ÷ 3 + 10 = 5 + 10 = 15 and
8 + 7 ÷ (3 + 10) = 15 ÷ 13 = .
However, the meaning we attach to symbolic knowledge depends on how it is
understood – that is, what concepts and other ideas we connect to the symbols.

1.4.3 Tools and manipulatives

It is important for you to have a good perspective of how manipulatives (concrete,
physical models) can help or fail to help learners construct ideas.

Mathematical concepts have only mental existence – that is, the subject matter
of mathematics is not to be found in the external world, accessible to our vision,
hearing and other sense organs. We can only “do” mathematics because our minds
have what Skemp (1964) refers to as “reflective intelligence” – the ability of the
mind to turn away from the physical world and turn towards itself. We can use
physical objects to represent mathematical ideas, and to help us in the teaching of
these ideas, but in the end, learners will have to form the idea in their own head, as
a concept, unattached to any real object.


The figure below provides different mathematics representations (graph, table and
diagram are grouped as pictures).

Answer the following questions:

(1) You may talk of 100 people, 100 rand or 100 acts of kindness. Reflect on this
statement and then explain what is meant by the concept of 100. Discuss
this concept of 100 with fellow colleagues (students). If you do not agree,
establish why your understanding differs.
(2) Explain what a “model” for a mathematical concept refers to. Provide an
(3) List at least five models (apparatus/manipulatives) that you would use in
your mathematics teaching. Indicate in each case how you would use the
particular model mentioned.

1.4.4 Mathematical proficiency

Kilpatrick, Swafford and Findell (2001) conjured up the term mathematical proficiency to
capture important aspects of doing mathematics in terms of expertise, competence,
knowledge and facility. According to Kilpatrick et al (2001:115), mathematical
proficiency is what is necessary for “anyone to learn mathematics successfully”
and comprises five components, referred to as strands. The strands are not viewed as
independent from one another, but represent different aspects of a complex whole.
The strands are identified as conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, strategic competence,
adaptive reasoning and productive disposition (Kilpatrick et al, 2001). The strands are
interwoven and interdependent in the development of proficiency in mathematics,
as captured in the following figure:

LEARNING UNIT 1:  What it means to do mathematics

FIGURE 1.1: Intertwined strands of proficiency

(Kilpatrick et al, 2001:117)

Mathematics proficiency denotes an integration of mathematical ideas such that

their functional understanding is formed. It enables learners to know more than
isolated facts and methods. Learners come to understand why a mathematical idea
is important and the kinds of contexts in which it is useful. The learners’ acquired
knowledge is organised into a coherent whole, allowing them to learn new ideas by
connecting those ideas with what they already know.

The successful learning of mathematics in terms of the mathematical proficiency

perspective is characterised by the following: comprehension of ideas; ready access
to skills and procedures; an ability to formulate and solve problems; a capacity to
reflect on, evaluate and adapt one’s knowledge; the ability to reason from what is
known to what is wanted; and a habitual inclination to make sense of and value what
is being learnt. Teaching is a complex activity and, like other complex activities, can
be conceived in terms of familiar components. In the same way as mathematical
proficiency itself involves interwoven strands, teaching for mathematical proficiency
requires similarly interrelated components. In the context of teaching, proficiency

•• conceptual understanding of the core knowledge required in the practice of

•• fluency in carrying out basic instructional routines
•• strategic competence in planning effective instruction and solving problems that
arise during instruction
•• adaptive reasoning in justifying and explaining one’s instructional practices and
in reflecting on those practices so as to improve them
•• a productive disposition towards mathematics, teaching, learning and the
improvement of practice

Like the strands of mathematical proficiency, these components of mathematical

teaching proficiency are interrelated.


(1) How would you differentiate between mathematical proficiency and
mathematical teaching proficiency?
(2) What are the benefits of mathematical proficiency? Use your own words to
answer this question.

Grossmann, R. 1986. A finger on Mathematics. Johannesburg: Esson.
Kilpatrick, J, Swafford, J & Findell, B. 2001. Adding it up: helping children to learn
mathematics. Washington DC: National Academy Press, chapter 4, 115–155.
Njisane, RA. 1992. Mathematical thinking, in Mathematics education for in-service and pre-
service teachers, edited by M Moodly, R Njisane & N Presmeg. Pietermaritzburg:
Shuter & Shooter.
Skemp, RR. 1964. A three-part theory for learning mathematics, in New approaches
to mathematics teaching, edited by FW Land. London: Macmillan.
Trapton, P. 1986. Mathematical learning in early childhood. NCTM, 37th yearbook.
Van de Walle, JA. 2007. Elementary and middle school mathematics: teaching developmentally.
6th edition. New York: Pearson Education.



After working through this unit you should be able to

•• discuss the need for a shift in thinking about mathematics instruction

•• critically reflect on the value of teaching using problems
•• select and design appropriate tasks and problems for learning mathematics
•• explain how problem-solving skills develop while learners are learning


A problem is a context-rich or worthwhile task that requires a learner to be engaged
with in order to solve it. Such a task has the potential to allow learners to grapple with
the problem at hand, while using a variety of strategies. Often these problems have
no prescribed or memorised rules or methods to solve or there is not a perception
that there is one “correct” solution method. Worthwhile tasks offer boundaries or
constraints within which students have the freedom to explore.


At the outset, it is necessary to draw a distinction between problem solving and the
doing of routine exercises. Nicholson (1992) explains this as follows:

In problem solving, one finds the solution to a particular situation by a means

which was not immediately obvious. A problem-solving task is one that that
engages the learners in thinking about and developing the important math-
ematics they need to learn.

This can be contrasted with the traditional or stereotypical approach to teaching

in which teachers explain a rule, provide an example and then drill learners using
similar examples. Many authors and researchers (e.g. Nicholson, 1992) have described
problem solving as the essence of mathematics, and yet many learners spend most of
their time on routine exercises. It should be emphasised that whether something is
a problem or not is dependent on the level of sophistication of the problem solver.
A learner in Grade 8 may be required to solve a problem in which the method and
solution are not obvious, and yet the same problem given to an older child may be
quite routine.

Hiebert et al (1997) bring the problem-solving approach for the teaching and learning of
mathematics with understanding to the fore when they state the following:


We believe that if we want students to understand mathematics, it is more

helpful to think of understanding as something that results from solving
problems, rather than something we can teach directly.

However, problem solving should be more than a slogan offered for its appeal and
widespread acceptance – it should be the cornerstone of the mathematics curriculum
and instruction, fostering the development of mathematical knowledge and a chance
to apply and connect previously constructed mathematical understanding.

Problem solving is presented in the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement for
Intermediate Phase 4–6 (Department of Basic Education 2011) as follows:

The National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12 aims to produce learners

that are able to demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related
systems by recognising that problem solving contexts do not exist in isolation.

A significant proportion of human progress can be attributed to the unique ability

of people to solve problems. Not only is problem solving a critical activity in human
progress and even in survival itself, but it is also an extremely interesting activity.

Consider the following problem given to Grade 4 learners:
Complete the following to make it a true sentence. (A true sentence will be obtained
if the LHS of the equation is equal to the RHS of the equation.)

10 + _ _ _ = 4 + (3 + _ _ _ _)
Answer the following questions:
(1) Find the numbers for each blank to make the equation true.
(2) Find different pairs of numbers that will make the equation true.
(3) What is the relationship between the two numbers of any correct solution?

2.2.1 Four-step problem-solving process

George Pólya (1887–1985) (1957) was well known for his book, How to solve it. He
outlined four steps for solving problems, which are still used in many circles today.
The steps are as follows:
(1) Understand the problem.
(2) Devise a plan.
(3) Carry out the plan.
(4) Look back.

Select any strategy to solve the following problems. You must describe in your
own words how you are using the strategy.

Problem 1
Jack and Jill are at the same spot at the bottom of the hill, hoping to fetch a pail of
water. They both start walking up the hill. Jack walks 5 metres every 25 seconds,

LEARNING UNIT 2:  Teaching through problem solving

and Jill walks 3 metres every 10 seconds. They walk at a constant rate. Who will
reach the pail of water first?

Problem 2
In the diagram alongside, assume that the edge of each
square is 1 unit. Add squares to this shape so that the
perimeter (the distance around the entire shape) is 18


Tasks or problems can and should be set that engage learners in thinking about
and developing the important mathematics they need to learn. The traditional or
stereotypical approach to teaching goes something like this:

•• The teach-by-telling approach provides a rule.

•• The teacher accompanies the rule with a conceptual explanation (perhaps with
pictures so that learners can see the concepts).
•• The learners are aware of the exercises that will be given to them, and how to
do them.

However, the explanation is of little value since the rule is all that is necessary to get
through the day. An atmosphere that promotes curiosity, which encourages learners
to test their own hypotheses and to pursue their own predictions, is lacking. Learners
are not encouraged to create and invent their own constructions or ideas.

Here are some examples of routine and nonroutine questions. Which is which?
Why do you say that?

Find the solutions to each of the questions, and explain your own thinking processes.

You might find some of the questions problematic. Do not worry about that, but
give your best.

Just try to do them to the best of your knowledge. Be honest when you write about
your own experience when writing up your solutions.

(1) Round off 34,56 to the nearest one decimal place.

(2) Which number, when rounded off, becomes 34,6? What are the largest and
smallest possible numbers?
(3) Steven saved R1 327 towards a tablet that costs R8 418. If he saves R1 000
per month, in how many months’ time will he be able to buy the tablet?
(4) 1 327 + □ = 8 418
(5) A builder is building a new house. He worked out that 2 painters should be
able to complete the painting in 11 days. Each painter works an 8-hour day
at R7 per hour. The paint cost R1 260. How much money would the builder
spend on having the house painted?

Providing learners with opportunities to explore concepts in their own ways and
equipping them to deal with nonroutine tasks begs the question: Where do we start?


In mathematics, as in other areas of the curriculum, we need to think back to one

of the key principles we all learnt about in our initial teacher training: moving from
the known to the unknown. That means starting from where the learners are and
then presenting them with a problem that challenges them to extend their thinking.

2.3.1 Starting where the learners are

The stereotypical traditional approach to mathematics teaching goes something
like this:

•• The teacher gives input.

•• Learners practise for a while.
•• Learners are expected to use the skills in solving typical problems.
This approach has its problems, as Van de Walle (2007:38) point out:

The first difficulty with this approach is that it begins where the teacher is
rather than where the learner is. It assumes that all learners will be able to
make sense of the explanation in the manner the teacher thinks best. The
second difficulty with the teach-then-solve approach is that problem solving
is separated from the learning process. The learners expect the teacher to tell
them the rules and are unlikely to solve problems for which solution methods
have not been provided. In essence, learning mathematics is separated from
“doing mathematics”. This does not make sense.

2.3.2 How can lessons become more effective?

Consider the following:

•• Begin where the learners are, not where you as teachers are.
•• Teaching should begin with the ideas that learners already have – the ideas they
will use to create new ones.
•• Engage learners in tasks or activities that are problem based and that require

2.3.3 What does it mean in practice?

Firstly, we need to understand what a problem is. A problem is any task or activity for
which the learners have no prescribed or memorised rules or methods. Learners should
also not have the perception that there is a specific “correct” solution or method.

In setting a problem for learners, teachers should make sure that it

•• begins where the learners are

•• engages learners in the aspect of mathematics they are required to learn
•• requires learners to explain and justify their methods as well as their answers
The methods that are used may be varied. They may involve hands-on material or
drawings; they can be simple pencil-and-paper tasks; they may be strictly mental
work; or calculators may or may not be used.

LEARNING UNIT 2:  Teaching through problem solving

What is critical, however, is that if mathematics is to be taught through problem

solving, then the tasks or activities are the vehicle through which the desired
curriculum is developed. Teachers do not teach the concepts first and then
require learners to do the appropriate exercises – the problem-solving activity
is the vehicle through which the concepts are taught.

Let us look at an example to make it practical:

Cut open a cereal box (without a lid) so that it can lie flat:

Draw a flat box in this space:


This is a drawing of a cube without a top (called an open cube).

(1) Which of the nets can be folded to make this box? Redraw these in your script.

(2) Now draw three different nets for a closed cube (6 faces).


Recall that one advantage of a problem-based approach is that it can help accommodate
the diversity of learners in every classroom. Teachers should not dictate how learners
must think about a problem in order to solve it. When a task is set, learners could
be told: “Use the ideas you own to solve this problem”.
Learners in a class will have different ideas about how they can best solve a problem.
They will draw on their own network of mental tools, concepts and ideas. This means
that there will be many ways (multiple entry points) to tackle the problem. Although
most problems have singular correct answers, there are often many ways to get there.

Here is an example of a problem:

Find the area of the cover of your mathematics book, that
is, how many square tiles will fit on the cover of the book?
Some different solution methods at different entry points
are reflected in the frames shown below:

LEARNING UNIT 2:  Teaching through problem solving

Use a ruler to measure the edges,

Place tiles along the edges of noting that the tiles are 2 cm on
the book and multiply them. each side – then multiply.


Cover with tiles and count only the

Cover with tiles and count. length of the rows and the number of
rows – multiply to calculate the total.

Having thought about these possible points, you will be better prepared to provide
a hint that is appropriate for learners who are “stuck” with strategies different to
the others.

(1) What does it mean to say that a task has multiple entry points?
(2) Write down any mathematical task for intermediate phase learners where
you can use at least two entry points.


You may be inclined to agree that teachers typically spend a small portion of the
allocated time on explaining or reviewing an idea, followed by learners working
through a list of exercises – and more often than not, rehearsing the procedures
already memorised. This approach conditions the learners to focus on procedures
so that they can master the exercises.

This is in stark contrast to a lesson where a class works on a single problem and
engages in discourse about the validity of the solutions – more learning occurs and
much more assessment information is available.

2.5.1 Before, during and after

Teaching through problem solving does not mean simply providing a problem or
task, sitting back and waiting for something to happen. The teacher is responsible for
making the atmosphere and the lesson work. To this end, Van de Walle, Karp and
Bay-Williams (2016) see a lesson as consisting of three main parts: before, during and
after. Van de Walle et al (2016:42) propose the following simple three-part structure
for lessons when teaching using problem solving:


If you allow time for each of the before, during and after parts of the lesson, it is quite
easy to devote a full period to one seemingly simple problem. In fact, there are times
when the “during” and “after” parts may extend into the next day or even longer!
As long as the problematic feature of the task is the mathematics you want learners
to learn, much good learning will result from engaging learners in only one problem
at a time. The teacher’s actions in the before phase

What you do in the “before” phase of a lesson will vary according to the task. The
actual presentation of the task or problem may occur at the beginning or at the end
of your “before” actions. However, you will have to engage learners first in some
form of activity directly related to the problem in order to prepare them mentally
and to make clear all expectations in solving the problem.
The following strategies may be used in the before phase of the lesson:
•• Begin with a simple version of the task or reduce the task to simpler terms.
•• Brainstorm: Where the task is not straightforward, allow learners to suggest
solutions and strategies, thereby producing a variety of solutions.
•• Estimate or use mental computation. For the development of computational
procedure, allow learners to do the computation mentally or to estimate the
answer independently.
•• Be sure the task is understood. This action is not optional. You must always be
sure that learners understand the problem before setting them to work. Remember
that their perspective is different from yours. Have them restate the problem in
their own words, as this will force them to think about the problem.
•• Establish expectations. This action is essential. Learners need to be clearly told
what is expected of them, for example, the following:
–– Explain (in writing) why you think your answer is correct.
–– When working in groups, only one written explanation should come from
the group.
–– Share your ideas with a partner and then select the best approach to be

LEARNING UNIT 2:  Teaching through problem solving The teacher’s actions in the during phase

Once you are comfortable that learners are ready to work on the task, it is time to
let go. Your role now shifts to that of a facilitator:

•• You must demonstrate confidence in and respect for your learners’ abilities.
•• Your learners should get into the habit of working in groups (to indulge in co-
operative group work).
•• Listen actively to find out what your learners know, how they think, and how
they are approaching the task.
•• Provide hints and suggestions when the group is searching for a place to begin
or when they stumble. Suggest that they use a particular manipulative or draw a
picture if it seems appropriate.
•• Encourage testing of ideas. Avoid being the source of approval of their results
or ideas. Instead, remind the learners that answers, without testing and without
reasons, are not acceptable.
•• Find a second method. This shifts the value system in the classroom from answers
to processes and thinking. It is a good way for learners to make new and different
connections. The second method can also help learners, who have made an error,
to find their own mistake.
•• Suggest extensions or generalisations. Many of the good problems are simple on
the surface. The extensions are normally excellent. The general question at the
heart of mathematics as a science of pattern and order is: What can you find
out about that? This question looks at something interesting to generalise. The
following questions will help to suggest different extensions: What if you tried
…? Would the idea work for …? The teacher’s actions in the after phase

The “after” phase is critical, as everyone, learners as well as the teacher, often learn
the most in this phase. It is not a time to check answers, but for the class to share
ideas. As Van de Walle (2007:46) comment:

Over time, you will develop your class into a community of learners who together are involved
in making sense of mathematics. Teach your learners about your expectations for this time
and how to interact with their peers.

In the after phase of a lesson, you may find that you will engage in the following

•• Engage the class in discussion. Rule number one is that the discussion is more
important than hearing an answer. Learners must be encouraged to share and
explore the variety of strategies, ideas and solutions, and then to communicate
these ideas in a rich mathematical discourse.
•• List the answers of all groups on the board without comment. Unrelated
ideas should be listened to with interest, even if they are incorrect. These can be
written on the board, and testing the hypothesis may become the problem for
another day, until additional evidence comes up that either supports or disproves it.
•• Give learners space to explain their solutions and processes. A suggestion
here is to begin the discussion by calling first on learners who are shy, passive
or lack the ability to express themselves – because the more obvious ideas are
generally given at the outset of a discussion. These reticent learners can then
more easily participate and thus be valued.


•• Allow learners to defend their answers, and then open the discussion to the
class. Resist the temptation to judge the correctness of an answer. In place
of comments that are judgemental, make comments that encourage learners to
extend their answers, and that show you are genuinely interested. You may ask,
for example, “Will you please tell me how you worked that out?”

2.5.2 Working towards problem-solving goals

All of the goals of problem solving can and will be achieved in a classroom that
employs a problem-solving approach and allows learners to use and develop their
problem-solving strategies. It is important for the teacher to be clearly aware of the
goals of problem solving and focus attention on them regularly.

The following are three important goals of teaching using problem solving:

•• Allow learners to develop problem-solving strategies for understanding the

problem (in the before phase of a lesson).
•• Use plan-and-carry-out strategies (in the before and during phase of the lesson).
•• Reflect on the problem-solving process to ensure that learning has taken place, and
to consolidate the learning that has taken place (in the after phase of the lesson).

The following are some practical problem-solving strategies:

•• Draw a picture, act it out, or use a model.

•• Look for a pattern.
•• Make a table or chart.
•• Try a simpler form of the problem.
•• Guess and check.
•• Make an organised list.
Some looking-back strategies are as follows:

•• Justify the answer.

•• Look for extensions to the solution.
•• Look for generalisations of the solution.

(1) Give reasons why there should be a shift in the thinking about mathematics
(2) Use your own words to describe the teacher’s actions in the before, during
and after phases of a problem-solving lesson.

2.5.3 Different levels of cognitive demands in tasks

An important practical step that every teacher takes daily in working towards
problem-solving goals is the selection of tasks for learners to work on. Teachers do
this with more or less thought on different occasions. The tasks that learners work
on will influence their experiences of mathematics and are vital in their construction
of knowledge and their mathematical development. It is important that mathematics
teachers are able to choose tasks carefully and thoughtfully, in order to achieve their

LEARNING UNIT 2:  Teaching through problem solving

goals for their learners’ learning. This is particularly the case when working with
new concepts of mathematics and learning.

Stein, Smith, Henningsen and Silver (2000) provide a framework for differentiating
between tasks, describing the different levels of thinking they require in order for
learners to be successfully engaged. They distinguish between tasks that have low-
level demands, such as memorisation and purely procedural tasks; those tasks that
demand a high level of mathematical thinking, such as procedural tasks that link to
enhancing understanding and sense-making; and those tasks that involve learners
in “doing mathematics” as they explore relationships and understand mathematical
concepts and processes.

The table below summarises the main features of the task analysis suggested by
Stein et al (2000).

Lower-level demands Higher-level demands

Procedures with connections
Memorisation tasks

•• Involve reproducing previously •• Focus on the use of procedures for

learnt facts, rules, formulae or the purpose of developing deeper
definitions levels of understanding
•• Cannot be solved using a procedure •• Suggest pathways to follow
•• Are not ambiguous – involve exact •• Are usually represented in multiple
reproduction of previously seen ways, for example, diagrams,
material manipulatives, symbols, etc.
•• Have no connection to concepts or •• Require some degree of cognitive
meanings that underline the facts, effort – learners are required to
etc., being learnt or reproduced engage with conceptual ideas
underlying procedures to be
Procedures without connections Doing mathematics tasks

•• Are algorithmic •• Require complex and non-

•• Require limited cognitive effort for algorithmic thinking
success •• Require learners to explore and
•• Show little ambiguity of what needs understand mathematical concepts,
to be done and how to do it processes or relationships
•• Have no connections to concepts or •• Demand self-regulation
meanings underlying the procedure •• Require learners to access relevant
•• Require no explanations or few knowledge
descriptions of how procedures •• Require learners to analyse the task
work •• Require considerable cognitive
effort and may lead to some levels
of anxiety due to unpredictable
nature of the solution process

2.5.4 The value of teaching using a problem-based approach

Teaching using a problem-based approach requires the development of tasks that
take into account the current understanding of learners, as well as the needs of the
curriculum. The value of this approach includes the following:
•• When solving problems, learners focus their attention on ideas and sense-making.
This leads to the development of new ideas and enhances understanding. In


contrast, a more traditional approach emphasises “getting it right” and following

the directions supplied by the teacher.
•• When solving problems, learners are encouraged to think that they can do
mathematics and that mathematics makes sense. As learners develop their
understanding, their confidence in mathematics also grows.
•• As learners discuss ideas, draw pictures, defend their own solutions, evaluate other
solutions and write explanations, they provide the teacher with insight into their
thought process and their mathematical progress.
•• In solving problems, learners develop reasoning and communication, and
make connections with existing knowledge. These are the processes of “doing”
mathematics, which go beyond the understanding of mathematical content.
•• A problem-based approach is more rewarding and stimulating than a teach-by-
telling approach. Learners are actively engaged in making sense of and solving
the problem. The development of their understanding is exciting for them and
their teacher.
Developing confidence and the capacity for
doing mathematics
Provision of assessment data
Problem solving
Mathematical power
Allowing entry points
Fewer disciplinary problems
Having fun and enjoyment

•• It is not difficult to teach mathematics as a series of skills and a collection of facts

and to programme learners to be able to carry out routine procedures without
really having to think about what they are actually doing. Only a small percentage
of learners who have emerged at the end of the system, have had any use for
the mathematics they have learnt, and most will use their knowledge of simple
arithmetic, assisted by a pocket calculator, to get them through everyday life. We
are sure you will agree that there must be more to the teaching of mathematics
than simply being able to do calculations, solving equations or being able to
memorise theories.

Give your own opinion on the following statement: “It is easier for a teacher to
teach using rote learning”.

Hiebert, J, Carpenter, TP, Fennema, E, Fuson, KC, Wearne, D, Murray, H, Olivier, A
& Human, P. 1997. Making sense: teaching and learning mathematics with understanding.
Portsmouth, UK: Heinemann.
Nicholson, MJ. 1992. Problem solving, in Mathematics education for in-service and pre-
service teachers, edited by M Moodly, R Njisane & N Presmeg. Pietermaritzburg:
Shuter & Shooter.
Pólya, G. 1957. How to solve it. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

LEARNING UNIT 2:  Teaching through problem solving

Stein, MK, Smith, MS, Henningsen, MA & Silver, EA. 2000. Implementing standards-
based mathematics instruction: a casebook for professional development. New York:
Teachers’ College Press.
Van de Walle, JA, Karp, KS & Bay-Williams, JM. 2016. Elementary and middle school
Mathematics – teaching developmentally. 9th edition. New Jersey: Pearson Education
(Pearson New International Edition).





After working through this unit ,you should be able to

•• discuss the Hindu-Arabic numeration system

•• explain the concept of a “number”
•• use models to represent numbers
•• describe and use operations on numbers
•• describe and use factors and multiples
•• explain and use prime numbers
•• explain and use the rules of divisibility


•• A number is a count or measurement – that is really an idea in our minds.
•• A numeral is a symbol or name that stands for a number.
•• A digit is a single symbol use to make up numerals.
•• So the number is an idea, the numeral is how we write it.

3.1.1 Development of Hindu-Arabic digits

The digits we are using today did not always look like the ones you are used to. It
took centuries to develop the digits to what we are using today. And who knows, in
a couple of hundred years they might look different again.

LEARNING UNIT 3:  Numbers and operations


The elegant numeration system which we use today is thought to have been invented
by the Hindus from approximately 1 000 BC onwards, to have spread via trade with
the Arabs over centuries to their world, and hence by trade and conquest via the
Moors in Spain, to Europe.

Using only ten symbols, including a zero symbol, and the concept of place
value, we can represent any number we please.

The main features are summarised below (e.g. the number 4 213)

•• Employs place value. Thousands Hundreds Tens Ones

•• Is a denary system. 10 × 10 × 10 10 × 10 10 1
•• The base is ten and 10 × 10 × 10 10 × 10 1
the place values
10 × 10 × 10 1
powers of 10.
•• Has digits to count 10 × 10 × 10
how many times a 4 2 1 3
particular grouping

As the grouping number is 10, there will never be more than nine groups in each place.
Our numeration system
•• uses a zero, to “count” the number of an empty set
•• is multiplicative: 4 ×3 (10 × 10 ×210) + 2 × (10 × 10) + 1 × 10 + 3 × 1
•• and additive: (4 × 10 ) + (2 × 10 ) + (1 × 101
) + 3 × 100

(1) Explain the difference between the concepts, digit, numeral and number,
by giving examples.
(2) What is a numeration system?
(3) What is the role of zero in our numeration system?



Make two numbers using the digits 1 and 3.
•• What numbers can you make?
–– 13 and 31
•• How are they different?
–– Thirteen is 1 ten and 3 ones
–– Thirty-one is 3 tens and 1 one

How many numbers can you make from the digits 3, 5 and 8?
Let us take a look:

Hundreds Tens Units (ones)

3 5 8 = 358 In a basic digital system,
a numeral is a sequence
3 8 5 = 385
of digits, which may be
5 3 8 = 538 of arbitrary length. Each
5 8 3 = 583 position in the sequence has
a place value, and each digit
8 5 3 = 853 has a value.
8 3 5 = 835

3.3.1 Place value, face value and total value

Place value
The place values are the value of the PLACE where the digit is in the numeral. In
a three-digit number, there are three places, the hundreds, the tens and the units.

Hundreds Tens Units (ones)

The value of the numeral is computed by multiplying each digit in the sequence by
its place value, and summing the results.

Hundreds Tens Units (ones)

These are the
3 5 8 place values.

The place value

of the 3 is

The numeral 358 has the value of 3 hundreds plus 5 tens plus 8 ones.

OR: 3 × 100 + 5 × 10 + 8 × 1 = 358

“Listen” how we read it: three hundred and fifty eight or just three hundred fifty eight.

Face value Fifty is the English

for 5 tens.

The face value of a digit in a numeral is simply the number that you see.
3 456

LEARNING UNIT 3:  Numbers and operations

The face value of the numeral in the hundred place is 4.

Total value
The total value (some textbooks refer to “the value” only) of a digit in a numeral is the
face value × the place value
So the total value of the 4 in 3 456 is 4 × 100 = 400

In the tens place of the numeral 234, we have a digit with a face value of 3,
and a place value of 10, giving us a total value of 30.

(1) Our numeration system employs place value. What is your understanding
of place value?
(2) Write down the place value of the underlined digits:
54 982
459 234
(3) Write down the total value of the underlined digits:
54 982
459 234


Young children need models to develop an understanding of place value. We will
discuss a few here.

3.4.1 Base 10 blocks (Dienes blocks)

Zoltan Dienes (1916–2014) developed these base 10
blocks to teach place value.

Dienes place is unique in the field of mathematics education

because of his theories on how mathematical structures
can be taught from the early grades onwards using
multiple embodiments through manipulatives, games,
stories and dance.


Illustrate the following numbers using Dienes blocks (also called base 10 blocks):

Number Place value chart Representation

3 2 6

Number Place value chart Representation

2 4 7 6

3.4.2 Unifix cubes

Unifix cubes are colourful plastic connecting cubes
that learners can stack up to bars of 10. They are
useful for working with numbers under 100,
because the piles become quite big if one works
with more. The benefit is that they can be placed
together or taken apart. Number bonds can be
illustrated using Unifix cubes.

Illustrate the following numbers using Unifix blocks:
Number Place value chart Representation

1 3 5

See also the website: http://www.themeasuredmom.com/math-activities-unifix-cubes/

LEARNING UNIT 3:  Numbers and operations

3.4.3 Sticks or matches

Bundles of sticks, grouped in tens, and then tied with a rubber band

What numbers are represented in the grouping of sticks above?

3.4.4 Beans
Beans in bottle tops and empty match boxes

Illustrate the following numbers using beans

Number Place value chart Representation

1 4 8


3.4.5 The hundred chart

The hundred chart has many advantages in teaching number concepts.

(1) Find a row or column where all the units digits have a face value of 3.
(2) Find a row or column where 9 of the tens digits have a face value of 3.
(3) Find the numbers where the face values of the tens digits are the same as
the units digits. What do you notice? Draw a line through them.
(4) Find the numbers where the sum of the tens digit and the units digit is 9.
What do you notice?
(5) What do the numbers in the last column have in common?

3.4.6 Number cards

Below are number illustrations of number cards, and how a number can be built up.

We may think of 385 as written on three cards: 3 0 0 8 0 5 fitted one behind

the other to look like this: 3 8 5


There are four basic operations in mathematics, namely addition, subtraction,
multiplication and division. Once you understand how numbers are made up
(hundreds, tens, units, etc.) you will have a better understanding of operations on

LEARNING UNIT 3:  Numbers and operations

3.5.1 Addition and subtraction

Write a paragraph on student-invented strategies.

Invented Strategies for Mathematics

Invented Strategies can refer to any strategy other than the traditional algorithm.
Invented Strategies do not employ the use of physical materials or counting by ones
to produce a product. It may be easier to think of them as personal and flexible strategies
(Van de Walle & Lovin, 2006). These strategies are built on students’ own ideas and
understandings, and often rely heavily on story problems and children’s literature.

Benefits of Invented Strategies

–– Enhancement of base-ten concepts: research has found a relationship between the
development of base-ten concepts and the process of inventing computational
–– Built on student understanding: students will not often use a strategy they do not
understand, and frequently cannot explain why traditional algorithms work.
–– Students make fewer errors: systematic errors are much less typical of invented
strategies as opposed to traditional algorithms.
–– Serve students at least as well on standard tests: students using this method achieve
similar results to students using traditional algorithms. Students using Invented
Strategies also tend to fair better on word problems.

How does it work?

Explain to students that the standard algorithms are not always the best methods to
use. Break students into “teams” and challenge them to try to come up with a faster
way to solve a problem. Make sure they can explain how they got to the answer. Try
embedding the computational tasks within a simple context, such as a story problem.
By using this method, you can tailor your story problems to your advantage, to try to
coax a particular strategy out of your students. The use of children’s literature may
also be helpful here. Van de Walle and Lovin (2006) suggests a book called Cookies
about the history of the Famous Amos cookie business. This may help get students
engaged in the subject matter. The most important aspect of Invented Strategies,
however, is that students are able to explain their solution methods. This is where
whole-class sharing is essential. Students must be able to share and explain their
methods, to ask and answer questions of their classmates and to learn and build on
others’ strategies. Van de Walle and Lovin (2006) suggest making a firm rule that
no one may use a strateg y that he or she does not understand.

Examples of Invented Strategies

Four strategies for 46 + 38:
(1) Add tens, add ones, then combine (40 + 30 = 70, 6 + 8 = 14, 70 + 14 = 84)
(2) Add on tens, then add ones (46 + 30 = 76, 76 + 8 = 84)
(3) Move some to make tens (44 + 40 = 84)
(4) Use a nice number and compensate (46 + 40 = 86, 40 – 2 = 38, so 86 – 2 = 84)

You want to buy a book priced R105, but you find you only have R89 in your purse.
Think of ways in which you can find how much money you still need. You do not
have pen and paper or a calculator with you, and you do not want to rely on the
salesperson to work it out.


There are various ways in which you can reason to find the answer.
One way would be:

•• If you had R100, how much would you have been short? R5
•• If you had R90, how much would you have been short? R15
•• But now you have R89, so you have R15 + R1 short. R16
Now write down another way in which you could do the calculation.

Write a paragraph on algorithms.

Algorithms are clever or smart strategies for computing that have been developed
over time. Each is based on performing the operation on one place value at a time
with transitions to an adjacent position (trades, regrouping, “borrows,” or “carries”).
These algorithms work for all numbers but are often far from the most efficient or
useful methods of computing.

One of the most common algorithm for addition of whole numbers is based on the
following rules:

(1) Add the numbers according to columns

(2) Begin in the ones’ column.
(3) Do not keep more than 9 units in any column.
(4) Carry over unit(s) over 9 by trading with one unit of the next column to the left.

(1) What is an algorithm?
(2) Investigate and report on the differences between standard algorithm and
learners’ own invented strategies.
(3) Write down the benefits of student-invented strategies in your own words.

Using models to explain concepts of addition and subtraction

Use Dienes blocks to explain how to add 8 + 6. This is a simple example, but it will
show you how to exchange the blocks.

(i) Pack out 8 tinies and 6 tinies.

LEARNING UNIT 3:  Numbers and operations

(ii) Take 2 tinies from the second group and place it with the 8 tines.

(iii) You now have 10 tinies in the first group and 4 tinies in the second group.
Exchange the 10 tinies for one long.


3.5.2 Dienes blocks

Use Dienes blocks to show 367 + 134.

3.5.3 Number cards

Use number cards to illustrate the addition:

LEARNING UNIT 3:  Numbers and operations

3.5.4 Vertical and horizontal algorithms

The two examples above demonstrated vertical and horizontal algorithms for addition.
•• In a horizontal algorithm, you will break up the numbers into 100s, 10s, etc.,
and place them in a row.
•• In a vertical algorithm, you will place the numbers underneath each other.

Horizontal algorithm for addition

For the horizontal algorithm, you need to separate the hundreds, tens and units,
from the number, and then add
•• hundreds to hundreds
•• tens to tens
•• units to units
Vertical algorithm for addition
Traditionally, you might know this algorithm for addition as “carrying”. To “carry”
is another way of talking about exchange:
•• 10 units to one ten
•• 10 tens to one hundred
•• 10 hundreds to one thousand, and so on
Here is another example to illustrate the “carrying” from one place value to the next.
Understanding “carrying”: using Dienes blocks to add

Vertical algorithm for subtraction

Traditionally, you might know this algorithm for subtraction as “borrowing”. To
“borrow” is another way of talking about exchange:


•• one ten to 10 units

•• one hundred to 10 tens
•• one thousand to 10 hundreds, and so on
Understanding “borrowing”: using Dienes blocks to subtract

Use Dienes blocks to illustrate the following operations:
(1) 24 + 57 (2) 196 + 105
(3) 44 – 17 (4) 416 – 109
Use number cards to illustrate the following operations:
(5) 458 + 263 (6) 458 – 263

LEARNING UNIT 3:  Numbers and operations

3.5.5 Other addition and subtraction strategies

We can convert numbers to more manageable ones, to make the calculation easier.

Using the number line



This is also called the shopkeeper’s method. This is
how the shop assistant counts out your change when
you pay cash.

If you buy an article for R316, and you pay with two R200
notes. How much change will you receive?

Start with the 316, and then add on until you get to 400.

316 + 4 → 320 + 10 → 330 + 20 → 350 + 50 → 400

4 + 10 + 20 + 50 = 84
R400 – R316 = R84

The change will be R84.

On number line

LEARNING UNIT 3:  Numbers and operations

(1) Use compensation to add or subtract the following:
(a) 468 + 39
(b) 468 – 39
(c) 399 + 499 + 599
(d) 10 000 – 599
(2) Use the number line to show the addition or subtraction of
(a) 991 + 69
(b) 500 – 472
(c) 1 099 + 101

3.5.6 Multiplication and division


The following excerpt are learners’ responses to the problem below (Van de Walle,
2007). Explain in your own words how each of the three children solved the problem:

There were 35 dog sleds. Each sled was pulled by 12 dogs. How many dogs were there in all?


3.5.7 Dienes blocks

Use Dienes blocks to show 23 × 7

Multiplication by 10

Often teachers would say to their learners: When you multiply by 10, “you must simply
put a zero at the end”. The problem is that this “rule” only works for multiplication of
whole numbers by 10. When dealing with decimals, that rule does not work. Now
teachers often say: “move the comma for every zero in the multiplier”.

What really happens when we multiply whole numbers by 10?

We know that 10 fives will be 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5+ 5 + 5 = 50

Let us look at the place value chart.

(1) Show 329 × 100 by drawing a place value chart. Explain why there are now
2 zeros at the end.
(2) Mrs Tesfaya has 6 boxes of markers. Each box has 19 markers in it. If she
sold each marker for R2,70, how much money would Mrs Tesfaya earn?

LEARNING UNIT 3:  Numbers and operations

Division is an operation that splits a quantity into smaller, equal-sized quantities.
It is important that you understand the two different concepts of division, namely
sharing and grouping.
Consider the following two examples:
(1) Patsy wants to share 30 sweets between 5 children. How many will each child
(2) We have to transport 70 children to a function. Each mini-bus can take 10
children. How many mini-buses do we need?
Let us look at the action involved in each of the above.

Sharing is usually the first concept of division that learners encounter. It is used to
share items out equally among a number of people, such as sweets.
•• In sharing, the number of groups is known. The quantity of items in each group is
unknown. The answer is found by sharing the items equally between the groups.
Here one would ask the question: How many items will each person receive?

•• In grouping, the quantity in each group is known. The number of groups is

(1) Sharing can be a one-by-one action. Patsy can share her sweets by
handing them out one at a time. Each child will receive 5 sweets.
(2) When grouping is involved, we have to make groups of 7 and see how
many groups we need to make 70. Ten buses will be needed.

Long division algorithm

Let us illustrate division of 234 ÷ 3 using Dienes blocks to show how the algorithm
can be understood.
First set out 2 flats, 3 longs and 4 tinies.
234 = 200 + 30 + 4


LEARNING UNIT 3:  Numbers and operations

Read the section on standard algorithms for addition in your textbook on page 261.

(1) Use the above method for division to find
228 ÷ 12
642 ÷ 6

(2) Mrs Tesfaya learnt that R1 340 worth of tickets were sold at the carnival. If
tickets cost 4 for R10, how many tickets were sold?
(3) A company donates 935 pencils to a school. The pencils are divided evenly
among 9 classrooms. The rest of the pencils are given to the library. How
many pencils were donated to the school and to the library?
(4) You have R15 in 5c and 10c pieces. If you have the same number of each
kind of coin, how many 5c pieces do you have?
(5) In the summer, you can earn R4 a day by cutting the neighbour’s grass.
How many days will it take you to earn R184?
(6) The goat in the village weighs 145 kg. It is five times heavier than the baby
goat. How much does the baby goat weigh?
(7) Three hundred children are divided into two groups. There are 50 more
children in the first group than in the second group. How many children are
there in the second group?
(8) Three thousand exercise books are arranged in 3 piles. The first pile has 10
more books than the second pile. The number of books in the second pile
is twice the number of books in the third pile. How many books are there
in the third pile?


In recording and reading large numbers, we adopt certain powers of ten as provisional
units. The face values of the various digits in the resulting numeral are the results of
counting these provisional units. The total of the place values times the face values
of the digits is the number of units we want to count (the total value).

We can use number cards to help learners understand the place values of larger


3.6.1 Reading large numbers

You should be able to read large numbers. To help reading large numbers, we choose
certain collective nouns to name provisional units.

1018 1015 1012 109 106 103 100

Quintillions Quadrillions Trillions Billions Millions Thousands Ones


103 is 1 with 3 zeros 1 000 One thousand

105 is 1 with 5 zeros 100 000 One hundred thousand
10 is 1 with 8 zeros
100 000 000 One hundred million

Can you complete the rest?

1013 is 1 with ___ zeros ______________ _________________
1019 is 1 with ___ zeros ______________ _________________

Write the following numbers in the table below:

(1) 234 567 890 Read the number (write down in words).
(2) 1 011 110 111 Read the number (write down in words).
(3) 70 010 001 002 Read the number (write down in words).
(4) Four million, five hundred and one thousand and one
(5) Twenty-five quadrillion, three hundred and ten billion six hundred and twelve

Quintillion Quadrillion Trillions Billions Millions Thousands Ones


LEARNING UNIT 3:  Numbers and operations

(6) What is one more than a million? _______________________

(7) What is one million more than 999 million? _____________________

(8) What is one more than 999 million? _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

(9) A thousand thousands is _______________________

(10) A thousand millions is _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

(11) A million millions is _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

(12) A thousand billions is _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

(13) Read the following numbers (write in words):

386 030 800 000 ___________________________________

1 020 300 040 500 006 ______________________________

Write the following numbers in symbols:

(1) Four hundred and fifty-two thousand and twenty _______________________

(2) One hundred and seven million five hundred and nine ___________________

(3) Fifty billion two million and one hundred thousand ______________________

(4) Two million four hundred and eight thousand _________________________

(5) Three trillion four hundred and eight million and eight thousand


Showing a number on the number line is an important way to teach learners to scale
the number line in an appropriate way.

For example:

•• To show a number between 0 and 10, we will scale the number line from 0 to 10
(using 1 cm for a unit).

•• To show a number between 0 and 100, we will scale the number line from 0 to
100 (using 1 cm for ten).


•• To show a number between 0 and 1 000, we will scale the number line from 0
to 1 000 (using 1 cm for hundred).


Rounding off numbers is mostly used in measurement, but it is also used in estimation
when we do mental calculations. If we have to round off a number, we are required
to work to a certain degree of accuracy.

If 23 533 tickets were sold for a cricket match, what then would the most appropriate
way to say how many people attended the match (provided they all attended of course).

There were about 23 530 people at the match (rounded off to the nearest ____)

There were about 23 500 people at the match (rounded off to the nearest ____)

There were about 24 000 people at the match (rounded off to the nearest ____)

If 34 467 tickets were sold for a cricket match, round this figure off to the nearest

10 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Look at the units digit (if it is 5 or more, the tens digit

becomes one more)    
 34 467

100 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Look at the tens digit (if it is 5 or more, the hundreds

digit becomes one more)  34 467

1 000 __________ Look at the hundreds digit (if it is 5 or more, the

thousands digit becomes one more)  34 467

10 000 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Look at the thousands digit (if it is 5 or more, the ten

thousands digit becomes one more)  34 467

Explain your answers.

Can you come up with a rule for rounding off?


Before looking any further, can you write down a definition of a prime number?

A prime number is a number that has only two different factors, of which 1 is
one of them. 1 is not a prime number.

Write down all the prime numbers between 1 and 10


LEARNING UNIT 3:  Numbers and operations

The Sieve of Eratosthenes is a well-known way to find prime

numbers. In this example, we will find all the prime numbers
between 1 and 100.

Sieve of Eratosthenes


If learners can count in twos, threes, fives and tens, hundreds and thousands, with
understanding, they should easily be able to recognise the multiples of these numbers.

(1) What are we actually doing when we count in fives? _______________________

•• What do you notice about all these numbers?
(2) What are we actually doing when we count in twos? _______________________
•• What do you notice about all these numbers?
•• A number is divisible by 2 if the last digit is even:
Example: 234 ; 456 028

•• A number is divisible by 3, when you add all the digits and the sum is a
multiple of 3.
Example: 3 567  3 + 5 + 6 + 7 = 21 and 2 + 1 = 3
∴ 3 567 is divisible by 3.

•• A number is divisible by 4, when the last two digits are divisible by 4.

Example: 11 124  24 is divisible by 4
∴ 11 124 is divisible by 4.

•• A number is divisible by 5, when the last digit is a zero or a five.

Example: 123 455 ; 340

•• A number is divisible by 6, when both 2 and 3 can divide into it.

Example: 45 612  last digit even  divisible by 2
Test for 2 and 3
4 + 5 + 6 + 1 + 2 = 18 and 1 + 8 = 9 (a multiple of 3)
∴ 45 612 is divisible by 6


•• A number is divisible by 9, when you add all the digits and the sum is a
multiple of 9.
Example: 45 612  4 + 5 + 6 + 1 + 2 = 18 and 18 is a multiple of 9

•• A number is divisible by 10, when the last digit is a zero.

Example: 230 ; 988 500

•• A number is divisible by 11, when you add every second digit, then add the others,
and then subtract the two sums. If the answer is 0 or a multiple of 11, then the
number is divisible by 11.

1 2 3 4 2  Add 1 + 3 + 2 = 6 
1 2 3 4 2  Then add 2 + 4 = 6  6–6=0
∴ 12 342 is divisible by 11 

Test the following numbers for divisibility by the given number. You may not do
the actual division, and no calculators are allowed.

(1) 345 890 for divisibility by 2 ; 3 ; 4 ; 5 ; 6 and 10

(2) 246 789 by 9 and 11
(3) 108 108 by 9 ; 11 and 12.

You all know what a multiple of a number is

M3 = 0 ; 3 ; 6 ; 9 ; 12 ; …..
0 is a multiple of any number.
M4 = 0 ; 4 ; 8 ; 12 ; 16 ; …

The lowest common multiple (LCM) is the lowest number in which two or more
numbers can divide.

What is the LCM of 3 and 4? (ignoring zero)

M3 = 0 ; 3 ; 6 ; 9 ; 12 ; …..
M4 = 0 ; 4 ; 8 ; 12 ; 16 ; …
Can you see that 12 is the LCM of 3 and 4?

What is the LCM of 2 ; 3 and 5?
M2 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
The LCM of 2 ; 3 and 5 is
M3 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
M5 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

LEARNING UNIT 3:  Numbers and operations

A factor of a number is a number that can be divided into the number without
leaving a remainder.

F12 = 1 ; 2 ; 3 ; 4 ; 6 ; 12  the prime factors are 2 and 3

F30 = 1 ; 2 ; 3 ; 5 ; 6 ; 10 ; 15 ; 30  the prime factors are 2 ; 3 and 5

3.12.1 The factor tree

An easy and fun way to show learners how to find the prime factors of a number,
is by making use of the factor tree.
Factor trees for 60

The prime factors of 60 are 2 ; 2 ; 3 and 5.

60 can be written as 2 × 2 × 3 × 5.

(1) Complete the factor trees

32 can be written as _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 135 can be written as____________

(2) A remainder of 1 is left when you divide 61 by 2, 3, 4 and 5. What is the
lowest number that leaves a remainder of 1 when divided by all of the
numbers from 2 to 10?

Useful websites:
•• Subtraction using base 10 blocks
•• Addition using base 10 blocks


•• Division of a 3 digit number by 1 digit number

•• Long division

Van de Walle, JA & Lovin, L. 2006. Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics. New York:
Pearson Education.
Van de Walle, JA. 2007. Elementary and middle school mathematics: teaching developmentally.
6th edition. New York: Pearson Education.


In the previous unit, you were introduced to whole numbers and their operation.
In this unit, the number system is expanded by exploring fractions, and their
representation and operation.


After working through this unit, you should be able to

•• explain the fraction concept and its formation

•• model the representation of the fraction concepts
•• explain and use the fraction notation
•• describe and use the number line to represent fractions
•• explain and use equivalent fractions
•• describe and use operations on fractions

Reflect on how you dealt with working with fractions when you were still at school.
Explain in your own words what the difficulties with fractions might be.


Start with simple examples, involving halves. Learners first have to be able to
distinguish between “objects” and “non-objects” representing halves.

Let learners trace these shapes and fold along the dotted line.

Questions to ask learners:

•• Into how many parts is
each shape divided?
•• What do you notice when
you put one part on top
of the other?
•• Which shapes are divided
into two equal parts?
•• What name do we give to
each equal part?

Let learners just use the verbal expression: half. 2 ((

NB: Do not use the fractional notation at this stage 1 .

Learners must say: “My whole is a ... (circle, rectangle, etc.). It is divided into
two equal parts. Each part is a half of the whole.”


Do the same exercise for thirds, fourths, etc.

Which of these
are thirds of
the whole?

Do not use the fractional notation at this stage ( 1 ).


Learners must say: “My whole is a ... (circle, rectangle, etc.). It is divided into
three equal parts. Each part is a third of the whole.”

Here we are establishing the concept of a WHOLE being cut or divided into
three EQUAL parts. Each part is a third of the whole.

Draw three diagrams that can be used to show wholes that are divided into four
parts, but which do not all represent fourths.


See examples of models to use in the classroom at the end of this tutorial letter

4.2.1 Area models

The wholes for area models are continuous. That means they are not single pieces.
We usually use diagrams, clay and pattern blocks that can fit together or paper folding
for area models. The whole is “cut up” or partitioned into several equal-sized pieces.

Language pattern:
My whole is a circle. To find one-eighth of the whole, I divide it into eight parts of
equal size, and shade one part. The shaded part is one-eighth of the whole.

LEARNING UNIT 4:  Fractions

4.2.2 Set models

The wholes for set models are discontinuous. That means that the whole consists
of several separate equal-sized pieces. Each piece makes up a part of the whole.
Examples of set models would be bottle tops, hard sweets or counters.

Language pattern:
My whole consists of 12 bottle tops. I divided them into three parts of equal size. Each
part is one-third of the whole. Each part has four bottle tops. So one-third of 12 is four.”

4.2.3 Length models

Length models differ from the above models because they relate to the number line.
Do not use the number line as a model too soon. We will use length models such
as paper strips and Cuisenaire rods.
The diagram below is called a fraction wall, and it is used to show how the whole
can be divided into equal parts.


In the teaching and learning of fractions, the fraction notation should always be
preceded by a solid understanding of the concept.

4.3.1 Understanding fraction notation

What does the fraction 1 mean?

•• The bottom part of the fraction tells us into

how many parts the whole is divided. The The numerator counts.
bottom part is called the denominator.
The denominator tells what
•• The top part of the fraction tells us how many
is being counted.
of the parts we shade. The top part is called
the numerator.


It is important for learners to still see the relation between a concrete example and
the notation. It is thus a good idea to still involve drawings, or concrete apparatus,
like bottle tops or clay, or paper.

Unit fractions are fractions with the numerator 1. It shows ONE part of the whole,
such as 1 , 1 , 1 .
3 4 6


Once learners have a thorough grasp of unit fractions, we can move on to non-unit
fractions, for example, 2 , 3 , 4 etc.
3 5 8
We go through the same processes as
Shade 2 of the triangle
Language: My whole is an equilateral
triangle. To shade 2 of
the triangle, I divide the
triangle into 3 equal parts,
and shade 2 of these parts.

Shade 2 of the pentagon

The whole is divided into five equal parts. Each part is one-fifth
of the whole. Two parts are shaded. So two-fifths of the whole
is shaded.

In fraction notation, we write, 2 .

In the fraction , what does the 5 mean? _________________ [the number of
parts into which the whole is divided]

What does the 2 mean? _______________________________ [the number

of parts shaded]

LEARNING UNIT 4:  Fractions

Shade the required parts of the given wholes.

(1) Shade of the whole

In the fraction 4 , what does the 5 mean? _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

What does the 4 mean? _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Shade of the whole

In the fraction 5 , what does the 8 mean? _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

What does the 5 mean? _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Write down in words what you would do to shade of the whole.


Let us look at the number line from 0 to 1. (This is one unit.) The way in which we
demarcate (iterate) the number line, will tell us into what fraction parts the unit is
We will now practise placing fractions on the number line.

Remember if we talk about 1 , we actually mean 1 of 1. So where is 1 on the
number line? 2 2 2

Where are 1 and 2 on the number line?

3 3

Where are 1 , 2 on 3 the number line?

4 4 4


(1) Into how many parts is this unit divided? Label each of the parts.

(2) Count in thirds (place your pencil on the numbers as you are counting)

One-third, two-thirds, ______________________________________

(3) Show the following on the number line:

1 3 7 10 15
3 3 3 3 3

(4) Show the following on the number line below:

1 3 7 8 10
4 4 4 4 4

1 3 7 8 10
(5) Then show the following on a number line:
5 5 5 5 5

Help the boys

Sipho has a piece of string that is exactly 2 m long. He wants to divide it equally
among three friends. What part of the string will each one receive?

Each friend receives 1 of the string.

Each friend receives 1 of 2 metres.
Each friend receives _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ of a metre.


Please study the section “Equivalent fractions” on pages 325 to 330 in your textbook.

4.6.1 Continuous wholes (area model)

The activity below will guide you in understanding the meaning of equivalence.

LEARNING UNIT 4:  Fractions


The whole Shade 2 of the whole Shade 1 of the whole

6 3
What do you notice?


What do you notice?

4.6.2 Discontinuous wholes (set model)

Farmer Bobo has 24 goats. He want Farmer Xomo has 24 goats. He want
2 4
to sell of his goats. So he put them to sell of his goats. So he put them
3 6
in 3 camps and choose the goats in in 6 camps and choose the goats in
two camps. four camps.
Complete the drawing. Complete the drawing.

He sold _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ goats. He sold _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ goats.

Who sold the most goats?

What can you say about 2 and 4 of the same whole?

3 6

4.6.3 Number line

The number line is used for the
This number line shows that the unit is divided action of counting. Here we count
into 6 parts. in halves and in sixths.

What does A on the number line represent? A represents 1 as well as 3 . So we can

2 6
say that 1 = 3 .
2 6


(1) Use a number line to illustrate the equivalence of 1 and 2 .
3 6

(2) Use the same number line to illustrate the equivalence of 2 and 4 .
3 6
(3) Use a number line to illustrate the equivalence of 3 6
and .
4 8

Look carefully at the fractions 1 and 2 and the fractions 2 and 4

3 6 3 6

Fill in the missing numbers to make the fractions equivalent:
3 and [ ] 1 and [ ] 1 and 4 2 and [ ]
5 10 2 10 3 [] 3 12


By comparing fractions, we decide which part of the same whole is bigger or smaller
than another part. Remember that when you compare fractions, the whole must be
kept the same size.

4.7.1 Comparing non-unit fractions

The following activity will guide you towards an understanding of ordering fractions.
We will work with two types of fractions: ones with the numerators the same, and
ones with the denominators the same.

(1) Use the wholes given below and shade the given fraction parts. Then arrange
the fractions from big to small.

Same numerators:
2 2 2 2
3 4 5 6

Same denominators:
2 3 4
5 5 5

LEARNING UNIT 4:  Fractions

4.7.2 Which is bigger?

(1) Compare the following two fractions, using blocked paper. Which is bigger?
3 or 5  ?
4 8
 Firstly you have to remember that you can only compare fractions if
they are parts of the same whole.
 Choose a whole that can be divided in 4 as well as 8 equal parts. So we
will choose the whole to be 8 blocks.

3 > 5
4 8
Making use of equivalence: 3 = 6  6 > 5
4 8 8 8
(2) Compare the following two fractions, using blocked paper: 2 or 3  .
3 5
Choose a whole that can be divided into 3 as well as 5 equal parts. So the whole has
to consist of 15 blocks.

∴ 2 > 3
3 5
Making use of equivalence: 2 = 10 and 3 = 9  10 > 9  2 > 3
3 15 5 15 15 15 3 5

Draw up a worksheet to compare fractions. A set model has to be used.


Can you add the following?

1 + 1 = ?
3 3 ?
1 + 1 + 1 = ?
4 4 4 ?


4.8.1 The three stages of teaching the addition of fractions

Stage 1

Denominators the same (like fractions):

Illustrat:e 2 + 4
7 7

2 + 4 = 6
7 7 7

Stage 2

One denominator a factor of the other (unlike fractions):

Illustrate: 1 + 1
3 6
Into how many parts must the whole be divided?

The algorithm for addition

1 + 1
3 6
= + 1
6 6
= 3 or 1
6 2

Stage 3

One denominator NOT a factor of the other (unlike fractions):

Illustrate: 1 + 1
3 4
Into how many parts must the whole be divided?

LEARNING UNIT 4:  Fractions

The algorithm for addition

1 + 1
3 4
= 4+ 3
12 12
= 7

Do the following examples on quad paper:

(1) 1 + 4 (2) 1 + 3
5 5 5 10
(3) 1 + 1 (4) 1 + 2 (5) 1 + 5
3 2 3 5 4 6


4.9.1 The three stages of teaching the subtraction of fractions

Stage 1

Denominators the same (like fractions):

Illustrate: 7  – 3
10 10

Thus we can say: 7  – 3  = 4

10 10 10

Stage 2

One denominator a factor of the other (unlike fractions):

Illustrate: 7  – 2 (One fraction must be altered.)
10 5
Into how many parts must the whole be divided?


The algorithm for subtraction:

7  – 2
10 5
= 7  – 4
10 5
= 3

Stage 3

One denominator NOT a factor of the other (unlike fractions):

Illustrate: 3 – 1 (Both fractions must be altered.)
5 2
Into how many parts must the whole be divided?

The algorithm for subtraction

3 – 1
5 2
= 6  – 5
10 10
= 1


A mathematical explanation

What is 1 of 8? ______________________
What is 8 × 1 ? ______________________
The commutative property for multiplication: 3 × 4 = 4 × 3
1 of 8 is the same as 8 × 1 which is the same as 1 × 8
2 2 2
Therefore 1 of 8 = 1 × 8
2 2

LEARNING UNIT 4:  Fractions

A little pizza problem

Princess invited her two friends to her house for a pizza. When
they arrived, they found that her brother had already eaten one-
quarter of the pizza.

Shade the part of the pizza that is left.

What part of the pizza is left to share among the three of them?

Each one will receive one-third of _________.

In fraction notation we write 1 of   3 .

3 4
Solution: Each girl will receive one-quarter of the original pizza.

Using drawings to illustrate the following (remember that the whole must be kept
the same if you want to compare the answers):

Is 1 of   1 the same as 1 of   1 ?
3 2 2 3

(1) 1 of   1 of the rectangle

3 2

∴ 1 of   1 = 1
3 2 6

(2) 1 of   1 of the rectangle

2 3

∴ 1 of   1 = 1
2 3 6


Can you multiply the following?

2 × 1 = ___

3 × 1 = ___


2 = + =2×
3 3 3 3
3 = 1 + 1 + 1 =3×

2 = 1 + 1 =2× 1
3 3 3 3
3 = 1 + 1 + 1 =3× 1
4 4 4 4 4

•• multiplication of whole numbers
•• multiplication as repeated addition
•• commutative property for multiplication
•• the meaning of “of”
•• the notion of area

4.11.1 The three stages of teaching the multiplication of fractions

Stage 1

Multiplier a natural number and the multiplicand a fraction

Illustrate: 4 × 2
Repeated addition

4× 2 = + + +


4× 2 = 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 8
3 3 3 3 3 3

Stage 2

Multiplier a fraction and the multiplicand a natural number

2 ×4
What does 2 × 4 mean? It is the same as 2 of 4.
3 3
Here they must understand the concept of “of”.

LEARNING UNIT 4:  Fractions

Show 2 of 4
Shade 2 of 4 wholes.
What part is shaded?


Stage 3

Fraction × fraction
•• the area of a rectangle

Illustrate: 1 of   1 Illustrate: 1 of   1
2 2 2 4

2 of   1 1 of   1
3 2 2 3

Use diagrams to show the following:
(1) A R5 coin is 2 cm wide. If you put seven R5 coins end to end, how long
would they be from beginning to end?

(2) You have 2 of a pumpkin pie left over from Sunday lunch. You want to give
1 of it to your sister. How much of the whole pumpkin pie would this be?

(3) Eric gave 2 of his money to his wife and spent 1 of the remainder. If he
5 2
had R300 left, how much money did he have at first?

(4) David spent 2 of his money on a storybook. The storybook cost R20. How
much money did he have at first?

(5) Penny had a bag of marbles. She gave one-third of them to Rebecca, and
then one-fourth of the remaining marbles to John. Penny then had 24 marbles
left in the bag. How many marbles were in the bag to start with?

4.11.2 The area model

We know that the formula for the area of
a rectangle is “length times breadth”.

So if you have to multiply: 1 × 1 , we can

2 3
illustrate this as follows:

Divide the one side into halves, and the

other side into thirds. The shaded part is
one-sixth of the one-by-one square.

This is the area of a rectangle measuring

1 by 1
2 3
Solution: 1 × 1 = 1
2 3 6
If you have to multiply 1 × 2 , we can
2 3
illustrate this as follows:

Divide the one side into halves, and the

other side into thirds. The shaded part is
two-sixths of the one-by-one square.

This is the area of a rectangle measuring

1 by 2 .
2 3
Solution: 1 × 2 = 2
2 3 6
Blocked paper makes it easier to use the area model.

Use the blocked paper to illustrate the following:

(1) 3 × 4 (2)
5 × 6
8 3 3 5

LEARNING UNIT 4:  Fractions


(1) 3 × 4
8 3

3 × 4 = 12 = 1
8 3 24 2
(2) 5 × 6
3 5

5 × 6 = 30 = 2
3 5 15

4.11.3 An algorithm for the multiplication of fractions

Teachers should work with concrete apparatus (manipulatives) and drawings
extensively before involving learners with the algorithm.


From the two examples above, we can see the following:

3 × 4 = 12 = 1 and 5 × 6 = 30 = 2
8 3 24 2 3 5 15
Can you see what happened?

Use the multiplication algorithm to find the product of

(1) 1 × 2
2 3
(2) 15 × 2
(3) 1
1 ×8
(4) 3 × 11
4 2


In the previous two units you were shown how to facilitate the operation of numbers,
including decimal and common fractions, for mathematics learners. In this unit, we
develop your understanding on these number by identifying, describing, completing
and, extending the representation of numeric and geometric patterns in different


After working through this unit you should be able to

•• recognise relationships between terms or figures in numeric and/or geometric

•• explain and extend numeric and geometric patterns using relationships or rules
•• represent numeric and geometric patterns in tables
•• describe observed numeric representations or identified numeric and/or geometric
relationships using general rules
•• determine input values, output values and rules for numeric patterns and
relationships using flow diagrams and tables


A pattern consists a set of numbers or objects in which all the members are related to
one another by a specific rule or some form of sameness or regularity. The regularity
or sameness of the items or terms in a pattern makes it possible for you predict the
succeeding one(s).

(1) Based on the above definition, can you think of an example from your own
environment that you would regard as a pattern?
(2) Would you consider counting as a pattern? If so, indicate why, and if not,
indicate why not?

Recognition of number patterns is also important in the development of problem-

solving skills. You can use a pattern to generalise what you see into a broader solution
to a problem.

Beadwork (see figures 3.1 & 3.2) in the AmaZulu tradition relates, in some way, to
courtship and marriage. According to Twala (1951), beadwork also helps to regulate
behaviour between individuals of the opposite gender. This exclusively feminine
craft has an intuitive fluency found only in inspired forms of poetry and visual art.
Although the bead-workers may be unware of a “system” such as that imposed upon
language by spelling rules and grammar, the Zulu crafters, who are usually women,
accept the following fundamentals:


•• Beadwork is form of communication between unrelated males and females,

avoiding the discomfort of direct initial discourse on the sensitive subject of
personal relations.
•• Men wear beadwork to show involvement with the women they may marry
(incestuous implications preclude beaded gifts from mothers, sisters and daughters).
•• Beadwork symbolism is encoded within a limited number of colours and geometric
•• Colour symbols have alternative values but those assigned to geometric figures
are constant.
•• Values assigned to colours are in groups of positive and negative alternatives,
except for white, which has no negative connotation.
•• Symbolic coding is influenced by a number of factors such as
–– the combination and arrangement of colours
–– the use and nature of an object
–– the deliberate breaking of rules by which these factors operate

FIGURE 5.1: ISICHOLO (Zulu married woman’s headdress)

FIGURE 5.2: Zulu necklace Ubuhlalu (beads)

Use the above figures to identify as many patterns as possible that you are able
to recognise.


One of the easiest examples of a numeric pattern is counting numbers. Finding a
succession of numbers in counting is informed by the rule of ADDING ONE to the
preceding the number in order to obtain the succeeding number (or SUBTRACTING
ONE from the succeeding number to obtain the preceding number). To generate
a number pattern, all you need to do is to work with (i.e. add, subtract, multiply or
divide) a particular (same) number or a particular pattern to obtain the succeeding
or preceding number in a sequence. A sequence refers to three or more numbers or
objects in consecutive (following one another) order. A set of numbers in a given
order is called a number sequence. The numbers in a sequence are called the terms
of the sequence. Terms that follow one another are said to be consecutive. Since
not all sets of numbers may be regarded as a number sequence, you are expected to
determine which sets of number are sequences and which ones are not.
LEARNING UNIT 5:  Numeric and geometric patterns

5.2.1 Identifying number patterns

To identify number patterns in a sequence, you need to use a minimum of three
adjacent numbers. For example, a number succeeding the terms 2 and 4 may be 6 or
8 for multiples of 2 or powers of 2 respectively. Since predictability is an important
aspect of patterns and sequences, the uncertainty created by using only two numbers
to determine the term that follows the terms 2 and 4 may result in you drawing an
incorrect conclusion.

The table 5.1 provides examples of a set numbers that are patterns and those that
are not.


Number set Pattern or not a pattern

4; 6, 9; 12; ….. Not a pattern
4; 8; 12; 16; 20; ….. Pattern
4; 8; 14; 22; 32; …. Pattern
4; 8; 3; 9; 2; 10; 1; … Pattern
4; 8; 16; 24; …. Not a pattern

Complete the following by indicating whether number sets are patterns or not:

Number set Pattern or not a pattern

5; 10; 20; 40; ….
5; 10; 13; 16; 19; ….
5; 10; 17; 26; …..
5; 10; 15; 25; …..

5.2.2 Using words to describe number patterns

You may be able to describe how you decide whether a set of numbers is a pattern
or not, as shown in the following table:


Number set or not a Description
4; 6, 9; 12; ….. Not a pattern The first term (4) is not a multiple of
three like others. Can you think of
another description?


Number set or not a Description
4; 8; 14; 22; 32; …. Pattern Successive multiples of 2, starting with
4 are added to consecutive numbers.
4; 8; 3; 9; 2; 10; 1; … Pattern
4; 8; 16; 24; …. Not a pattern

Complete the table below by describing how you decided whether the set of
numbers in the preceding tables is a pattern or not:

Number set Pattern or not a pattern Description

4; 8; 12; 16; 20; ….. Pattern
4; 8; 3; 9; 2; 10; 1; … Pattern
4; 8; 16; 24; …. Not a pattern
5; 10; 20; 40; ….
5; 10; 13; 16; 19; ….
5; 10; 17; 26; …..
5; 10; 15; 25; …..

5.2.3 Pattern rule

Remember how patterns are associated with the rule in section 3.1. The following
are activities that will help you to determine the given patterns.

(1) 1 + 2 = 3


9 + 10 + 11 + 12 = 13 + 14 + 15 Now write down the next two rows

Can you explain why it always works? (Can you generalise?)



(2) 1 x 1 = 1

11 x 11 = 121

111 x 111 = 12 321

1 111 x 1 111 = 1 234 321

LEARNING UNIT 5:  Numeric and geometric patterns

11 111 x 11 111 = ________________

111 111 x 111 111 = ______________

Continue with this pattern until you multiply 111 111 111 by 111 111 111

(3) 1089 x 9 = 9 801

10989 x 9 = 98 901

109989 x 9 = 989 901

1099989 x 9 = 9 899 901

Add two more lines to this pattern



(4) Sum of odd numbers:

1 = _____

3+5 = _____

7 + 9 + 11 = _____

13 + 15 + 17 + 19 = _____

21 + 23 + 25 + 27 + 29 = _____

31 + 33 + 35 + 37 + 39 + 41 = _____

What type of numbers do you get in the totals? _______________

(5) An interesting pattern (use a calculator to determine the product)

99 x 11 = 1 089

99 x 22 =

99 x 33 =

99 x 44 =

99 x 55 =

99 x 66 =

99 x 77 =

99 x 88 =

99 x 99 =


(6) Counting triangles

Repeatedly fold a triangle through one of it vertices. Count the total number
of triangles after each fold.

Number of folds 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 10
Number of triangles

Can you see the pattern evolving in the number of triangles? Do you recognise
these numbers? They are _____________________ numbers.

(1) Refer to section 5.1 and identify the rule for all the patterns in activity 5.4
(2) Complete the table below by providing the pattern rule:

Pattern Sequence Pattern rule


(3) Refer to the table in activity 5.4 to complete the table below. An example
is provided for pattern 1.

Pattern Sequence Pattern rule

1 T1 = 22 = 22 + 0 T1 = 22 + 0 x 10
T2 = 32 = 22 + 10 T2 = 22 + 1 x 10
T3 = 42 = 22 + 10 + 10 T3 = 22 + 2 x 10
T4 = 52 = 22 + 10 + 10 + 10 T4 = 22 + 3 x 10

T 7 = 22 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 = ? T 7 = 22 + ? x 10

LEARNING UNIT 5:  Numeric and geometric patterns

Pattern Sequence Pattern rule

2 T1 = __________________________ T1 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
T2 = __________________________ T2 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
T3 = __________________________ T3 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
T4 = __________________________ T4 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

T8 = __________________________ T8 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
3 T1 = __________________________ T1 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
T2 = __________________________ T2 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
T3 = __________________________ T3 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
T4 = __________________________ T4 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

T12 = __________________________ T12 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

4 T1 = __________________________ T1 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
T2 = __________________________ T2 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
T3 = __________________________ T3 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
T4 = __________________________ T4 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

T21 = __________________________ T21 = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) was a French scientist who was interested in mathematics
from an early age. Although this number pattern is named after Pascal, the Chinese
printed it in about 1300 AD.

(1) Use words to describe Pascal’s triangle?
(2) What would be the sum (represented as a power of 2) of the 20th row of
Pascal’s triangle?
(3) Let (n) represent the row number and (Sn) the sum of the number(s) in the
row(s). Complete the following table:

Row number (n) Sum of numbers in row (Sn)



Row number (n) Sum of numbers in row (Sn)


Algebraic statement:
Sn = _ _ _ _ _


(1) Describe the following patterns (numbered A – I) in words:

(2) Explain why the use of diagrams is necessary for developing number patterns?

The following example indicates these relationships. Use matches to build the
following patterns:

This sequence shows the relationship between the pattern number and the number
of matches used to build the pattern.

Complete the following table:

Pattern number (n) 1 2 3 4 5 6

Number of matches (m) 4 7

Growing patterns can be represented geometrically and numerically. Study the
following growing patterns:

LEARNING UNIT 5:  Numeric and geometric patterns

•• Draw the next pattern in each row.

•• Present the sequences in table form.
Number “A” is done as an example:
Next pattern in row:

Frame 1 2 3 4 5
(number of picture)
Number of objects (the objects that are used to 1 3 6 10 15
make the pattern: in “A” it is cubes)

•• Find and explain a rule that generates the above pattern.

•• What type of numbers are these?
(3) Given the following growing geometric pattern of squares, complete the fol-
lowing activities:

(a) Draw the next two figure, that is,  and .

(b) What is the relationship of the number of shaded squares between successive
(c) Is there a relationship between the shaded squares and the perimeter of each
square? Elaborate.
(d) Use the table below to determine the number of the shaded (small) squares:

Number of figure 1 2 3 4 5
Number of shaded squares

(e) If the small squares are used as square units to measure the area for each
figure, use the table below to indicate the area of each figure:

Number of figure 1 2 3 4 5
Area of figure

(f) If the small squares are used as square units to measure the area for each figure,
use the table below to determine the area of the unshaded part of each figure:

Number of figure 1 2 3 4 5
Area of unshaded part

(g) What is the relationship between the shaded and unshaded parts of each figure?
(h) Use the table below to show the relationship between the shaded and unshaded
parts of each figure:


Number of figure 1 2 3 4 5
Number of shaded squares

(i) What would be the answer in the second row of each of the tables above for
the 10th figure? Indicate how you would determine your answer in each case.


•• What kind of errors would one expect learners to make when doing each of
these activities?
•• Indicate how you could mediate the errors identified above.

(1) Study the following patterns and then extend them by drawing in the next
two stages.

p p p
p p p p p
p p p p p p

1 2 3

l l l l
l l l l l l l l l

1 2 3

•• Draw a table to display the information above.

•• What type of numbers are these?
•• Use the following to show different representations of square numbers
Square grid
Isometric dotty paper
Square dotty paper

(2) Study the following number pattern and then complete the table that follows:


LEARNING UNIT 5:  Numeric and geometric patterns

Stage 1 2 3 4 5 8 15 20 100
Number of dots 1 6 15 28

•• Investigate a general rule that generates the above pattern. What type of
numbers are these?


Number patterns may be generated using flow diagrams. A flow diagram is a diagram
that visually displays interrelated information such as steps in a process or function
in an organised fashion (e.g. sequentially or chronologically). It consists of input
(number) on one end and output (number) on the other end with a function machine
(rule) in the middle, as shown the following example:

5.4.1 Using a flow diagram to describe the relationship between the

figures in a row

A flow diagram is just another way to show how numbers are related. Let us look
how we can show the relation between the numbers in the table in a flow diagram.

The INPUT is the number of the figure in the row.

The OUTPUT is the number of blocks in the figure.

It is important to note that when given two of the three (input, output and rule) you
can determine the missing one.


In this example, you have to reverse the rule to obtain the input from an output value.

(1) Determine the missing inputs and outputs:

(2) The following function machine creates a number pattern:

•• Investigate the rule that it uses. Write up your findings.

•• What type of numbers are these?
(3) Alexandra, the oldest township in South Africa, is also known as Dark City
and is home to thousands of residents who commute within the township
using taxis nicknamed “Amaphele” (Cockroaches). The Amaphele probably
based their name on the high number of these modes of transport and the
fact that they drive to all parts of the township. The fare for using Amaphele
is R7 for each trip per person. The taxi can take up to a maximum of seven
passengers per trip.

LEARNING UNIT 5:  Numeric and geometric patterns

Photo of one of the taxis named Amaphele in Alexandra township

(a) What is the relationship between the number of trips taken by

passengers and the fares? Use a flow diagram to represent the
(b) What is the relationship between the full loads of the Amaphele and
the fares collected by the driver? Use a flow diagram to represent
the relationship.


Find an example of an artefact from two different cultures in South Africa and
use them to determine the geometric and numeric patterns in them using as many
representations of the pattern as possible.

Rubric to assess the project

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5

0–4 5–8 9–12 13–16 17–20
No or At least one of Both artefacts Meets level Meets level 4
inappropriate the artefacts chosen are 3 and more and all possible
artefacts is appropriate appropriate and than one representations
chosen and and at least one their patterns representation of the patterns
no or incorrect of the patterns are correctly of the patterns are used.
patterns presented is presented. is used.
presented. correct.

Gildenhuys, DG & Paulsen, R. 1991. Mathematics in action. Pretoria: Kagiso.


Meserve, BE & Sobel, MA. 1964. Introduction to mathematics. 4th edition. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Miller, CD & Heeren, VE. 1978. Mathematical ideas. 3rd edition. Glenview, IL: Scott,
Mottershead, L. 1978. Sources of mathematical discovery. Oxford: Blackwell.
Sobel, MA & Maletsky, EM. 1975. Teaching mathematics: a sourcebook of aids, activities and
strategies. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Twala, RG. 1951 Beads as regulating the social life of the Zulu and Swazi, African
Studies, 10:3, 113-123, DOI: 10.1080/00020185108706847.



After working through this unit you should be able to

•• explain the Van Hiele levels of geometrical thought

•• describe and represent flats shapes
•• describe and represent polygons, including triangles and quadrilaterals and their
•• describe and represent space shapes
•• describe and represent polyhedrons, including prisms and pyramids and their
•• describe and represent nets of polyhedra
•• describe and represent different views of geometric objects


Geometry is possibly one of the most neglected topics in schools. However, it is one
of the most interesting topics, which can be made easily understandable to learners,
provided they have the proper material to work with. In this unit, we use different
types of materials. We also give this unit a theoretical underpinning, because teachers
need to understand how learners learn geometry, and why it is important to follow
a definite line of development and sequence when teaching the concepts of shapes
to young learners.

Let us look at the different geometric shapes we see in our daily lives.

All shapes can be classified into two major parts:

What is a plane?
•• Space shapes
–– Space shapes are objects that protrude in space (they “stand up” or “stick out”
they “take up space”). Most of the shapes we see in our daily lives are space
shapes. You as a person are a space shape.
•• Flat shapes (we also call them plane shapes)
–– Flat shapes are shapes that lie flat. You can put a flat shape flat on a desk, and
it will not stick up in space.

Which of the following objects are space shapes, and which are flat shapes?

•• a telephone
•• a page in your textbook
•• a soccer ball
•• a stop sign



For us to understand the way learners think about shapes, we examine research that
was done years ago by Van Hiele. In 1957, Dutch educators Dina van Hiele-Geldof
and Pierre van Hiele proposed that a learner’s understanding of geometrical concepts
develops through five distinct levels.

These levels are important for us to understand, because they influence the way in
which we teach “shape” to learners.

In short, the levels are labelled as follows:

Level 0: visualisation
Level 1: description/analysis
Level 2: abstract/relational/informal deduction
Level 3: formal deduction and proof/deduction
Level 4: rigour

In primary school, as teachers, we hope that learners will achieve level 1, but they
seldom move to level 2. Note that a learner cannot be taught level 1 information
before he or she has achieved level 0. Learners will simply not be able to make the
connections if they have not had proper teaching at level 0.

Let us look at the first three levels, 0, 1 and 2. Although we might be teaching the
intermediate phase, it will be useful to test your learners to decide on which level
they find themselves.

Level 0 deals with “what shapes look like”.

Learners recognise and name figures according to their visual characteristics. They
will say the following: “This is a square because it looks like a square”.

Point out the square(s):

If you place a square in a different position, learners might see the square as a
diamond, and no longer as a square.

They might identify a rectangle as a “door shape”.

Learners identify and reason about shapes and other geometric configurations based
on shapes as visual wholes rather than on geometric properties. Some properties of
the shapes are included in this level, such as right angles, parallel sides, but only in
an informal manner.

Learners recognise and characterise shapes by their properties.

For example, they can identify a rectangle as a shape with opposite sides parallel
and four right angles.

LEARNING UNIT 6:  Space and shape

When learners investigate a certain shape they come to know the specific properties
of that figure. For example, they will realise that the sides of a square are equal and
that the diagonals are equal. Learners discover the properties of a figure but see
them in isolation and as having no connection with each other.

Learners at this level still do not see relationships between classes of shapes (e.g. all
rectangles are parallelograms), and they tend to name all properties they know to
describe a class, instead of a sufficient set.


Learners are able to form abstract definitions and distinguish between necessary and
sufficient sets of conditions for a class of shapes, recognising that some properties
imply others. When learners reason about and compare the properties of a figure
they realise that there are relationships between them.

The relationships being perceived exist between the properties of

•• a specific figure
•• different figures

6.2.1 Comments about the thought levels

•• Each thought level has its own language, grammar and symbols.
•• The subject matter that is implicit at one level becomes explicit at the next level.
•• Memorising is at “no level”.
•• Learners pass through the levels in order, without skipping any of them.
•• Not all learners progress through the levels at the same rate.
•• Learners reasoning at one level will not understand the explanations or be able
to answer the questions posed at a higher level.

6.2.2 Consequences of the Van Hiele theory of learning

•• Movement from the first level (visual) to the second level (descriptive) implies
the movement from a level without any relational network (visual) to one with a
relational network (descriptive).
•• At the visual level, the learner uses language. The function of this is mainly to
give the object or situation a name. This can be regarded as social knowledge
that the learner acquires. The learner is not in a position to elaborate on any
functions of the object that is called by the specific name. For example, the learner
will call a rhombus by its name at this level merely because of the overall visual
appearance of the shape. He or she will not be able to defend this decision of
calling it a rhombus through any logical reasoning where the properties of the
rhombus are required.
•• One of the main differences between reasoning at a visual level and that at a
descriptive level lies in the difference in judgement the learner makes. Learning
at the visual level relies mainly on an intuitive understanding of the object or
situation. That is why the learner does not see the need to reason about what is
experienced. He or she will not see the need to reason about the relationships
between a rhombus and a square. The learner is so strongly bound by the intuitive
knowledge that he or she will argue that a square is also a rhombus.


•• The reasoning that takes place at the third level (abstract relational) relies quite
heavily on the structure of the descriptive level. The judgement that the learner is
making does not rely on the fact that there are links between the relation networks,
but on the relationship between these links.
•• The different thought levels have a hierarchical development. This implies that
thinking at the descriptive level is not possible unless the visual thought level has
been well established.
A teacher in the intermediate and/or senior phase, you should take special note of
the descriptors of level 0, level 1 and level 2. That will give you an idea of the types
of learning activities in which your learners should be involved. Levels 4 and 5
descriptors are not applicable to learners in the above-mentioned two phases.


The first activity that young learners should engage in will involve level 0 of the Van
Hiele levels of geometric thought.

Each group of learners will receive a box with a variety of shapes, carefully chosen
so that each group has the correct variety of shapes to classify them according to
the teacher’s request.

In this activity, learners will sort the shapes according to what they SEE. There are
not really correct or wrong answers, because learners might visualise the shapes
differently. What is important is that they should be able to explain to the group or
the teacher, why they classify a particular shape in the way they do.

An assortment of flat shapes is given to a group of learners. It is essential that each

learner in your class should have at least one opportunity to bring a shape to the
front of the class, where the teacher can stick the shape on the blackboard using
Prestik (adhesive).

The following are examples of the variety of shapes that can be used:

LEARNING UNIT 6:  Space and shape

This is an exercise for level 0 learners.
Classify the shapes above according to the following criteria:

(1) shapes with curved edges

(2) three sides
(3) four sides
(4) opposite sides “go the same way” (parallelograms)
(5) shapes with “dents” (concave)

A polygon is a closed plane (flat) shape made up of line segments. These line segments
must touch only once at their endpoints.

Which of the following are polygons?

Learners should be able to identify, classify and sort. This should be done before
teaching them the names of the shapes.

6.4.1 Naming polygons

A polygon with
•• three sides is a triangle
•• four sides is a quadrilateral
•• five sides is a pentagon

•• six sides is a hexagon

•• seven sides is a heptagon The affix “gon” means “sides”. So a
•• eight sides is an octagon decagon is a polygon with 10 sides.
•• nine sides is a nonagon
•• 10 sides is a decagon
•• 12 sides is a dodecagon
•• 20 sides is a icosagon
•• many sides is a polygon
A polygon is a two-dimensional shape with sides made up from line segments. They
are simple, closed curves.

Classify the shapes as polygons or non-polygons.

Learners should be able to recognise, classify and sort.
Which of these are triangles?

6.5.1 Types of triangles

Draw the following triangles:

(1) a right isosceles triangle

(2) an acute scale triangle
(3) an obtuse scale triangle
(4) an obtuse isosceles triangle
(5) an equilateral triangle
(6) a right-angled scalene triangle

LEARNING UNIT 6:  Space and shape

Learners should be able to recognise, classify and sort.
Which of these are quadrilaterals?

6.6.1 Concepts dealing with quadrilaterals

Explain and draw an example of each of the following concepts:

Explanation Drawing
Line segment

Parallel lines

Equal sides


Perpendicular diagonals


Explanation Drawing
Right angles

Opposite sides

Opposite angles

Bisecting diagonals

Bisecting angles

Adjacent sides

LEARNING UNIT 6:  Space and shape

6.6.2 Classification of quadrilaterals

The minimum set of properties that will identify a quadrilateral is indicated below.

•• trapezium: one pair of opposite sides parallel

•• parallelogram: two pairs of opposite sides parallel
•• rhombus: all sides equal
•• rectangle: all angles equal
•• kite: two pairs of adjacent sides equal
•• square: all sides and angles equal

Sides Angles Diagonals
Trapezium One pair of
opposite sides
Parallelogram Both pairs of Opposite angles Diagonals bisect
opposite sides equal each other
Rhombus All sides equal Opposite angles Diagonals
equal bisect angles
and each other
Rectangle Opposite sides All angles equal Diagonals are
equal equal
Kite Two pairs of One pair of One diagonal
adjacent sides opposite angles bisects angles
equal equal and the other
Square All sides equal All angles equal Diagonals
bisect angles,
are equal and
bisect each other


Name and draw the quadrilaterals below according to the description. Do not
assume properties that are not given.

(1) diagonals equal

(2) opposite sides parallel
(3) opposite angles equal
(4) all angles equal
(5) all angles and all sides equal
(6) diagonals bisect each other
(7) diagonals bisect angles
(8) diagonals bisecting each other perpendicularly
(9) one diagonal bisecting the other perpendicularly
(10) all sides equal

Which of the following statements are true, and which are false? If false, draw a
diagram to illustrate your answer.

(1) All rectangles are parallelograms.

(2) All parallelograms are rectangles.
(3) All rhombi are parallelograms.
(4) All parallelograms are rhombi.
(5) All kites are squares.
(6) All squares are kites.
(7) All squares are rhombi.

LEARNING UNIT 6:  Space and shape


A space shape protrudes in space. A space is also called a 3D object or solid.
Examples of space shapes

Learners should be able to identify, classify and sort. This should be done before
the names of the shapes are taught.

Classify the following (draw one example of each):

(1) shapes that can roll

(2) shapes that have triangles
(3) shapes in which all the faces are rectangles
(4) shapes that have a “point”
(5) shapes with parallel faces
(6) make up four more categories


6.7.1 Special space shapes: polyhedra

A figure that is not a plane figure, is a space figure. Space figures “take up space”.

Some space figures are made up of plane surfaces.

They have

•• faces – the flat surfaces (they are all polygonal regions)

•• edges – where the faces meet (they are all straight lines)
•• vertices – where the edges meet (they are all points)
A polyhedron is a three-dimensional (3D) object, whose faces are polygons.

We name polyhedra according to the number of faces they have. We use

the same prefixes as for polygons, but the names end in the word “hedron”
(penta-, hexa-, hepta-, octa-, nona-, deca-, dodeca-, icosa-, poly-). For instance,
a polyhedron with six faces is called a hexahedron.

The smallest number of faces a polyhedron can have is ______. This is called
a tetrahedron.

A polyhedron on is a three-dimensional shape with specific characteristics.

Write down the definition of a polyhedron.

Classify the following as polyhedra or non-polyhedra:

Polyhedra are made up of the following:

•• faces (they must be polygons)

•• edges (where the faces meet)
•• vertices (where the edges meet)
A prism is a polyhedron with two parallel, identical bases. The lateral faces are
parallelograms. In a RIGHT prism, the lateral faces are rectangles.

LEARNING UNIT 6:  Space and shape

When is a polyhedron a prism?
It must have _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The “side” faces must be _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

What is the BASE of each object?

A is called a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ prism.

B is called a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ prism.

C is called a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ prism.

D is called a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ prism.

E is called a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ prism.

A pyramid has BASE and all the other faces are triangles. The vertices of all the
triangles meet in one point, which is called the apex.


What shape is the BASE of each object?

A is called a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ pyramid (also called a tetrahedron).

B is called a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ pyramid.

C is called a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ pyramid.

D is called a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ pyramid.

E is called a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ pyramid.


In summary

Naming polyhedra in different ways

Complete the naming of the polyhedra. Where the names are given, draw the

(1) Name according to the

Name according to base
number of faces

A pentagonal prism A hexahedron


A cube

(4) An octahedron
(make TWO drawings)

(5) A hexagonal pyramid

(6) A pentahedron
(make TWO drawings)

LEARNING UNIT 6:  Space and shape

6.7.2 Regular polyhedra

There are only five regular polyhedra. Plato made this discovery, which is why they
are called Platonic solids.

The following are the five regular polyhedra:

Tetrahedron (all faces Hexahedron (all faces Octahedron (all faces are
are equilateral triangles) are squares) equilateral triangles)

_ _ _ faces _ _ _ _ _ faces _ _ _ _ _ faces

Dodecahedron (all faces are regular pentagons) Icosahedron (all faces

are regular triangles)

_ _ _ _ _ faces _ _ _ _ _ faces


Always use a ruler when you draw shapes with edges or faces that are polygons.

Note the following hints on sketching 3D solids:

Cylinder A rectangular prism

A square pyramid Cone


A tetrahedron (triangular pyramid) Cube


A net is a fold-out (flat) shape that can be folded up into a space shape. We can also
make nets for other space shapes that are not polyhedra.

Here are the nets of the five platonic solids.

LEARNING UNIT 6:  Space and shape

Draw the nets of the following polyhedra:

(1) a rectangular prism

(2) a square pyramid
(3) a tetrahedron
(4) an octahedron (two different nets)


Learners often find it difficult to draw three-dimensional objects. They tend to draw
a square for a cube, or a triangle for a cone (see section 5.6 in this tutorial letter). They
also need to develop the ability to draw or recognise views from different directions.

Start with simple blocks. The best would

be to use real cubes and allow learners to
draw the cubes from different perspectives.
Allow learners to look at a cube from top,
bottom, left, right, etc. Show them that
when you look at the cube from the corner,
you actually see three faces, but they do
not all look like squares.

Draw the front, side and top views of the stack of cubes.


(1) Draw the front, side and top views of the following structures:

(2) Two of the three views of a solid are shown.

What is the greatest number of cube units in the

What is the least number of cube units in the solid?

Draw the front views of the solid parts mentioned


(3) Draw a solid with the following front, side and top views:


In the previous unit, you learnt about the properties of two- and three-dimensional
shapes. In this unit, these shapes will be described in terms of their movement and


After working through this unit you should be able to

•• discuss the key concepts and general principles of transformational geometry

•• represent translations of two-dimensional figures on grid paper
•• reflect and represent a two-dimensional figure in a line of symmetry
•• rotate and represent a two-dimensional figure around a point
•• describe the composition of transformations
•• demonstrate how transformations can be applied in a range of familiar and new

Transformation geometry is an important aspect of mathematics and forms the
cornerstone of the field. Transformation geometry lays the foundation for analytical
geometry in the Further Education and Training (FET) band. Simpler ways of
learning and teaching transformations are presented, and the knowledge you gain
will enhance your thinking and understating of some challenging sections in the
mathematics curriculum.

Write a short paragraph in the provided space on your experiences in the learning
of transformation geometry. What can you remember?





Activity 7.1 is an open-ended question. This question is important because it gives
you the chance to reflect on your understanding of transformation geometry and
share your experiences with us.


What are your expectations in this unit? List them.





We trust that your expectations reflect what we hope you will achieve in this unit.
Engaging with the activities in this unit will enable you to

•• apply mathematics in a variety of contexts

•• transfer your mathematical knowledge and skills between and within content
areas in mathematics


Geometric transformations involve taking a pre-image and transforming it in some
way to produce an image. There are two different categories of transformations,
which are described below.

The rigid transformation does not change the shape or size of the pre-image, while
the non-rigid transformation changes the size but not the shape of the pre-image.
Another word for rigid transformation is isometry. Examples of these kinds of
transformations are translations, reflections and rotation. Any transformation that
results in enlargement and reduction of shapes is not isometry.

To gain clearer understanding of the concept of transformation, we shall begin by

unpacking the following important concepts:

The prefix trans- in our everyday language means

•• on or to the other side of
•• over
•• across
•• through

Use each of the above words in a sentence to relate them to the teaching of

Transformation in the context of mathematics means

•• the movement of a figure in a plane

•• changing the form of appearance (non-isometric)
•• the study of the effect of movement on sets of points or shapes

The following figures will help you to introduce your learners to the words used
in transformation:

LEARNING UNIT 7:  Transformation geometry


FIGURE 7.1: Translating a toy or sliding a toy. The movement is described

in terms of direction and distance


FIGURE 7.2: Flipping the toy. The movement is described in terms of the
line of reflection


FIGURE 7.3: Rotating the toy. The description of the movement is in terms
of the point of reflection, the angle of rotation and the direction

Translation means to change from one place or one condition to another, or to slide.
Let us look at the movement demonstrated by the vegetable below. The pre-image is
the original shape of the object and the final shape and position of the object under
transformation are called the image. In figure 7.3.1, A is called the pre-image and
the others are called images.

FIGURE 7.3.1: Illustration of translation

What is the name of the vegetable used above to demonstrate translation?


Translation is a transformation that moves the object or figure in the same direction
and the same distance. Every point moves a distance in the same direction and
the shape moves in a straight line. The object and the image always have the same
orientation. It is also important to note that the pre-image and the image are the
same size and the movement produces congruent (the same in all respects) figures.

In describing the movements in figure 7.3.1, we could say the vegetable (pre-image)
has shifted (translated) from position A three units to the right to reach position B.
Similarly, the pre-image A has moved one unit down and two units to the right to
reach position D. Here translation occurs in a straight line.

If the object at position F is the pre-image, describe

the movement from F to B.

Illustrate by means of drawings how translation occurs in any item in your bathroom/
toilet/kitchen/office/classroom or any real-life situation. For this activity, use different
directions, which you can indicate by means of arrows.

Translation is a transformation that moves each point of a figure in the same direction
and the same distance. The shape is repeated in the same orientation. The object
and the image have the same size, area, angles and line lengths.

Tiling a floor/kitchen wall

Reflection means to give back an image of something or to mirror an image.
Write a paragraph to describe what you think of the picture below represents (your
discussion should be informed by your understanding of transformation).

FIGURE 7.3.2: Illustration of reflection

LEARNING UNIT 7:  Transformation geometry

The aim of the above drawing is to help you to gain an understanding of the concept
of reflection in mathematics. The purpose of the mirror is to produce the image by
reflection. What you see in the mirror is exactly the reflection of the woman’s face.
The reflection of the mirror stares back at the woman. The face that appears in the
mirror is the image. The face of the woman is the pre-image.

Looking at the figures below, the line in between serves the same purpose as the
mirror and is called the mirror line or the line of reflection.

FIGURE 7.3.3: Illustration of reflection

Take any piece of blank A4 paper. Fold the paper in such a way that the fold line
divides the paper into two equal halves. Use paint to draw any shape on one side
of the paper. Fold again along the fold li ne before the paint dries up. What do you
notice? Show the picture.

Fold the piece of A4 paper twice. Cut a pattern on the fold. Unfold and see your
magic picture. Show the picture.

FIGURE 7.3.4: Illustration of reflection


Looking at P1 and P2, these are the conclusions you can draw: If P2 is the image
of P1, then
•• P2 lies on the opposite side of the line of reflection SR
•• the distance from the original point (pre-image) to the line of reflection is the
same as the distance from the image point to the line of reflection
•• the line that connects the original point to its image point is always perpendicular
(⊥) to the line of reflection

FIGURE 7.3.5: Illustration of reflection

The mirror line is called the line of symmetry/reflection symmetry because it has
to do with reflection, or the line that separates the picture into the pre-image and
image is called the line of symmetry.

Draw lines of symmetry for the following pictures:

Picture 1 Picture 2

LEARNING UNIT 7:  Transformation geometry

Looking at all the figures under reflection, they clearly indicate that to perform a
geometry reflection, we need to have a line of reflection. What is key to note also is
that the resulting orientation of the two figures (pre-image and image) is opposite.
This means that the direction of the image is different from the direction of the
object (i.e. the orientation changes). Corresponding parts of the figures are the same
distance from the line of reflection. Figures on each side of the line of symmetry are
congruent. The object (pre-image) and the image have the same shape.
REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE: Seeing yourself in a mirror or a pond

A rotation is also an isometric transformation: the original figure (pre-image) and
the image are congruent. To perform a geometric rotation, we first need to know
the point of rotation, the angle of rotation (e.g. 900, 450 etc.) and the direction (either
clockwise or counter-clockwise).
The face of an old man is rotated anti-clockwise at an angle of 670. A is the pre-
image, B is the image and P is the point of rotation

FIGURE 7.3.6: Rotation of a shape

Look at the drawing below.
(1) Describe, in words, how figure A is transformed into figure B and how figure
D is transformed into figure C. You may use tracing paper to assist you
here. (Hint: It is important to specify the direction and the angle of rotation.)

FIGURE 7.3.7: Rotation


(2) Take any school textbook, find a problem on rotation, and briefly describe
how you could explain the concept to your learners.



It is important to note that
•• the centre of rotation should be fixed
•• points on the pre-image and on the image are equidistant from the centre or
•• the pre-image and the image have the same area and shape
REAL-LIFE EXAMPLES: Moving a clock arm, opening the door of your
office or moving the handle of a door


A composition of transformations is a combination of two or more transformations,
each performed on the previous image. A composition of reflections over parallel
lines has the same effect as a translation (twice the distance between the parallel lines).
Figure 7.4: shows the combination of transformations.

FIGURE 7.4: Combination of transformations

LEARNING UNIT 7:  Transformation geometry

Investigate what happens when you reflect an object over intersecting lines
(a combination of reflections).

A combination of the reflection over an intersecting line is the same as rotation
(twice the measure of the angles formed by the lines).

What combination of transformations is illustrated below?


Use the South African flag to illustrate a combination of transformations.


“Valuing indigenous knowledge systems: acknowledging the rich history and heritage
of this country (South Africa) as important contributors to nurturing the values
contained in the Constitution” (Department of Basic Education 2011:5).


The figure below represents one of the Ndebele houses in South Africa.

(1) Briefly describe the type of transformations used in this house.

(2) Write two problems in which the ideas of transformation geometry could be
used. Show how you would use the ideas to solve the problems.



In a translation, an object is moved by a particular amount in a specific direction in
order to obtain its image.

In a reflection, every point on the object is the same perpendicular distance from
a fixed line as the corresponding point on the image. The fixed line is called the
mirror line or the line of symmetry.

In a rotation, the angle between every point and its image, taken at the centre of
rotation, is the same for each point and its image, and a point and its image are the
same distance from the centre of rotation.


(1) Describe the key concepts in transformation geometry. Use illustrations/
drawings or examples to support your argument in each case.




LEARNING UNIT 7:  Transformation geometry

(2) List as many situations as you can in which you have seen transformed
shapes and explain with illustrations the kind of transformation in each case.
(3) Think of any situation in your everyday life in which you can experience
transformation geometry. Illustrate your answers.
(4) Design an activity for Grade 5 learners that will help to them to recognise
and design their own patterns using transformation geometry.


NB: You need access to the internet to do the activities.

Use the following steps to download GeoGebra software (application program):




STEP 3: Click on “GeoGebra 10 Lessons”
STEP 4: Work through lesson 5 on page 17 on transformation geometry.

Let us now refer back to the learning outcomes that we set at the beginning of this
(1) Have you achieved the learning outcomes? Give reasons for your answer.

(2) Which of the learning outcomes have not been addressed to your satisfaction?
Give reasons for your answer.



(3) Use the space below to note down any matters that you feel should have been
addressed in this unit.

Department of Basic Education. 2011. Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement
Intermediate Phase Grades 4–6 Mathematics. Pretoria: Government Printing Works.


In the previous unit, you learnt about developing an understanding of the basic
elements of transformation geometry. In transformation geometry, you were expected
to demonstrate the ability to do the following: translations of two-dimensional figures
on grid paper; perform translations of two-dimensional figures on grid paper; reflect
a two-dimensional figure in a line of symmetry; and rotate a two-dimensional figure
around a point.


After working through this unit you should be able to

•• explain the meaning and process of measurement

•• describe the role of estimation
•• explain non-standard and standard units
•• demonstrate an understanding of measurement content: the length concept, area
concept, volume concept, mass concept, time concept and temperature concept
•• explain the conservation and reversibility of length, area, mass and volume


The purpose of the learning outcomes outlined above is to guide and inform you
towards gaining an understanding of measurement concepts, after you have worked
through this unit. In addition, you should be able to measure the content that you
have understood in measurement and demonstrate the ability to respond to activities,
assignments and examination.

Measurement plays a fundamental role in our daily lives. People tend to think that
measurement is a simple concept, but it needs one to concentrate more to have a
sound understand of what it is, and how and why measurement is important. Without
measurement we would not know how to take the temperature of a human being
using a thermometer, estimate how long a learner would take to walk to school,
determine the height of a child, measure out the correct quantity of medicine for a
patient, calculate the speed of a car on any national road, and find the weight, area
and volume of different materials we use in in everyday life. Measurement occurs
when we want to quantify certain physical objects around us. In other words, a
number is assigned to an attribute. An attribute is a characteristic that describes an
object (e.g. a person, thing, etc.). For example, Archimedes invented displacement by
weight to determine the density of a coin, showing whether or not it was pure gold.

Measurement is used to measure certain attributes:

•• We can use metres to measure the length a classroom and millimetres to measure
the thickness of a table.
•• We can measure the temperature of a human body by using a thermometer.
•• We use a speedometer to measure the speed of a vehicle.


•• We use hours to measure the time it takes the driver of a motor car to travel from
his home to the city.
•• We use measurement to measure the ingredients for baking and cooking.


According to Van de Walle et al (2015:477), “… measurement is a number that
indicates a comparison between the attribute of the object (or situation or event) being
measured and the same attribute of a given unit of measure”. Attributes and units
are the two words that need to be explained to help clarify measurement concepts to
learners. For example, to measure a length, the comparison can be done by lining up
copies of the unit directly against the length being measured. Measurement means
that the attribute being measured is filled, matched or covered with a unit of measure
with the same attribute.

•• The word “attribute” means characteristic, feature, aspect, element or trait. An

attribute of an object can be weight, volume, length, area, perimeter, etc.
•• Units are used to measure attributes and may include objects like string, tiles,
cups of water, etc.
•• Standard units are metre, grams, etc.

As a learner, you need to realise that the process of measuring is identical for any
attribute, whether length, area or volume is measured. In summary, you should
perform the following steps in order to measure something:

•• Decide on the attribute you wish to measure.

•• Select the unit that can be used to measure the selected attribute.
•• Compare the units by filling, covering or matching them with the attribute of
the object being measured.


Units are used to measure attributes. Both the attribute or number and units are
used for measurement. Firstly, for you to understand the different types of units,
you need to know the different attributes that are to be measured. One would never
say, for example, that the length of an object is 30 because it is meaningless – you
need to add, say, 30 units, 30 cm, 30 m or 30 km. In measurement, we work with
standard and non-standard units. Non-standard units are arbitrary units such as paper
clips, toothpicks, straws, square tiles, cubes, while standard units involve the use of
conventional units, that is, metric units such as metre, kilogram, and litre. You need
to demonstrate an understanding of the process of measuring any attribute, which
involves the following steps:

•• Choosing a unit. Bear in mind that the unit that should possess the same attribute
as the object or event being measured.
•• Comparing the same unit with that object being measured. Here you have
to indicate the number of units that are needed to cover or fill the object either
by counting or using a measurement tool (e.g. a ruler or a formula).
•• Repeating the number of units. Here you could measure the length of a straw,
for example, by using six paper clips, or you could say that the capacity of a bottle
is 500 ml. As noted earlier, measurement units involve standard and non-standard
units, which are briefly explained below.

LEARNING UNIT 8:  Measurement

8.3.1 Non-standard units

In order to understand the meaning of non-standards units you need to be aware
of the relationship between the attributes being measured and their units. We
mentioned earlier that non-standard units involve arbitrary units such as paper clips,
straws, toothpicks, cubes, square tiles, etc. The use of non-standard units allows you
to focus directly on the attribute being measured (Van de Walle et al, 2015). You
could use square tiles, for example, to measure the area a room, which means that
you find the number of square tiles that can cover the surface or fit in the surface
without leaving a space.

A non-standard unit must possess the attribute it is to measure. Paper clips, straws
and toothpicks are non-standard units that would be appropriate to measure length,
while square tiles, square cards and square pattern blocks would be appropriate non-
standard units for measuring area. Table 8.1 lists materials that can be used as the
non-standard units that are investigated in primary schools.

Materials used for non-standard units
(Ontario Education 2007:16)

Attributes Non-standard units

Length and perimeter Toothpicks, straws, paper clips, Cuisenaire rods,
markers and blocks
Area Square tiles, pattern blocks, cards, sticky notes and
sheets of paper
Mass Metal washers, marbles and cubes
Capacity Cups, scoops and plastic containers
Time Steady hand claps, sand timers, pendulums and

Note: You will have difficulty finding non-standard units for measuring temperature.
Instead, temperatures can be related to familiar objects such as “as cold as
ice”, “the sewing machine is as hot as fire”.

8.3.2 Standard units

It essential for you to demonstrate an understanding of the process of measuring
objects using non-standard units. This will enable you to realise that different non-
standard units give different measurements, which means that you need standard
units. Familiarise yourself with standard measurement units to make estimates in
terms of these units and meaningfully interpret measures depicted with standard
units (Van de Walle et al, 2015).

Standard units of measurement can be organised around the following three broad
goals (Van de Walle et al, 2015:480–481).

•• Familiarity with the unit. As a learner, you should have an idea of the size
of commonly used unit and what attribute is measured. For example, knowing
approximately what one litre of water is.
•• Ability to select appropriate unit. You should be able to practise selecting
appropriate standard units and judging the level of precision.


•• Knowledge of relationships between units. You should realise the relationships

of units that are commonly used, such as those between millimetres, centimetres
and metres.
Standard units are conventional units of measure. Study table 8.2 below and fill in the
gaps to familiarise yourself with the attributes and their standard units of measure.

Standard units of measurement

Attribute Unit Symbol

(1) Length/perimeter —————- Km

Metre ——————
millimetre ——————
(2) ——————- —————— m2

—————— cm2
(3) ——————- kilogram —————-

——————- g
(4) ——————— litre —————-

—————— ml
(5) ——————— —————— m3

—————— cm3
(6) ——————- —————— °C

(7) Time —————— h

—————— m

—————— s

You are exposed to standard units in everyday conversations at home and even when
you were at school. For example, the mathematics period took about an hour; and
the chalkboard is about two metres long. It is vital for you to learn standard units in
measurement, but these units are become clearer once you have learnt the measurable
attributes using non-standard units.
The metric system is a globally used system that students need to be familiar
with (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM] 2011). Council of
Chief State School Officers (CCSSO, 2010) introduce centimetres in Grade 2, with
further expectations for units such as metres, cubic centimetres, grams, kilograms
and litres. The metric system is created around powers of ten. The purpose of the

LEARNING UNIT 8:  Measurement

decimal point is to indicate the unit position as a powerful concept for doing metric
conversions. The International System of Units (SI) is used to measure standard units
of measurement. The standard unit of measuring length in the metric system is a
metre (m). Different units of length in the metric system are obtained by multiplying
a power of 10 times the base unit. Table 8.3 below indicates the prefixes, symbols
and multiplication factor for these units
Metric system table

Prefix Symbol Factor

kilo k 1 000
hecto h 100
deca da 10
deci d 0,1
centi c 0,01
milli m 0,001

The metric prefixes, combined with the base unit metre, name different units of length.

Unit Symbol Factor

kilometre km 1000 m
hectometre hm 100 m
decametre dam 10 m
metre m base unit
decimetre dm 0,1 m
centimetre cm 0,01 m
millimetre mm 0,001 m

The instruments used to measure a length depend on the distance being measured
(e.g. you cannot measure the distance between towns using a ruler) and the accuracy
required (e.g. to measure the thickness of a sheet of paper you will need a micrometre).

(1) Discuss the differences between standard and non-standard units.
(2) Design an activity that would enable you to demonstrate an understanding
of “non-standard units”.
(3) Design an activity that would enable you to demonstrate an understanding
of “standard units”.

You should demonstrate your answers by giving examples that show different
attributes that can be measured using non-standard and standard units. The
answers to (1) and (2) above should substantiated with drawings.


For practice
(1) Express each of the following metric measures in metres:
(a) 5 km
(b) 14 cm
(c) 0,25 mm
(d) 1,25 mm
(2) Express each of the following in SI:
(a) 39 cm
(b) 21 mm
(c) 1,3 km
(d) 221 cm


Your learners should have a background on conservation and reversibility of length.
Most of the learners under the age of six are not yet ready to measure objects because
they are still not aware that the length of a stick or ruler is the same regardless of
its change in position. To prove that those learners are in a position to have an
understanding of conservation of length, give them an activity to engage in. For
example, give your learners two wooden sticks of equal length.

You may then change their position or distort their appearance and ask your learners
if the two wooden sticks are still the same in length.

Conservation relates to an object retaining its size when shifted or subdivided.

The learners who agree that the two wooden sticks retain the same length in any
orientation have attained the conservation of length concept. The learners who have not
mastered conservation use one-dimensional perceptual judgement. For instance,
they will look at the endpoint of one stick, which is further away and will then say
that the second stick is longer. Piaget observed that the necessary concepts for the
length measurement are achieved on the average around eight years of age (Tutorial
Letter 501, MAE103L).

In the above example of wooden sticks, if some of your learners say that the first
stick is bigger than the second one:

(1) What the problem might the learners be experiencing?

(2) How can you assist these learners to attain the conservation of length
(3) Design an activity in which you use for length adjectives for learners in
the intermediate phase?

LEARNING UNIT 8:  Measurement

(4) Give an example of a task that involves comparisons of the length of rigid

For learners to learn measurable attributes, they need to engage in activities that
require them to compare objects of the same length, such as the ones indicated
above. The learners who give the incorrect answer might be focusing on the
endpoint, and thus find that the second stick is longer than the first stick. In doing
the above activities, you should ask yourself what types of materials can be used,
written down or recorded. You should also be aware of the purpose of the activity,
that is, the mathematical ideas that the activity will develop.

The activity below will help learners to master the conservation concept regarding
the length of an object.

Take two pieces of string of the same length. Clearly show these to the learners.
Now put them next to each other like this:

Ask your learners which piece of string is the longest.

Learners who state that the two pieces of string are the same, have mastered
the conservation concept regarding length, and are ready to proceed with the
length measurement. If those learners can explain that the lengths stay the same
irrespective of their orientation and that the distorted piece of string retains its
original appearance, then they have mastered the concept of reversibility.


Estimation refers to a mental picture that a person uses to make a measurement and
the visual information used to measure an object or perhaps make a comparison
without using any measuring instrument. Practical skills are used on a daily basis
for estimation. For example: Do you have enough sugar to make some cookies?
Will your car fit into the parking space? This helps learners to focus on the attribute
being measured and think about the unit that can be used. Think about how you
would estimate the area of a coffee table using playing cards as the unit. To respond
to this question, you have to think what area is and how the units can be placed
on the coffee table. For learners to understand measurement concepts, they should
start by making an estimate. This is true for both non-standard and standard units.
Van de Walle et al (2015:483) highlights the following three strategies for estimating
measurements that can be taught to learners.


•• Develop and use benchmarks or referents for important units. Referents should be
something you can easily envision, such as the height of a child. Learners should
pay attention to the size of the unit in order to estimate properly.
•• Use “chunking” or subdivision. Windows, bulletin boards and the spaces between
them are regarded as chunks.
•• Iterate units. For length, area and volume, it is sometimes easy to mark off single
units mentally or physically.


Use the two objects above to answer the following questions:

(1) Identify attributes that can estimated in the two objects above.
(2) Explain how those attributes would be estimated.

The exercise requires you to show an understanding of how you can estimate the
sides of different objects and what instrument to use.


You have to acquire knowledge of various objects or events regarding their attributes
that can be measured. Measurable attributes are referred to as the quantifiable
characteristics of objects or events (Van de Walle et al, 2015). Bear in mind that some
objects or events have more than one attribute that can be measured. An ice-cream
cone, for example, can be used to illustrate objects or events that have more than
one attribute that can be measured.

FIGURE 8.1: Ice-cream cone as an example of an object

LEARNING UNIT 8:  Measurement

Look at the ice-cream cone above and think about the attributes that can be measured.
This will reinforce your measurement vocabulary. This can be done by asking yourself
the following questions about what you observe about the ice-cream cone:

•• How long will it take you to eat the ice-cream cone?

•• How much ice-cream would you need to fill the cone?
•• How cold is the ice-cream?
•• How high can you pile the ice-cream before it falls over?
•• If your ice-cream melts, how big will the puddle be?
•• Can your hand fit around the ice cream cone?

Explain in your own words what the author is referring to in the questions above.
This will help you to reinforce your measurement vocabulary.

Once you realise that an ice-cream cone is an object with different measurable
attributes, you will develop measurement vocabulary and be encouraged to use
appropriate mathematical language. Through the development of vocabulary when
using possible ways to measure an object or event, you will realise which measuring
units (whether standard or non-standard units) can be used to measure the various
attributes of objects or events. Length, capacity, volume, area and time are some of
the attributes that can be measured. If you do not know which attribute you have
to measure, this will be a source of difficulty in measurement. Van de Walle et al
(2015) provides examples of questions that are related to the measurement of objects
or events and these questions will enable you to identify the measurable attributes
associated with each kind of question.

Questions relating to measurable attributes

Questions Measurable attributes

How long/wide/high/deep/far is it? Length, width, height, depth and distance
What is the distance around it? Perimeter
What is the size of its surface? Area
What is its mass? Mass
How much does it hold? Capacity
How much space does it occupy? Volume
How cold/hot is it? Temperature
How long does it take? Time

After reading table 8.4 with understanding, you should be able to explain the
distinctions between different measurable attributes. Your vocabulary in measurement
will be developed and this will enable to realise when and where a particular attribute
will be measured. This vocabulary will also enable you to solve different problems
relating to the measurable attributes of different objects or events.

Table 8.4 above will help you with activity 8.6.



Identify different measurable attributes using ordinary language to explain the

attributes and then indicate the real attribute that is being measured.

In this activity, you have demonstrated that you can move away from everyday
language use of measurement to mathematical language use of measurement.
This activity should increase your vocabulary of measurement concepts.


In measurement concepts, we focus on the following content: length, area, volume
and mass. The purpose of learning this is to demonstrate an understanding on how
they are developed and applied in solving abstract and daily real-life problems.

8.7.1 Measuring length

Length is one of the easy attributes that you can learn in measurement. It is the first
attribute that you should learn to measure and will faciliate your understanding of
other attributes in measurement. The length of an object can tell you, for instance,
“how long the distance is from township A to township B” or “how high a marula
tree is”. The attribute of length is the distance between two points.

If you want to determine the distance between point A and point B, you need to
measure the length between the two points. The length of an object is measured by
selecting the unit that is linear and repeatedly matches that unit to the object (Van de
Walle et al, 2015). Van de Walle et al (2015:485) highlightscommon misconceptions
and difficulties learners might experience in learning about the length of objects.
Note the following:

•• measuring from the wrong end of the ruler or beginning at 1 instead of 0

•• counting hash marks rather than spaces (units)
•• not aligning two objects when comparing them
The following are the specific terms used to measure the length of objects in relation
to particular concepts:

•• Length is the distance along an object from end to end.

•• Width is the distance from one side of the object to the other side.
•• Height is the distance from the lowest point to the highest point of an object or

LEARNING UNIT 8:  Measurement

•• Depth is the distance from the top of something to its bottom, from front to
back, or from the outside in.
•• Distance is the amount of space between two points.
You can express the length of an object by using the following adjectives: long/short,
thick/thin, high/low, deep/shallow, far/near, wide/narrow, etc. According to Van de Walle
et al (2015), comparison is the first step in developing a sound understanding of
the length concept. A sound knowledge of comparing the length of objects can be
reinforced by using different objects of different lengths such as pens, pencils, rods,
sticks, etc., and asking the learners to hold them simultaneously and thus identify
the long and short ones.

8.7.2 Area concept

An area is the measure of two-dimensional space within a closed shape. Young learners
develop area concept by using a variety of materials to cover shapes. As with the length
concept, learners should first understand the attribute of area before measuring. The
area concept is developed as the covering of space through various activities in which
their areas are compared (Malati, 1999). For you to have a sound knowledge of the
area concept, you should demonstrate an understanding of perimeter of an object.
The perimeter of an object is referred to the length of the boundary of a shape or
the distance around a shape.

The main point here is for you to understand the meaning of the perimeter of
a prism before you can be introduced to the generalised procedure for actually
finding the perimeter of a prism. You have to demonstrate that the perimeter of a
prism is a measure of the length of each side, and adding the sides of those lengths.
For example, you can use straws to measure the sides of the rectangle above to
determine its perimeter. It is necessary to learn about perimeters before learning the
area concept, because the concepts of area and perimeter are widely used daily and
often confusing topics when it comes to studying them as part of the mathematics
curriculum in school (Watson, Jones & Pratt, 2013). The following are some of the
challenges learners face when learning about perimeter and area:

•• Learners may see area and perimeter purely as an application of formulae without
understanding what these two concepts mean.
•• They sometimes mix up the concepts of area and perimeter.
•• They have difficulty developing an understanding of dimensions. They do not
understand that perimeter is a length, which is one-dimensional and measured
in metres, centimetres or inches, while area is measured in squares with bases
of certain length – hence it involves two-dimensional units such as m2 (metres
squared or square metres).


•• They may not link their everyday experiences and intuitive understanding of area
and perimeter to what they learn in the mathematics classroom.

Once you have mastered the perimeter of objects, you will be ready to learn the area
concept, which is the space bounded within closed prism(s) or shape(s). You should
be able to demonstrate an understanding of area of different shapes before measuring
the spaces of those shapes. You should be able to think of an approach that can be
used to measure the area of shapes before using the formulae. An example of the
area of an object is provided below, without measuring the space of the shape.

The space that is bounded in the region above is called the area of a rectangle. Your
learners should know that the surface of an object should be covered without gaps
in between or overlays. To demonstrate an understanding of area concept, you must
use concrete materials such as square tiles or grid paper. With your guidance, learners
should learn how to construct different shapes on grid paper, and those grids will
provide a way to measure the area using counting squares to determine the area.
Start with rectangle prisms for learners to be able to count the squares in order to
determine the area.

(1) Use grid paper and draw four rectangles that have different sizes and sides.
Measure the perimeter and the area of each rectangle using squares on the
grid paper (each side of the rectangle must be in whole units).
(2) Study the figure below and use the counting square method to determine
the perimeter and area of the diagram in the grid. The idea for using the
counting squares is to enable you to develop the formulae that can be used
to calculate the area and perimeter of a rectangle.

LEARNING UNIT 8:  Measurement

Explain step by step, how you arrived at your answer to determine the area
and perimeter of the figure in the grid paper.
(3) Design another activity using a different shape to demonstrate an
understanding of calculating the area and perimeter using counting squares.

This activity requires you to demonstrate an understanding of calculating the
area and perimeter using squares. In addition, the activity will help you realise
the difference between the area and perimeter of prims.
The use of counting squares or other concrete materials will enable you to
generalise about ways to find the area and perimeter of a rectangle. You can do
this by multiplying the number of squares in a column by the number of squares
in a row, which will ultimately give you the formulae to calculate the two attributes.

Ask your learners to construct three shapes that have

•• the same area but different perimeters

•• the same perimeter but different areas

Pay attention to the units of the measurements used. For example, perimeter is
measured in units and area is measured in square units.

Area is the amount of surface covered by a shape. To test for conservation of area,
show the learner two postcards that are exactly the same. They have the same
area. Let the learners satisfy themselves that both postcards have the same area.

Now take one of the postcards and cut it into two parts (second display). Ask the
learner if the two areas covered are still the same, or if they cover different areas.
You could then further distort the one postcard by cutting it up into a few pieces
(third display). Then ask again if the two displays still cover the same area.


8.7.3 Volume and capacity concept

The volume concept is referred to as the amount of space an object occupies or
takes up. Sometimes you may be asked questions such as “What is the capacity of
the box?” or “How much can the box hold?” or “How much liquid can the bottle
hold?” You may confuse the two attributes because they sound similar, but the two
attributes are not always the same. For example, think of the volume of the box
containing a pair of shoes. It is important for you to have an understanding of the
two attributes to avoid confusing them. Volume and capacity measure the size the
size of three-dimensional regions and are topics starting from the Grade 5, with
continuing emphasis in Grades 6 to 8, according to Common Core State Standard
(CCSSO 2010, cited in Van de Walle et al, 2015). Capacity is generally used as the
amount that the container can hold (Van de Walle et al, 2015). Standard units for
measuring capacity are gallons, litres, millilitres. According to Van de Walle et al
(2015), volume can be referred to as the capacity of a container, but is also used for
the space occupied by three-dimensional objects. For the purpose of this unit, you
will learn more about volume. Standard units used to measure volume are cubic units,
cubic inches, cubic centimetres, etc. The most popular method to teach volume and
formula for a rectangular prism is to build rectangular structures using small cubes.

Three-dimensional objects such as cubes are often referred to as geometric solids.

The flat surfaces of a geometric solid are called faces. The lines formed when two
faces meet are called edges, and the points where the edges meet are called vertices.
The Rubiks speed cube below is a rectangular structure built using small cubes
by combining three layers to form the large cubical array.

Because the rectangular prism above (Rubiks speed cube) consists of three layers,
the total number of cubes is 27. The rectangular prism has eight vertices, six faces,
12 edges and a base shape of a square. Other objects with this shape are a box, a
dice and an ice cube.

LEARNING UNIT 8:  Measurement

Design an activity that you can use to teach intermediate phase learners how to
develop the formula for the volume of a rectangular prism. You can use concrete
materials such as cubes for this activity. Allow your learners to record their findings
for each step in order to generate a rule that can be used to calculate the volume
of a rectangular prism.

A cylinder is another three-dimensional shape that can be used to help learners

understand the volume concept. The formula used to calculate the volume of a
cylinder is V = πr2h. It is important to note that although the formula is a handy
tool to calculate the volume of a cylinder, it is not the point of departure when
teaching measurement.

Most learners know how to calculate the volume of a cylinder using the formula
V = πr2h. How can you help them understand the formula to calculate the
volume of a cylinder? Demonstrate your answer by using concrete materials
to explain how to develop the formula.

Design an activity that will demonstrate an understanding the volume of irregular
objects such as stones, oranges, etc. Explain step by step, how you would perform
this kind of an experiment for the learners and list the resources you could use
for the same experiment.

Conservation of volume
Volume is the amount of space taken up. In testing for conservation of volume,
you could use balls of clay. Show the learners two balls of clay with the same
mass, and hence the same volume. Let the learners satisfy themselves that the
two clay balls have the same volume. You can use two glasses with the same
volume of water in them: the one long and thin, and the other short and fat. Ask
the learners which one contains more water?

Conservation of capacity
Capacity is the amount of space inside, or the ability of an item to hold something
if it is filled up to the brim. By now, you should have a good idea of the procedure
for testing for conservation. Ask your learners to design an activity that would
demonstrate an understanding of conservation of capacity.

8.7.4 Mass concept

Some learners have difficulty using suitable language to describe mass and weight,
especially learners in lower grades. The source of the problem is that the scientific
and mathematical meanings of the words are not the same as those used by many
people in everyday conversations (Suggate, Davis & Goulding 1998). The mass of
an object is defined as the amount of matter in the object, whereas the weight of an


object is the force exerted on the object by gravity. The mass of an object is measured
in kilograms, while weight is measured in newtons. For learners to develop the
appropriate vocabulary relating to the weight of an object, they need to understand
the following degrees of comparison: heavy, heaviest, and heavier than, and light,
lightest and lighter than. The weight of an object may vary, depending on its location
in space, whereas the mass of an object remains constant in any space. For example,
the weight of an object is less on the moon than on earth, while the mass of an object
remains constant on earth and the moon.

(1) What misconceptions do learners have when dealing with mass and weight?
(2) How can you clarify those misconceptions for learners to understand the
two concepts?

The table below shows the different units that can be used to measure the
mass of an object.

Carats, metric ×0.000 2

Grains ×0.000 064 798 91
Ounces ×0.028 349 523 125
Ounces, troy ×0.031 103 476 8
Pounds ×0.453 592 37
Stones ×6.350 293 18
Tons (UK) ×1016.046 908 8
Tons(US) ×9070184 74
Tonnes ×1000

Comparison activities
The conceptual way to understand the comparison of the weight of objects is to
hold one object in each hand and stretch them, and further experience the relative
downward pull of each object (Van de Walle et al, 2015). This experience of the
weight of different objects can be transferred to one of the two types of scales,
namely balances and spring scales.

What is the difference between balances and spring scales? Explain how the two
scales are used to differentiate between the two concepts.

This needs you as a student to know what attributes are being measured by using
both balances and spring scales.

LEARNING UNIT 8:  Measurement

8.7.5 Time concept Introduction to the concept of time

One of the very first quantities that people measured was time. Thousands of years
ago, people developed ways to determine the number of days in a year (Bassarear,
2005). The most important thing for you to understand is the word “time”.

What is time?

There are many reasons for individuals to understand the time concept, such
as wanting to know when to celebrate certain rituals, when to hunt and when
to plant and reap. We become aware of the “flow of time” when we observe the
succession of events. The passing of time can be divided up into three significant
times: sunrise, midday, sunset, as well as midnight.

The measurement of time involves determining of the number of periods that pass
during an event. Through the ages, a number of calendars were proposed. Over
3 000 ago, the Babylonians divided the day into 12 hours and the night into 12
hours. From the earliest periods, humans have used some form of measurement,
be it the seasons of the year or phases of the moon. However, the length of an
hour depended on the time of the year, in winter a day hour was shorter than a
night hour (Bassarear, 2005). Different types of devices to measure time were
invented, like candle clocks, water clocks and shadow clocks. Piaget’s theory of the formation of time

Jean Piaget investigated the concept formation of time by children (French, 1979,
cited in MAE103L Tutorial Letter 101). The experiment involves two events that
start and stop simultaneously. The duration is then discussed.

Event 1: T
 he following diagram illustrates two cars travelling at different speeds,
but starting and stopping simultaneously.

Slow car:

start stop

start stop

Fast car:

start stop


The following questions were asked:

•• Did the cars start at the same time?

•• Did the cars stop at the same time?
•• Did the cars run for the same time, or did one car run for longer time than the
Some of the responses were as follows:

•• The faster car takes longer, and stops later.

•• The cars stop at the same time, but the faster car took longer.
•• The cars stop at the same time, and ran for the same time.
Event 2: Water is allowed to flow [at the same rate] into two glasses, one wide and
the other narrow. The flow starts simultaneously in each glass, and stops
the instant that the narrow glass is full.

•• Did the water start to run into the glasses at the same time?
•• Did the water stop running into the glasses at the same time?
•• Did the water take the same time to run into the two glasses?
Initial response

•• The water took longer to run into the narrow glass.

Discuss the different responses of the learners to the questions above.

•• Learners should be helped to acquire the vocabulary of time.
•• Learners should be taught the skill of “telling the time” on a clock, reading a
calendar and also reading and interpreting time on the 24-hour clock.
•• Learners should learn to estimate and measure the duration of a time interval
in seconds and minutes, and do calculations for longer intervals.
•• Learners should learn to read timetables, for example taxi, train or bus timetables.

The following table gives the times of arrival at different bus terminals of a city-
to-city bus travelling from Polokwane to Cape Town. The bus stays at each bus
terminal for one hour 20 minutes.

(1) Write down the time of departure at each bus terminal.

(2) What time does the bus depart from Mokopane?
(3) At what time will the bus leave the bus terminal at Bela-Bela?
(4) How long does the whole journey take?

LEARNING UNIT 8:  Measurement

When working with time, keep in mind that 60 minutes equals one hour. If it is 08:20,
the time after one hour 20 minutes will be 08 h + 20 min + 1 h + 20 min = 10:00.

8.7.6 Temperature concept

In everyday life, temperature is a measure of how hot or cold an object is. A hot plate
on an electric stove is said to have a high temperature, whereas a frozen ice-cream is
said to have a low temperature. Many properties of matter change with temperature
(Giancoli, 1998). For example, most materials, but not all, appear to expand when
heated. Water in the range 0° to 4° C contracts with an increase in temperature.

The thermometer has been designed to measure temperature. There are many kinds
of thermometers, but their operations always depend on some properties of matter
that change with temperature (Giancoli, 1998). The first idea for a thermometer,
by Galileo, made use of expansion gas. Common thermometers today consist of a
hollow glass tube filled with mercury or with alcohol coloured with a red dye, as
were the earliest usable thermometer.

Explain how each thermometer functions:

(1) a mercury or alcohol-in-glass thermometer

(2) a bimetalic strip thermometer
(3) a resistance thermometer Relationship between Fahrenheit and Celsius scales

In order to measure temperature quantitatively, some sort of numerical scale must
be defined. The most common scale today is the Celsius scale. In the USA, the
Fahrenheit scale is also common. One way to define a temperature scale is to assign
arbitrary values to two readily reproducible temperature. For both the Celsius and
Fahrenheit scales there, two points are chosen to be the freezing point and the
boiling point of water.

°C °F
Freezing point of water 0 32
Boiling point of water 100 212

On the Celsius scale, the freezing point of water is chosen to be 0° C (“zero degrees
Celsius”) and the boiling point 100° C. On the Fahrenheit scale, the freezing point
is defined as 32° C and the boiling point 212° C.

From the table we see that the Celsius scale has 100 division between the freezing
point and the boiling point of water, whereas the Fahrenheit scale has 180 divisions.
This means that the two scales are 100 to 180, or 5 to 9. Therefore, for every 5 degrees
on the Celsius scale, there is 9 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale. For every 1 degree
on the Celsius scale there is 9 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale; and vice versa, for
every 1 degree on the Fahrenheit scale, there is 5 degrees on the Celsius scale. Using
this relationship, we are able to convert temperatures from one system to the other.


The formula that describes this relation is C = 9 (F – 32). We will use this formula
to convert degrees on the Fahrenheit scale to degrees on the Celsius scale. To convert
degrees on the Celsius scale to degrees on Fahrenheit scale, we will use the following
formula: F = 9 C + 32.

(1) On a hot summer day in Phalaborwa it is 30 0 C. What is the temperature in 0F?
(2) The temperature of the human body should be 98.40 F. What is your normal
temperature in 0C?
(3) Does it ever happen that the temperature measured in Celsius degrees is
the same when it is measured in Fahrenheit degrees? If ever, when? Teaching learners the temperature concept

The Math Learning Center (2009) indicate that learners should learn about temperature
by comparing hot and cold objects. They should then be given the opportunity to
measure temperature using a thermometer (if you do not have one, use a picture of
one). Learners should be told that hot and cold are measured in degrees.

In the table below, degrees Celsius are the left column and degrees Fahrenheit in
the right column. Ask the learners to indicate the positions of each of the following:
A cold day
A cool day
A warm day
A hot day
Boiling point of water at sea level
Body temperature of a human being
Melting point of ice
Melting point of ice-cream

100 212
90 194
80 176
70 158
60 140
50 122
40 104
30 86
20 68
10 50
0 S 32
-10 14
-20 -4

LEARNING UNIT 8:  Measurement

In the intermediate phase, Grade 5 and 6 learners use thermometer to measure

temperature (adapted from MAE103L/TL501 2017).

We have set a number of outcomes at the beginning of this study unit. To see whether
you have reached these outcomes, do the following self-assessment exercise.

(1) What is meant by the statement, “All measurements are approximate?” What
experiences help learners to grasp this idea?
(2) What is meant by the statement, “Using measurements is arbitrary?” What
experiences would help learners reinforce this idea?
(3) Summarise some important things learners should be able to do if they are to
be regarded as skilful in measuring the length of a segment.
(4) Mr Madikiza has just finished building a new house. He measured the distance
around his yard and found that it was 90 metres.
(a) The fencing material costs R95,20 per metre. How much is the fencing
material going to cost him?
(b) If he needs to place a pole at 1.5 metres intervals along the fence, how
many poles will he have to buy?
(c) If the fencing poles cost R65 each, calculate the total costs of the poles
(d) Calculate the total cost of fencing for the yard.
(5) Suppose that paint costs R28 per litre and one litre covers approximately 9
square metres of surface. We are going to paint (on side only) 50 congruent
pieces of wood that are rectangular in shape, with a length of 60 centimetres
and a width of 30 centimetres. What would the approximate costs be?
(6) Which is higher, 10 F or 10 C?
(7) The thermometer that you have indicates a fever of 390 C. What would this
be in Fahrenheit?
(8) Room temperature is often taken to be 680 F. What is this on the Celsius scale?
(9) The temperature of the filament in a light bulb is about 1 8000 C. What would
this be on the Fahrenheit scale?
(10) 250 below zero on the Celsius scale is what Fahrenheit temperature? And 250
below zero on the Fahrenheit scale is what Celsius temperature?
(11) In an alcohol-in-glass thermometer, the alcohol column has length 10.70 cm at
0.0 0 C and length 22.85 cm at 100 0 C. What is the temperature if the column
has a length (a) 16.70 cm, and (b) 20.50 cm?
(12) At what temperature would the Fahrenheit and Celsius degrees yield the same
numerical value?
(13) Explain why it is advisable to add water to an overheated automobile engine
slowly, and only with the engine switched off.

Bassarear, T. 2005. Mathematics for elementary school teachers. 9th edition. Houghton
Mifflin Company: New York.
CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers). 2010. Common core state standards.
Retrieved from http://corestandards.org.


French, MM. 1979. Tutorials for Teachers in Training. Book 7. Size. Oxford University
Press. Cape Town.
Giancoli, DC. 1998. Physics: principles with applications. 5th edition. Prentice Hall: New
Malati. 1999. Mathematics learning and teaching initiatives. Geometry, Module 4:
Area teacher document. Open Society Foundation for South Africa.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. NCTM. 2011. Position statement on
intervention. Reston, VA: NCTM.
Ontario Education. 2007. A guide for effective instructions in Mathematics. Queen's
Printer for Ontario.
Suggate, J, Davis, A & Goulding, M. 1998. Mathematical knowledge for primary teachers.
Fulton publishers: Australia.
The Math Learning Center. 2009. Bridges in Mathematics: Kindergarten supplement. Oregen:
Macintosh Desktop Publishing system.
Van de Walle, JA, Karp, KS & Bay-Williams, JM. 2015. Elementary and Middle School
Mathematics. Teaching developmentally. 9th edition. Pearson: England.
Watson, A, Jones, K & Pratt, D. 2013. Key Ideas in Teaching Mathematics: Research-based
guidance for ages 9–19. Oxford University Press.


In this unit, we introduce you to the concept of statistics, of data handling, also
referred to as statistics, which is a branch of mathematics. Statistics involves the
collection, display and analysis of information. Usually the information is numerical
or it is changed into numerical form. Data handling is also concerned with collecting,
organising and interpreting data. Data refers to the complete set of individual pieces
of information that are used in any of the processes related to statistics. Data enables
you to collect information or facts from descriptions, values or measurements in
order to solve a problem or draw conclusions.


After working through this unit you should be able to

•• collect data
•• read information from data representations, such as bar graphs, pictograms
and measures of central tendency
•• demonstrate the ability to calculate and interpret the measures of central
tendency from basic data sets


Points to ponder!
What is data?
What is a datum?
How do statistics shape my everyday life?

Nowadays we are informed about what is happening in the world around us. Statistics
as sets of mathematical equations are used to update us on trends in the past, and
can be useful in predicting what may happen in the future. For example, trends can
be determined and predictions can be made in weather forecasts, medical studies,
genetics, stock markets, quality testing and so on.


Data collection can be from different sources using different methods, for example,
sources like documents, observations, survey and experiments. You can classify
collected data (i.e. words, pictures, numbers or a combination of words and numbers)
as either qualitative or quantitative.

•• Because qualitative data describes something, it is descriptive information – for

example, describing a person’s appearance, a smell, taste, colour, etc. Observations,
but not measurement, constitute qualitative data.


•• Because measurements comprise quantitative data and encompass numbers – they

constitute numerical information – for example, weight, temperature, age, speed,
length, area, height, etc.

What type of data can you collect from the objects in figure 9.1? Complete the table
and classify the data as qualitative or quantitative for each set. For the quantitative
data, state whether it is discrete or continuous.

FIGURE 9.1: Cell phones

Source: Wireless Revolution Pictures (2016)

Indicate your answers to the above questions in the table below.

Qualitative Quantitative
Example/type of Example/type of Discrete/Continuous
qualitative data quantitative data

Activity 9.1 will help learners to collect data from a variety of contexts dealing
with social and environmental issues. It will also teach them how to pose their
own questions, and select the different sources and methods for collecting data.


Raw data, that is, unorganised data recorded on the spot, can be organised in diverse
ways – for example, tally charts, pictograms, bar graphs and pie charts. In this section,
we organise and interpret data.

9.3.1 Tally charts

•• A tally is a mark representing data items.
•• Tally marks are used to show how many items there are.

LEARNING UNIT 9:  Statistics or data handling

Take note of the following:

= 1 item
= 2 items
= 3 items
= 4 items
= five items
•• These are lines grouped together in fives to make counting easier.
•• Show a tally of five lines using four vertical lines or strokes and one horizontal
line across the tally.
You can write the number eleven as:
11 = 5 + 5 + 1 = + +

Mark did a survey of each Grade 7’s favourite fruit. His survey yielded the following
apple, pear, apple, mango, pineapple, orange, apple, melon, pear, apple, pineapple,
mango, mango, banana, melon, apple, pear, pineapple, melon, apple, pineapple,
pear, pear, apple, orange, mango, banana, pineapple, mango, mango, melon,
apple, mango, pineapple, banana, pear, pineapple, melon, apple, pineapple.
Use Mark’s data to complete the following table:


Favourite fruit Tally Frequency (f)/number of students

Activity 9.2 is focused on organising and recording data using tally marks.

9.3.2 Bar graphs

A bar chart or bar graph presents grouped data with rectangular bars with lengths
proportional to the values they represent. The bars can be plotted vertically or
horizontally. A vertical bar chart is sometimes called a line graph.
A group of people were asked what their favourite fruit is. The following data was



Favourite fruit Number of people

Apples 30
Bananas 10
Grapes 15
Strawberries 25

Data was recorded in a vertical and horizontal bar graph.

Vertical bar graph

Horizontal graph

A charity group donated bags of vegetables to an old-age home. The caretaker
used the following table to record the donated bags of vegetables:


Type of vegetable Number of bags

Green beans 8
Cabbage 5

LEARNING UNIT 9:  Statistics or data handling

Onions 2
Potatoes 10
Pumpkins 6

Display the caretaker’s information on a vertical bar graph.


Include the following information in your bar graph:

•• Heading: Vegetables collected
•• Vertical axis: Number of bags per vegetable
•• Horizontal axis: Items collected (names/types of vegetables)
•• Draw bars to show the number of items in each column.

Activity 9.3 should help you to assess the knowledge and skills of the learners
regarding the following:

•• where and how to label a bar graph, that is, writing the title of the graph
•• where and how to label to label the axes (axes titles)
•• how to place the bars

Examine the following bar graph and answer the questions that follow:

Bar graph 1

(1) Copy the graph.

(2) Explain what the graph could be about (prediction).
(3) Write your story to match the graph (drawing conclusions after reading and
(4) Add a title.


Activity 7.4 focuses on reading the graph. The questions provided will help you
to guide learners on how to write a paragraph in order to summarise the data.
Furthermore, the data in the graph is used to make predictions and draw conclusions.

9.3.3 Pictograms
A pictogram, also called a pictograph, is an ideogram that coveys its meaning through
its pictorial resemblance to a physical object. A pictograph is a way of showing data
using pictures, where pictures stand for quantities. One picture can represent one
item or a number of items. A pictorial representation of statistics can be on a chart,
graph or computer screen. Pictographs were the earliest known form of writing,
and examples were discovered in Egypt and Mesopotamia from before 3 000 BC.

Examples of a pictograph
Fruit is sold in the school tuckshop. The pictograph (figures 9.2 and 9.3) shows the
number of apples sold each day of the week from Monday to Friday.

Days Number of apples sold


FIGURE 9.2 = 5 apples = 10 apples


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday


FIGURE 9.3: Key: = 5 apples = 10 apples

Use a pictograph (figure 9.3) to find the total number of apples sold from Monday
to Friday.

Total number of apples sold: = 160; and = 5 x 2 = 10

160 + 10 = 170 (170 apples were sold from Monday to Friday)

LEARNING UNIT 9:  Statistics or data handling

Examine the information in the boxes below. Use the information provided to draw
your own pictograph.

A farmer has the following animals on his farm: 20 goats, 18 cows, 10 sheep
and 5 horses:
(1) Heading: Farm animals
(2) Vertical axis: Number of animals
(3) Horizontal axis: Animals at the farm
(4) Fill in these labels under the vertical columns (goat, sheep, cows and horses)
(5) Cut and paste the number of animals in each column (Hint: 1 creature
represents 5 creatures)

Answer the following questions:

(1) Which animal is the most plentiful on the farm?
(2) Are there more sheep or goats?
(3) How many horses are there less than cows?
(4) How many sheep are there more than goats?
(5) What is the total number of animals found on the farm?

•• Constructing a pictograph in the above activity will show the guide learners
how to label a pictogram; how to label the axes (axes titles); how to place the
bars using pictures’ and how to represent a collective using one item.
•• The questions answered based on the pictogram will guide the learners on
how to read and interpret the pictogram.

9.3.4 Pie charts

A pie chart is a circular diagram used to present data. In a pie chart, data is displayed
using different size sectors of a circle in such a way that it resembles the slices of a
pie. A pie chart is appropriate to illustrate how the whole body of data should be
divided into different parts, and the portion that each part represents. We can write
portions in a pie chart as a fraction, a decimal and a percentage.

Drawing a pie chart

(1) Use a pair of compasses and draw a circle with centre O.
(2) The radii of the circle must be 3 cm.
(3) Draw radii AO and extend to draw OB (diameter AB).
(4) Draw radii CO and extend to OD (diameter CD) and CD is perpendicular
to AB.
(5) Your circle is now divided into four parts or sectors, with each sector equal
to 25%.


(6) To divide the circle into 8 equal parts, draw radii from the centre O to the
circumference – that is, to the midpoints of arcs AC, AD, BD & BC. Label
the points E, F, G and & H. Each sector is equal to 12.5%
(7) Label each part or sector.
(8) Write a suitable title for your pie chart.

Boys in Grade 5 were asked about their favourite sport. The total number of boys
who participated was 32. The data that was collected is presented in the table below.


Sports Tennis Soccer Rugby Volleyball

Number of
learners/ 4 16 4 8

LEARNING UNIT 9:  Statistics or data handling

Display the data collected about the boys’ favourite sports by using a bar and a pie

(1) Bar chart

(2) Pie chart

Tennis: 4 × 100 = 12.5%
Rugby: 4 × 100 = 12.5%
Volleyball: 8 × 100 = 25%
Soccer: × 100 = 50%

A survey was conducted on 120 learners in Grade 8 to find out what their favourite
subject was at school. It was found that 30 preferred history, 40 preferred geography
and 50 preferred maths.


Illustrate this information by drawing:

(1) a table
(2) a bar chart
(3) a pie chart

The knowledge and skills conveyed in this activity are the representation of data on
a pie chart using fractions and percentages. You should also be able to compare
data represented in a pie chart and a bar graph.


Measures of central tendency (measures of centre or central location) of a set of data
are values about which the distribution of the data is roughly balanced. A measure
of central tendency describes the whole set of data with a single value that represents
the middle or centre of distribution. The three main measures of central tendency
are the mode, median and mean.

One of the simplest ways of explaining the concept of mean (average) is making a
set of numbers that are not the same to be equal to one another. For example, given
the set of 11 numbers viz. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, by reducing (subtracting)
from the larger numbers (on the right of 5) and adding whatever is subtracted to
smaller numbers (on the left of 5) as per the figure below, all the numbers will have
a value of 5. Therefore 5 is the average of the 11 numbers. Does this work for all
sets of numbers? Use a set of 7 different numbers to prove or disprove this.

The arithmetic mean of a set of data is the numerical value found by adding together
all the values of the data and dividing them by the number of pieces of data there
are (see the example in table 9.6). The arithmetic mean is taken to be the same as
the arithmetic average and is represented by the symbol x̄ (pronounced as x bar).

The median of a set of data is the numerical value of the piece of data in the middle of
the set when the data is arranged in ascending (increasing) or descending (decreasing)
order. The mean divides the distribution in half. In a data set where the total elements
of a set give an odd number, the median value is the middle value. For example, in
the data set, 21, 24, 27, 28, 28, the total elements in the set are five. Therefore, the
median value is 27.

When the total number of elements in a data set is even, the median value is the
mean of the two middle values. For example, in the data set, 21, 24, 27, 28, 28, 29,
the total elements in the set are six. Therefore, the median value is 27 + 28 = 27.5.

LEARNING UNIT 9:  Statistics or data handling

A mode (modal value) of a set of data is the value that occurs most often. It occurs
more than the other values. For example, in the data set, 21, 24, 27, 28, 28, 29, 28 is
the modal value because it occurs two times more than other values.


Example 1
Find the mode, median and mean of the following values:
1; 5; 7; 3; 5; 9; 5; 8; 10
(1) Arrange in ascending (increasing order):
1; 3; 5; 5; 5; 7; 8; 9; 10
(2) Mode = 5
(3) Median = 5 (total number of elements is 9, which is odd). The middle number
therefore consists of only one number that is 5.
NB: I f the middle number consists of 2 numbers, and the total number of elements
in the data set is even, add the numbers and divide the sum by 2.
Find the median 1; 3; 5; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9
Median = 5 + 6
= 5.5
(4) Mean

= 1 + 3 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10
x 9
= 53
x 9
= 5,89 (rounded off to two decimals)

The ages of 13 patients in a male ward of a hospital on a certain night were as
25; 57; 72; 89; 56; 74; 33; 61; 67; 61; 91; 43; 78
(1) Regarding the data collected in the ward, find
(a) the mode (modal age)
(b) the median age
(c) the mean age of the patients
(2) What conclusions can you draw from the mode, median and mean ages in
this ward?

Activity 9.7 focuses on helping you to analyse data critically by answering questions
relating to the measures of central tendencies (i.e. the mean, median and mode).


The heights (in centimetres) of Grade 9 learners were taken and recorded as follows:

169 181 145 159

171 165 109 170
173 176 140 178
150 170 162 151

(1) Rank the heights from tallest to shortest.

(2) How many learners were involved?
(3) What is the modal height?
(4) What is the median of the heights?
(5) What is the mean of the heights of the learners?
(6) Identify extreme values of the data (i.e. the very small and the very big
values of the data).
(7) Delete one extreme value of the data and recalculate the mean of the data
to one decimal place. What do you notice about the original mean and the
new mean?
(8) Did the mode and the median change when you deleted the extreme value?
Give reasons for your answer.

After doing activity 9.8, learners should be able to report data by

•• choosing appropriate summary statistics or measures of dispersion for the

data (the mean, median and mode).
•• outlining the role of extremes in the data.

Thus far, you have learnt the basics of data handling. You should now be confident
enough to present data handling content in the intermediate mathematics classroom.
Complete the following self-evaluation sheet to assess whether you have achieved
the outcomes for this unit.

Tick the boxes to assess whether you have achieved the outcomes for this unit.
If you cannot tick the box, you should go back and work through the section or
sections that you still find challenging.


(1) Collect data from different sources using different methods.
(2) Organise and represent information using a tally chart.
(3) Organise and represent information on a bar chart.
(4) Organise and represent information on a pictogram.
(5) Organise and represent information on a pie chart.

LEARNING UNIT 9:  Statistics or data handling

(6) Calculate and interpret measures of central tendency.

(7) Read a graph/chart and summarise data.
(8) Use a graph to predict and draw conclusions.

Department of Basic Education. 2017. Mathematics in English Grade 9: Book 2. 7th
edition. Pretoria: Department of Basic Education.
Facer, M, Kruger, E & Pretorius, J. 2011. Headstart Mathematics Grade 4. Cape Town:
Oxford University Press.
Laridon, P, Barnes, H, Jawurek, A, Kitto, A, Pike, M, Myburg, M, Rhodes-Houghton,
R, Scheiber, J, Sigabi, M & Wilson, H. 2006. Classroom mathematics, Grade 11.
Sandton: Heinemann Publishers.
Statistical language. Measures of central tendency. 2013. Australian Bureau of
Statistics. Retrieved 3 August 2017, from http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/
Statistics South Africa. 2011. Census @ school. Data handling, Grades 7, 8 & 9.
Wireless Revolution Pictures. 2016. The different types of cell phones. Retrieved
from https://www.google.com/.















Teaching of fractions concepts

How to use the shapes in the classroom?
Hand out shapes to the learners. Each learner must have at least one shape.
Each learner must show his or her shape and use the correct language pattern. Allow
learners to swop shapes and to repeat the language pattern with the new shape.
Learners have to know the correct vocabulary when dealing with fraction concepts.
They must say the following over and over, until they have mastered the correct

The following language patterns must be taught:

My whole is a triangle.
My whole is divided into two equal parts.
(Now the learner has to show how the two equal parts fit into the triangle.)
Each part is one half of my whole.
So two halves make one whole


My whole is a square.
My whole is divided into four equal parts.
(Now the learner has to show how the four equal parts fit into the square.)
Each part is one-quarter (or one-fourth) of my whole.
So four-quarters make one whole.

My whole is a hexagon.
My whole is divided into three equal parts.
(Now the learner has to show how the three equal parts fit into the hexagon.)
Each part is one-third of my whole.
So three-thirds make one whole.

My whole is a circle.
My whole is divided into eight equal parts.
(Now the learner has to show how the eight equal parts fit into the circle.)
Each part is one-eighth of my whole.
So eight-eights make one whole.

My whole is a rectangle.
My whole is divided into six equal parts.
(Now the learner has to show how the six equal parts fit into the rectangle.)
Each part is one-sixth of my whole.
So six-sixths make one whole.

My whole is a pentagon.
My whole is divided into five equal parts.
(Now the learner has to show how the five equal parts fit into the pentagon.)
Each part is one-fifth of my whole.
So five-fifths make one whole.

The activity can be extended to ask learners to show

•• two-thirds
•• three-fifths, etc.
When teaching fraction concepts, the teacher should refrain from using the symbolic
form of a fraction, such as 1 , 1 , etc. Learners should learn the correct pronunciation
3 5
of the fraction in WORDS, and not by saying “one over three” or “one over five”.
The role of the numerator and denominator must only be taught after the learners
understand the concept of a fraction.

In Grade 4, learners mainly deal with unit fractions (i.e. where the numerator is 1).

The meaning of the numerator and denominator should be clearly explained.

2 The “2” in the denominator tells you into how many parts the whole has been
divided. The “1” in the numerator tells you how many parts are shaded.


The activity can be extended to show equivalent fractions.

2 1
6 = 3

Show two-sixths Show one-third

2 4
5 = 10
4 2×2 2 2
10 = 2 × 5 = 1 × 5 = 5

Show two-fifths Show four-tenths