Each year we used to analyse the Year 3 and Year 5 NAPLAN Numeracy papers, looking for where students appear to have a major blockage to their understanding. For example the results for Question 21 in the 2017 Year 3 paper demonstrate that many Stage 2 students are insecure about how number sentences work.

This Stage 2 activity (Years 3/4), *Match my Group (Division Number Sentences)*, helps these selected students realise that each part of a number sentence has meaning. If you rearrange the position of digits and symbols, then your number sentence may not make any sense. You can’t just put them wherever you like.

It also helps students realise that they need time to think about the actions in a number sentence. If they see the number 42 and the number 6, for example, do you add, subtract, multiply or divide them? You can’t just rush in with the first thing that comes into your head.

Each of the 4 stories in this activity is a single step story. Your students need to be able to manage linking their story and number sentence before tackling more complex events. You need to make time for your students to talk to each other, explain their thinking strategies, to work co-operatively on each activity. You can’t rush their understanding. You need that “aha” moment when they work out that actions matter, the placement of digits and symbols matter. Maths matters!