Using Newman’s Prompts in Lower Primary

Young children are natural problem solvers: that is how they learn.

I was first introduced to Newman’s Error Analysis by a numeracy consultant many years ago and it has been the basis of my problem solving teaching ever since. Problem solving is an important way of learning, because it motivates children to connect previous knowledge with new situations and to develop flexibility and creativity in the process.

By consistently using Newman’s Prompts to explicitly scaffold the problem solving process, student’s quickly develop confidence and a range of problem solving strategies.

So what is Newman’s Error Analysis?

Newman’s error analysis came from research into language issues in maths in the 1970s. As a result of these studies Anne Newman identified five basic steps students typically work through to solve written word problems:

1. Reading

2. Comprehension

3. Transformation

4. Process Skills

5. Encoding

Newman’s Prompts

Newman suggested five prompts to determine where errors may occur in students’ attempts to solve written problems.

Reading 1. Please read the question to me.

Comprehension 2. Tell me what the question is asking you to do.

Transformation 3. Tell me how you are going to find the answer.

Processing Skills 4. Show me what to do to get the answer.

Encoding 5. Now, write down your answer.

Using Newman’s Prompts in Lower Primary

I introduce Newman’s Prompts to solve mathematical word problems as soon as my students are able to read basic sentences. Giving students problems with words that they can decode helps to build both their reading and math confidence.

I teach my students the steps with these Newman’s Prompts posters and then they each have a bookmark to remind them.

Here is an example of how I structure the lesson:


Try it Out

I created a freebie that you can use to teach your students using Newman’s Prompts. You can grab it with the link below:

FREEBIE – Newman’s Error Analysis Problem Solving Worksheet

To save yourself a tonne of time… Buy my other Newman’s Prompt resources here:

Newman’s Error Analysis Problem Solving Booklet – Numbers to 20

Newman’s Error Analysis Posters and Bookmarks

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