A Social and Holistic Approach to Numeracy
Home The Project Approach Activities Reflections Resources
Educators who use blank page assessment techniques may use them in different ways. Here the forum participants use their bodies and hands to express their view of assessment, going from disparate and random, to standardized and regimented, and finally to flexible and harmonious.

Blank Page Assessment

It is essential to gather information about a learner through an assessment process. We suggest an open-ended, guided conversation between the learner and practitioner. The practitioner listens carefully and uses a blank sheet of paper to make notes as the learner reflects on the mathematical skills and knowledge used in everyday life, as well as goals, interests and attitudes. We call this assessment technique the “blank page assessment.”

With a few open-ended prompts, a guided conversation gives a practitioner valuable information about what knowledge a learner is bringing to the learning process. In addition, the practitioner finds out why the learner is coming to the program. A learner shares his/her story with a practitioner who is self-reflective and more fully aware of how to listen and receive the story.

Learners bring their own “funds of knowledge.” Practitioners build upon this knowledge and recognize strengths. Practitioners look for gaps in knowledge, and create learning activities that support what is needed. It will help practitioners to identify, separate and link basic math concepts in a variety of contexts.

“By focusing on learners’ funds of knowledge, we shift our attention towards what learners bring to our classroom when, together with them, we attempt to reconstruct their knowledge, attitudes, and understandings,” says David Baker. “We look at what they can do as a whole person.”

Following is a list of potential funds of knowledge:

  • knowledge, experiences, histories, identities and images of themselves
  • attitudes, dispositions, desires, values, beliefs, and social and cultural relations
  • relationships with learning, teachers, and mathematics itself
  • numeracy practices beyond the classroom

(Beyond Worksheets: A Social and Holistic Approach to Numeracy, David Baker, 2005, p. 17)

The use of “funds of knowledge” in identifying goals and methods fits a holistic model of learning because the whole person is the centre of the learning process.


Karin tells us about the way in which she and Melissa learned about each other.
Then Melissa shares the booklet that she created for the project.