Hayes (2010) tells us that there are three main types of learner, these are visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. It is important that teachers cater for all types of learning within each lesson. Visual representation is a crucial part of learning for children, especially for kinaesthetic learners. There are a number of ways in which visual representation of sorting can be effectively used within the classroom. Bruner( 1997 ) believes that all learners move through three stages of representation, enactive, iconic and symbolic. In the enactive stage pupils are encouraged to work with 3d shapes. This can be done in a number of ways and it is important that teachers use a wide range of materials such as logic blocks, spools or even items such as cars outside of the classroom. A vast supply of resources is crucial in teaching sorting effectively. As children progress into iconic representation they move away from 3d representation and the focus is now on 2d representation for example sorting pictures into colour. This will finally lead into the symbolic representation.
The current Northern Ireland curriculum ccea (2007) shows very clear lines of progression within the topic of sorting. In foundation stage children will be asked to sort collections of random materials. In the beginning the children will simply be asked to sort for one criterion using one- property collections. For example sorting a collection of blocks by colour. This will then be progressed further when children are asked to sort for one criterion using a collection of two- property items. For example a collection of different shaped and coloured blocks and asking the children to sort by colour. Three and four – property items will then be introduced however children will still only be sorting for one criterion. Once children move into ks1 they are expected to sort and classify objects for one or two criteria. An example of this would be classifying vehicles into both type and colour. This links well with visually representing sorting. The learning focus will change as the children progress through the different levels of sorting, it will depend on the number of criteria the children are being asked to look for and also the number of properties within a set.
There are a number of skills which can be developed through sorting activities in foundation/ks1. For example children develop their problem solving and decision making skills along with creative and critical thinking. Sorting helps develop children’s initial maths skills which are the foundation for future actions such as adding, subtracting, multiplying and division. Children’s language skills are developed as they are encouraged to use specific key vocabulary related with sorting and are encouraged to share working out with their peers.
Activities within sorting have many links across the curriculum both inside numeracy & mathematics and in other areas. Within mathematics sorting links with areas such as ‘ develop different approaches to problem solving’ ccea (2007 p61) along with ‘understand mathematical language and be able to use it to talk about their work’ and ‘ask and respond to open- ended questions’. Sorting can have