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This lesson is a great compliment to History units of work on either Tudor or European Medieval History as a Numeracy activity, or is an excellent opportunity to deepen knowledge of place value, addition and explore Roman Numerals in an Historical Mathematical context. Students learn how people calculated numbers during the Middle Ages. This interactive resource includes a starter game, an interactive timeline of the History of key Mathematical achievements, the method for calculating Medieval-style and plenary task.
Australian Curriculum Links:
•Recognise, model, represent and order numbers to at least 10 000 (ACMNA052)
•Apply place value to partition, rearrange and regroup numbers to at least 10 000 to assist calculations and solve problems (ACMNA053)
Numeracy General Capability
•Estimating and calculating with whole numbers, Understand and use numbers in context - model, represent, order and use numbers up to five digits (Level 3)
•Sequence historical events, developments and periods (ACHHS148)
•The way of life in Medieval Europe (social, cultural, economic and political features) and the roles and relationships of different groups in society (ACDSEH008)
•Continuity and change in society in ONE of the following areas: crime and punishment; military and defence systems; towns, cities and commerce (ACDSEH051)
USA Curriculum Links:
•Interpret data presented in time lines and create time lines by designating appropriate equidistant intervals of time and recording events according to the temporal order in which they occurred.
•History Standard 1b, The student understands changes in Western European societies in the age of exploration. Appraise aspects of European society, such as family organization, gender roles, property holding, education and literacy, linguistic diversity, and religion. 
Start with the interactive matching pairs game. This can be done in teams or as a class. Students tap on the coins to reveal either a Roman Numeral or an Arabic Numeral. The correct pairings will score a point. It is advised that students have some concept of Roman Numerals before this lesson.
Using the interactive timeline, students can explore the major Mathematical achievements and figures during the Middle Ages in Europe. They can also see what came before and after and also achievements outside of Europe. If you change the timeline to “edit” mode, students can research further advancements and add them to the timeline as a separate activity.
Using the questions to guide responses, students interact with the timeline to find the answers and discuss. Points to consider:
•The number of known Male mathematicians in Europe versus Female Mathematicians during the Middle Ages. Why might this be the case?
•The use of Roman Numerals instead of Arabic or other numerals to represent numbers. How might this have affected Maths development and use in general?
•Did anything surprise students? Such as key achievements, Mathematicians, the invention of zero?
Having a bit more context for where Maths was at in Medieval Europe, students are introduced to the main calculator of the period. Used by merchants and traders, this handy system could be simply doodled on a stone or made into a fine calculating table or tablet. Using the interactive whiteboard, demonstrate how to create numbers using the lines and spaces. You can share your screen with student devices using ProConnect or similar, or simply print off some reckoning boards and have counters for the students to use to create their numbers.
For further development, use the slides demonstrating addition. Students can then have a go at the addition sums provided, or you can differentiate for your class.
There is an option for students to create their own reckoning board in a more historically accurate way, which is great for role play, displays, homework etc.
A further activity is to create and calculate using an abacus. These slides demonstrate the Medieval method which is the same as the reckoning boards, but you are less likely to lose your jettons!
For the plenary, use the tablet on the screen, or screen share or print for students to respond.
•Students can work in pairs on either a device with a shared screen or on a tangible version either printed or made.
•Focus on creating the numbers, rather than the calculations.
•Use different coloured counters for the tens intervals and the fives intervals.
•Go through the number creation together using the interactive version on the slide.
•Have the Roman numerals conversion available for the Arabic version.
•Students can create their own reckoning boards using leather/fabric or wooden chopping boards and pebbles as jettons. Encourage role play as Medieval merchants and calculations required in typical trade scenarios.
•What are the advantages and disadvantages of this calculation method?
•Can students experiment with options for subtraction and multiplication and division using a reckoning board?
•How practical is using Roman Numerals for calculations?
•How did everyday Maths develop during the Medieval period in Europe? Use the interactive timeline to help.
•Question and answer throughout the lesson
•Peer assessment opportunities during group presentations
•Self reflection opportunities
•Overall assessment of understanding can be done through an in-depth analysis of a piece of their choice or as part of the module/topic they are currently working on.
•Student Devices, individual or in pairs (optional)
•Printed/laminated reckoning boards and counters/pebbles for jettons (optional)
This resource allows for use of the reckoning board slides directly on the teaching display, but can also be screen-shared with student devices or simply print the screen and use tangible counters. Better yet, students can create their own reckoning boards using fabric and a marker and pebbles for jettons, to have a more medieval experience!