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Year 5: Making the Last Term Count

Calling all Year 5 teachers! Louise Racher sets out what your pupils need to secure this term in readiness for their final year at primary.  

Yes, the summer term is fast approaching. Year 5 are pulling up their socks, straightening their ties and getting ready to oust the current Year 6 pupils from their top spot.  Year 6, this final year of primary school, or the end of Key Stage for those in middle schools.  Along with Year 6 comes the end of Key Stage assessments which the school will be accountable for, whether they are good, bad or ugly.  Continue reading “Year 5: Making the Last Term Count”

Times Tables Tests: A little bit of history repeating

Our advisers at Herts for Learning are privileged to work in many schools in and beyond Hertfordshire and on our travels meet real gems. One of these chance encounters was with the writer of this hugely interesting guest blog.  Alan Parr contacted us after reading our blog ‘When Timestables get Political‘  where the following comment resonated strongly for him

Those halcyon days just did not exist; it has ever been true that some pupils find learning their tables harder than others…

Alan let us know that he had made some pretty intriguing finds about the learning of times tables from school log books…it seems some things really never change. Read on for the shocking truth.  Continue reading “Times Tables Tests: A little bit of history repeating”

When Mathematics Gets Political – Times Tables

Times tables have been a hot potato politically for a long time, there seems to be a slightly rose-tinted view that once upon a time every child in Britain learned them by heart and still remember every fact today. Yet clearly not, if the famous example of politicians such as Stephen Byers and George Osbourne are anything to go by then even the great and the mighty parliamentarians  have a wobble now and then.  Those halcyon days just did not exist; it has ever been true that some pupils find learning their tables harder than others – we can give you roomfuls of teachers, teaching assistants and parents from all walk of life who can bear testament to this, most of whom can name the fact that remained a blindspot. Last week Nick Gibb announced that there would after all be a times table test for Y6 pupils beginning in 2019.  Inevitably this is likely to increase the emphasis on the learning of these facts – no bad thing as recall of these facts reduces the cognitive load enabling the focus of learning to be attended to, but it pays to be mindful that we build in meaningful learning sequences before we introduce the low stakes tests that allow teachers and pupils to identify gaps in fact recall and teach for them.  

The following blog considers one such possible approach.

Kate Kellner-Dilks is a Primary Mathematics Adviser  at Herts for Learning

In many of the schools I have the opportunity to visit and work with, the age old questions of multiplication facts comes up. Lots of schools have a ‘times tables challenge’ or variation of, which usually equates to some level of weekly testing. In my last blog ‘Are the boys really better at mathematics?’ I questioned whether multiplication facts (times tables) needed to be tested before they are learned, particularly against the clock, because of the anxiety you see in those pupils who don’t (yet) know them. These children often end up using inefficient strategies based on counting, to figure them out, rather than the intended memory recall. The test does not necessarily help build their memory recall and often, in my experience, reinforces their counting strategies, (a child said to me her ‘mind goes blank’, so she panics and counts up rather than using memory). Continue reading “When Mathematics Gets Political – Times Tables”

SATs chat: Why did my children revert to written methods on Paper 1?

 

Rachel Rayner is a Primary Maths Adviser at Herts for Learning

It’s a good question. In my experience working with schools nationally, pupils default to the written method often unthinkingly.   See the lovely examples here of just that happening.

As teachers we value mental fluency and we want our pupils to have it.   But are we working in the right way to engage our pupils over a sustained period of time, out of unthinkingness and into causing pupils to think deeply enough about the facts and skills they are adept at and how they might use them to form a strategy?    Continue reading “SATs chat: Why did my children revert to written methods on Paper 1?”

RUCSAC pack your bags, let’s hit the bar instead

Charlie Harber is the Deputy Lead Adviser for Primary Mathematics at Herts for Learning.  She has  researched the positive impact bar modelling has on pupils’ access to worded problems.

Recent analysis in many schools and discussion with subject leaders confirmed what many teachers have long suspected, that many children have the procedural skills but they  seemed to abandon all reasoning  when they need to apply them once they are embedded in a word/story problem. Many schools in the UK use RUCSAC to help the children, but have you considered why that doesn’t work? Is there a better way, one which just doesn’t prepare them to answer questions in tests, but also deepens operational understanding, exposes misunderstandings and develops reasoning – empowering the children to discuss the mathematics?

Simply put, yes I think there is a better way – bar modelling. Continue reading “RUCSAC pack your bags, let’s hit the bar instead”

Is mastery just a passing fad?

 

Nicola Randall, Mathematics Teaching and Learning Adviser at Herts for Learning

Before I even start to tackle this question, I think it is helpful to clarify what we mean by ‘fad’ and the best way I could think of doing this was to consider some examples.

  • Leg warmers worn anywhere other than inside a dance studio: fad
  • No make-up selfies: fad
  • Replacing actual laughing with the word “LOL”: fad
  • Dressing as clowns and scaring people: fad

Continue reading “Is mastery just a passing fad?”

KS2 SATs 2016 – Lessons Learned

Louise Racher is a Mathematics Adviser at HfL

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” Confucius.

As many practitioners ponder over the “new” KS2 tests, this article picks out some of our “noble” reflections on what would make a pupil confident to tackle the KS2 test without fear and trepidation. Pupils who met Age Related Expectations in 2016 (just over half of year 6 pupils nationally) demonstrated that they had a flexibility which allowed them to manipulate not only the calculations to find solutions with ease within the constraints of the time limit – but also had a good grasp of problem solving strategies. This enabled them to access some complex multi-step problems using higher order thinking skills and demonstrate that they were able to reason with confidence. Continue reading “KS2 SATs 2016 – Lessons Learned”

Are you and your children playful with number?

Rachel Rayner is a Primary Mathematics Adviser for Herts for Learning

Yesterday was a bit of a surreal day. Charlie Harber and I were filmed talking about mental mathematics.  A day of feeling hugely embarrassed by presenting our thoughts to a camera;   I’m sorry to say, I don’t think I did too well. To fit in all we wanted to say in 5 minutes was somewhat of a challenge to say the least.  So this blog is an attempt to put that right …I’ll let you be the judge of how I get on!

Why the focus on mental mathematics?

Our work in research projects around this area has led us to see the gaps between those children entering school having had rich experiences of maths at home and those who have had very little. Continue reading “Are you and your children playful with number?”

Take One Resource: The Counting Stick

Deborah Mulroney is a Primary Mathematics Adviser for Herts for Learning

In this blog the resource that we are focusing on is the counting stick. It usually has ten intervals but the type with four faces and divided in several ways are most useful. The main use is that it can be thought of as representing a three-dimensional empty number line.

Numberline 1

Continue reading “Take One Resource: The Counting Stick”

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