The following documents show how we teach calculating skills throughout the school:
Overview of Maths at Guiseley Primary School – what is it all about?
A Guiseley Primary School, we want our children to love learning maths. We want them to be curious, inquisitive, and explore patterns and relationships. Our curriculum and teaching are crafted to enable children to be an active part of their maths lessons. The passive maths lessons of learning “rules” and “methods” by heart are gone. Today, our school prides itself on enabling children to master mathematics: to make links between things; to find patterns; to ask questions; to use their knowledge to learn more. We encourage them to discuss, using precise mathematical language. We facilitate an environment where children discover things, rather than being told. We flip mathematical concepts on their heads and encourage children to find and see a myriad of different ways a number, problem or concept can be represented.
Maths is exciting. Maths is fun. Maths is resilience. Maths is perseverance. Maths is taking risks. Maths is making mistakes. Maths is failing before succeeding. And above all – Maths can be done by anyone!
Information for parents
Mathematics is a key area of learning that is often feared by children and adults alike. Historically, according to a book by Jo Boaler “teachers stand at the font of a class demonstrating methods for 20-30 minutes… while students copy the methods down in their books, then students work through sets of near-identical questions, practicing the methods.” Probably in silence, all working independently. Sound familiar? This is how we were all probably taught at school. We learned that Maths was a set of rules that had to be learned and remembered.
Maths teaching has changed, and is continuing to do so. Which is exciting for some parents and possibly adds an extra level of fear and anxiety for others. “If I didn’t understand when I was at school, then how can I hope of helping my child now things have all changed?” Hopefully the information below will reassure you that Maths is not to be feared and can be mastered by anyone!
The fluency element of mathematical teaching has not changed hugely since we were all at school, you might be pleased to hear. We still teach column addition and subtraction, long division and long multiplication (the latter two not until years 5 and 6 – don’t panic!). It is the way in which the children are taught these elements which has changed. The teaching of these concepts is broken down into smaller steps, using concrete resources (counters, teddy bears etc) and pictures. The aim is that the children don’t simply learn the trick to “knock on the door and borrow a ten” in column subtraction; they learn to understand where that ten comes from and how it is “exchanged” into the ones column for the purposes of this calculation. They deepen their understanding of these fluency methods by answering questions about them, solving problems (missing number problems for example) and reasoning (Tommy has done this calculation and it is incorrect – can you correct it and explain where he went wrong?).
Reasoning and Problem Solving
We probably all remember problem solving in our own school Maths lessons: Sammy has 12 sweets which she shares with her two friends - how many sweets do they each get? The main difference today, is that children also have to go on to say “why?” Can they explain why they each get 4 sweets? The child may have solved the problem using bus stop division (a method we all learned at school…), however can the child explain it? They may choose to explain why as a picture – grouping it as an array. They may choose to show it using counters or teddy bears – or indeed sweets. They may explain it in words. A simple response would be “I shared the 12 sweets equally between the 3 children and they got 4 each”. A more in-depth mathematical answer might be “I know that 12 is in the 3 x table. There are 3 children and I know that 3x4=12, so they must get 4 sweets each. There is no remainder because 3 is a factor of 12.”
Children are required to reason (explain why or why not), and so because of this, allowing the children to talk to each other features a lot in Maths lessons. Children need to develop their own vocabulary and show their own understanding, and they do this in partner discussions, which I will talk more about now.
Mixed ability partners
We probably all have memories of our own Maths learning at school. Some of us may remember being top of the class, struggling to understand why anyone else was finding the answer tricky, when to us it seemed easy. Some of us may have less-than-rosy memories of being on “the bottom table” which was always colour coded rather than labelled, but everyone in the class knew the pecking order and which table was “top” or “bottom”. That table had lots of teacher support… and only did the “easy work”. So there was little opportunity to have a go at the harder (and arguably more interesting/rewarding) Maths work.
That is not how classrooms are set up at Guiseley Primary school. Each child works with a partner and they are all mixed up. Very quickly, the children lose sight of where they are in the pecking order of the class, and it becomes more about their own Maths journey in the classroom. They do the same work as everyone else in the classroom and have the opportunity to talk about and think about the Maths they are doing. This is active learning – where the children are involved and discover for themselves what is wrong (and why) and what is right (and why).
Early Years (Nursery and Reception)
Children in our Nursery and Reception are also taught with a similar approach. They will learn about each number in depth before moving on to the next. They will learn to represent the number in various ways, learn to recognise it in digits in the environment, learn how it looks on a dice, in a tens frame, in words etc. The children will learn about shapes with that number of sides. They will learn the combination of numbers that make up that number. They will learn what number is one more and one less than the number they are learning. By slowing the learning down, we are giving the children an opportunity to explore the number in depth and to start making their own mathematical links and patterns between the numbers. By teaching in this way, we aim to inspire children’s mathematical curiosity and inquisitiveness. Maths is about asking questions and learning to explain why a triangle cannot be a square. It is not simply about learning to count and learning methods to calculate – it is much more exciting than that. It is an active, not passive, subject.
So you might have a couple of questions with this approach – please let me try to answer them here:
But my child is brilliant at Maths! Surely this way of teaching will hold them back?
Some children learn methods, rules and patterns very quickly. Historical teaching methods and assessment would have claimed that these children are very good at Maths. There is no denying that these children are very good at learning such things quickly. However often these children can rush to complete things quickly and make silly mistakes, or can fail to see other ways of completing a problem (rather than the tried and tested method they have learned). These children can often struggle to explain how they reached their (often correct) answer, saying simply “I just know it. It’s just in my head and I know it.” Working in partners helps children to learn that there is rarely simply one way to answer a question. It helps them to verbally explain why something is correct or incorrect. If they can explain it to their partner, they can demonstrate a deeper understanding and then they can explain it in words in their books.
But my child needs more support in Maths – how will working with another child help?
Quite often, children can explain things to each other better than a teacher can (did I just admit that?). Children who feel less confident with their Maths might feel more comfortable asking their partner for help than the teacher. They may also feel more confident to “have a go” with an answer with their partner, and even build up the confidence to challenge their partner on an answer they believe is incorrect. Additional support will still be provided to those children who need it at the discretion of the teachers, however wherever possible, all children will participate in the same learning as their peers in the classroom.
My child in Reception/Nursery can already count to 20. Why are they going back to learning about the number 1?
Children are very good at learning and remembering songs, chants and rhymes from a young age. However, even though a child can count from 1 to 20, this does not necessarily mean that they know what “4” actually is. Can they count 4 objects accurately? Can they recognise the number 4 in different fonts? Can they recognise “four” in words? Can they recognise 4 dots on a dice? Do they know that 1 and 3 makes 4? Do they know that double 2 is 4 and that half of 4 is 2? This is why the learning is apparently “slower”. It is not slower – it just has more content and ensures that the child fully understands the number before the next number is introduced.
Mathletics and TTRockstars
Mathletics is an interactive online maths resource which allows children to play Maths games against other class members and also against other children from all over the world! This can be accessed from the 'pupil zone' section of the website. Children's individual logins are on the back of their reading records.
TT Rockstars is a fantastic website to help children to learn their times tables! Times tables are crucial in Maths, and are a huge focus in Years 3 and 4. Children's individual logins are on the back of their reading records.
Other useful websites.
A really great caterpillar sequencing game that lets you practise sequences in all different ways, forwards and backwards etc with varying levels of difficulty.
This website is great for problem solving and reasoning.
A simple game good for practising odd or even numbers.
A great game for practising place value with a shark and takes bites out of a boat. Click on ‘blocks’ instead of ‘cups.’
A good game physically sorting sheep into 2 pens to practise halving numbers.
A good game for 2 players practising simple takeaways and practising being able to count backwards from a 2 digit number. The winner tips goo on the other person’s head.
Numbers to 20
http://www.ictgames.com/rhoodbeyond10.html - larger doubles
A few different games for practising knowing your doubles off by heart, choose Robin Hood dartboard game 1 and 2 for harder doubles.
A really good game for practising x tables off by heart, firing from a plane at the correct answer.
A good game for having to pay for different priced items only up to 50p.
Lots of number fact games, funky mummy is a good, funny game children love!
We hope you enjoy looking at these websites and playing the maths games with your child!