My Five a Day

This is not my idea at all but one that I discovered through Twitter and I think that it has made a real difference to my pupil’s retention of Mathematical ideas.

5 a day image

I spotted the idea one morning on Twitter. The excellent @corbettmaths posts daily 5 a day tasks for GCSE students at 3 different levels. I noticed that the numeracy level was well within the capability of my Year 6 pupils and used it as the starter  for that day’s maths lesson. The children enjoyed it and it made a good start to the lesson as they could get going as soon as they came in. I created one of my own for the next day and made it slightly prettier (being a primary teacher:-) ) and the children again responded well.

I realised that it was a really good way of keeping lots of different concepts alive in their heads and the children quickly got into the routine of completing the questions quickly. Going over the answers is quick and reinforces methods on a regular basis. I choose a whole variety of different questions and it allows me to revisit tricky topics more frequently than I have done before. This frequent revisiting keeps the topics fresh in my pupil’s minds and helps to embed methods into their long term memories.

My teaching assistant and I have noticed a real difference in the children’s retention of methods and ideas and the pupils themselves like the idea of 5 a day for their ‘maths’ brains.

In our recent mock sats, I was really pleased by how well many of them did compared to their previous performance and I really feel that the daily 5 a day practice has had a real impact.

Thanks @corbettmaths!

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What’s the point?

Lovely news this morning as Nicky Morgan announces that all children must now know their tables up to 12X. This piece of earth shattering news has made front page and radio headlines today. Strange as i thought that particular objective had been in the curriculum for a while now.

However, it is slightly more than that this time. Ms Morgan has decided to make absolutely sure that the children know all their table facts, can carry out complicated multiplication and division, write a short story etc. She is going to do this by threatening schools and heads with forced take overs if they fail to ensure that 100% of children can do this when tested.

100% – yes, that’s every child in your school no matter what their background or ability is. No matter what their problems are.

I firmly believe in high aspirations and have agreed with a lot of the thinking behind the new curriculum. However to suggest that my job or that of my head teacher is going to be on the line when we fail to meet this new objective is simply crazy. Children are not robots and come in many guises. Some have real, profound problems that prevent them learning and no amount of support is going to make them able to jump through conservative party hoops.

We currently have several children at school who have difficulties in learning. Their steps are very small but no less real for that. They are challenged and pushed but no amount of support is going to make them suddenly able to deal with complex multiplication. We educate them to the best of their ability but it is a fact that not all children can absorb facts and methods at primary age. Sometimes there are pleasant surprises when children do things that you did not think that they were capable of but there are also disappointments.

I am nearing the end of my teaching career and had been considering teaching past my retirement date as I love my job and feel that I do make a difference. However increasingly, I am beginning to feel that there is no point.

We currently have a shortage of good head teachers and this new initiative is simply going to make matters worse. Why would any head teacher take up this challenge?

Is it too much to ask for a coherent education policy that wants the best for all of our children while still recognising that they are children and not simply empty boxes to be filled?