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Ross Intermediate School: ALiM report

Number of
students
Year Initial stage
Add/Sub
Final stage
Add/Sub
Time in programme Predominant
Focus
8 7/8 1 student - stage 0/1
4 students - stage 4
3 students - stage 5
2 students - stage 5
1 students - stage 6
5 students - stage 7
26 maths periods Basic Facts
(x) Numeral ID

Key advice for teachers and principals who want to accelerate the knowledge learning for students below the standard

  1. Have daily routines of practice, informal testing and revision. Allow plenty of practice times with a variety of practice activities and options (alone, in pairs, in small groups) so that boredom does not occur, so that children can utilise the most effective learning method for them, and so that children are challenged to find success and to feel that they have a secure hold on new learning.

    ‘Effective teachers provide students with opportunities to work both independently and collaboratively to make sense of ideas.’ Effective Pedagogy in Mathematics, p9.

  2. Teach memorisation techniques and encourage children to find their own. Teach not just the maths but teach the tools that will help the maths stick. For example, use tools such as rhythm, movement, rhyme, stories, and 'pictures in your head' . Accept the differences in these learners, encourage them to take responsibility for their own learning, share and celebrate different ways that learning and memorisation occur.

    Children would remind other members of the group about 6 x 7, “Remember, it’s the trampoline.” (This was a picture I drew of the 6 and 7 jumping backwards and landing on the trampoline in a particular way to create 42). When I asked how Jake remembered a specific times table that I was surprised he had learnt. He said “I see it on the keyboard.”

  3. Ensure the child knows exactly what their short term goal is and make it small enough to be achievable. For example if 2 x table memorisation is not achievable, make it 2 x 6, or chanting in twos to 10. It is important to then acknowledge the success with the child. The teacher’s pedagogical content knowledge, to assess exactly where the student is ‘at’ and to know the next learning step for the student, is crucial for this to occur.

    ‘Effective teachers develop and use sound knowledge as a basis for initiating learning and responding to the mathematical needs of all their students.’ Effective Pedagogy in Mathematics, p25.

Profile of school, teacher and students involved

Ross Intermediate School

Decile 6, 430 students.
There are fifteen teaching classrooms  with 28 – 29 students per classroom. There are Five technology classrooms.
A booster numeracy programme occurs throughout the year. This targets 10-12 high–need students per term.

Teacher

  • A full-time permanent female teacher,
  • Not a classroom teacher at this school: she teaches school music, booster literacy and booster numeracy,
  • An experienced teacher of 20 years who has taught in every level of primary school,
  • Formerly a supplementary learning support teacher.

Students

  • Were recommended by their teachers.
  • Had high needs in maths,
  • Tested at similar levels on their NumP Assessments,
  • Did not know all their times tables,
  • Did not have teacher aide help or other interventions,
  • Had not been with me for ‘booster numeracy’ this year although one student had been with me last year for times tables tuition.

Short summary of the programme - basic facts (mainly times tables) and FNWS/BNWS (a lesser emphasis)

These students were very pleased with their learning and it appears to have boosted their confidence in maths.

My programme was interrupted half way through because I went overseas, so there was a five and a half week period where the programme ceased. I estimate that it took about one to one-and-a -half weeks for the children to get back to where they were, once I resumed teaching. The first week back week was spent revising what we had learnt and getting back into the practice routine.

Teaching, not including assessment, took place over 26 maths periods. Our sessions took place Monday to Thursday. Children had these maths sessions in the music suite which has plenty of space for individual and group work. The session was within the school maths time, so they did not have other maths sessions during the day.

One had more absences than the others who were absent occasionally for such things as sports events and illness. We had the other normal interruptions of such things as cross country day and Labour Weekend.

My teaching emphasis was on multiplication basic facts knowledge. As children learnt their basic facts, they worked on their speed of recall and some went on to use their multiplication basic facts for division. Less time was spent on teaching forward and backward number word sequence. This was mainly teaching how to say numbers into the tens and hundreds of thousands, and numbers before and after them. We ventured into decimals,  and into decimal place value.

Children at this intermediate school level want to know their times tables and often feel they are behind if they don’t. Reading large numbers, for example to the millions, is also knowledge they seem to particularly want. Many children see these two knowledge areas as indicators of maths intelligence, or rather the lack of this knowledge indicates maths ‘dumbness’. Not having multiplication facts is also an initial barrier to problem solving. It seems a chore to have to strategise or count out a multiplication fact, and/or a humiliation if this first part of many problems cannot even be achieved. These were significant reasons for my choice of these two areas.

I asked, “What are you most pleased with?”
Patohe replied, “Learning my times tables. Because I need them later in life. So you can solve things faster.”
“How did you feel when you didn’t know them?”
Patohe and Blake looked at each other, smiled and both said together, laughing, “Dumb!”

Usual format of maths sessions

  1. Children came in and did daily worksheets - initially multiplication tables, later division, multiplying by tens and hundreds. I might work with a child/small group during this time.
  2. Whole group work in a circle on floor, skip counting with rhythm and movement, daily tables testing, revision, or doing new teaching. Patterns of numbers within tables and memorisation techniques are key.
  3. Practice time (within most of the sessions) during which students went off alone, in pairs, or in small groups to practise their tables, division, FNWS BNWS work. Games, flip cards, whiteboard times tables boards, equipment, a computer with tables competition were used during this time. During this practice time, I generally taught small groups or individuals  who were not understanding, who were ready to go on to the next times table, or onto the next concept or I tested children to ensure I understood what they knew. This was a flexible time based on my assessment of student needs: who needed to learn the next step, who needed consolidation  and clarification. 
  4. Students then returned to the mat for the FNWS/BNWS part of the lesson. Teaching/revision,  practice/testing followed in the circle on the floor.