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Best way to teach/learn Times Tables .....

Discussion in 'Primary' started by NQT2004, Oct 22, 2007.

  1. NQT2004

    NQT2004 New commenter

    ...I am getting frustrated by the lack of knowledge of Times Tables that my Year 6 class have.
    By this stage they should know them all but don't, obviously this impacts in most areas of maths so I have decided to do something about it.

    Now I have also decided to do a Masters and am thinking that I could combine the 2 and do some real research into learning Times Tables.

    Wondering what people think are the best ways to teach/learn the facts.
    Also if anyone knows what reading material there is on this topic.
    Thanks in advance!
  2. NQT2004

    NQT2004 New commenter

    Really interested in what other pople are doing in this area or what resources they are using
  3. I have the same frustration. Also year 6 teacher. I have found sheets of times tables questions -74 per sheet on one times table (so very repetative) and then a mixed one. Children work through them. 10s first then 2s then 5s then through the rest from smallest to largest. They have to get 72 out of 74 in 3 mins to pass and move onto the next one. In order to work that fast they have to know most, if not all, of them instantly. The children then have the times table they are stuck on as a target to work on. Really highlights children who do not have instant recall. The children who are then working on a times table can do it in any way they would like. Some examples: Matching cards with questions and answers, playing pairs with these cards, magnet boards, sand trays to write questions in, quizzing each other,whiteboards, websites -woodlands has loads of good ones (particularly like moon maths and maths magician. Also found a resource I really liked called times attackz which you can download a free trial of (computer game style). Found that because each child is trying to achieve individual target they are really motivated-they get target stickers when they achieve it. Some children have actually requested extra tests to prove to me that they have learnt them.
  4. NQT2004

    NQT2004 New commenter

    Thanks for you reply- in my school we have some similar testing. Each week the children are supposed to do a timestables test and then move up the ladder.
    So they start on 2's then 10's and so on.

    However the testing has been introduced but nobody has addressed the actual teaching of times tables in between. I am finding the kids are maybe getting 2 -5 more right each time but I have decided that by spending some quality time on this each week we can hopefully move them quicker.

    As teaching any maths concept is soooo much harder with out their times tables cemented!
  5. Andrew Jeffrey

    Andrew Jeffrey New commenter

    HI NQT2004, I think this would be a great area for your research project - go for it!

    I have a very, very long answer to your question which would bore the pants off everyone, so here is the slightly shorter, hopefully more useful version for you:

    1. Don't worry. Twas ever thus. I too have struggled with Year 6 pupils who don't know their tables. It's just a part of a teacher's life.

    2. There is no single 'correct' strategy, and you should treat with suspicion anyone who tells you otherwise. The picture is far more complex that to say "Just drill, drill, drill", or conversely "Games, games, games" at the other extreme as the only answer.

    3. The truth is that most children learn their tables the same way that they learn anything that is a little more abstract - spaced, repetitious learning. Sorry that this is a bit jargony, but hopefully it makes sense.

    4. This means that you should at all costs avoid getting into an argument about the 'best' approach; a mixture of attempts will cast your net widest. Regularity and reward are the only two constants in this argument; everything else is speculation!

    5. Not everyone learns the same way. Wow, really?! I know, it's obvious, and even running the risk of being patronising, but important to say nevertheless so that we all give all of our kids the best possible opportunity with a variety of methods.

    6. Learning tables is NOT like riding a bike. Once you have learnt to ride a bike, you never forget. The same is NOT true of tables; too many teachers make the mistake of thinking "Ah, now they know their 5s we don't have to bother testing them any more." Johnny Wilkinson and David Beckham still practise their kicking, for example.

    7. Learning tables is a long and gradual process. Don't get discouraged as I have and others have in the past by the amount of time needed to learn tables, and don't be put under pressure by any Strategy that says they MUST know such-and-such by a particular date or age.

    8. I realise I haven't given any *actual* strategies, so here for the record are a few that work (though not in isolation):

    a)Rapid-fire tables questions to children leaving the end of a lesson or at any other time

    b)Linking with division; "How many 4s in 20?" etc.

    c)Tables Squares to be filled in under time pressure. These should have both the horixontal and vertical numbers mixed up.

    d)Written tests. A timing element will introduce the idea of beating the clock, but only competing with your own previous best should be stressed. Give the same test every week and children will soon be encouraged by their own progress.

    d)Tables Bingo and other easily administered games

    e)Chanting (yes really)

    f)Songs (raps, etc)

    g)Reverse Table Squares (where some of the answers are filled in but the multipliers are missing; very clever)

    h)Cross Numbers

    i) Lots and lots of rewards so that they can see a cumulative benefit. I would advise against having a 'we know our tables' chart; it seems like a great idea but just invites the mistake mentioned in point 6. This is controversial, and probably loads of people will disagree with me; but that's what I love about this forum!

    Sorry for such a long response. I'm sure it's probably all been said before!

    Finally, I have a free e-book for those children who like to spot patterns in numbers. It's at www.andrewjeffrey.co.uk/freegifts.asp

    Good Luck!
  6. NQT2004

    NQT2004 New commenter

    Thanks Andrew for your reply.

    In my experience, there seems to be a lot of children who have an emotional block when it comes to maths ie they think they are rubbish at it or that they just never get it.

    From my view I can see that the children who have these feelings have a lack of knowledge of number bonds and a sound knowledge of timestables, which makes maths hard for them - - sometimes they understand what to do but can't get it quick enough or see the number connections.
    I can see that lots of the times they struggle the facts they don't know are times tables.

    Now I just need to work out how to phrase my questions because like you say I don't want to advocate the "best " way of doing something. Also am not sure how to measure an emotional connection between good timestables knowledge and confidence in maths?!
    Just need to figure out my focus - any ideas?
  7. What about not knowing their times tables is linked to not understanding repeated addition? You will probably have to triangulate findings through learning diary comments relating to any improvements you have seen, interviews with teachers/assistants and the children and with before/after questionnaires. Could you give some problem solving before tables practice and then after - tricky though as if you change the problems, then the data might not be accurate....
  8. Andrew Jeffrey

    Andrew Jeffrey New commenter

    Here are a few possible titles:

    "Is there a link between confidence and confident tables mastery?"

    "What constitutes 'mastery' in multiplication tables, and is there a measurably 'best' way to attain it?"

    "Is there a discernable correlation between sound tables knowledge and mathematical attainment?"

    "Good, better, best: a comparitive study of approaches to tables learning"

    "Do our emotions play a part in the learning of tables?"

    Just a few to play with. I feel quite jealous, actually!
  9. NQT2004

    NQT2004 New commenter

    Really like the idea of emotions playing a part in learning times tables - mainly due to my own experience!
    When I was at school I hated learning multiplication facts due to my mum's approach! In the holidays she made me learn a times table a day and I wasn't allowed to go out and play till I passed her test!
    Remember sobbing and sobbing and hating the times tables.

    I have a little orange book that I still use at school even though looking at it makes me want to cry!!
    This does however provide me with a great source of empathy for the kids that find them hard!

    Thanks again Andrew for your replies and I have downloaded your booklet Andrew, it is great and would have made those holiday learning sessions easier! Just wondering if you have any idea of some quality reading I could do around this subject?
  10. Great reply AJ.

    I too am having problems with Y6 re tables! Tables really do underpin so much of maths that they need to be really known in order to make the rest accessible.

    NQT2004 I'm not sure that you really need too worry too much about just testing - after all they are practising.

    Mine like quick fire. We do Trinity's Olympic maths challenge every week (can e-mail you a copy if you want) They like that and get a sticker on the wall for each level completed. No sticker if one wrong! I'm mean.

    Fizz Buzz is good.
    Also plenty of tables websites. I sent some home and my parents have said that some of their children will happily play on those all night. It takes some of them quite a long time to complete a 10 x 10 random square. Parents think they are working, children think they are playing. Everyone is happy!

    Some that I have used of varying difficulties.





  11. NQT2004

    NQT2004 New commenter

    Love the websites- will send them home, am sure some of them will play on them!
    My email is claire_finkel@hotmail.com
    Would love a copy of your Trinity Olympic Maths Challenge, thanks.
  12. It's not my Trinity test it is a test by Trinity. Sorry to be pedantic but don't want to claim ownership of someone else's hard work!

    Will e-mail.
  13. You have mail
  14. NQT2004

    NQT2004 New commenter

    Thanks - got the mail.
  15. Andrew Jeffrey

    Andrew Jeffrey New commenter

    I haven't seen the Olympic Maths thingy, but having met Trinity (if we are talking about Trinity0097 who posts on here) I'm sure it will be good. If either of you have a second, can you email it to me as well? Pretty please? Thanks!
  16. NQT2004

    NQT2004 New commenter

    You have mail!
    Just forwarded them, any problems opening let me know!
  17. runaway

    runaway New commenter

  18. runaway

    runaway New commenter

  19. Yes it is Trinity0097 with a few additions of my own. The stages are a bit big for our younger children so I am in the process of providing single table tests to bridge the gaps.
  20. Thanks for the games links my class will love those!

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