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Help! year 11 bottom set about to leave school without basic numeracy

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by maggiemccluskey, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. I am a trainee teacher (GTP) with a bottom set year 11 class I am concerned about.
    Some of these pupils have been taught numeracy over and over again but just do not have a grasp of the basic skills they need for life.
    I have seven more weeks left with these guys before they are out in the big wide world and I am very keen to find some innovative and engaging ways of improving their numeracy. They have probably been given every type of worksheet under the sun over the last 11 years and so I dont think another round of this is going to be very effective. I am looking for a new approach.
    Topics we are looking at are money calculations, percentages, interest rates, budgets, value for money, as well as basic numeracy.
    I don't have a huge budget for resources!
    Any help would be very gratefully received.
  2. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    So this isn't about passing any test or fitting someone's scheme of work but about getting these kids some real-world skills that might be of some use?
    Can they tell the time? (clocks on their phones..)
    Do they have any realistic concept of distance? (Any idea what a mile is? - 1760 yards.. A full size rugby pitch is 100m and from goal to goal and 70m across, so about 5 times round one is about a mile... can you manage behaviour well enough to go out and walk round and round a pitch (football/rugby/hockey are all roughly the same) 5 times?)
    Take some of the example interest rates from TV adds (the payday loan companies quote APRs of about 2500%) and show what it costs to borrow money.
    And encourage them to use the calculators on their phones. iPhones have a scientific calculator built in (the normal one, but turn the phone sideways). Most phone calculators do not obey BIDMAS.
    Perhaps do some tax examples? Go onto the government website and see if you can make any sense of tax credits??
  3. Do you have any dartboards? They can do all sorts of calculations involving them - even if it's just a photocopied one and they have to throw a boardmarker at it...
    Can you get some catalogues (Argos or B&Q) and get them, to work out how much it'll cost to redecorate a room?
    Go to your local supermarket and ask of they can print off some sample receipts (they used to do this free of charge) and then get the kids to discuss how to save on their weekly shopping bill.
    If they whinge about how rubbish the school's computers are, get them to cost out replacing them within a budget.
    On a sunny day, get them to work out how higha tree is by measuring their own shadows and then using similarity...
    cyolba, avoiding work like a moody teenager :)
  4. Thanks guys, have done some of your suggestions already. The decorate a room on a budget went down a treat, as did getting them outside to measure things (excpet some of them thought they were to cool to do this!). Some other great ideas that I will try.
    Would be especially interested to hear ideas for teaching arithmetic, understanding and skills.
  5. ilovemathsgames.com

    ilovemathsgames.com New commenter

    I have some resources that might be helpful - tuck shop project (imaginary, but you could do a real one...) and mysupermarket online shopping task.
    I'd also suggest problem solving tasks, which tend to be more enjoyable - have you tried the nrich KS2 stuff with them for the basics? They don't need to know it's KS2!
  6. To the OP I say, "Well Done". The fact that you have that wonderful enthusiasm of a new teacher and trying to get the best out of the kids in front of you is great.
    Now to write what the cynical part of me is shouting: 16 year olds who have been through the English education system and still can't do basic arithmetic? Welcome to the real world.
  7. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Waste of the very limited time you have left - this group really won't have a use for arithmetic once they're out of the door (they've already demonstrated they have no interest in it for 11 years, you will not change this in 7 weeks).
    Better to leave arithmetic to the calculators on their phones - and show them some of the ways to recognise when they've made mistakes (more than 2 decimals... there's been a keying error somewhere. 1 significant figure approximation, etc.)
  8. I think at this point it really needs to be about real life skills that they will need in a matter of weeks. Could you do a project based on income/expenditure?
    My idea is that you work out what they could expect to get each week/month. Work in whole pounds so the addition and subtraction is easier. Look up what kind of weekly income they'd get on benefits or minimum wage - work it out for them and let them know.
    Ask them what kind of bills they'd expect to pay. Prompt them for ones they've forgotten. Research average costs for a single person living in a cheap flat on their own. If you don't know, I can probably cast my mind back a few years ago to when I was in that situation.
    Then add up the bills - again, if you use whole pounds it should be reasonably simple addition but yes you could use their phone calculators to do this if necessary - at least it will help them realise that they need to add these numbers.
    Then establish with them that they need to subtract the total of 'essentials' from 'income' and what is left is the money they have left to spend.

    Get them to research how much things cost - they may know. Things like new clothes, a night out, getting their hair done.

    Then get them to set priorities for their disposable income.

    Would they save anything? If so, how much? What interest rates are out there? Get some info about the different savings accounts and get them to compare them. Which would give them the best deal? If they put away, say £5 each week, how much would they have at the end of the year? then add on the interest earned. How much more is this?

    Compare this with adding up credit card debt. Imagine they owed £100 on a credit card. If they paid off £10 per week, how long would it take? Then factor in the interest - you could work out this bit. Get them to compare it. Help them realise that it is much better to save than to use credit cards. Get them disgruntled at the credit card companies making money from them.

    Compare this again with the 'pay day loans' and help them see what a rip off they are. Pupils usually respond well to the idea that you are arming them against people who want to rip them off.

    Another idea: Give them a shopping budget of £20. Use online shopping sites to 'spend' this. Or go to a supermarket and ask them to write down the prices of basics - you could agree these as a class first. then back in class, work out how you could best spend that money. Would you have enough to make meals for a week?

    Some of this will require careful guidance but this may be the only time they get this explained to them. It is a great opportunity to arm them with skills they will really need very soon. I agree that worksheets are not the answer. They need real life practical examples that they can relate to. You may need to round amounts to the nearest pound - or at least get them to knock off the pence - so that the numbers are more manageable because I don't think you'll have time to get into decimals in detail. What do you think?
  9. Go to moneysavingexpert website - they have a printable pdf that is designed to educate kids about finance and why credit can be dangerous - you may need to adapt some language but hopefully it will be a good starting point.
  10. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    If they save £5 a week, then they'll earn approximately 2% of £130 a year - £2.60.
    Sad to say, today's savings rates are not that motivational - for real savers or as classroom exercises..
    Maybe an exercise based on what rates need to be to make saving worthwhile? (So at least they'll recognise a good account from a bad one if interest rates ever do go up.)
    And it's certainly worthwhile to compare the rates of different credit cards and what happens if you pay the minimum each month or if you try to pay off a card ASAP.
  11. blue117

    blue117 New commenter

    My bottom set GCSE group love Sumdog - and it's a great motivator to get through the worksheety first half of the lesson. Their mental arithmetic is definitely improving
  12. Another idea - Planning a holiday/day trip/night out
    Theres the budgeting again, plus the important life skill of reading timetables in order to plan a journey.
    Also, with the budgeting - it might be worth includiing something on reading bank statements etc (or using a statement/balance sheet format to plan income and outgoings for putting on a concert/prom etc)
  13. Yes but you can buy a decent amount of chocolate with £2.60.

    I think my point was that by saving even a modest sum each week, it builds up over the year into a meaningful amount. £130 is a meaningful amount when you're 16 and not earning much.

    I admit, I hadn't worked out the interest though. It did make me smile. But I do think it's important to show the difference between saving - even a little bit - and getting into debt - even a little bit.
  14. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I always wonder whether one of the most practical things would be to see if someone from CAB will come in for a visit. They could offer their perspective on things like budgeting and debt, and it also flags up somewhere that they can go for advice if they get into difficulties as adults.
  15. Oooohhh, what is the tuck shop project?
  16. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    It won't get you a pack of 10 king size though, which I suspect may be more relevant.
  17. Yes, I think that is great, thank you.
    I did think about the income expenditure project before but a colleague said don't do it as will depress them relaising they will never have enough money to live indepedently. But I am minded to do it now, as ignorance is not bliss, and it might inspire them to get skilsl at college to lift them off the minimum wage. Thank you!
    If anyone has any planning help/resources to help structure this project I would be very pleased :)
  18. Has anyone already mentioned the Martin Lewis' Money Saving Expert website? There are spreadsheets and printable sheets to help people making a budget - and I expect there are similar resources for loadns and debts.
    There is also a set of teaching resources on the same website called the Teen Cash Class, which does not particularly concentrate on the mathematics of budgets and debts, but could provide some additional talking points or background.
    I've also just remembered the Nuffield resources for the Money management FSMQ's
    .... which might have something useful! (it might also be worth having a browse around the rest of the site - I haven't looked recently, and they're often adding new resources)
    Hopefully some of this might help!
  19. Thank you ever so much everyone, there are some brilliant ideas here.
    I did start them off today by looking at the minimum wage and how much they would earn a week, month and year on that. One guy came to the computer and we worked out what he would earn if he completes a college course in agricultural mechanics that he want to do, I think he is definitely inspired to stick it out now!
  20. Had no joy with SumDog :(
    Did create a profile and add my school. Where do you go after that? I just seemed to get taken round in circles.



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