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Interview - need advice on maths methods to use!

Discussion in 'Jobseekers' started by semteach, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. I'm a supply teacher at the moment so unless it's a class/school I know well I don't know what methods the school use or what that class use. You often also have a mixture of children using more formal methods and then children using methods like number lines, especially if you have a wide range of abilities - I've been in Y2 classes where there's children using the decomposition method for subtraction!
    What I normally do in this situation is give the children some time on whiteboards to work out the problem - whilst they're doing this move around the class and look at the method(s) used and give a bit of support to those who might need it. You might find at this point the children use one method or there's a mixture like I described earlier. Then I would ask one child to show how they worked it out, getting them to talk through their method. Then I ask if anyone worked out the answer a different way, that way you're covering the variety of methods and showing they're all reach the same answer (if done correctly!).

  2. ellie_rose

    ellie_rose New commenter

    Thanks a lot for your help! :)
  3. I also want to add that whatever you decide to do to tackle this I wouldn't introduce a new method to teach the children in case they don't pick it up. You don't want to 'lose' the children in an observation! Best to stick to reinforcing ones they're familiar with.
  4. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Are you only teaching a starter? I really recommend you don't do anything that requires a written method in a starter activity.
    It used to be called (and still should be) a MENTAL starter, ie children work in their heads doing some sort of exciting and catchy activity.

    You really wouldn't get the job in any school I've worked in (most of which as head of maths or numeracy co-ordinator) if you did an interview lesson with children doing written calculations on whiteboards, certainly not a mental starter.

    Good luck with the interview.
  5. ellie_rose

    ellie_rose New commenter

    Thanks for the advice. So how would I go about doing a money mental starter (ie buying items and working out change from notes etc.) without a written method? I'm worried it'll be a bit difficult for children as young as Year 3 to do mentally. I'm currently on placement with Year 5 and they would probably need to write it down to help them work it out. I have a plan and some of it did involve working on whiteboard but I may have to tweak it now.
  6. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Were you given that objective at that level for a starter?

    I'd get them to play shops to be honest. Give them lots of plastic or card money and so count up. Whiteboards for jottings maybe, but they shouldn't need anything more.

    Think about real life shopping. If you want to keep count you would round up and estimate the amount of change or the numbers are small enough to be able to do quickly in your head. The same needs to be true for the children.
  7. Really? Interesting Minnie because I like to vary my starters and when I do Countdown my Year 5/6 class like to jot down their workings on whiteboards. There seems to be disagreement about how much writing (if any) should be used in mental maths. Now whilst I agree mental maths in is your head, not every child can do this without jottings - surely if jottings help anyone with mental maths then they should be allowed? I can't always keep numbers in my head and sometimes mix numbers up (and affliction I have had since childhood which is worse when I am under pressure) so jottings keep me calm - I hate the lady at the start of the mental maths test who tells the kids not to write things down, and every teacher I have ever worked with and every year group team I have ever worked with have actually told the kids to ignore this advice if they need to jot things down.
    I also play Quick on the draw as a team game (see Paul Ginnis book) and my kids love the competing in this, and again sometimes this requires them to jot things down. We have ten word problems they have to complete, one at a time as a team, against the clock for tomorrow's activity. Again wouldn't expect them to do this without writing things down.
    I also play games like number squirt, robot wars, the always-sometimes-never debates, number snake, bingo, ladder bingo, which are more working out in their heads but even the latter to require a degree of writing down. The other week I did a mental starter where the kids had to estimate angles, they wrote their estimates on individual whiteboards and I used this for my APP to see who had got it and for AfL to see who needed more work on this.
    I think writing down is OK for a mental starter to include writing things down but for me the key is to mix things up so it is different every day. My kids like the fact they never know what we are going to do on a day to day basis.
    I think the key is to mix it up. Agree though for an interview lesson, a get up and move about interactive starter would be where I would be looking.
  8. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I did say 'whiteboards for jottings'!

    My class also play countdown and yes jot things on whiteboards. They also use whiteboards for 'show me' type answers/activities.

    I also tell my classes that the lady at the start of the CD is talking nonsense and jotting down information and bits to help is fine. During the year I model to my classes how to do this.

    However the OP was asking about formal written methods for calculations, which is not jottings and should not really feature in a starter.
  9. ellie_rose

    ellie_rose New commenter

    Thanks for everyone's help. I have planned a team game with whiteboards for jottings and have tried to make it interactive and fun. I hope this is ok though...do you think introducing an element of competition (ie mental maths team games) will go down well? I think it will be exciting but I know some schools can get a bit funny about it. Any advice would be appreciated.
  10. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Sounds fine to me. So long as there is a clear learning intention and the children are engaged and enthusiastic in mental maths then it should work.

    Competition would be fab in my school, but can't speak for all the weird and odd ones out there!

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