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Pupils to learn times tables

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by Maths_Shed, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. Maths_Shed

    Maths_Shed Occasional commenter

  2. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Yes, even in the calculator age, fluency in this can be a big help. However, as I say in another thread, now that we use a metric system, up to 10 x 10 makes a lot more sense.

    As I also say in the other thread, parents can, and should, take a lot more responsibility for their offspring achieving this goal.
  3. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    They are already supposed to have learnt them by the end of year 4, so being tested at the end of year 6 shouldn't be too much of a burden for any child.

    Well apart from those who have a teacher educated in the age where learning anything was considered bad, so don't know the tables themselves!
  4. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I was talking to a Chinese parent who was very surprised to discover we do tables up to 12x12; they couldn't understand why, and I had to explain that it was historical.

    I hope it will include the related divisions - I reckon they're not learnt until they can do all the divisions too, and preferably divisions with remainders with fairly minimal thinking time.
    googolplex likes this.
  5. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    Come to think of it, I agree that even up to 10 x 10 would be a big step in the right direction, considering how poorly we have been teaching times tables in recent years. In most written multiplication methods, children will only need to recall single digit x single digit. If necessary, 2 digits x 1 digit (e.g. 12 x 6) can be easily calculated by partitioning or knowing 10x6 and adding 2 more 6's.Children can learn the pattern of x1, x10 and x11 very simply, so in fact the main ones to focus on would be x2 up to x9. The test could include up to 10 x 10 and could be done at the end of year 4, with re-takes in year 5.
  6. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I agree that testing in year 4 or 5 would make more sense - it reduces the pressure on year 6, and the curriculum says they should be learned by year 4. Of course, as with all testing, if a big thing is made of it (as it always is in these days of micromanagement), then unfortunately we'll end up with too much focus on tables in year 4 and no further practice of them in years 5/6 for any who have scraped through but aren't fully secure.
    Maybe, being very radical, it could be done as a "take when ready", or even allow them to take it multiple times and improve their speed, rather than divide the class into those who have passed and those who haven't.
  7. Maths_Shed

    Maths_Shed Occasional commenter

    Totally agree. When I was in mainstream the Y7 pupils homework for the first half term was to download a free app to their phone and practise times tables 5 minutes per day. They were then given a 15 minute test each week using ActivExpression handsets which gave a complete breakdown of the questions they got right/wrong, time taken etc. By repeating this this the pupils got used to doing the test and saw it as a challenge - could they beat their previous score or lower their time?

    There are some fantastic free apps available for times tables, place value, number bonds etc. If the government have any sense they will use good design to make it a game that pupils can log in and see their progression.
  8. Skillsheets

    Skillsheets Occasional commenter

    It needs to be built into the entire curriculum even at A-level. Calculator free lessons. I am sure I heard an A2 student type 2x3 into his calculator during an online lesson last year. I often find ability with knowing tables is independent of mathematical ability but it is vital.
  9. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    During a further maths A-level lesson, I was a bit puzzled when, as they worked on an exercise, one girl (without looking up) said "2 times 3 is 6". Her boyfriend, sat next to her, immediately went back a couple of questions and made a correction. It turned out he had a bit of a block with the 2 times table, and she knew he would have got it wrong! (He got As in both maths A-levels.)
  10. Skillsheets

    Skillsheets Occasional commenter

    Multiplying little numbers by 1 and 0 and getting the answer wrong was one of my most likely mistakes as an A-level student. I think a different part of the brain must deal with it as 6 x 7 = 42 is like learning nursery rhymes. That is down to pure memory whereas multiplying by 1 and 0 is actually doing something to a number.
  11. Tandy

    Tandy New commenter

    Agree, take when ready, take multiple times... do whatever it takes, really. But, every single child should have nailed it before the end of primary. Without having this vital part of the mathematical grammar they need in place, kids really are not 'secondary ready' (as the current fashionable phrase has it).

    There are a handful of absolute non-negotiables, which underpin school level mathematics. Attempting to teach further without having these foundations securely in place leads to the superficial grasp of mathematics that has become such a feature of students in the past 15 years in particular, still evident in hapless A Level students and undergrads.
    Maths_Shed and m4thsdotcom like this.
  12. EdwardJordanHarrison

    EdwardJordanHarrison New commenter

    Oo I would back a take when ready approach.
  13. m4thsdotcom

    m4thsdotcom Occasional commenter

    It's amazing how many Year 11s who came in with a Level 4 I am spending time with teaching Level 4 topics/skills to in the January of their final year. Of course, these students need to secure Cs this summer to make 3 LOP.
    All I would ask of primary schools is to send every student expected to get a grade 5 on the new GCSE is that they can (and I mean really can at any time) be able to:
    • Know all integer multiplication and division facts up to 12.
    • Know that you can have non integer answers when dividing two integers and be confident to write that as their answer. (ie 7p = 12, therefore p = 12/7)
    • Be able to perform basic addition and subtract mentally and on paper.
    • Understand and perform basic area and perimeter calculations and know the correct units to use and know the difference between the two.
    • Have some appreciation of basic angle facts.
    • Know and understand the most basic F/D/P conversions (ie 1/3 is not 0.3)
    • Know which way round coordinates go.
    • Know basic metric units. 1c = 10mm etc etc
    • Have a basic understanding of square numbers and what it means to square a number.
    • Be able to appreciate the magnitude of a number and have some grasp of negatives.
    I'm sure I can think of a load more but if these were CONCRETE in the mind of a student the battle of getting Ds to cs and now Grade 5s on the new system would be far less of a struggle.
    Maths_Shed likes this.
  14. Maths_Shed

    Maths_Shed Occasional commenter

    I'm in total agreement with the two posts above.

    An addition to the list would be for pupils to appreciate that maths is a skill and as such it needs practise. Too few pupils are prepared to do question after question until they can't get them wrong.
  15. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    And too few teachers are prepared to set them such practice. They've been badly conditioned by this absurd notion that 'stretching' is necessary once they've answered the first one correctly and that 'challenge' means rushing onto the next topic, rather than further, more demanding questions on the same topic.
    I don't think it should always (ever?) be a student's decision as to which questions they do and when they move on to the next section.
    Maths_Shed likes this.
  16. Tandy

    Tandy New commenter


    Learning design is incredibly complex and spotting learning even more so. It requires deep thought and a forensic understanding of what learning is and how to make it come about. Teachers acquire this skill over years because they teach thousands of hours, observe thousands of moments of learning and make countless decisions and tweaks.

    The idea that a teenager has any idea whatsoever of when the most effective moment for them to move on to something else is absolute nonsense.

    The ferocious grip that 'child centred learning' has had on teaching (particularly between 2000 - 2010 and more particularly under the intellectually lacking Balls / Gilbert partnership) has been the worst thing to happen to education for decades. We now have a swathe of early twentysomethings who came through this vile system, where the regulator was more interested in whether or not maths was 'fun' than whether or not a kid was actually learning and becoming cleverer.

    If education was so simple that kids can choose which questions to do, which maths is 'fun' and not, when to move on and whether or not they should do a particular type of work, then why would we employ intelligent professional adults to be teachers? We could just have mindless drones stood in front of the precious little darlings.

    If we are to rescue the current generation of school children, to make them really bright, allow them to live purposeful, autonomous adult lives, then we must get back to a position where we are the adults, they are the kids, and we know what is best for them. In other words, we must get back to a position of teachers actually teaching.

    I find it sickening to hear apologists saying that we shouldn't expect kids to know their tables. Yes, we really bloody should. We should, because we maths teachers know what follows, know what is built upon that vital knowledge. Would these people say it is ok for kids to not know any words because their self-esteem is more important than being able to read dusty old books? I doubt it.
  17. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I recently taught in a primary school where the idea was that children of 7 years old should be able to decide their level of learning and when to move on to something harder. With the notion that if we as teachers taught them properly they would know.

    And yeps some SLT members (granted, the useless waste of space ones) do think that asking children to read words by sight is a terrible breach of their human rights!

    I don't teach there anymore and my year 3s are gradually their tables properly (no working it out is not the same as knowing it!), reading fluently, and writing neatly in pen!
    Rats I am an old fuddy duddy after all!
  18. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Few people would disagree with these things you say here, @Tandy, I don't, but some of your points are difficult to reconcile with La Salle product:

    Contrary to McLessons delivered by 'non-specialist or unqualified staff', I suppose.

    Hey, anything to solve those 'maths teacher shortages', right?
  19. Tandy

    Tandy New commenter

    In what way is anything I have said here contrary to what we do?

    The teacher shortage programme is (as is made clear) designed to be a temporary support whilst finding specialist staff. It ensures that whoever is covering the lesson at least has a focus on delivering effective lessons.

    It would be great is we weren't over 5000 maths teachers short, but we are. I believe that one thing that might account (in part) for this shortage is the nonsense that we have tolerated in the last 20 years, painting teachers as secondary to children, allowing classroom behaviour to plummet and having a regulator dictating a pedagogy that many of us know to be complete nonsense. I'd like to see intellect returned, I'd like to see teachers being able to do what they know is right.

    In the meantime, we are facing a situation today where hundreds of thousands of children in classrooms up and down the land do not get the pleasure of even having a maths lesson - instead, they have a non-specialist or unqualified adult standing in front of them and doing the best they can. I don't apologise for wanting to support those colleagues as best I can. Who knows, maybe some of them will then go on to become maths teachers.
    googolplex likes this.
  20. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    In every significant way:

    The above is not compatible with remotely constructed lessons delivered by non-specialist or unqualified staff. Not by any stretch of the imagination. No effective maths lesson can be 'delivered'.

    Actually, the programme does not make this clear. Yes, recruitment is waved at with some bundled social media job advertising and a conference spot - once a year - and there is the monthly contract format but no business will turn away clients who want their contracts to roll in perpetuity.

    The idea is absurd that sans La Salle product Mathematics department heads can have no focus on providing effective lessons. What school employs a teacher without this focus? We cannot solve the problem of progressive education methods by having remotely constructed lessons delivered by non-specialist or unqualified staff.

    That figure of 5,000 is in the air like a bad smell but nobody seems to know who produced it. There is no shortage of maths teachers, there is a shortage of maths teachers in post. The problems are retention and the unrealistic expectations of recruiters and of those who service them, this is why so many excellent, experienced and effective teachers are turning to supply or leaving the profession altogether.

    Marketing assertion. La Salle's programme won't reduce this alleged problem because nobody ever went broke wagering on the cynicism of SLT.

    Who is asking you to apologise? Not me. Go ahead, sell product. I'm just pointing out the inconsistency between claims made for that product and some things which have been said here.

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