Squares, lines or plain paper for maths books?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by bluerose, Jun 26, 2012.

1. bluerose

Similar conversation in own school. Outcome weve decided to let children choose, although sometimes teacher dictates and get paper to stick in book if its not what child chose as book if that makes sense. Also as this is mainly ks2 we have decided in first term to dictate to 3 pupils to follow what y2 have been doing and in last term to y6 in liaision with y7.

2. minnieminxNew commenter

Squares for me. Easy to write numbers of several digits, easy to draw graphs, easy to draw lines, just easier all round.

What are the arguments for lines and plain?

3. Lara mfl 05Star commenter

Though I might specify above Yr1? Probably trying to get reception to write on lines or in squares might not be worth the stress?! The habit of fitting only 1 digit in each square is good preparation for later setting working out in columns and generally being neat. Graphs and other things don't need separate sheets either.

i don't like either the orange small squared books or cm squared, one is too small for most pupils, the other too large for secondary pupils. If i had to have squares i would go for the unusual mid size squares. then do any area work with bottom sets on cm paper or using poly cm square overlays until they can cope with the concept without.
I do prefer A4 books to the usual secondary size.
Having said all that I would prefer lined paper with a separate graph book so they pupils actually do graphs on proper grids rather than squares.
The final exams are on plain paper or graph paper so squared paper is not my choice for secondary, for primary i would go for squares
then again given the option I much prefer taking a wad of paper home than a pile of books! One colleague nearly died as his bag of books went from his shoulder to the front wheel of his bike (I do know about paniers, but evidently he did not!)

5. zannarNew commenter

I prefer squares because it restricts the size of the formation of their numbers. Some of mine would use an A4 sheet for one column addition if allowed.
I also use smaller lined paper for yr2 writig for the same reason.
(If there is a valid reason for using larger lines/squares for some pupils, of course I will adapt)..

6. zannarNew commenter

Having just read this again, I apologise for the clumsy answer. Too tired to bother to amend but I hope the gist was there.

7. carriecat10Established commenter Community helper

Personally I prefer A4 plain ... but then I'm into children developing their recordings informally. My children draw pictures and write about their thinking.
I used to get twitchy if they didn't use a ruler to draw a straight line or if each digit wasn't within a square etc ... but I'm more interested in jottings to help them keep track of their thinking and not getting into more formal methods until upper KS2.
However, when we surveyed staff there was a huge divide in opinions, so in the end we compromised and are planning to use A4 plain in KS1 and A4 lined and plain (alternate pages).
Carrie

8. minnieminxNew commenter

Mine do this...but they just ignore the squares to do so.

Also, this year, our reading journals and maths books have the same colour covers (no I didn't order them!) so it is easy to tell dippy year 2s that they need the book with squares in.

9. carriecat10Established commenter Community helper

Ha ha! So typical isn't it?

10. minnieminxNew commenter

LOL I meant it as a good thing!

They don't ignore the squares for number and/or graph work (well they would if I let them!) just when drawing pictures.

I've geven a few 'draw pictures to solve number stories' as a report target this year. Goodness knows what the next year teacher will think!

11. carriecat10Established commenter Community helper

OIC ... sorry, I misunderstood that! If you have managed to train them to use the squares or lines when they need them and ignore them when they don't that sounds like a job well done!
Carrie

12. minnieminxNew commenter

Awww I get a few things right!

In school moderation the other day objected to the children not showing their working out! They are year 2! They draw pictures and do role play to understand maths!

I've had to insist that the Reception class use books with wide lines for writing as blank pages meant their writing was huge and they misplaced all the descenders. But for maths we use squares and I like how it helps the children organise their work better. We transition from large squares to small across the school.

14. LGR22

I had a feeling that most people would go for squares because of neatness or organisation. I am campaigning to get rid of them altogether, and just wondered about the arguments for using them.
In real life, there are no squares in which to write numbers. I would use squares for shape and graph work, but I don't see the point in using them for number work.

15. carriecat10Established commenter Community helper

Completely agree with you LGR ...

16. minnieminxNew commenter

Would you get rid of lines in literacy books for the same reason?

In 'real life' children never need to know most of what we teach them in maths past about level 3. Perhaps we should stop teaching them that too?

17. LGR22

No I wouldn't get rid of lines in English books. If I'm writing a letter, a line guide would be used, so there's no reason to get rid of lines in English books.
At level 4, amongst other things, they have to: read and interpret a wide range of graphs and charts, including line graphs, use scales to measure length, width and capacity, interpret and use times written in analogue and digital notation using a 12- and 24-hour clock, read and interpret timetables and calendars to solve problems and solve multi-step problems that involve money. Pretty much real life situations.

I haven't really got a problem with using squares, but it can sometimes give the illusion that children understand place value, when in fact they don't, so I would rather use plain paper.

18. tafkamOccasional commenter

Really? On the rare occasion I woudn't type (very rare!) I wouldn't use a line guide.

I sort of see your point about place value, but I'd say that you could check that without squares occasionally rather than abandoning them altogether.

19. minnieminxNew commenter

don't remember the last time I did this outside of class.
Get a nice laser ruler these days and just fire it and read the digital display. Similarly with digital scales that do capacity as well as mass.
Being able to tell the time on analogue and match to digital is level 3 and that's all most really need. Online booking for trains and planes means you don't have read a timetable and most people just turn up at the bus stop and hang about and wait.
How is that real life?
And that too?
Never ever had that problem. I've taught all of year 5-13 and now year 2. So I can't see that squares are a big issue. If you worry that squares are masking attainment in an area then just have children use a whiteboard in starters or something to assess.

This does seem as if you are trying to ban squares in your school and were hoping for lots of support on here. Since you haven't really got it, you might need to rethink what you do in your school.

20. star9New commenter

So using squares creates an illusion of children understanding place value?? Maybe, but if children never think about it they will never grasp it. Presentation in maths is so important so that careless, wasteful mistakes are not made. I'm all for informal jottings but why shouldn't they be set out correctly? It is so important to set the foundations correctly as early as possible and then children can go on to make informed choices about lines, plain or squares and indeed size of squares. I like 7mm sqaures as this tends to 'fit' the natural size of numbers formed by the majority of KS2 pupils. I would use 2mm graph paper for graphs. Year 6 have a seperate graph book with 2mm grid. Anything more informal would be done using mini whiteboards (plain but with calculations set out accurately!)