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Tell us more about how maths is taught in your school

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by gailrobinson, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. We're doing a bit of research into how maths is taught in your school.
    Does your school subscribe to any digital/online resources to help with your maths teaching (for use in school or at home)? If so, what are the strengths and weaknesses of this approach?
    And what about one-to-one maths tutoring? Does your school employ tutors and if so what gaps does that fill compared to class learning and online resources?
    Finally if pupils have home tutors, does it concern you that you don't have oversight of the topics taught or how they are delivered?

    Any information you can give by responding to this thread would be much appreciated.

  2. Yes, We use a vairety of online resourses aswell as other digital ones. Online ones include free and subscribed ones. The main ones we use are "my maths", "super maths world" and "tramsum Starter of the Day". The first one in theory can be used at home to help students revise. In practise only the most able and willing do. It is well worth it in my opinion. Other digital resourses we use frequently are Boardworks, Whiteboard maths and Mathswatch. A nice variety if used well but sometimes it can be death by powerpoint for some classes.
    Some of us maths teachers used to do 1-to-1 tutoring in school when there was the funding for it. It helped those students who were selected achieve better than they would and improve their overall confidence in the subject. The personlised provisions that can be made 1-to-1 is substantially different than for a whole class. I know we're supposed to differentiate but there are limitations to how far we can do that and have a life outside work too.

    No, although it does concern me that a few seem to do constant exam papers and nothing more. I haven't got the time to be providing work for tutors to do with them and on occasion when I've been asked to provide work I have only suggested topics rather than actual work.
  3. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    Every tried teaching a class of 37 Robyn? Do I go at the speed of the slowest or the fastest?
    Do I challenge the more able or support the weakest? (Yes of course both it so easy to do isnt it when you have 1 student)
    Which topics should I skip in order to concentrate on the basics?
    I dont entirely disagree with your post but what sounds good in theory is not always so easy to achieve in practice.
  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    35 children aged 9 to 11. Level 1 to level 5. For everything.
    38 children aged from 7 to 9. Level 1 - level 4. For everything.
    30 children aged 5 to 7. P level to Level 3.
    Yes - I have been there and done that. Still do that.

  5. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    And just to clarify - everything pretty much means everything. Not just maths to a specific group working at a specific level / grade. And we are supposed to ensure everyone makes progress in a lesson and to ensure everyone is actively engaged and able to access the work which is pretty difficult when you have such variation in abilities in the same class.

  6. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    We use all sorts of things: mymaths, MEI resources, mathswatch, supermathsworld, bowland, Nrich and various others from time to time to support maths teaching. I can't see how there could be any weaknesses to using these where they are used to support learning. Where a department is being overly reliant on certain resources (eg. mymaths) at the expense of developing an integrated curriculum which draws on the richest possible breadth of resources, that is of course an issue.
    We use a mixture of tutors brought in, and current staff who are below allocation on their timetable. We use class test results to identify students who are in need of support, often those towards the bottom end of sets, and try and give them a confidence boost. We don't use 121 in the way it was first devised, but tend to do more intensive half termly boosts. Students could be drawn from any set, and any ability level - not just those who are in lower sets.
    Not at all. Why should I have such oversight? I'd be concerned if parents expected me to take such responsibility. However, if requested, I would support such learning by providing evidence of weaknesses at school - in other words, a list of topics that could usefully be covered. Used properly, I don't see how home tutoring can be anything but a benefit. What concerns me are:
    <ol>[*]Students who use home tutoring as an excuse for not fully engaging with their work at school.[*]Parents who routinely fail to put their trust in class teachers but, having picked a random tutor on the basis of a spurious recommendation - such as an ad in a local newspaper, lap up all pearls of 'wisdom' uttered by this demi-God particularly where it reinforces their own personal gripes about schooling. The number of times a parent has told me that their child's home tutor says they should be capable of a B or an A, and that this is what they've been doing at home and yet the student is miserably failing to get even D grade materialcorrect at school.</ol>
  7. Thank you everybody for all your responses so far - they're very interesting and very useful. Please keep them coming
    Best wishes
  8. It would not be fair to say how everybody operates in my (strong) department so I shall focus on some of my approaches:
    (1) Only use things that will advance learning. If using IT means faffing around dont use it. If it takes 20 minutes to show kids what you could have done with a bit of chalk in 2 dont feel you have to be trendy.
    (2) Group work isnt for every class, every student or every topic. If group work is not going to move learning on, move on from group work. Some pupils like it, some hate it and some simply love the arena to display their lack of drive and passion to learn.
    (3) Only question pupils when you need to be questionned or benefit from it. Kids that don't want to be quizzed, who are good workers, leave them alone. They don't benefit, you don't.
    (4) Vary tasks and activites. Sometimes worksheets are good, sometimes rote learning is good, sometimes dicussion is good. Keep variety but don't do things that don't enhance learning.
    (5) Decide whether you need to teach maths or whether you need to force kids through the dreadful UK school system of getting C's. I love teaching in depth, I also have to teacher superficial tat and algorithms to others depening on my audience.
    (6) Promote maths challenges, being successful and offer a number of reasons why pupils should subscribe to maths.
    (7) Do not fear didactic teaching. It is fantastic in some situations.
    (8) Some pupils need time to explore and discover maths in a lesson, some don't. Expecting some find out how things work and come up with generalisations is too much for them and they need far more rigid structure. The whole ideas of letting kids explore in maths can be a waste of time for some. Again, study your audience not what you think makes a pretty observation lesson.
    (9) Set out not to teach to the exams but accept sometimes, rightly or wrongly, you may have to go down that route for the good of all.
    They are a few I can think of.
  9. How is Maths taught in our school? For the majority of the department it is a case of "today we are doing page X, tomorrow we are doing page X+1" and by long lectures.

    Head of department has been asked to pay for MyMaths but hasn't got round to it. Small number in department use it effectively with 'borrowed' passwords. The department doesn't really understand technology - I'm convinced one teacher still doesn't know how to use Google.

    The school doesn't do internal one-to-one tutoring, though some of the older students coach the younger students on a cash-in-hand basis. This is usually not organised by the school.

    A significant number of students have home tutors for Maths. According to management, the vast majority of home tutoring is for Maths. The fact that this is happening is not seen by anybody in the school as a concern that the department may not be teaching to a sufficiently high standard. I personally am concerned by the standard of the home-tutoring, as I think a lot of it is "learn the formula" rote learning.

    By the way some of the "external" tutoring is being done by teachers from this school. This is a private school, so teachers are getting paid to teach, and then are tutoring the students for extra money.
  10. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    I home educated our youngest for years 5 and 6. We didn't go overboard on Maths but, in response to the answers secondary teachers gave on here about what they'd like children coming up to know, he did learn long multiplication and division, triangles and a tiny bit of very basic algebra. He also did a fair bit of problem solving, more or less of his own choosing. His Maths teacher at high school is under the impression that we did LOADS of Maths, as he is competent in the things that they can build on. Doing these useful things took no more than a few minutes a week (would take longer in a big class, but not that long for the brighter children). His peers who went to school, even the clever ones, are no better at Maths than my son yet they've hours and hours of Maths for those two years, plus very intensive SATs preparation and practice.
    I on't know what my point is really, except that maybe a lot of what's done in primary schools with the very best of intentions is a complete waste of time!
  11. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Remember, your objectives and that of the primary school teacher were different.

    You wanted your son to be able to do certain things.

    The primary school teacher had many, many objectives, mostly concerned with managing the paperwork required to prove she was doing the right things with 30 children, to satisfy observers of her lessons and to deal with behaviour issues and writing lesson plans that demonstrated progress was being made every 20 minutes.

    And yes, to have as many of that 30 as possible score level 4 in their SATs.

    As the objectives are different, it's not surprising the outcomes are also different.
  12. I don't want to go into huge specifics because this is a site for teachers and I'm just a parent - but I would say that decided to take on maths tuition ourselves rather than to rely on the school was the best decision for our children.
    Our eldest was seriously struggling. We raised our concerns but frankly only received abuse from the teacher. The Head informed us that our expectations were too high and that we needed to understand our child was "just a bit dim".
    We opted to go with mathsfactor and we've never looked back. It's visual. It's clear. It allows a lot of practice. For our children they are the kind who learn best through doing - not hearing how it should be done.
    Their school is rated GOOD by OFSTED. But in Y4 right now only 26 out of 31 pupils know their times tables to x10.
    We use the on-line tutorial my maths, which the school invested in for the run-up to OFSTED, as well and often play the games on that and mathsfactor. Our conviction that the school wasn't doing enough proved correct as OFSTED have required the school to improve maths provision as a result of the recent inspection.
    I'm sure there are better schools and primary teachers out there - in fact I know it to be the case. I just feel that it was safer in terms of our desires (wanting a child who could add, subtract, multiply and divide with flair at the end of primary) the safest course of action was to simply give up on the school and do our own thing. It's certainly been much less stressful.
    One of the reasons I joined TES was to see what learning resources were out there and to generally get a better understanding about how maths is taught now. I have to thank those who've put up resources or suggested websites. It has been a huge help as well.

  13. There are secondary schools with more year 8s per class who can't do that and are outstanding.
    I would not send my child to a state primary school in the UK.
    I know there are many good, inspiring, caring teachers but there are many who only turly have C grade knowledge in Maths and English and with all due respect I don't want my child to be taught by some of the people I have sent through the system with C grades.
    Bring in subject specialists to primary teaching.
  14. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    And, if the student teacher notice board is anything to go by, quite a few have real problems with the QTS numeracy tests..

    Yes, but it's important they're primary subject specialists.

    (Can't you see Gove insisting that only people with Firsts in maths from Russell group universities are good enough to teach primary maths.. And can anyone really believe that many of the people who manage to get Firsts in maths from Russell group universities actually want to teach 9 year olds their times tables..?)
  15. Sorry all - that should have read that 26 out of the 31 pupils in the Y4 class DO NOT have times tables learned (x1 - x10). Sorry dashed off message before collecting girls from school.
  16. That would be the indeal scenario. I feel there are many barriers stopping that right now from political to social.
    I do though feel someone who is a maths specialist regardless will be more beneficial than the all encompassing jack of all/master of none.
    I know for sure some of the pupild I have scraped through to get a C grade should never be let in a room to teach any kids math if that is their current level of understanding.
    Their 11 years of educationb squeezed them to the dizzy heights that their very able year 6s will be at and the years 6's will be fresh and confident with it.

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