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Times table pedagogy

Discussion in 'Primary' started by MannyDog, Oct 31, 2015.

  1. MannyDog

    MannyDog New commenter


    I am six weeks into my first year in KS2 - in Year 3, and I am struggling with an aspect of pedagogy for times table learning.

    In years 1 and 2 our children approach times tables initially by "counting up" - e.g. to answr 4x5, they will count up in fives, raising on finger each time until they've got to four fingers - 20.

    Thing is in our timed tests, many still us this approach - they get the answer, in the main, but it takes too long and they do not "know" the answer.

    All the engaging games and activities we try to teach tables all seem to allow the children to count up as above to achieve success.

    How does one teach children tables so they learn them parrot? Does it just come down to repetitive chanting/songs etc? As someone who mumbled his way through KS2 as a child and never learned tables, I am sceptical about even this.

    Any help much appreciated on this pedagogy,

  2. asnac

    asnac Lead commenter

    I have Y6s who still count up:(
  3. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    I have seen year 6s count and raise two fingers ...
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Why don't you want them to count up? They get the correct answer and over time they will gradually begin to remember the answers and have less need to count up. In year 3, counting up seems fair enough.
    I've taught less mathematically inclined children in year 7 and 8 who use counting up quickly and efficiently. Leave your year 3s to it and they'll move on as and when.
  5. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Because it's very slow and all the effort is going into the calculation which is fine in a simple multiplication sentence but not in more complex problems

    Obviously they need to understand multiplication so experience - repeat addition, counting up (and down) arrays etc etc but at some point instant recall is desirable and probably good old fashioned chanting or singing tables helps achieve this. Try Percy Parker available as an app
  6. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Yes, essentially. It's about automation. Instant recall frees brain bandwidth for more complex mathematical thinking. Songs are less useful because children can become uncomfortable singing alone when asked to recite a table. Institute written practice also, so that children become familiar with the patterns.

    You are sceptical because you chose to mumble and not chant and therefore did not learn your tables. Those who chanted, learnt. There are few things more useful to Secondary mathematical success than the Primary acquisition of times tables. You have a very important job in this one thing and while it may seem tedious for the children it's only a little bitter medicine now that they don't have to face significant mathematical struggles and anxiety further down the line.
    nick909 likes this.
  7. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Once the children understand what multiplication means then knowing tables with absolute automaticity is essential. And that means learning them by rote, inside out, backwards, upside down, everything. I regularly test my class on them and if a child is unable to give me a multiplication fact or related division facts (or indeed related facts with decimals or multiples of ten, such as 0.7 x 4 or 70 x 4, etc) within a matter of a second or so, then they don't know that table and have to work on it.

    So much else of the mathematics curruclum relies on instant recall of time table facts - fractions, ratio, written multiplication and division, algebra, just for starters - that not having them instantly to hand slows everything down so much that everything else suffers.
    dnm likes this.
  8. MannyDog

    MannyDog New commenter

    The reason I don't want to them to count up in in the case of those who do know the answers.. they are in the habit of counting up, which needs shaking off.
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Ahh can't help you there then.
    I've never had children who know the answer do anything except give it or use it instantly.
  10. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    If they need to count up they don't know the answer instantly
  11. abacus1982

    abacus1982 Established commenter

    The way I've always done it is to make flash cards for each times tables including the division facts. Children then put these on card or laminate them. They can then shuffle them up so they're mixed up and practice going through a times tables saying just the answer as fast as they can. When I test them they have to be able to recall all the times and divide facts with no errors in under 50 seconds. Has always worked for most kids and by the end of the year they can get through all of 7s in under 20 seconds. Important to remember that division needs to be learnt and not just the multiplication.
    dnm likes this.
  12. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    But the OP seems to have children who are counting up when he/she thinks they already know the answer. I've never ever known this in any age from yr 1 - yr 11 in nearly 20 years. Counting up isn't a habit, but a strategy for those still learning tables. Once they have instant recall, they stop counting up.
  13. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    The OP said they count up because they don't have instant recall and is asking the best way for them to learn tables

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