# Y5 Fun column subtraction

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by kat_kat, Jan 25, 2016.

1. ### kat_katNew commenter

Hi All,
I am looking at written methods this week. We will be doing column subtraction on Wednesday and I am struggling of ways to make it interesting to my class. I have got a missing numbers problem for my higher achievers which they will love but I don't want to just give the other children a list of calculations.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

2. ### Vince_UlamStar commenter

Why don't you want all your students to practise calculation? Don't you think that they all deserve an equal chance at consolidating and extending their knowledge and skills?

3. ### kat_katNew commenter

They have demonstrated a secure understanding of the method, they need to become fluent by using their knowledge in other situations such as problem solving, it is the mastery part to the curriculum.

jmoreton likes this.
4. ### caterpillartobutterflyStar commenter

Do some kind of money project, where they need to add and subtract?
See what nrich have?

Maybe some problems that have mixed operations (assuming the children are equally fluent in other calculations) to stop the children just glancing at the numbers and putting the larger at the top?

kat_kat likes this.
5. ### Vince_UlamStar commenter

Five months into Year 5 and you have already met the Year 5 Statutory Requirements for subtraction with all of these students?

'Pupils should be taught to:

add and subtract whole numbers with more than 4 digits, including using formal written methods (columnar addition and subtraction)
'

Then if you are following the guidance on fluency you should be allowing them to practise subtraction with increasingly large numbers:

'Pupils practise using the formal written methods of columnar addition and subtraction with increasingly large numbers to aid fluency'

Your students may not find practice as fun as playing games but it's what they all need to succeed in their school mathematics. It's what the National Curriculum requires and it's lot less work for you than trying to find fun activities to palm off to any students who aren't in your view - at this very early stage - a 'higher achiever'. Give them all the chance to achieve by allowing them all to practise and so consolidate and extend their knowledge and skills.

Maths_Shed likes this.
6. ### Maths_ShedOccasional commenter

Well said, I really wish pupils were prepared to sit and work through a bank of questions and accept that they need to practise lots and often. I can't help but think that the constant quest for interesting lessons does them a massive disservice,

7. ### Vince_UlamStar commenter

It's not that they can't, that they're somehow less capable than we were. It's as you say, they aren't 'prepared' to do so - by their teachers. Instead, expectations of children are lowered before they're even ten years old and they're not given the same opportunities we were given. It's no wonder they arrive in Year 7 counting on their fingers and with the attention span of a dead goldfish.

8. ### m4thsdotcomOccasional commenter

Interesting and fun are two different things.
I wouldn't expect many students would find number skills works fun. I would though hope the lessons using that skill were engaging, challenging and lead to progress for all students.
Edutainment at the expense of nailing skills (IMHO) should be avoided and I also feel there is nothing wrong with rote learning.
Perhaps explain to the students that some lessons are numeracy and some lessons are maths.
Numeracy will be the building blocks for the maths lessons. The maths lessons can put the skills into action. Dressing up number skills, for me, is not needed.
I fear too many students reach us in KS3 with lots of 'investigation and exploration' lessons behind them but not as many where the 4 operations where cemented.

9. ### caterpillartobutterflyStar commenter

I'm assuming that the year 5s in question have already done the banks of questions, since their teacher says they have already demonstrated secure understanding of the method. To demonstrate such, they must have shown it repeatedly.

To be frank, most children who have a secure understanding of 3 digit column subtraction in year 3/4 are hardly going to find 4/5/6/7/etc digit subtraction tricky to master.

It is also perfectly possible that the OP teaches a top set.

I tell both my year 3 class and year 7/8 class that fun is something they have at the weekends and in the holidays, not in a maths lesson. That learning isn't meant to be fun, but they can enjoy achieving and mastering tricky concepts. Blinkin kids keep telling me they love maths because it is fun! Grrrrrr!

m4thsdotcom likes this.
10. ### Vince_UlamStar commenter

Yes, thank you @caterpillartobutterfly, that's all very nice but what I said still applies. Further, it's unlikely that at this stage in the school year any teacher would have met these particular National Curriculum requirements, especially given the information @kat_kat has provided. If the unlikely is the case then the National Curriculum gives guidelines on developing fluency with these requirements, which is what @kat_kat says is her aim.

11. ### caterpillartobutterflyStar commenter

I don't think it is unlikely in all cases.
A high achieving school could well be gradually moving from 'push them through as fast as possible' to 'keep to the year group and do a zillion practices'. Meaning those who were in year 4 last year covered all that is in year 5, so the poor year 5 teacher this year has to tread water to some extent.
Not a bad thing in itself and I totally agree with the mastery idea of not pushing children on until they have absolutely, totally, completely and utterly understood something. However you can end up finding yourself in a pickle with no more ideas left if your class came up having been pushed on.

We have similar issues, with super pushy parents to add to the mix!

12. ### ViolalassNew commenter

kat_kat, just to give another opinion (as I'd hate you to hear only the 'sit them down with 20 questions, they need to learn to shut up and do, in my day...'):

try looking on Youcubed. You may find an investigation on there that gets the kids practising the skills you want but also makes them think. I've found it useful on occasion. I'm sorry I can't suggest something specific but I don't teach primary. I do, however, know that a list of questions is not the only way to develop fluency.

colinbillett likes this.
13. ### MathsMum5New commenter

With this type of skill to master I quite often get students to make up their own question - then do a version of speed dating (even have the bell!) where they move around the room answering each others questions. Works well with disaffected boys in secondary.

14. ### PaulDGOccasional commenter

How do you ensure there's a useful number of varied questions and that the student who has made a question has answered it correctly so they can be sure they've answered each other's questions correctly?

Roughly how many, at what level of difficulty, questions do you get through in what sort of time?