Bye bye chunking?

(85 Posts)
PastSellByDate Tue 05-Feb-13 14:33:55

Wow if I hadn't read about this in the Times education supplement, I wouldn't have believed it but it seems that chunking is being abandoned - officially - link here: www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6316142

Although I will concede that understanding division is multiple subtractions was good - I also know that many children were told they couldn't divide by old fashioned methods (long division - I guess now called short division) - and my children were certainly told their work was wrong.

Was the problem here that a method was adopted which parents were excluded from and which did not allow tried and true old fashioned methods to occur alongside them as well?

Hedgepig Tue 05-Feb-13 21:48:18

No Alan I meant "oh no" because it is going just when I understood it smile. It does make sense I went to school in the 70s and I can divide but I have no idea why it works

alanyoung Tue 05-Feb-13 21:52:41

Yes, I have taught every age from 8 to 18 with some adult education classes thrown in. But you will notice I only join in with threads I think I know something about. I know nothing about language teaching, bringing up babies, pregnancy, health and beauty (not much of the former and none of the latter), breastfeeding... the list goes on and on, so I very rarely comment on these other issues.

Probably the safest policy I could adopt!

alanyoung Tue 05-Feb-13 21:55:49

Hegepig, sorry I misunderstood you. I was just trying to focus a positive light on your achievement.

You're so lucky - I went to school in the fifties and sixties!!!!!

learnandsay Tue 05-Feb-13 22:02:38

That probably depends, Alan, on what you're trying to achieve. If you're trying to educate then maybe, But mumsnet is a forum and not a college or learned publication. People probably should not get used to the idea of seeking facts or any real knowledge from anonymous posters on the Internet, regardless of how real sounding their usernames are.

lougle Tue 05-Feb-13 22:13:44

DH and I went to a 'how we teach maths' workshop tonight. This is the guide we were given. It was really useful.

Haberdashery Tue 05-Feb-13 22:13:54

When you say you have taught, do you mean that you are retired? Sorry to be so nosy. I am interested that you have not taught children under 8 because, of course, this is when the foundations of maths are laid.

Also, lands, are you personally acquainted with alan?

Haberdashery Tue 05-Feb-13 22:16:37

I hate number bonds. Apart from that, most of that looks really sensible to me, lougle.

alanyoung Wed 06-Feb-13 08:17:47

Sorry, Haberdashery, but I've had enough interviews in my life. You're absolutely right about the foundations being laid in the early years, of course, and that's why I'm very keen about parents starting maths with their children from day one with counting the stairs as you climb them, number songs, toys of all shapes and sizes and, above all, the language of mathematics which I think I have mentioned before on this forum. Too many parents are afraid of mathematical language, when our children love to learn new words, their meanings and origins (ref the names of dinosaurs etc), as I am sure you will appreciate.

For instance, at about five or six years old, most children who have had the benefit of good parenting will be ready to understand that if a word begins with 'bi' then it often has something to do with the number 'two' and if it begins with 'ped' it has something to do with 'foot', hence: bicycle, bisect, bicentenary, biceps, bikini etc (we'll leave out 'bigamy' for now!) and, of course biped.

The same applies to 'quad', 'hex', 'oct' etc.

I thought the bikini was named after the atoll, because the designer hoped it would be as shocking as the atomic tests. I don't think it means two of anything, despite being a two-piece swimsuit. I agree with alanyoung's other points though. My eight year old made up a joke (well, he thought it was funny): What do you call someone who has seven more willies than they need? Octopenis.

I thought the bikini was named after the atoll, because the designer hoped it would be as shocking as the atomic tests. I don't think it means two of anything, despite being a two-piece swimsuit. I agree with alanyoung's other points though. My eight year old made up a joke (well, he thought it was funny): What do you call someone who has seven more willies than they need? Octopenis.

I only posted that once, but my annoying phone had other ideas. Sorry.

PavlovtheCat Wed 06-Feb-13 08:53:08

I am actually quite bad at maths, but DD is as we speak learning 'chunking' and gridding and number lines etc. And, I have to say, I was soooo confused when I first had to sit with her! She now get's it well, and I understand it, but it seems very complicated and long-winded.

That said, as I have stated I am bad at maths, I have no clue if this is in fact a good or a bad way of doing it. I don't remember learning this way myself.

lougle Wed 06-Feb-13 09:21:08

From the presentation we had last night, there seems to have been a definite shift away from 'what works' to 'why it works'.

The staff at DD2's school were very clear that the methods they teach are not quicker, they are not more efficient, but they teach the children to understand the numbers they are working with and cement those foundational concepts in their minds.

They are also trying to cement a hierarchical approach to problem solving:
-can I do this in my head?
-can I do this using a number line (the idea being that they are still mentally processing the numbers, just with the aid of a line)
-do I need equipment to do this? If so, what - cuisenaire rods, number square, grid, etc.
-do I need a calculator (yr 6 on).

A lot of the terminology we use is out, too. So instead of saying '2 times 3' they would say '2 multiplied 3 times', with the understanding that multiplying is repeated addition. They don't say 'lots of' any more, but 'groups'. Even when using traditional column addition, they would say 'carry 1s' not 'units', and 'carry 40' not 'carry 4 10s'.

Interestingly, the only suggestion they made which stuck in my throat, was that we 'go metric' at home. I love my imperial measures. I know what a pound is - I have to think about converting to g/kg, because my hands don't 'know' what that feels like.

PastSellByDate Wed 06-Feb-13 10:09:41

Very interesting points all.

I like the idea that chunking isn't just thrown out but is used in that early stage of explaining the concept of division (when not inverse multiplication).

Perhaps the half-way house solution is that chunking is used early in KS2 and gradually abandoned as skills develop?

Have to agree with lougle - I'm rather partial to my teaspoons & tablespoons, pints and ounces for cooking - but because DD2 (Y5) is learning this kind of thing I've been making her translate for me (I'm telling her she's teaching her old Mom all this stuff). Seems to be working - I actually know 1 tsp = 5 ml. But for us oldies I fear metric will always be a second language - and approximate conversions 1 Kilo = 2 lbs, etc...

alanyoung Wed 06-Feb-13 11:26:23

Hi Lougle and Pastsellbydate. I don't want to sound rude, but I cannot understand how you can say that you don't understand (or don't have a feel for) metric units after they have been with us for such a long time. Surely you handle blocks of butter/margarine (or whatever they call it these days) weighing 500 g or larger ones at 1Kg. A litre of water weighs 1 Kg, so every time you pick up a 1 litre carton of fruit juice, that's a kilo. Metric units are all around us.

I really must put together an article about this to show you how many more mathematical activities are available using metric units. May I give you one simple example now?

For your child: How many more times does your child weigh than a pet? Taking an example, my pet snail weighs 6 grams. Child weighs 25 Kg.

25Kg is 25 000 grams. Dividing 25 000 by 6 gives approximately 4 200. So child weighs 4 200 times as much as the snail. (For the purists among you, this is body mass strictly speaking, but let's not get off the point).

Now try the same thing with imperial units. My snail weighs a quarter of an ounce. Child weighs 3 stone 13 pounds. There are sixteen ounces in a pound and fourteen pounds in a stone. Using these figures, how many more times does the child weigh than the snail?

Any child who can work that out in primary school is a future Einstein and the truth is that no-one is going to bother.

There are many examples like this: Child is 1.36 metres tall. Mother is 5 feet 7 inches. How much taller is the mother than the child?

mintyneb Wed 06-Feb-13 12:11:23

Alanyoung, I'm another one who is with lougle and pastsellbydate when it comes to using imperial measurements at home and I see absolutely no need to change.

When I'm making cakes I always stick to good old '6,6,6 and 3' for a classic sponge. I have no idea what that equates to in metric and whilst my scales measure in ozs I have no need to know.

As to height and weight, give me feet and pounds any day as they actually mean something to me!

But going back to the op, I have had to look up what chunking is as my DD is only in yr 1. I'm now just hoping that it will be phased out by the time she has to learn division as I have never seen something so long winded and confusing!!

drwitch Wed 06-Feb-13 12:26:00

both chunking and the bus stop method involve multiplication and subtraction though, in many cases unclear which is more "efficient"

so 562 divided by 23

bus stop 56-46(2x23)=10 , 102-92(4x23)=10 so we have 24 r.10
chunking 562-460(20x23)=102 , 102-92(4x23) = 10

if you can do the bus stop you can do chunking very quickly as well

lougle Wed 06-Feb-13 12:54:42

"My snail weighs a quarter of an ounce. Child weighs 3 stone 13 pounds. There are sixteen ounces in a pound and fourteen pounds in a stone. Using these figures, how many more times does the child weigh than the snail?"

4 quarters in one whole

3 stones can be converted to pounds using the number sentence '14 multiplied 3 times'. That's 42.

42 + 13 can be partitioned:

40 +10 + 2 +3 = 50 + 5 = 55 ounces

'How many more times does the child weigh than the snail?' can be solved as follows:

55 ounces divided by 1 ounce = 55
55 divided 4 times = 13.75 - if you want an approximation you could call it 14.

Just because maths may be easier using metrication, that doesn't mean that it is better using metrication.

'6,6,6,3' works for cake mixes because most eggs weight 2 ounces, so you end up with equal quantities of each ingredient.

If children can cope with 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 28/29/30/31 days in a month....why can't children cope with 16 ounces in a pound and 14 pounds in a stone?

merrymouse Wed 06-Feb-13 13:06:04

Is the imperial to metric thing more about asking children to work with ratios, or is it because it is expected they will have to convert imperial to metric?

I weigh the actual egg to get the cake mixture. That is easier using metric. (Although you do need electronic scales).

merrymouse Wed 06-Feb-13 13:07:09

Is the imperial to metric thing more about asking children to work with ratios, or is it because it is expected they will have to convert imperial to metric?

I weigh the actual egg to get the cake mixture.

merrymouse Wed 06-Feb-13 13:07:34

oops, sorry.

lougle Wed 06-Feb-13 13:16:03

It's because metric is base 10, which means that any times tables they learn can be used, etc. It is much easier to count in multiples of 10, where everything ends in a zero, than 14 or 16.

I do understand, contrary to Alanyoung's implication, why they prefer it. I just think that easier doesn't mean better.

alanyoung Wed 06-Feb-13 13:16:19

Lougle, I often hear counter arguments such as the one you give and wouldn't it be wonderful if every child could do that, but the fact of the matter is that nobody ever does. I have never in the last 40 years ever come across a parent doing that sort of calculation with their children, whereas many do the metric one. If you do then I guess you are the exception that proves the rule.

I am sure if we could waken people up much more to the metric idea, lots more parents may try these things with their children, but we have been in such a muddle over this for about a generation and a half that very few people feel confident with measurement at all!

alanyoung Wed 06-Feb-13 13:28:43

Sorry, Lougle, but I've only just checked through your calculation and I'm afraid it is wrong - very wrong, in fact.

It should be 3 stone 13 pounds is 55 pounds.
This is 55 x 16 ounces = 880 ounces.
Four snails to the ounce gives a weight ratio of 880 x 4 = or approximately 3520 times (not 14 as you calculate).

> Just because maths may be easier using metrication, that doesn't mean that it is better using metrication.

I think you have just proven that it is better to use metric!

lougle Wed 06-Feb-13 13:30:26

No, I've just proven that if you don't check your work, mistakes remain.

I could have made the same error using any base.

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