Help with maths planning

(31 Posts)
phlebasconsidered Tue 18-Feb-14 14:02:29

I have just taken over a new class in Year 5. They've had three teachers so far this year. Just before half term I got the leaving teacher to get them to sit some maths and writing papers. Writing is reasonable, and the levels are appropriate to the info i've got, but the maths is WAY out, and their papers are horrifying. I'm meant to be moving onto C2 with them, but from the papers I think fully 3/4 of the class don't get multipication, division, place value, fractions, and I could go on. Yet their levels suggest they should. It's not just a bad paper either, i've looked through their books this morning in school and their work is very gappy.

Any advice at all welcome! Currently, i'm thinking I should just plan to go back to basics for the first 4 weeks back. Oh, and there isn't another colleague to plan with, long-term sick. Thankyou, in panic!

toomuchicecream Wed 19-Feb-14 22:46:49

If you haven't found them already, then google for the Cumbria mixed age plans - I do all my planning from them - very useful! Although between now and the end of term I reckon you're going to be so busy on the 4 number operations (and place value - sooo many children struggle with that) that you won't need the blocks!

Why not mix word problems in with your number operation work so they can apply their knowledge in different contexts. And don't forget to work on the vocab too so they know that minus = subtract = take away = find the difference etc etc etc.

I really, really like this site: www.thinkingblocks.com/ to help children work out what to do with word problems. You don't need to use the site with them much/at all, but the models on this site are based on the Singapore block method and I found it incredibly helpful as a way of helping children to visualise what they are doing.

In year 5 I used to give the children a blank times table grid to complete against the clock. It really got them used to the patterns and how to turn round the known facts (as in 4 x 6 = 6 x 4). I put the timer on the IWB and they used to write down their finish time. The challenge was to take 30 seconds off their time by next week (blank grids available for homework for those who wanted them). Alternatively, how about something like tables Olympics? www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/Times-table-olympics-display-3009054/ I used it very successfully with year 4 - big display of medals on ribbons - children put their laminated name on the level they'd completed. We used it across 4 ability sets in a year group of 100 and it was hugely motivating for the children in my bottom set to discover that with a bit of practise they could be on the same level as some of the children in the top group.

phlebasconsidered Wed 19-Feb-14 21:54:55

Oh THANKYOU purple, I think that is the way to go! Blocks don't seem to hammer it in to them, and I can see why. I was that sort of learner too. Please do send me the ppt!

purplebaubles Wed 19-Feb-14 20:26:03

I didn't even bother with chunking blush, I went straight to normal long division, bus stop method. And just hammered it. Found a fab powerpoint (which if you message me your email address I'll send to you) and literally we all worked together at the same pace and hammered it. Until they all got it.

It took, honestly, a little longer. Seven weeks or so? But their confidence was increased and it was totally worth it. Believe it or not, the kids actually loved doing the same thing day after day, as they got to practise it. The brighter ones I gave number cards to , and told them to do their own calculations and peer marking. I sat with the lower ones and literally spoon fed them. Really worked on their confidence.

Times tables I hammered every break and every lunch time. Literally wouldn't let the kids go until they'd answered a random question!

Mental maths, I did one full test a week and my only demand of the children was that they beat their score from the previous week.

I have to say, it's actually the most fun I've had teaching maths. It really made me question the lunacy of blocks, where you spend a random lesson here and there on say, for eg, fractions, and then don't touch it again for months! Personally, i think children need to hammer the basics, especially the ones who are weaker in maths.

phlebasconsidered Wed 19-Feb-14 19:14:10

I love the rhyming! Sick on the floor is great! I'm going to google the games now. Tragically, I still always forget parts of the 7 times table myself. I don't know why!

I might have to whack up some place value heading round the room, it's clearly something they struggle with.

I've got books and books worth of mental maths tests, so they'll be dusted off. As long as I theme them, they can be fun. I usually use the doings of my naughty dog and children as a prompt. They destroy/ eat/ poop a lot.

Lizziegeorge Wed 19-Feb-14 19:05:47

I teach Y6 and they come up not being secure in basic operations despite their levels saying then got reasonable marks in the optional SATS. If it was me I would blitz mental maths as much as possible; halving, doubling x10 x100 divide by 10 100 including decimals, make sure they know their addition/subtraction bonds to 20 and their tables to 12 . Then focus on operation methods and apply them to problems. If you can mange to do that it will be fantastic and prepare them really well. Fun games are Round the World maths, splat the number, silly rhymes for tables eg 8x8 is 64 oh my goodness I was sick on the floor and link cards downloadable from primaryresources.co.uk. good luck they are lucky to have a teacher who cares so much.

phlebasconsidered Wed 19-Feb-14 18:27:24

Oooh, thankyou! I do like a challenge but I might find this one too much! I do feel for them though, some of them haven't had the same teacher for a whole year since Year 1, so there's a clear need for order and steadiness.

I shall label a nice bottle of Gerwertztrammer "Friday" and keep it in the fridge as an incentive. And maybe plan me a nice camping holiday for August to keep me going ( although how "relaxing" two weeks in a tent can be with a 5 and 6 year old is open to debate...)

It's seriously good to hear from other people that have done it and come out the other side, though. My only concern is how the MIB will see me, and whether i'll be a fall guy come July. But as a previous poster said, evidence is all. I'm keeping these terrible SATS papers.

I'd really like ideas on how to get them to learn tables, as well, as it's clear they don't know them. I shall do an "honesty box" and ask them to admit their tables weaknesses in confidence. They've had singing them ( didn't work), testing in the back of the book (didn't work) and going onto division regardless ( didn't work). I might have to use bribery for that too.

It's scary but i'm sort of looking forward to it. I feel a bit like an NQT again though, knowing nothing and having no planning to help me ( the cupboards are bare: no previous plans to hand). An older, fatter, NQT.

missmapp Wed 19-Feb-14 18:26:30

phelbs- it was a steep learning curve in the joys of combining work and children BUT I did survive to see the other side.

You are so ready for your class, they wont know what's hit them!!

Ps see you on the Drunk Thread every Friday!!! wink

Great! Love the can of fizz as reward!

Activities they could do independently in GR could be:
Copying key words/spellings into books and then writing a sentence with one of the words in.
Giving them a long word and seeing how many short words they can make out of it.
Giving them different graphemes and challenging them to see how many words they can write with that grapheme in.
Bananagrams, Boggle type games.
Hangman.
Handwriting practise on laminated sheets.
Pictures to label?

We have lots of phonic games too but yours might be too old for that again. I pick up loads of stuff like that from car boot sales.

And just remember every six weeks you get a week off. That keeps me going a LOT!
I want to come and help you get ready now!!

phlebasconsidered Wed 19-Feb-14 17:28:47

Nope, all ideas are great! I've just spent a small fortune of smelly stickers, they work on any age! I am going to have a writer and a mathematician of the week and award them at the end of every week with a can of fizz and a letter home or the like, while we read the class story.

The guided reading is there but the activities that go alongside it are a bit "bleh", I really need to get them to use that time where they are working independently to do something good, but they lack the work ethic to do comprehension activities etc without help. Maybe a project.

I think you're right, double weeks on each operation will be necessary. Lots of mental maths too. And times tables....

My other issue is that the TA's time is spent with the SEN children to the exclusion of all the other low level children who need extra help, so we really need her to have time to do interventions as well.

I am determined, but I may need fortification with gin by Fridays! To make it worse I am a fairly recent returner after time off with kids, so this is just all so much grist to the mill, what with organising childcare, getting my own kids not to hate me and so on. I've sent mine off to the in-laws tonight so i've got tonight to sit and surf and gather resources, and tommorrow to spend all day at school plotting and figuring out if I hate the old displays enough to take them down. I think I do.

How disheartening to come back from maternity to that, missmapp.

Could you also introduce some behavioural incentives, eg 'star of the day' or extra choosing time (huge apologies if these sound very silly and young, they work with 5 year olds!) or bribery with computer time or even the odd chocolate incentive?!

But focus on their learning behaviour and rewarding that rather than just the end result. Sorry if that is like teaching you to suck eggs!!!

Not much help from me as I teach Year 1 but we have greatly improved the maths in our school this year by conceptualising all maths as far as possible, using lots of different models and images (including the ITPs such as number square, number line etc) and making it all as practical as possible.

Good luck, you sound like you are very determined and I think that may be half the battle!

missmapp Wed 19-Feb-14 17:07:59

If word problems are an issue, Id be tempted to do double weeks on each operation- week addition- week problem solving, week subtraction, week prob solving ( maybe even chucking addition and subtraction probs in if you/them are up for it!! and so on.

Do they do guided reading? Could you do some sort of home reading race/incentive to increase reading levels.

I came back from maternity leave to a class like this and although it is disheartening, when the progress comes, it really comes !!

phlebasconsidered Wed 19-Feb-14 17:04:05

You're right purple. I am hoping to see the head this week and fill her in on the situation. I think a full month of basics MUST be done. 1/3 of the class got less than 2 marks on the SAT paper. Only 6 got above 10 marks. The writing is the same. With the writing I'm going to have to hammer punctuation, super sentences, and simple comprehension.

Which long division method did you plump for or did you try all of them? They seem to have done, but not understood chunking at all, so i'm wondering if I should try a vertical line instead or just keep hammering away at chunking. The word problems were the worst, hardly any of them attempted any, and those that did misunderstood. It's highly likely that this related to poor reading ability too.

How long did it take, purple? Did you get there in the end?

purplebaubles Wed 19-Feb-14 16:35:55

I inherited an awful class. I spent the first four weeks just hammering the basics. No planning as such, literally just a full week of column addition, a full week of grid method, a full week of long division and a full week of subtraction. Pretty old school really.

My personal opinion is that nothing else is going to work if the basics aren't there. Regardless of what scheme you're following.

Of course, it all depends whether you work in a school that will leave you to your own devices and allow you to just do this!

phlebasconsidered Wed 19-Feb-14 16:31:02

I've just marked thee writing papers and they're worse. (Sob, sniff)

Abbierhodes Tue 18-Feb-14 22:46:21

Some of these tips are fantastic, thanks to you all for sharing.

Effic, I've googled intensive support programme, but it brings up a lot and I can't find anything specifically related to maths. Can you post any links?

phlebasconsidered Tue 18-Feb-14 20:26:16

Thankyou toomuch, I shall be amazoning that for myself right now! I was just told to follow the Framework, but I am downloading plans from TES left right and centre. Even looking at year 4 / 5 mixed plans, for the spread. That textbook sounds just right.

toomuchicecream Tue 18-Feb-14 19:11:05

Wow! That's quite a potent cocktail you've taken on! Do you have any text books or a bought-in scheme of work? I agree with the advice above that you need to focus on place value and the 4 number operations to start with but if you're not going to spend ridiculous amounts of time planning & preparing, you need something to help you out. Maths on Target would be my book of choice - no silly graphics, just plenty of differentiated practise questions. Each page is split into C (year below), B (this year) and A (year ahead) so you've got a good start to your differentiation. Of course no book or scheme is going to do everything for you, but at £6.95 (I think) per book I suggest you buy yourself a year 5 one. Lots of good advice here, and most of all, good luck to you!

phlebasconsidered Tue 18-Feb-14 16:04:32

And thanks, Jonsnow, please do pm me!

phlebasconsidered Tue 18-Feb-14 16:01:49

Thankyou! Thankyou all so much. It's all so daunting when you know you're going to be judged on paper progress. They've also had their targets reworded and there's been so much change ( thankyou, OFSTED) that we don't know whether we are coming or going. I just really don't want to let them down. I'm got an evening of googling resources ahead of me. And more APP tommorrow....The last lot wasn't at all accurate, as far as I can see.

The class are very disengaged and have some severe behaviour problems, including SEN children with a reading/ writing / maths of Wa, who can be very disruptive and aggressive, who I also need to plan separately for. I've been in today to seat plan, rejig the classroom and put expectations on the wall, but it's all starting to seem very daunting. I really think I'll have to do as you say and lay a paper trail of proof if i'm not to end up taking the flak for it. Esp as we expect the MIB by April.

Effic Tue 18-Feb-14 15:25:15

Oh and Hamilton trust have downloadable maths plans that are a good starting point

Effic Tue 18-Feb-14 15:22:49

Look up Intensive support programme on Internet and do it in addition to numeracy lessons. You need to shift your timetable around a bit and find 5x 20 mins per day but it's worth it! Shorten the termly blocks suggested into 4 weeks and do place value, add, subtract, multiply, divide and weight and measures. Make sure your initial assessment is as accurate as possible to get them on the right target to start with and then you can show progress to SLT through the progress they make up the targets. Strip back your maths curriculum to number, calculation, weights & measure and teach at L3 to start with for 4 sessions per week. Save session 5 for mental maths strategies. Look up glosmaths - some fab resources to support. Good luck!

Also, your conversation with the Head will give you an idea of how well they know what's going on in their school. When I had similar chat with my old head, he was adamant the previous teacher was utterly rigorous in her assessment and that the children were just "consolidating." I had children sent to me in year 6 on solid fours who couldn't write a sentence or add two digit number.

missmapp Tue 18-Feb-14 15:09:06

agree with jonsnow- this is not your fault or issue- it is the school who need to deal with their poor assessment.

well done for getting them to take a test, i would show the papers to SLT when you get back. Until then, yes to back to basics- or you will get nowhere. You may find with a bit more consistency, they flourish and meet original levels.

I know it is MASSES of work- but could you use thier books to do an APP grid, so you can give your own TA?? Maybe just with a sample, to back up your opinion on levels.

Oh, and remember- if they end up at the end of the year at the levels they are meant to be now- they will have made progress- you have books and SAT papers to prove it!!

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