# Talk

## Maths calculations-how many should teacher expect?

(5 Posts)

Dd is level three in year two. Her class teacher has given her "must try harder" grades for maths in her report because she only completes the minimum expected and doesn't push herself. She is regularly expected to do 20+ examples of a concept in a lesson and the extension work she is meant to work faster to get to is basically more of the same with perhaps slightly bigger numbers. Her target when the work is marked is pretty consistently "good work, be faster next time". The books have just come home-I didn't read with enough detail at parents evening to pick this up usefully earlier.
My question is, could the nature of the work go some way to explaining why dd is reluctant to get on with it? Naturally, I'll still be supporting the teacher next year whatever happens, but it does strike me that if they've understood the concept after five sums, twenty doesn't really help, if they haven't, twenty doesn't really help and extension work where you get more of the same isn't very enticing.
I have to confess, I am a primary teacher but the worst kind-non practising and back seat driving! Am I being unrealistic about the kind of work that can be given within the constraints of a large class?

PastSellByDate Fri 19-Jul-13 11:28:41

Hi Ifonly....

I'm just a Mum, but given you're a teacher you'll be better able to judge if this is a good approach:

This kind of approach (expecting a set amount of work - regardless of difficulty) to get done can lead to someone equating 1+1 problems to 3369 + 67, which involves carrying over, more time for calculation and more time to check answer is correct.

So the problem may be that the teacher is equating lower level work to higher level work in terms of time, and needs to review that a bit.

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If the problem is that your DD is losing interest - well this is actually an issue.

You don't want her losing interest half-way through her KS2 Maths SATs. 'But I've done 5 problems, I don't do more' won't cut it really, will it?

So I think you have to investigate whether your DD is refusing to do more than a few problems. Now this can be for all sorts of reasons: too easy, too complicated, everyone else is done so she wants to stop too, she can do it but doesn't really like maths, etc...

It may be that the table (maths group) is always waiting for her to finish - and this is creating tension.

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I think the approach I would take (and I'm no saint and probably would say the wrong thing and get everyone's back up) - but the approach I'd try is to say you don't really understand what the problem is with your DD not finishing work - do they have a theory? Hopefully they'll expand on what they think the problem is and a solution will present itself.

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Finally - and I'm not trying to pick a fight - but you clearly have strong views that you only need to work a maths concept 5 times and you learn it - you said above '20 doesn't help'. This could well be what is influencing your DD's attitude.

Everyone is different - but I can assure you for my DD1, twenty (even 50) is required before she really gets a concept so well she can do it without thinking.

If the school desire her to work through 30 multiplication problems, for example, and she's packing an attitude about only wanting to do 5 and no more - there will be conflict. Perhaps the solution is to encourage her to think about it as a speed contest. If it is in fact very easy for her, and she knows it all, she might find she enjoys finishing first (with all answers correct) to prove how well she understands the concept.

HTH

juniper9 Fri 19-Jul-13 17:13:34

Do the problems get progressively harder? If I were to set my top table a sheet of problems, then I'd expect my most able to be able to do more as the first 4 or so questions would be 2a questions, then moving onto 3c etc.

As a teacher you must know it's annoying to have bright children who don't apply themselves and do as little as they can get away with. Regardless of what the books are showing, do you feel your child deserves this title?

trinity0097 Fri 19-Jul-13 17:32:17

For something to become ingrained in memory a child needs to over learn the method, otherwise you find that they can just do it that time and haven't truely learnt the method long term.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 19-Jul-13 22:05:44

I'm not a primary teacher, but do coach adults who have to use Maths in their studies.
I was lucky I was good at Maths with an A at A-level and through out school had teachers who made me do many, many problems. Maths is largely about practice again and again so you develop brain muscle memory of how to work out problems. I would see what the teacher is doing is building blocks for this and it is definately what my DD who is gifted in maths experiences (she is a level 5 in year 4).
So how does this translate to adults using maths in the work place people who have practiced the maths multiple times will be able to perform a drug calculation and have a gut feel as to whether the answer is right or not those who have not are never really certain.
I set my apprentices pages and pages of maths problems which are actually quite simple so that the calculations just become second nature.

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