# Talk

## "big maths" what on earth is it?

(39 Posts)

My DD1 is now in P3 (Y2 for those south of the border) and despite having attended a workshop on Big Maths and tried to peruse their website, I am still none the wiser as to what "big maths" is or entails or what their goals are.
I know the weekly "beat that" and the "clic sheet", but that aside... what does it all actually mean? My understanding is that children are pretty much required to learn by rote all sort of sums under 20 (and that sounds to me like a waste of time, if I have to tell you the truth), and so far little else has been done.
OK, at school they do some other stuff. For example last week they talked about angles (but I am not sure it is part of Big Maths), the week before about 3-D shapes. In the past the talked about quarters and halves. However, nothing resembling a... multiplication. Some months ago they did sums with carry overs (we are in P3...) and that seemed like a BIG achievement.
Instead at home every week we are sent some "facts" to learn, such as
5+4
6+7
(this is from last week. In case you have forgotten, we are in P3...).
When I asked the teacher about it, the answer was that they are following what "big maths" (related to Big Brother perhaps) says to do. But how can you learn by rote 5+4 and 6+7 when taken in isolation? it makes much more sense to spend half an hour or more on Sumdog (big craze here now...) than to try and remember these weekly "facts".
Ah, the whole class is doing the same thing, so no differentiation work.
Note that where I am from by the end of Year 2 you are supposed to have done all the times tables and be able to do the 4 operations (add up any two numbers, take away almost any two numbers, multiply and divide any number by a 1 digit number), so perhaps this is what confuses me most...

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 17:30:55

The author Ben Harding was a headteacher in the North East and devised the programme to help his pupils. He worked out that in order to add/subtract multiply/ divide any number we only need to know 72 facts.(LearnIts)
He broke these down into a progression that grows as the child moves through primary. These should be taught for a few minutes daily and a weekly Beat That. The aim of the Beat That is to improve on your previous own score.

The English, Scottish and Welsh progression are slightly different to reflect the curriculum. I don't have the Scottish version but the Y2 LearnIts would be 2x 5x and 10x and 3+8, 3+9,4+5,4+7,4+8,4+9,5+7,5+8,5+9,6+7,6+8,6+9,7+8,7+9,8+9

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 17:34:54

CLIC stands for Counting, LearnIts, It's nothing new and Calculation
There is also SAFE

yes, I know all that, but still it makes no sense to me. How can you learn a "fact" in isolation and take 6-7 years to cover them all?
I mean, I couldn't learn what 6x7 is, but I could learn the 7 times table much more effectively. The same with sums... To give two - three sums a week, as I said before, am I not better off playing sumdog?
Also, reasoning this way, you'll never be able to do a multiplication or a division (or come to that, a sum or a subtraction) before P7. As this seems absurd to me, I must be missing something important.

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 17:46:53

In P3 you would know every addition /subtraction fact you need plus all the facts for the 2x and 5x and 10x tables (based on English version may be slightly different) so I'm not sure why you think that you wouldn't be able to do any before P7

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 17:55:53

"I couldn't learn what 6x7 is, but I could learn the 7 times table"
You've already learnt 2x7 in the 2x table, 5x 7 in the 5x table 10x 7 in the 10x table in P3 3x7 in the 3 x table 4x7 in the 4x table so to know the rest of the 7x table you just need 6x7 7x 7 8x7 9x7 (11x7 is the same as 10x7 +7 and 12x7 10x7 +2x7)

Yes, I know, but my point is that it seems pointless to send home 2-3 facts per week. What am I supposed to do with them? Why learn these "facts" in isolation and not in a wider (more traditional) scenario? I understand that 2x7 is the same as 7x2, but it seems simpler to me (as in easier mentally) to learn the 2x table and the 7x table in their entirety and not having to memorize a series of disconnected "facts".
Perhaps I am biased that is the way I was (not) taught, but i find it difficult to see the advantages of separating the various facts.
Besides, has any of us ever been asked to memorize a sum? I don't think I was... you just do sums over and over again until it comes as second nature. the same applied to times tables: you learn them and you do multiplications and eventually you will remember them until the day you die. I wonder in what way this approach makes things easier.

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 18:15:07

All times tables will have been covered by Y4 (P5)

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 18:26:16

What is sent home to learn should be based on either incorrect answers or unanswered questions. The school have decided that three is a manageable number

No, that's not my understanding... (especially because she says that she scores 100% on the big maths - whether it is true or not, remains a mystery).
From what I have been told, these are the learn-its (I HATE this name) for the week. But even so, how are you supposed to... learn them?

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 18:42:12

Then you'll have to ask the school but the teacher is meant to identify incorrect answers as targets for the next week and if no incorrect answers and unanswered questions ...that's the system .

We sing them like and repetition repetition repetition

Isn't that pointless/meaningless? I mean trying to remember 2-3 sums that you can easily work out each time if needs be? I can sing the times table, and that seems to me more worthwhile.
I find it difficult to believe that such approach has become so mainstream. Perhaps because I still find it difficult to understand it. Personally I don't think I could learn sums by heart.

It seems to me that time would be better employed mastering how to do division or multiplications or how to find methods to add and subtract more quickly...

In any case, no... my understanding is that they work through a list.

Besides, nobody uses big maths? I was expecting a slightly wider participation to the discussion... :D

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 19:01:04

You don't have time to work them out. It's a timed test 30 seconds to complete all 27/40/70 or however many questions for that particular stage ...the aim is instant recall so that when faced with problems the child can focus on the problem not the arithmetic.

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 19:02:40

"Besides, nobody uses big maths" don't they I know dozens of schools in my area who use it

irvineoneohone Sun 19-Mar-17 19:16:38

I know they used it last year at my ds' school.(yr3)
But they were streamed to ability. I am not sure how it works, they had 2 hour big maths on friday, but had no homework.

Mine was a rhetorical question... I was expecting more people talking about it here.

Yes, I understand instant recall, but I can recall pretty much instantly or at least pretty quickly (enough to do a P7 test - or whatever a top tier test is - as I was asked to do during the seminar) without having learnt to do sums by rote.
In any case, my objection/what I do not understand (I repeat) is how you are supposed to learn 2-3 "facts" a week. I mean, what can you do to remember them and not muddle them up? I can remember the times tables because I have compartmentalized each of them, so it doesn't take me long at all to say how much 7x8 is, but by the same token I know how much 7+8 is.
It seems wasteful to me to have to spend 4-5 years doing nothing else but that for the sake of the "beat that" test, especially given that you will know the answers them anyway...
I am sure there is something deeper than that but it eludes me now more than ever...

I wonder how long this method has been in fashion.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sun 19-Mar-17 19:22:49

I can sing the times table, and that seems to me more worthwhile

I do a lot of arithmetic at work. I have to say not once has being able to sing the times tables come in useful.

IME experience the trick to being able to add/subtract/multiply/divide more quickly is to a) understand place value and the number system and b) know he facts forwards/backwards/inside out and out of order rather than having to work them out every time.

You are right that some children will get to know them just by doing lots of calculations. But others will need more practice and will need to practice them at home too. Which presumably is where sending them home will help.

Rafals, I should have said "I COULD sing the time tables". in fairness I have never done it :D However I do count in 7-8-9s or whatever is necessary from time to time.

Place value I have come to understand is far too complex for early years. It only generate frustration... BUT it does come naturally later on.
Yes to know "facts" (in the "big maths" sense) is useful, but is it worth spending 4 years at school doing nothing else (as it in in our case, although we are only in the third year)?

My point is that it is impossible to practice 5+4 and 7+8 at home in isolation. They would mean NOTHING to me and I am pretty sure they mean nothing to my DD. Perhaps because I find it difficult to see the worth of the exercise I can't motivate myself to motivate my daughter to practice them because i don't know how/what to do. In any case, if you ask whet the sum is, if she tells you instantly there is good chance that it is wrong, but if she thinks about it a second or 2 or 3 or 5, she WILL give you the right answer (but that doesn't seem to be the aim of the exercise).

Re. timetables, I only know them in a specific way. For example I know 7x8, but do not know 8x7. So if I come across the former I know the answer straight away. If I come across the latter, I need to reverse it first.

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 19:40:20

"In any case, my objection/what I do not understand (I repeat) is how you are supposed to learn 2-3 "facts" a week" and I'll repeat we sing them daily and repetition repetition repetition the drip drip drip metho

Arcadia my Y1s (age 5) understand and use place value in Big Maths

RebelRogue Sun 19-Mar-17 19:44:58

4+5=9
5+4=9
9-5=4
9-4=5
40+50=90
400+500=900
And so on..just from that one simple original fact. Once they master the facts and the inverse and so on they can give the answers straight away. Sure you can work out a lot of them,but it is a lot easier if kids just "know" the answer.
A bit like you and 7x8, you are able to solve 8x7 by reversing them,but if you didn't knew 7x8 to begin with? You could work it out ofc,but how long would that take? What are the odds of getting it wrong along the way?
I know kids that when using number bonds they get it right,when they have to count on fingers,in their head,dots on he paper or whatever...they lose count,get distracted etc.

mrz, she is unusual (as I have discovered recently). Mine couldn't (and a lot of frustration ensued - my fault entirely); in fact my school doesn't really do any more place value, as the HT told me once.

Rebel, I think we are mixing different issues.
Knowing that (x00+y00) is the same as (x+y)00 must be understood (pardon my poor notation), and so that sums are the inverse of subtractions (and viceversa) and 100 different things. However, it doesn't follow that you must know all the x+y combinations by heart in order to accomplish that.

From what you are telling me here big maths in a nutshell is learning these 72 "facts". If that's all there is... well... what a disappointment...

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 20:05:48

*"*^*From what you are telling me here big maths in a nutshell is learning these 72 "facts".*^ *"* if I've given you that impression it's incorrect. The 72 facts (LearnIts) are just one small but important aspect of Big Maths. My Y1s are partitioning numbers, place value, multiples, fact families, counting in 2s,5s10s and 25s using coins to make totals, telling the time, quarters, thirds, halves tally charts, bar graphs, algebra, recognising number patterns etc.

Well, in my P3/Y2 DD's class they don't (as far as I can tell), if not in the most superficial way (see list in my opening post).
She hasn't seen a multiplication, except what we have done at home and telling the time is an ordeal (my P1's DD is way better at that...). Thirds I don't think have been mentioned unlike halves and quarters.

Still, even if they had gone through all your list and more, it looks to me very little indeed.
My feeling is what they do in class is suited for a P1 or a P2 at a push, but the teacher tells me that they are following the Big Maths program, hence my many perplexities.

irvineoneohone Sun 19-Mar-17 20:14:56

I don't believe the school don't teach children place value in ey/ks1.
It's a real fundamental thing. And not understanding place value to me is a big problem.

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