Curriculum, Learnpad

Allevatiating the fear

A proud moment for one student.

It was with some slight dismay that I realised this week that I needed to work on “counting in multiples of 7”. An essential skill, admittedly, but counting in multiples always brings a little shiver of dread when planning it, as there is such as range of mental maths abilities in my maths groups.  I know from previous experience that some will come to the lesson with this skill already, whereas some will still be uncertain after several days.  I needed inspiration.


Luckily, I found it. It came from two places.  One in the form of the Kahoot website, and the other from an amazing YouTube clip.

I have been meaning to get to grips with Kahoot for a long time: the children use tablets to log into an online quiz, and then compete against each to answer questions from the interactive whiteboard using their tablets (in our case, LearnPads). I used one of the public Kahoots: a quiz created by another user to test the 7x table.  Before starting the quiz, we did a quick bit of counting in 7s to just get their brains into gear, and then used the Kahoot as a pre-assessment tool. I was expecting the children to enjoy the quiz, but I had not anticipated their level of enthusiasm – they loved it!! As soon as we had finished the quiz, there were cries for more, so I promised it the next day, providing they made a big effort to improve their skills over the coming lesson.

For those who could already confidently count in 7s, they had a series of timed challenges at their table which they had to complete with a partner, armed with a stopwatch and a will to increase their speed. Those who were able to fluently answer a range of 7x table questions were given an NRich challenge to solve with a TA, where they had to apply their knowledge of the number facts using a logical approach.  The children who had struggled to answer the questions in the quiz worked with me to develop their confidence using the Counting Stick approach.  I had dabbled with this before, but I had never actually watched the YouTube clip all the way through, and so had not really done it properly.  The results were amazing.  After only a few minutes of counting, adding and removing numbers from the counting stick, the difference in confidence was incredible.  The children were beaming as they counted in 7s, and realised that they could actually use this new knowledge in the quiz the following day (We used the counting stick without numbers at the beginning of the second lesson, and the children had retained it all!).

As promised, we repeated the quiz the next day, and there was a noticeable difference in the number of children who were getting the questions right (in most cases, 28 out of 28 were correct). On the first day, most of the children who worked with me were completely stumped when faced with 11 or 12 x 7.  On the second day, I watched them closely when they reached these questions, and, even though we had only gone as far as 10 x 7 with the counting stick, they instantly knew that they just had to add 7 or 14 to the end of the stick. The sense of pride the children had at increasing their ranking or reaching a greater score was palpable: one child was so proud at having reached the leaderboard, we had to take a screen shot of his placing and hand it into the ClassCloud so he could print it off and show the headteacher his achievement (“I had to shake his hand and everything, Miss, it was brilliant!).

By the end of 2 lessons, every child in that class was able to count in multiples of 7 and rapidly answer questions from the 7 times table. Counting in multiples holds no fear for me now – I know the approach I shall be taking from now on!

Assessment, Curriculum, Learnpad

Spotting patterns

Every term, we have a new strategy to teach the children to use when problem solving in maths. Earlier in the year, we used trial and improvement, and then working systematically, taught through the use of NRich activities.  This term, our focus has been spotting patterns.

For many activities, the approach to recording a finished activity is obvious, as there is something to stick in their books, but the approach used is lost. I wanted a way to show how the children actually worked, and so I used the LearnPads to add to the recording process.  Our activity this week was Domino Sets, again from NRich, where the children had to spot patterns in the numbers on their dominoes, sort them and work out which, if any, were missing.  I could have given them photocopies of dominoes to sort and stick, but the children found it more meaningful to be given boxes and bags of real dominoes: especially when we discovered that some had what appeared to be full sets, some had fewer than 2 dominoes in, and some bags had remnants of 5 sets mixed up together! The joys of getting out resources before the lesson without having checked each pack indiviually! However, this provided an instant differentiation – the more logically thinking children were given the mixed up bags and asked to try and create a full set, whereas the less confident were given those sets which were almost complete.

The children had great fun sorting the dominoes, some choosing to just move them around on the table, others getting whiteboards and making lists and jottings to help them.

CaptureOnce they had formed what they believed to be a complete set of dominoes (or as close as they could get), the children then used the Annotate app on the LearnPads to take a photo of their set and annotate it to show the process they used to sort their dominoes. These were then handed in and printed out as evidence (The new ClassCloud layout has made this process far simpler and much quicker to get the work from the LearnPads and into the children’s books).  The quality of explanations varied massively, and was excellent evidence to show just how well the children understood how they had reached their conclusion – was there a system or just good luck?!  Thinking back to the lesson now, I would also get the children to make a short video explaining what they did – handing in and uploading to somewhere like Dropbox would mean the children would have a QR code to stick in their books and show their parents at the end of the year (I am kicking myself now that I didn’t think of this yesterday!).

I have used the LearnPads many, many times in my lessons, but never before in this way. Such a simple activity has provided some great evidence and gave the children real motivation to make sure they understood how they had solved their problem.  Annotate will definitely be making more appearances in my maths lessons from now on!