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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 7:23 am 
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Can you help?

My DD has just started Y6. In maths, the DCs were given a series of long multiplication problems as a test. DD used the column method and (she says) got them right. Then was given another series of multiplication problems and instructed to do them using the partitioning method. Again says she got them right. DD reckons that, for her, it took about double the time to do the partitioning method than the column method.

DD has asked me (and so I am asking you) is it important to be able to do both methods? Is this something that they have to know/demonstrate in the curriculum or SATs? I was under the impression that in SATs it was the correct answer that got the mark not the working out but perhaps there is something in the curriculum that teacher is trying to tease out?

After a few partitioning answers, DD asked whether she would be allowed to continue using column method as she found it easier and faster and teacher said she could but would be marked "R" (not sure what "R" means?) and therefore needed to do what had been asked.

I'm really keen for DD make the most of Y6 but she is a curious child ("Miss but why?") and am concerned that if she questions the teacher "inappropriately" she will be labelled as having a bit of an attitude so am trying to do some work at home to keep her motivated.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 7:39 am 
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At my daughters old primary school the y6 teacher had sent both her children to grammar school, and asked who did which method with a show off hands to both dd's classes. The ones who successfully applied (as opposed to those who were unsuccessful) did the column method. DD1 actually made mistakes with partition method, and both found it slower (not good in an 11+ exam! ). A friend teaches maths at a North London grammar and each year teaches y7 children the column method as a priority! Both the class 6 teacher and Maths teacher believe it is better for more able students.

Could you speak to the teacher about allowing her to use it? Fashions in teaching change and both are well used methods.


Last edited by 2Girlsmum on Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:15 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 7:53 am 
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My heart sinks for you and your child. But on the other hand, you are lucky. I don't think we will get to this point in the curriculum until the last term of year 6. They have done some adding in the top group of year 6 so far.

There is nothing wrong with what your daughter is doing. The teacher is not very good at maths or is stubborn, or the school has a weird maths policy that her job depends on following.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 8:10 am 
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If column method mean 'long multiplication' and partitioning means 'grid method' then the teacher is wrong. Any method is OK for 2015 Key Stage 2 tests as there is no change in curriculum for Year 6.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:09 am 
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We have binned the grid method as it takes far too long and if the numbers are large I think it's easier to make mistakes. We are sticking with the old fashioned long multiplication.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:13 am 
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As a secondary maths teacher may I ask you not to 'bin' the grid method as it is extremely useful for algebra? I use it in all three key stages ....

If your child finds long multiplication faster then s/he is in the minority.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:53 am 
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It's really lovely to know that I am not the only one grappling with this - thank you for your super speedy responses. Guest 55 - I'm not completely sure but yes, I think that column method is "long multiplication" (I am clearly a bit old fashioned in my terminology) and grid method is "partitioning".

So if I am reading all the kind responses correctly: SATs will be satisfied with the correct answer, no matter how derived but curriculum-wise, important to understand the partition/grid method as this builds a base for algebra? Any wisdom on how it links with algebra?

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:56 am 
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I use the grid method to help students understand how to mulitply algebraic expressions e.g. (2x + 3)(3x - 7), complete the square at GCSE and, at A level, factorise polynomials.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 10:33 am 
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Thank you! I had to look up "completing the square" (I am such a dinosaur). I can see that the terminology used now has moved on. (As a side topic, I wonder if a glossary of terms would be a useful resource for this forum? A kind of "old money" versus "new money" explanation for people like me who don't know the current lingo?).

When researching, I did stumble across this link to a previous topic on the same subject so pasting below for easy reference.

viewtopic.php?t=38312&p=455057

Meanwhile, back on topic, I am starting to draw a few conclusions:

* long multiplication/column method is faster for those able to do it and therefore more useful for timed tests that look only for the correct answer
* partitioning/grid method is a more holistic learning tool which will/may be useful for her future maths learning
* teacher may be assessing all the students to figure out where they are in their learning (I neglected to say that about a third of the class were given both exercises to do) and therefore to decide on who needs what elements to be taught/reinforced at this early stage of Y6
* I need to smarten up my maths knowledge pronto! :oops:

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 11:05 am 
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My students use grid as its quicker - it really depends on preferences.

Frequently errors creep into long multiplication when carrying and it's much harder to check than grid.

Obviously at secondary we use calculators with large numbers (after estimating) - no paper method is quick for HTU x HTU or worse!


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