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 Post subject: mental maths
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 1:15 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 10:20 am
Posts: 13
Question for Primary school maths teachers
I have a son in year5 who is a whizz at mental maths tests and generally does all his maths calculations in his head.However when asked to explain and write down his method he says "I dont know how my brain does it ,I just know how to"!!!!!
In year 4 he had a very confrontational teacher who would not accept he knew the answers without workings out to show how he got them;consequently he began to do doubt his ability and got in such a muddle trying to explain his method on paper his eventual answers were wrong!
He convinced himself he couldn't do maths, so we got a tutor to help his confidence.The tutor tells us our son is a very bright child and at present as long as he gets the right answer dont worry ,especially as 11+ and in Sats papers examiners are only interested in the correct answer.
Hey Presto his maths results are back to "whizzing"levels!..............as long as he doesn't have to explain to you on paper how he does it!
He came home yesterday telling us that as a general comment in class everyone must show workings out for maths because otherwise how do they know they havn't cheated or heard the answers?????
SO here is the question......We have a consultation coming up and would like to say to his teacher that we believe that showing a written explanation for his answers will come with maturity but for now let him be! How do we say this to his teachers without upsetting them? They are adamant workings out are required.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 4:38 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:32 pm
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Location: East Kent
Being able to explain how you arrive at answers is a useful skill, especially as calculations get longer and more complicated (I'm remembering 2 sides of A4 or more at uni..) going throough teh steps makes it easier to find wher eyou have gone wrong.

TheNumeracy strategy made quitea lot of discussing how you arrive at your answer and part of teh plenary session will often be children explaining how they worked it out and comparing.

I find that some children quite enjoy explaining their methods and it does reinforce that there is not always just one way to arrive at the solution.

However, just as there is often more than way of arriving at a solution, there is often more than teaching method.

Could you explain to theteacher how threatening your son found it, perhaps you could incorporate some explanation into games etc at home.
Simpe things like " countdown"

Take a pack of cards deal 2 to make a 2 digit number (the target number)
then deal 5 more .

The challenge is to make teh target number using teh 5 other numbers, once only, you must use all the numbers, but you can use all 4 operations.

The is the one who gets teh answer first, but teh real value of teh game is taht you each have to show how you got there.. use a white board or piece of paper to jot down as you work. Its not as formal as writing down all the steps in a "sum".

Maths investigations are also good for getting him to figure out how he is arriving at a solution. Have you tried "nrich" which has loads of extension activities for children who excel at maths.

I think off hand that the address is www.nrich.org, but you can always google it.

The thing that you and his teacher will need to work towards is making the "process" part of teh calculation seem fun, rather than threatening.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:06 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:29 pm
Posts: 625
Hi twmum

There will be a need for your son to show working out when he comes to his KS2 and KS3 Sats and eventually GCSE, because of the high number of points for method, and some questions ask to show the working out.

Teachers can sometimes appar harsh, but ultimately they are trying to guide your son in the right direction.

Strategies that encourage your son to develop writing his methods on paper are far better than a confrontational approach which may lead to anxieties that your son seems to be expressing at the moment.

Regards

Mike

_________________
Mike Edwards is a co-author of The Tutors product range.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:32 pm
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Location: East Kent
exactly Mike.

I often start by telling my pupils that as they progress in maths many marks are given for the method and that you can gain marks even if the actual answer is wrong. I quote an example where I gained about 80% of the marks despite having a wrong (and highly unlikely ) answer. I didn't have time to work it out again, but went back through the calculation, realised where I had gone wrong and wrote at the end of the question that I knew the answer was unfeasible and where the error had probably occured.

Being able to see the steps of a calculation helps teh teacher identify what furter input is needed. A wrong answer may be purely an arithmetic slip up or a mistake which is being compounded, in which case the pupil can be helped


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:57 pm 
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Examiners don't usually look at the method if the answer is correct - but id the answer is wrong they will look for method.

What I do is to give the child two sets of marks - their actual score and what they might have got if they showed method - works every time!!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 9:44 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 9:23 pm
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hi,
not a maths teacher but my son displays a similar weakness. He has just gained a place at grammar school and HAD to show his workings out on his exam paper to gain entry. I must admit that he initially used to put the answer and then make up some workings out to go with it and they are still not always logical but we are getting there. They do have to show workings out for their SATS and my son is still reluctant but will now conform. We just used to practice a few sums each week complete with working out included and it has slowly become a habit. Good luck!


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 Post subject: mental maths
PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 1:55 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 10:20 am
Posts: 13
Thankyou for all your words of wisdom!
We are working through Bond Book4 10-11+more.It is quite tricky,especially as some Questions are ahead of Yr5 curriculum ;a lot is taught 1st term yr6 or not at all ,as it is on the fringes of Yr7..........this isn't going to happen if the new date of 17th sept(KENT) for 11+ takes place!!.... but thats another story.
He happily does these papers in his head but trying to break this habit is not so easy.
Maybe the break through will come when secondary school maths becomes so complex his brain "just doing it"will need paper to help!!


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