I got in late last night from a parish council meeting and had intended on blogging as I’ve loads to tell you but so little time! We’ve had year 11 in for revision this week and they’re back tomorrow for 4 hours (half of the year group at a time, for 2 hours) which means I have to set cover for my groups (next on my “to do” list!) and I think I spend more time planning cover than I do my own lessons. As a result, this is a flying visit to share an idea, that I am probably going to struggle to do justice to, so bear with me.

A couple of things have triggered “it”:

  • The Summer break is a time where most students do absolutely “diddly squat” and when they return they sometimes appear to have gone back in time, in terms of what they remember and it takes a few weeks to get them back on track. In an attempt to address this, one of our local schools (OK so I’ve “sort of” pinched the idea … but I’d like to think I’ve taken it on a bit further!) has just launched a Numeracy initiative to get students doing a little bit of work during the break. I love the idea, as to whether it works I suppose it depends on your cohort and how supportive parents are. Thanks should go to the Deputy Head at my new school (from September!) for sending me the idea … credit, where its due.
  • I’ve been doing some reading about the reluctance from parents to help with homework, for a massive number of reasons, one of which is “things are done differently now”, and considering the kerfuffle earlier this week with “frequency trees” I now have some empathy with that. To be honest, I don’t accept that things have changed that much, but if you don’t practice maths, it can tend to get forgotten (or at the least it won’t be a case of instant recall and will need refreshing).

Having really good “numeracy” skills, along with  not knowing timestables inside out, back and front, and upside down are the things that I consider to be some of the things that holds students back. When students get the wrong answer (as a result of a mistake in a basic “sum”) they will all too easily, assume that it is the topic in hand that they don’t “get” and the more that we can get them practicing the “nitty gritty” the better. So what is my idea?  ….. I’m putting together a set of basic operations “how to” sheets that cover those “nitty gritty” number skills topics, focusing on the four operations in the first instance … the first one is addition and subtraction and you can find it here

nitty gritty 1

nitty gritty 2They  also include a second page  of progressively harder questions and the answers are included (albeit all mixed up so they are self checking too!). In terms of topics I’ve already sketched out the ones for multiplication, division and then am going to go onto adding and subtracting decimals before doing multiplying decimals and so on. I’m thinking they could be used for so many things (you know how I love a “list”) and how we’re going to use them, come September (I’ll have loads ready for then!) is still yet to be seen but possibilities include:

– At its most basic they could provide a nice simple homework or class worksheet. “Simples”

– They could be used as part of a wider whole school focus on “numeracy” to engage parents by emailing them a copy every week (or include with a newsletter?) to work through with their kids.

– They may be useful as “holiday” work – getting students to do “something” is better than nothing!

My preference is for me to put a whole range of them together covering, say 35 weeks that are sent out via email every week and parents can choose to do them with (ideally) or without their children. We’ll see .. even if nothing else (whoa! cynicism alert!) they’ll tick some boxes somewhere about “parental engagement” or “numeracy” or some such nonsense.

PS: Some of you will have a different definition of what “numeracy” means – I’m too tired to argue so keep your thoughts to yourself! Thanks in advance.