The three factors within the extraordinary 3M method of teaching times tables.
There are indeed three factors that need to be present if all children are going to learn their times tables in good time.
First, the children need to be motivated. Second, they need to be taught using a method that keeps that motivation going from one lesson to the next. And third the children need to find the whole process enjoyable.
Now, as you may have realised, the only problem here is that “enjoyable” rather breaks the alliterative approach that I was building up with the ideas of “motivation” and “method”, so for my third factor I’m going to say, “mighty fun.” I hope that’s ok with you.
Motivation, method and mighty fun. That’s our aim.
So, to begin: motivation. We’ve achieved this in the “Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables set for Primary Schools” by using superheroes through the materials. These instil a positive and competitive attitude towards learning among the children.
Second: the method. Of course, each child learns in different ways and each needs to have opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills gained in the lessons. Therefore, for each times table there is a mixture of practical activities to develop their understanding and written activities to consolidate their knowledge.
Finally, the mighty fun. By using superheroes the books instil a positive and competitive attitude towards learning which not only permeates through these times tables activities, but other areas of classroom work as well.
And although I wrote “finally” above, there is one more M benefit. The books contain reproducible sheets and are designed to be used as flexible teaching aids, which teachers can dip in and out of in any order to support the learning of any times table.
In other words, “Multi-use”. They work equally well as stand-alone 5 to 20 minute lesson reinforcements or as regular times table learning.
There are more details on our website (although less playing around with the letter M) where you can place an order.
Why knowing the origins of human communication helps us find better methods of teaching a foreign language.
There is much debate as to the way in which human language developed as our species evolved. But many would agree that an early part of the evolution would have been the calling out of warnings of danger.
And it follows from this that the ability to tell stories must have come much later.
However, although as a species we had to wait for the evolution of the ability to invent and tell stories, this ability to tell stories proved to be a major evolutionary step.
For whereas “Watch out behind you” can save an individual from injury, storytelling can bring a whole group together with a shared understanding.
In short, the few words that constitute a warning helps the individual. The story preserves the unity of the whole group.
And it is because being part of a group remains so central to our lives that the use of storytelling in learning a foreign language is such a vital tool. The children who learn French or Spanish with stories as a core part of their learning, can share their new learning and feel part of the group.
This is why our French and Spanish courses for years 3-4 and 5-6 are based around stories. For just as our ancestors evolved language as a way of telling stories, so the power of the story remains, and enthuses children with the desire to learn a second language.
You can read more about our story based language courses for Spanish and French through the links below…
The important link between fluid intelligence and learning times tables
It has been argued that “crystallized intelligence has become disproportionately valued over fluid intelligence”, yet it is fluid intelligence that is closely linked to working memory and which is responsible for the ability to recognise patterns.
It is therefore important that pupils are taught their times tables in a way which engages their fluid intelligence so that they are not only able to understand why times tables form as they do, but also see how their learned knowledge of times tables can help them to solve maths problems in the future.
With this in mind, Brilliant Publications has developed Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables – a series of photocopiable activity books suitable for Years One to Six.
The Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables series uses superheroes to motivate children to practise all of the skills needed to solve multiplication, division and word-based times table problems.
The books contain reproducible sheets and are designed to be used as flexible teaching aids which teachers can dip in and out of in any order to support the learning of any times table. They work equally well as stand alone 5 to 20 minute lesson reinforcements or as regular times table learning.
The Mighty Fun Activities for Practising Times Tables series is divided into three books:
Is it too much to hope that ALL your pupils will be fluent in their times tables?
There is a reason why some of us can’t decode maths problems. An increasing understanding of dyscalculia among professionals has meant that pupils with the specific learning difficulty are getting more access to materials which will help them to overcome their difficulties with maths.
For a pupil with dyscalculia, the very essence of number cannot be understood – thus, manipulating numbers with mathematical functions can be somewhat of a challenge. Indeed, it is possible for some dyscalculic pupils to understand numbers and simple mathematical functions (addition and subtraction) using mainstream methods, albeit at a slower rate than their peers. However, when the pupil advances to learning multiplication and division, there is often a mental blockage.
These pupils need to learn maths, and the functions of multiplication and division, using a multi-sensory approach. Using a multi-sensory approach with non-dyscalculic pupils has also proven to improve mathematical performance.
This book provides stimulating and imaginative games to make the process of learning the times tables both effective and fun. The games require minimal preparation and ensure that all children gain a firm understanding of their times tables and will be able to recall and apply them rapidly and accurately.
The first half of the book contains games specifically aimed at teaching the 2, 5 and 10 times tables. The second half contains games appropriate for any of the times tables. These games are subdivided into three groups:
Games for learning each table in sequence
Games to test pupils’ memories and thinking skills as they try to identify the table they are working on
Games to teach children the different factors that can make up each answer.
Learn Spanish with Luis y Sofia is a story-based scheme addressing the Foreign Language Programmes of Study for teaching Spanish at KS2.
The Learn Spanish with Luis y Sofía 1a Parte Starter Pack is based around a story featuring a young brother (Luis) and sister (Sofía) and their friends and family. The topic-based stories are written entirely in Spanish, use simple sentences and introduce key vocabulary and language structures.
The pack includes audio-enhanced e-storybooks for each of the 14 stories. The stories are acted out by native Spanish speakers bringing the stories to life. The e-storybooks can be shared with the class using an interactive whiteboard, read individually or in small groups.
The teacherʼs book contains lesson plans for each story, translations of the stories and exercises, games and activities focusing on enabling pupils to communicate in Spanish.
The scheme is designed with non-specialists in mind and will make implementing the National Curriculum for England easy. Self-assessment sheets can be used to monitor children’s progress and ensure coverage of all the Programmes of Study.
When we teach division to primary children, we tend to introduce it as being a sharing operation where objects are divided into a number of groups of equal number. We also discuss that division has an opposite, multiplication. We talk about Division being about separating groups, while its opposite, multiplication is about combining groups.
We often assess our children’s understanding by using worksheets which can be printed for each child or which can be projected onto a white board. This worksheet is taken from Brilliant Publications ‘How to Sparkle at Beginning Multiplication and Division’ for 5’s to 7’s.The children are asked to share the objects evenly between the crackers.
According to a report on the BBC website today, the Education Endowment Foundation has found that calculators can help students become better at problem solving. Rather than hindering children, calculators can actually help to develop children’s arithmetic skills, when taught properly.
This is very pleasing news to me as, since ministers banned the use of calculators in national maths tests for 11-year-olds in England from 2014, sales of our book How to be Brilliant at Using a Calculator have been sluggish, to say the least. Since then I have considered many times making the book go out of print. However, every time I’ve looked at the book I’ve been impressed again at the excellent activities in it – so the book has stayed in print. Maybe sales will now pick up!