As a new Year 4 Teacher, having spent the majority of my career in Years 5 and 6, I’ve found myself with the new challenge of ensuring as many pupils as possible know their times tables. Not only is this necessary for the Year 4 MTC at the latter part of the academic year but a strong knowledge of multiplication facts will serve them well in Year 6 as they prepare for the SATs. Having taught Year 6 for many years, I’ve known the difficulty of teaching long multiplication or square numbers to pupils who still grapple with their times tables. Now, rather than being on the tail end of Key Stage 2, I’m firmly towards the beginning. How then, I thought, will I ensure my pupils succeed? Thankfully there are a range of resources and methods that, in just a few weeks, have already begun to make a difference.
I’ve found technology-based solutions such as TTRockstars, SumDog, and PurpleMash offer many children the opportunity for low-stakes recall. The data provided by these various platforms has enabled me to pinpoint key misconceptions to focus on either with the whole class or specific pupils. Better yet, being able to set tables for groups of pupils to work on has ensured everyone in the class gets the opportunity to succeed.
Rote learning has received a bad reputation of late, however, if used appropriately I’ve found it has proven another useful tool to use this year. Specifically, Rolling Numbers is a great way to get all the children chanting with confidence, ensuring no one is left behind. I’ve found letting the pupils lead the call-and-response saves my voice too and gives the class a chance to own their own chants. YouTube too has a range of videos with different multiplication facts sung to fantastic and catchy songs.
Visual resources provide pupils with an opportunity to see what is happening when they multiply. Getting the pupils to represent multiples with whiteboard pens on the table always excites the class and provides pupils with the opportunity to use a method that suits them. I have seen a wealth of different representations: bar models, number lines, and arrays. The education community on social media is also a great place to see new and exciting ways of representing multiples. It’s incredibly easy to feel inspired by the great ideas posted daily.
With these resources, I’m sure any class, not just Year 4, will have the foundations for success in memorising and using the times tables. I’ve certainly enjoyed trying new ideas and providing pupils with every opportunity to practise their tables over the last few weeks.