The Unsung Hero of My Classroom

Smiler1729 of TES I salute you!

Unbeknown to you, you have had a huge hand in improving maths in our school and creating a great “team” in my class. You sir/madam created this –

“The Times Table Challenge” 

At the start of the year, one of my year 5s was attempting to simplify a fraction. The common number was 4 but she didn’t know her 4 times table and had to write it out on a whiteboard, via counting on her fingers, in order to know it. I sat there aghast as this year 5 couldn’t chant off the 4 times table instantly. “Something must be done about this” I said in a not so discrete (but jovial) way. “I’m not sending you to year 6 not knowing your 4 times table or any others for that matter.”

I trawled the internet looking for ideas. I stumbled across the above file. I gave it to my class the morning after to see how many times table questions (up to 12×12) they could each do in 5 minutes (with division facts as well). Not one got all 180 questions right in the allotted time. Our focus child only scored 29. This was early September.

For the next 6 months we have done this challenge every morning. It only takes 5 minutes a day but it is proving to be a fantastic find. Scores have ballooned and knowledge of times tables is now one of my class’ strongest attributes. Parents said to me at parents’ evening last week that it was the best thing about their child’s day! I was amazed. Times tables?

I gave my class a scorecard to track their progress as the year goes on – instant evidence for OFSTED and self satisfaction for the pupils. We have a league table in the classroom to show who has improved the most – Not who has the biggest score overall. I was expecting grumbles from children and parents alike about competition in the classroom. It became clear that children only really had one competitor they were going up against – Themselves! If anyone beats their score the class give them a huge round of applause. Competition – what competition?

The majority of the class now get 180 everyday. Some I have even moved onto doing questions up to 19×19 just to keep pushing them (I know I shouldn’t be, but they love the challenge and what harm is it for five minutes a day?).

I can recommend this to any class, any age group. We now do it as the children walk in every morning across Key Stage 2. It will make your children better at tables, it will boost their confidence, it will make a huge difference in other areas of maths and it can even unify your class when someone gets a good score. Download it and give it half a term, you will see the results!

Smiler1729, whoever you are, wherever you are, thank you. I’d like to shake your hand and buy you a drink. As would all the children in my school.

Thank you!

PS – Focus child scored 180 on the Friday (day before half term) She is going to spend a few more weeks getting 180 every day and boosting her confidence before agreeing to try up to 16×16 in a few weeks.

She (and her parents) are very grateful too.

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