Tag Archives: automatic response

Teaching Times Tables — Teachers and Torment!

2_backgroundremovalSo, it’s come to this, has it?

The media this week has been FULL of it! Discussion about teaching times tables, that is!

And it’s not all good news!

There are SOME teachers around, it seems, that think that life is easier if times tables AREN’T taught in any serious way in schools.

Then there are those of us that see automatic response of tables as an essential skill in adult life.

Which side are YOU on?

For the sake of the adults of tomorrow, my hope is that you are on the latter side, rather than the former! Let’s keep up with the chanting. PLEASE!

NO SHADES OF GREY HERE!!!

What’s YOUR view?

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Why Primary Teachers Deserve — a Fair Break!

Robin Pic

Once upon a time there was a curriculum — Maths, English, etc. — in primary schools that clearly set out a standard towards which all students should strive.

Sure, some students would well and truly exceed that standard, while others would struggle, but, under the teacher’s guidance, do the very best they could with what they had!

But, today, what do we have?

Some pretty books, some whiz-bang technology, some amazingly-equipped buildings, and heaps of kids who don’t know their tables!

Oh, yes, and we have homework sheets galore that seem to challenge parents and students alike.

Maybe the old ways weren’t so bad!

Maybe a solid curriculum that DEMANDS students and teachers to stretch, to challenge themselves without having to design and redesign their particular school’s approach to the learning essentials, would be a GREAT THING for all.

But, maybe that’s just Pollyanna stuff!

We’ve done our bit, with our interest-packed homework and worded problem sheets.

But teachers and schools need to be given permission, and a concrete curriculum, that actually makes teaching more manageable for all.

Better outcomes would be the ASSURED result!

And isn’t that what we ALL want?

Maths teachers’ goldmine topics . . .

What primary teacher can resist a ready-made maths thingo to get the students involved?

Something that’ll be EASY to copy and use, but that the students will LOVE?

Sound impossible?

Well, in our worksheets this week we’ve covered the following:

  • The new Scrabble words allowed — including “cakehole” (the kids will LOVE that word!);
  • The New Zealand Government’s new taxes for arriving and leaving NZ;
  • Singer Beyoncé’s messing with champagne in the spa;
  • The world shortage of bees;
  • Melbourne Victory’s great soccer success;
  • Andy Griffiths winning the Australian Book of the Year Award;
  • The Salvation Army’s May Appeal;
  • The Freddo Frog Shrinkage Problem;
  • Peppa Pig’s carpet shampooing needs;
  • And so much more!

Why should maths questions be out-of-date, irrelevant, or just plain boring?

INTERESTING MATHS QUESTIONS?  BRING ‘EM ON!!

Oops! I forgot to teach that!

With technology in everyone’s pocket these days, it’s a temptation to think that children know far more than they actually do!

Mr Google, that wonderful machine, is never far away.

And Cirri is there, ever present, to answer their every need. Well, almost!

But we teachers have to see through this mist, this subterfuge, and use our special “teacher-detector-facility” to get to the bottom of the reality — that many children these days can cope with the superficial stuff — the research (copy and paste), the investigation (group work and so-called “teamwork”), the tests in which students can take in with them texts, cheat sheets, calculators that have the capacity to land a person on the moon . . .

And yet they can’t give you change from $10 without a machine telling them how much to give.

Yes, sure, things have changed. But is that change better?

To be sure, in some ways it is. The English curriculum has done it well! It is a prime example of an approach, relatively recently adopted, that GENUINELY teaches students how to express themselves, how to identify manipulation in texts and newspaper columns, how to present their arguments in public in a competent, interesting and fluent manner.

Great! But, Maths?

Are we preparing our students, not just for a career, but for a life in which calculations are a daily necessity?

Maybe not!

Another look at the curriculum, perhaps?

Here’s hoping!

Who Teaches Maths Best — Schools or McDonalds?

Sometimes the so-called “experts” get in the way.
And that’s ESPECIALLY true in education.
Spelling standards? Out the window!
Grammar? What’s that?
Tables mastery? Oh, so boring!
Automatic response? Why? We have calculators and iPads to do that!

Well, some of us think that this is a tragedy! A REAL tragedy.

We’re TRYING to do something about it through our website.

But, really and truly, it’s up to “the experts” to reverse the trends, to remedy their ways, to reform the curriculum so that it actually addresses some of the weaknesses that are so GLARINGLY OBVIOUS to anyone who cares to check.

SO . . . Good on McDonalds for training the teenagers working for them. For enforcing standards of work and efficiency and honesty and reliability and . . . I could go on!

May our schools take on some of the McDonalds attitudes and values. Not a popular thought, but a GREAT one!

Thanks, McDonalds!

Rote Learning — The old way, or the NEW way? A Mentor, please!

These days in schools, it’s cool to be cool.

It’s GREAT to be up with the latest IT, the software that promises so much.

But, DOES IT DELIVER?

So many valuable educational dollars spent on so much fantastic-sounding technology.

So many valuable educational dollars spent on the promise of software that will deliver great outcomes.

So few teachers who are in a position to capitalise on all this “promise” that surrounds them.

So, what is a school administrator to do?

Look good? Appear progressive with government and with peers?

Or SLOW DOWN, and bring along the teachers in an orderly, sensible, encouraging manner?

How about, then we all slow down, take a well-earned, much-needed educational “deep breath”, so that some of the proven teaching and learning methods of the past aren’t “lost” in the “promise” of the new, state-of-the-art technologies and hardware that at the moment seem largely a diversion, rather than a valuable teaching tool.

The old ways, like rote learning. Getting number facts and functional vocab into the long term memory of students.

Like, “automatic response” development, such as the teachers of old used to learn their tables, their spelling, their — lots!

And, how about we encourage each and every teacher to find their own teaching mentor — someone whom they trust, respect, “worship” and can easily learn from as they seek to improve their own teaching performance.

Too much to ask?

Too much NOT to ask!