Low Attainers in Primary Mathematics: The Whisperers and the Maths Fairy

By Jenny Houssart | Go to book overview

3

Mental work

Damian and Heidi were chosen to go first on the game known as 'shoot-out'. The two children stood at the front and the idea was that they were given questions to answer with the first to answer correctly winning and the other being out. One question was 2×6. Damian gave the correct answer of 12 and Heidi was out. Damian's next two opponents were children who were usually much more successful at maths than him. Despite this, he was faster than both of them in providing the correct answer to 1×6, then 2×6. A fourth opponent was chosen and the teacher repeated the question 1×6. Damian gave the incorrect answer of 12 and was out.


Introduction

This chapter deals with mental mathematics, which was a very prominent issue at the time the study was carried out. As the background section indicates, it is far from clear what counts as mental mathematics. I have included counting, recall of facts and mental calculation in this chapter. Calculation and other number work based on number aids such as hundred squares are dealt with in the next chapter. Although all the teachers took the current emphasis on mental work very seriously, they actually interpreted it in different ways. This chapter shows their different approaches and some commonalities. In particular, all the teachers put emphasis on recall of facts, particularly multiplication facts. This chapter indicates that considering the time spent on this, children still had difficulty in recalling facts, especially in less than favourable circumstances. It was also very difficult to say categorically which number facts the children knew.

-41-

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Low Attainers in Primary Mathematics: The Whisperers and the Maths Fairy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Children 8
  • 2 - Maths Talk 24
  • 3 - Mental Work 41
  • 4 - Number Equipment 57
  • 5 - Practical Work 74
  • 6 - Written Work 91
  • 7 - Calculators and Computers 109
  • 8 - Easy Tasks, Hard Tasks, Elastic Tasks 127
  • 9 - Assessment Tasks 145
  • 10 - Conclusion 163
  • Index 177
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