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

By Jenny Houssart | Go to book overview

8

Easy tasks, hard tasks, elastic tasks

The teacher was introducing multiplication of two-digit numbers by single-digit numbers using vertical format. The first example on the blackboard was 14×1. The teacher went through this, multiplying first the 4 by 1 and the 1 by 1. I was sitting next to Matthew, who had a whispered conversation with me about 'One times anything' and arrived at the answer 14 in a single calculation. Matthew was asked to go to the board and do the second calculation, 14×2, which he did correctly. As he came back to his seat, he said, 'Pips, mate.'


Introduction

This chapter differs from earlier chapters in that it deals with tasks not according to the way they are presented, but according to their level of difficulty. In this chapter I will describe the reactions of various children to hard work and to easy work. I will also describe some children working on tasks which were differentiated in various ways, or open in order to allow differing responses. The main finding of this chapter is that making work easy and repetitive was counterproductive for many children. There were instances where performances declined as tasks became easier and instances where harder work engaged children. Although making the work harder sometimes had positive effects, there were also occasions when the work presented considerable difficulties for some children.


Background

Differing needs

Central to discussions about ease of work and selecting work for pupils is the idea that individual pupils have differing needs and in

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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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