Over the last couple of weeks, we have been adding new routines to our classroom. Setting up new classroom routines takes time at the beginning – as students need to know why they are doing it, be aware of how it is done and clearly understand what they have to do on a regular basis. Making instructions explicit and checking each step is time intensive at the beginning, but saves a lot of time in the long run.
This week we started our ‘Mental Maths’ routine.
Mental Maths is a simple routine where the students answer 10 daily questions about number. The questions can be answered by ‘thinking’ in their heads (mentally) without the need for paper and pencil.
This routine allows students to maintain and practice a variety of skills with number and numeration including (but not restricted to):
- identifying counting sequences
- identifying the missing number in a counting pattern
- numbers before/after
- one or ten more than / less than
- various representations of numbers including 10’s frames, Base 10 blocks, number words
- counting money
- identifying missing addends or parts of addition
The routine requires students set up their books, write answers to questions that are projected on the board and correct their book – but also be ready to discuss strategies they used. The most important part is ‘marking’ or correcting the answers, as it is a valuable opportunity to discuss alternative ways of working out. At the end, they record their results on a graph.
Most students love doing this bit best of all!
Although the questions were ‘easier’ this week, this was a conscious decision as its important for the students to experience some success when learning a new routine.
Here is some of the feedback students gave:
- ‘It makes me smarter’
- ‘I like how you can see your results’
- ‘Can we do this every day?’
- ‘It helps me practice math’
- ‘It helps me study’
- ‘I like checking’
- ‘This helps my brain’
- ‘It’s fun!’
- ‘I get better every time!’
Suggestions largely centred around:
- ‘Can we do this every day?’
- ‘Can we keep going?’
- ‘Can we make the questions more challenging?’
So it looks as though Mental Maths is here to stay for a while in 2C!
In 2C we have been building our way up to using our Spelling Journals meaningfully over the last month! Too often in traditional classrooms, students learn lists of words for homework for a spelling test on Friday, only to forget these words in their own writing!
As remembering and writing words in standard English in our writing is the ultimate goal – we have a few different components that work together to make up our spelling programme.
When drafting (or writing), students are encouraged to get their ideas down on paper. Rather than getting stuck on mechanics that interrupt the ‘flow’ of ideas, students underline the word so it can be fixed up later. When editing their writing, students may find other words requiring closer attention.
Sometimes when editing, students fix up their spelling errors on the page or they can use their ‘Have-a-go’ book. This is where they transfer the tricky word and have another go at spelling it. This puts the onus or responsibility for solving the word on the child, rather than relying on an adult or any other ‘walking dictionary’. After students have ‘had-a-g0’ the teacher then checks the word.
At the beginning of each week, the students choose 5 words from their have-a-go book, their high frequency word pre-assessment or even unit vocabulary to learn. Each list is specific to every child, and consists of words they have chosen to learn. This small step or consideration has a huge impact on motivation!
On the following days, there are 3 main parts to our ‘Spelling Journal Routine’. The students independently practice their 5 words with:
- Look, Say, Cover, Visualise, Write, Check – students use their senses to reinforce the sequence of letters in the word.
- Spelling Activity – students choose and complete an activity that focuses on various aspects of the words eg vowel sounds, syllables, letter shapes, rhymes or repeated practise in a novel way.
- Buddy Test – the student is tested by a buddy on a whiteboard. Their buddy checks and records which words were correctly spelt.
After 3 days of practice, the student transfers words that they’ve spelled correctly on all 3 occasions to their known word bank on a ‘Words I know’ sheet.
Students are enjoying the security of a routine, but also the element of choice and working by themselves and with a partner. They are also learning a lot about word features through the activities. Ask your child about – Rainbow writing – it’s already a big hit!