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Rolling Numbers

This September, I started at Trafalgar College in Great Yarmouth and my biggest push for the first week was to ensure that all Year 7s would be able to recite their times tables.

I did this through rolling numbers. This is something I learnt from my visit at KSA, and saw the successful implementation of whilst being at Michaela Community School.

Rolling numbers is a call-and-response chanting of times table facts while pupils are counting off on their fingers. The chants are catchy and funny. There are specific hand motions to each times table chant which allows pupil to distinguish between different times tables – also resulting in many pupils desperately wanting to roll certain times table chants over others.

What worked well?

Kids at Trafalgar College have been successful in learning their times tables. The most effective aspect of it all is the counting off on their fingers. Kids can now associate that 21 is the third multiple of 7. This goes above and beyond having kids just listing out all twelve multiples. This enables pupils to answer certain calculations easily. How did I know this? I could see an improvement in the time it took for pupils to answer times table questions when I would test them before or after my lesson.

The lyrical and rhythmic aspect of the chants really motivates pupils to get involved because it makes reciting times tables fun and exciting. They find the opening line the teacher chants “Team! Team! Good as Gold! Let me see your fingers roll…the threes” motivating because the team element gets the reluctant kids to take part. When I say “roll” the kids start rolling their arms. From the front it looks really impressive to see 32 kids rolling their arms and smiling. Why? Simply because they are having a great time!

What were the struggles?

There are some pupils who will really want to take part more so than other pupils. I did have a small population of pupils who were reluctant, and thought that the whole process was cringeworthy and unnecessary. However, I didn’t let those pupils opt-out. The process of learning your times tables is imperative. My Headteacher put it nicely that learning the times tables is equivalent to learning the alphabet before you learn how to write. I would motivate these reluctant pupils in a positive manner by reminding them that we are a team and that they don’t want to be the person who lets everybody down. If you take part then you will enjoy it. If you take part then you will be able to list off your times tables effortlessly. What really helped was picking the most enthusiastic pupil to stand at the front with me and chant the teacher part. This made reluctant pupils see how successful other pupils have been who took part and motivated them to get involved too.

Why did I push rolling numbers in my first week?

It helps kids learn their times tables, successfully. Kids go through school learning their times tables in a very touch and go fashion and by repeatedly rolling numbers on a daily basis it pushed all pupils across the ability spectrum to commit these facts to their long term memory. The chants are catchy. The kids love the physical movements because they are loud and dramatic. Most importantly, it has made learning something potentially mundane (as children may think) incredibly enjoyable.

Conception of the good Insights into our current education system Homepage About Rolling Numbers This September, I started at Trafalgar College in Great Yarmouth and my

Rolling Numbers

At KSA we practise times tables through rolling numbers (call-and-response chanting the times tables while counting off on our fingers as we go). The physical movement combined with the catchy chants help to energise the class, give us the chance to be loud in maths (that’s a good thing) and ultimately support faster recall of the times tables.

Here’s the Class of 2019 rolling numbers:

You can download the lyrics in a word document below. (BTW I didn’t make all of these up but I’m grateful to the people who did.)

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11 Thoughts on “ Rolling Numbers ”

Hello, this looks great. Is there a rationale behind doing the numbers in this order with 9’s starting off and 4’s last? Are there any nifty tunes for 2’s and 5’s also for the younger ones?
Thanks
Z en Suisse

The 9s seemed to be one that they had success with when I first started doing it, so I wanted to capitalise on that and begin with 9s. I felt that 2s and 5s were too easy and wanted to spend our time doing all the others. As for leaving 4s to last, it’s the most complex of all the rhythms so I left it to the end once we were confident on the others.

If you make one up for the 2s or 5s, let me know!

Successive changes to maths education in the UK has led to generations of mathsphobics and so my adult classes lack knowledge of the times. After watch Harriet Ball on youtube and seeing this they are inspired to get to grips with their tables. Thank you 🙂 Cath

Harriett Ball is in my teaching hall of fame. She inspired me a great deal as a teacher, particularly in the early days of setting up King Solomon Academy. I spoke to her on the phone once. She was incredibly passionate.

Regarding adult maths classes and times tables, I’d be happy to introduce you to another legend teacher I know who began Times Tables Rock Stars with her adult learners and one of them has gone on to be one of the website’s highest scorers. It’s transformed her self-efficacy and attitude to maths now that she’s started to feel successful. Let me know, and I’ll put you in touch by email. She works in Essex.

That would be amazing. Thank you 🙂

Thank you so much for sharing. I have always believed you need facts at your fingertips to have confidence in solving maths problems and performing calculation effectively. Always looking at ways to make it fun.
We have regular 1o minute tests with children working at their appropriate level in the same classroom. We have a timer running and the children note the time they finish within the 1o minutes. Doing their own paper, the aim is to get more marks and/or perform more quickly so the only challenge is for them to be better than last week. Marking can be a bit of a chore but i often group the workers so that they can mark them together themselves from an answer sheet for each test. Not their own papers tho! Once they find a particular set of tests easy, we add more tables, increase the number of questions or declare them LEARNT!

Rolling Numbers At KSA we practise times tables through rolling numbers (call-and-response chanting the times tables while counting off on our fingers as we go). The physical movement combined ]]>