This blog provides some tips for KS1 teachers, although a lot of the ideas can be applied throughout Y1-6.
How to use Power Maths flexibly in KS1
Power Maths lessons have a coherent, regular structure that supports you in building up children’s understanding in a series of small steps. This is something most classes will need to build up to, rather than running in from a standing start at the beginning of Year 1. No doubt this will be all the more true in 21/22, after the interruptions to children’s Reception year.
This blog provides some tips for KS1 teachers, although a lot of the ideas can be applied throughout Y1-6. There will many teachers who already group children for practice, in which case hopefully it will be reassuring to see that this is expected and not because you’re doing it wrong!
Start by using the Practice Books in small groups
In most Year 1 classes, it won’t be realistic for the whole class to complete the Practice Book pages independently at the start of the year. Children will need to get used to direct teaching and recording answers in their own books. And, of course, this will set them up well for the rest of Primary school.
Small teacher-led groups are likely to be the best approach for independent practice. This format allows you to talk children through the question, discuss their ideas using manipulatives (often there will be manipulatives on the page as a hint), and guide them in representing their answer. (For instance, they can tell you the answer is 5, but they may need help writing 5 or knowing that they should colour in 5 apples.)
Go through the questions one-by-one with the group. You can mark their work / give feedback there and then. As children get used to the materials, the next stage could be for the small group to work through the questions at their own pace. The style of questions in Power Maths is quite regular, so children will get better at knowing what they need to do.
To facilitate small group work, you are likely to need some other activities as a carousel. A good way to do this is by turning a question from the Textbook into a game (usually Think Together Q3 will work well) and teaching this to children before you break into groups. For instance, look at the example below (p95 in Textbook 1A). You could teach children a game with a part-whole grid where one child puts in the whole using counters and the other children have to put in the parts. Or they could try this with beanbags and hoops. Base the practice on the key learning from the lesson.
Are there any other ways to use the resources flexibly?
Don’t be afraid to bring the Discover activity to life! Perhaps you could turn it into a game, or a role play. For instance, if the context is a teddy bear’s picnic, you could share out fruit between teddies in the class. Or could you find a toy rocket to launch for the lesson below? (Textbook 1A page 20).
The questions in the Textbook and Practice Book employ the principle of variation to build children’s understanding. You may sometimes feel that children need to do another question the same before moving on to the next one. Look at the progression of the questions beforehand and think through what is changing each time, and where you think children might get stuck.
If you need to, it should be quite easy to make up a similar ‘bridging question’ at the same level, (whether you present this with a Teaching Tool, on the board, verbally, marked in children’s books, or on a printed card...).
For some lessons you could consider a slightly different approach where you move backwards and forwards between the Textbook and Practice Book. If Think Together Q1 links well with Practice Book Q1, you could do the TT question together and then let children complete the PB question, then the same for Q2 etc. This works better for some lessons than others, but it is a possible way of making practice more independent in short bursts, as a way of building up independence.
Do you have a maths meeting or extra number skills session for daily fluency that is outside of the maths lesson? This is a really good idea if you can fit it in. You could use any Power Ups that you didn’t manage to use in the Power Maths lesson.
Take your time
Don’t forget there isn’t a Power Maths lesson for every lesson in the year. This slack in the plan is so that you can take more time where you need to, so that children’s understanding is secure. In any year group it is better to spend longer and allow children to master a topic, rather than rushing on to the next lesson. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do every question with every child. The important thing is that you’ve taken the time for children to master the key learning point.
In KS1 it will probably be all the more important to take your time, because children need to get used to the format as well as master the key learning. If using some of the ideas above means that a Power Maths lesson actually takes 2 lessons, e.g. for the first part of the year, that’s fine!
There will be unique challenges in the 21/22 academic year, so you may worry that you’re progressing too slowly through the curriculum. Remember there is a matching of Power Maths lessons to the NCETM’s ‘Ready to Progress’ criteria (see the main Planning page on ActiveLearn). If you can’t do every topic justice, this will help you focus on doing the most important topics really well.
Power Maths is designed to spark curiosity and excitement – why not for the teacher as well as the children?! I hope the ideas above are a useful reminder that you are free to take the carefully-sequenced and scaffolded resources, and turn it into a great lesson that fits the needs of your class.