To cut a long story short these are the conclusions I have come to since that post:
- ‘Catch up’ intervention has to be done outside English and Mathematics lessons. Otherwise you are creating gaps in learning through missing parts of those lessons to do the catch up.
- TAs do not need to run the intervention. There are quality computer packages out there that can.
- Those packages are Times Table Rockstars (TT Rockstars) and Number Gym.
So what is special about them?
Whilst I think it is important for children to have enough time to practice tables and number facts, in my experience if that is all that happens then those children with good working memories already ‘achieving’ commit those facts to memory quickly and those that were already struggling, still struggle.
So lets take a look at them. In this post we will look at:
Number Gym have several products, the 2 of which relate to Number Facts (Bond Builder) and Times Tables (Table Trainer). Both products follow a similar structure. You have a wheel of numbers related to what is being learnt with a question in the middle you drag to the correct number in the wheel. Simple and effective. It also gives an extra layer of support for children rather than just chucking up questions. In other words, in Table Trainer in particular, children can count in that table using the wheel of numbers as a prompt, until this is committed to long term memory. This in itself sets Number Gym apart from pretty much all other packages.
Whilst you can find packages that might look a little more cutting edge, the pedagogy Number Gym is built on is sound. With the questions (or cards) being dragged to their answer and if not correct, left ‘in the pile’ for the child to try again, plus the wheel, plus inverse operations — key for developing conceptual fluency of both number facts and tables, Bond Builder and Table Trainer give more ‘on screen’ support than anything else I have found for learning these key areas. And I’ve tried a lot! I’ve only touched on the features here, there are lots more, including stats for users and off line stuff as well.
The admin area is extremely simple to set up and children only need to remember their username (which can be set by the teacher) after initial login. You can access via computer or purchase one of the specific iPad apps and hook it up to your school account. So it’s flexible in getting maximum use from whatever home tech there is for your children. It’s definitely worth investigating and it’s become a crucial tool for us in developing number facts and times tables.