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:
Times Table Rockstars (TT Rockstars)
At first glance it looks like other packages already out there like Sumdog or Manga High but scratch away the surface and underneath you find a clever little system that really works at supporting those children who struggle with recall as well as those who excel.
You can set multiple schedules and assign children (Rockstar) to a schedule. So you can have children who are only shown 2 x table questions whilst some have a mixture of 2, 5 and 10 whilst others have 3 x table questions. You can change the schedule and add and remove children at any time.
You can chose to play on your own to practice (and win cash to spend on your rockstar) or play against other children in class or around the world. Depending on the game mode, you can have your questions restricted to those set in the schedule or not.
You can also click on your band (class) and view how they are doing as a class or individually. The greener the square the more correct answers they have had, the redder, the more incorrect. So for this Year 3 child, you can see they are pretty solid on their 2s, 5s, 10s and 3s. They are pretty good with their 4s but when presented as 7x4 rather than 4x7 they are less strong and their 8s need some work. I can then use these to create a schedule that reflected this.
There are always new features being added, including a soon-to-be-released data snapshot where you can view how frequently and for how long the package is per class and as a school, the accuracy of questions answered and the % reaching TT Rockstars’ age related expectations. We are still early into our adoption so it is really great for me to pin point which classes are using well and which haven’t even begun yet. This was also taken today (August 3rd) so stats are down as children have been on less since school broke up.
The shot below, for example, shows my class’ % at age related expectations (blue) compared with the average and maximum achieved on any day in the last weeks of the Summer Term.
The fact that the package is purely focused on Times Tables development works in its favour as it doesn’t try bolting on other features that increase cost without direct benefit. Having said that, the idea of a compatriot package (The Velvet Revolver to Guns n Roses — if you will) focusing on Number Bonds would be immense.
In short, getting this package is an absolute no brainer. It’s value for money personified. Did I mention the children love it? They do.
It also boasts a very receptive ‘front man’ (who really knows his Maths inside out) masquerading as Baz Wynter on Twitter.
It’s also worth mentioning as an administrator that it is by far the fastest system we use (or have ever used) where you are required to do ‘end of year switching over to new classes’. Bonus Points awarded.