The Smart Way to Teach Tables

May 2, 2018 4:15 pm Published by

As a fairly firm traditionalist I rejoice in today’s acceptance, albeit grudgingly, that old methods do work.

One of the most disturbing elements in the classroom over the past 50 years has been the arrangement of tables. In most cases up to ten children are sitting with their backs to the teacher. No eye contact and scant attention to a lesson unless the child opts to physically move his chair and tune in.

Recent studies have proved that formal rows, with chalk and talk front of class teaching, produces formidably excellent results and is favoured by many successful schools. What is more these schools, frequently with a policy of strict discipline, can provide a quiet and structured atmosphere. This both encourages and allows each child to achieve his best.

And note, the times tables, so long villified by ‘trendies’ are back. Now easily accessible memory is replacing frantic fingers and toes in the exam room. However this past week I have checked tables with two children in particular. One learned them the correct way chanting:

One two is two.

Two twos are four.

Three twos are six, etc.

She had chanted them over at home and in the car with her mum on the way to school. I tested all tables randomly and she was word perfect on each. The second child had learned up to the 6 times table by rote. The rest, for some reason, were learned 7, 14, 21 – 8, 16, 24 etc. The result was that all tables to the sixes could be tested, any table in random order and were perfect. The seven times and upward were not immediate responses and involved fingers each time. Chanting is the only sure-fire method for quick fire accurate recall.

Moving on now to the next group of phonics, these are sound groups which are actually words in themselves:

age, adage, stage, page, rage

old, gold, bold, fold, scold

ear, bear, clear, swear, spear

air, pair, fair, stair, lair

sure, measure, leisure, pressure, treasure

ice, spice, nice, rice, twice

ace, place, face, race, place

They are golden sounds which occur in so many English words. They can speed up reading enormously.

str, spl, scr, spr

These sounds, for me, do not really fall into the category of a phonic because they can each be sounded letter by letter. However, learning them as complete sounds helps reading fluency.

strand, stretch, splash, splish, scrap, scrape, spring, sprat.

Lastly a rule few people seem to know.

I call this the rule of ‘g’ and ‘c’.

When ‘g’ is followed by a soft vowel ‘e’ or ‘ i ‘ the sound usually becomes ‘j’ as in ‘giraffe’ or ‘gel’. Likewise when ‘c’ is followed by these soft vowels it often becomes ‘s’ as ‘ceiling, ‘cell’, ‘cill’.

The letter ‘y’ often acts as a soft vowel thus: ‘gyrate,’ ‘gym,’ and ‘cynic,’ ‘cyst.’

When the above sounds and rule are learned and added to the list so far, the following text should be fine.

‘Suddenly Leo was stretching his arms, feeling cramped and scrunched from having sat in one position for a time. In fact, the whole journey had taken less than three minutes and he was back and looking at Alice, Sinead and Lampyris who were staring at him as though he were an odd beast. After a moment he managed to explain the beauty that awaited them in the grotto which was only a short distance away. The girls were beginning to rally when, from a fissure in the rocks above them, came a mighty thwack! It split the air and sent a torrent of water bursting forth on the rock face near the ceiling. Tiny bursts of lightning zapped around it, increasing the pressure and causing it to widen with alarming speed.’

The above text includes only sounds learned so far. Ask your child to read to you every day.

Happy reading.

This is Teaching Post 15

Link to Teaching Post 16

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This post was written by Alonah Reading Cambridge

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