A set of 10 question cards that are suitable for Years 4 to 6. Each card focuses on an aspect of maths and consists of 5 questions, each getting progressively more difficult. A set for each group of between four and six children is required. The activity takes 10 to 15 minutes from start to finish.
How can I involve all my children in my starters? Some of them just sit there and don’t join in!
In observations around the school and in my own lessons, there was a growing awareness that in oral and mental starters in particular, it can be difficult to differentiate effectively to cater for the variety of attainment levels within the class.
So I wanted something that would focus on mental maths skills, but that could be used for all attainment groups and would ensure that all children were involved and mathematically active through out the session. In addition I wanted them to have fun, be motivated and enthusiastic about participating. In addition if it could be done independently of the teacher, it would allow for effective observation and assessment.
What I did:
As an oral and mental starter, with my Year 5 children, I introduced a game which I called “QuizMaster”. I divided the children up into mixed ability groups of about 5 or 6. One child in each group was given the pack of 10 cards and the title of “Question Master.”
In the first session, I chose a child who lacked confidence in mental maths for each “Question Master” as I hoped having the questions and answers in front of them would be empowering. I was really happy with the way this went, the ‘Question Masters’ were so enthusiastic! Each card focused on a particular area of mathematics, including addition, subtraction, doubles, time, and square numbers.
Initially Simon found it hard to ask the questions and score at the same time. He persevered and gradually found it much easier
The “Question Master” chose a card and asked the questions beginning with the first one and finishing with the fifth. They kept a score for each person in the group.
A point was awarded to whoever answered first and correctly. Question one on each card was fairly simple and everyone had the ability to answer it and then each question got progressively more difficult so the more able were being challenged too. For example on the “Double These Numbers” card we started with double 7 but by question 5 they were asked to double a 4 digit number – 4,618.
I was able to walk around and make observations, focussing on the mental agility of individual children, which gave an insight into their true potential. I noticed that some children took slightly longer but were more accurate in their calculation than others who rushed to get an answer and were incorrect. The latter then started to double check before answering as they were keen to get the point.
I was really pleased that all the children were eager and involved. It was at the beginning of a new academic year and was a great opportunity to see exactly what the children were capable of. It became evident that Charlie, a child with severe ASD, who was normally disaffected and at times found it difficult to access the maths, was actually capable of rapid and accurate mental mathematical calculation.
I wonder how those children who have difficulty thinking quickly when under pressure coped?
After about 5-8 minutes I stopped the children and each group identified their “Champion of the Day”.
The second part of the game consisted of the “Champions of the Day” competing against each other, with me as the “Question Master”. In order to keep the others involved, they were given the chance to answer on behalf of their own “Champion” if any answer given was incorrect. These children were allowed to use their whiteboards to work out the answer as for most of them the questions were beyond their mental maths abilities but I still wanted them to feel involved and able to participate.
After 3-5 minutes “Champion” with the most points becomes “QuizMaster” for the day.
“QuizMaster” is now a regular part of our maths lessons. The children love it. It’s pacey, challenging and fun. We have maths straight after morning break and it helps to really focus them quickly as they know the time they have to play the game is limited to around 5 minutes. There are regularly cries of, “ Yesss! QuizMaster!” when they spot the cards on the tables.
At times I have been truly amazed and delighted at just how capable some of the children are. In Year 5, the more able demonstrate that they can work out the square of numbers up to 50 or double 4 and 5 digit numbers in seconds. I can really see evidence of their mental calculation improving and perhaps more importantly they have increased confidence with mental maths. Sometimes they surprise themselves and the rest of the class with what they can do.
Does this game have a positive effect on the children’s self esteem?
I would like to try to build in some time to ask the children what calculation strategies that they were using, but am conscious that this would delay the game and the quiz element is so important. I will need to find a way of doing this.
What would be the best way to do this?
As a resource I have now adapted it for use with different age groups. It’s quite easy and quick to add cards and/or sets of cards. For example I have used it to improve the speed of recall of the Year 3 SEN maths groups working on number bonds to 10.
I have produced question cards to extend gifted and talented groups and have tailor made sets of cards to support learning and understanding on a particular topic of maths such as area and perimeter, characteristics of 2D shapes, angles and so many more.
I’ve worked with KS1 groups producing cards of only 3 questions linked to single digit addition etc. The potential is huge and while they still enjoy playing the game, I’m happy to take advantage of it as an effective resource.