I’ve seen how a few different classes and schools are using these songs to teach the times tables, and I’ve picked up a few good tips:
- Get the children up and dancing! St Michaels year 3’s added a great bit of choreography to Roar where they all crouched and pounced like a lion during the chorus. Great fun and it gets everyone laughing. Plenty of research has shown that laughter releases dopamine into your brain, which turns on the learning centres and makes the brain more productive
- Children need to practise zoning in on the relevant lines of the song. At the moment it can take some of the lower attainers nearly a full minute to answer 9 x 7 – they sing the whole song, including the non-vocal riffs, and it takes a while to get to the higher numbers! I’d like to get children answering a sum by only singing 2 or 3 lines of the song. For example, for 9 x 7 they could sing “49… 8 times 7 is 56… 9 times 7 is 63”. With practise they would zoom into a smaller and smaller segment of the song, and eventually fix the individual times table fact in their memory. Maybe a pipe dream?
- The songs don’t work on their own. They’re great for getting children motivated, they’re great as a memory aid, but they’re best used as part of a repertoire of strategies. I have watched classes where children are also shouting them back in a military drill style exercise, writing them on whiteboards, extending the 8’s to the 80’s and the 0.8’s, and so on. I’d also like to get children examining the patterns of times tables on hundred grids, using Dienes cubes and various other strategies. Relating the patterns to the number bonds of 10 could be an interesting investigation and powerful in linking together different strands of maths.