It’s report season! - 10 Facts That All Parents Must Know Before Reading Their Child’s Report

Welcome back to Creating A Learning Environment. I can not believe that it is nearly the end of Term 2. Where have the last 6 months gone? The end of a Semester, means a very busy time for teachers. This is the time where teachers use all their observations and assessments to provide a formal document about each child in their class, to reflect on what that child has learnt and developed over the two terms.

This blog will look into the world of “grading” for reports and give parents information about what they need to know before they even open their child’s report.

New South Wales Primary schools send student reports home twice a year. The first one being at the end of Semester 1 (End of Term 2) and the second one at the end of Semester 2 (End of Term 4). The report’s aim is to give parents information about their child and give the parent an understanding of whether their child is meeting benchmarks for their age.

Reports can cause a lot of mixed emotions for many households. It can be a time of celebration of a child’s achievement or a realisation that your child is struggling to meet the expected level of a particular grade. With all situations, reports need to be used as a conversation starter between you and your child and between you and your child’s teacher.

Below is a list of 10 facts that all parents need to know before they read their child’s report.

1. The Board Of Studies - What is a KLA?

BoS%20Logo[1]The Board of Studies is the governing body for the implementation of teaching and assessing of students in NSW. They are responsible for setting the core curriculum that is being taught in schools and regulates how much time is allocated to the teaching of each KLA (Key Learning Area). A Key Learning Area is a term used to name a particular area of study.  There are 6 KLA’s in Primary School. They are English, Mathematics, Human Society and Its Environment (History), Science, Creative Arts and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education. Some schools may have the addition of Religious Education as their seventh KLA. All these KLA’s need to be assessed by a child’s teacher and a child is given a grade for each of these KLA’s on their reports.

2. Time allocation for each KLA

KLAsSchools are restricted to how much time they can allocate to the teaching of each KLA. Teachers must assess each child for each KLA in the allocated time per week. In Primary school the time allocations are; English (25%-35%), Mathematics (20%), Science (6%-10%), HSIE (6%-10%), Creative Arts (6%-10%), PDHPE (6%-10%) and additional time for Religious Education, assemblies etc (up to 20%). As a general guide 6%-10% is usually 1.5 - 2.5hrs in a typical teaching week. Many infant classes use combined units to incorporate a few KLA’s in the one learning experience.

3. Stages in Primary Education

children readingThere are 4 stages in Primary Education. Early Stage 1 is Kindergarten, Stage 1 is Years 1-2, Stage 2 is Years 3-4 and Stage 3 is Years 5-6. There are many different types of schools within NSW. Some schools operate in year groups and some schools operate in stage groups. Some schools operate in single classrooms while others have open learning (a few classes work in their own space in a large room). All students are different and they thrive differently in different environments. All schools are bound by the same curriculum, time allocation for teaching each KLA and grading responsibilities, however, schools can chose the best way to deliver the teaching and learning experiences to their students.

4. Outcomes

teacher assessingEach KLA has outcomes that address a particular concept in the area of study that is related to what stage level the child is at. Teachers assess whether a child has not achieved, achieved or has gone beyond each outcome at the particular stage of each KLA. A teacher must look at the child’s achievement across all the outcomes in a KLA that have been taught and then communicate that to the parent and child in the form of a grade for that KLA. An example of a Kindergarten outcome in Mathematics is “Counts to 30, and orders, reads and represents numbers in the range 0 to 20″

5. Kindergarten grading

reading 1Kindergarten is the only grade in Primary school that does not have “Grades”. Teachers generally communicate a child’s achievement in relation to them achieving an outcome or working towards an outcome. This is their first year at “formal schooling” and being it is its own stage, grading does not commence until the children move into Stage 1.

6. What does a “C” mean?

Grade AThis is an area that causes the most stress to parents as the meanings of grades have changed a lot since they went to school. Most parents want their child to receive an “A” but many parents do not realise how difficult it really is to receive an “A”. A “C” is given to a student who is meeting all the requirements of that stage level. They are able to work efficiently in the classroom and achieve all benchmarks at that stage. Most students, as a result, will receive a “C”. Even though some parents are not happy with their child’s “C” for a KLA, it actually informs them that their child is doing exactly what they are meant to be doing.

7. How a teacher grades

assessmentsGrading is not an easy task. Many students can be on the border line of two grades. Two students could receive a “C” for a KLA but one could actually be a high C (nearly a B) and the other could be a low C (just higher than a D). Even though each grade could have such a big spectrum this is not written on the report. A teacher must use all the assessments completed, written evidence in work books and their own observations to give one grade for an entire KLA. They must look at everything that has been taught during the Semester and the contribution that the child has made to group tasks, individual tasks, projects and class discussions to get an overall achievement level.

8. Student’s strengths

littleboyParents may find a grade unjust for their child if their child may be particularly gifted in an area of that KLA. For example, If a child is a particularly gifted skier and they receive a “C” for PDHPE, their parent may believe that this grade is not a reflection of their child. What the parent does not realise, is that within each KLA there are many strands that need to be taught. In PDHPE there are several strands. All health modules, Dance, Gymnastics, Games and Sports, and Active Lifestyle. This child may be gifted in Skiing but that is only one sport out of many that may or may not be taught within the school. They may achieve at a “normal” level with all other sports and their understanding of the theory component associated to PDHPE, so their average grade for all areas of PDHPE is a “C”. This is reflected in all KLA’s.

9. Report Comments

ParentsreadingReport comments can be particularly difficult for a teacher. They are restricted by how many characters they can write and also how they are allowed to describe different learning attributes of a student. The best advice I have for parents is LISTEN in your parent-teacher interviews. This is a time where teachers can go into more detail about your child and show you examples of your child’s work. They can suggest specific activities you could do at home with your child that targets your child’s area of weakness. Always attend the parent-teacher interviews as they usually offer so much more information than a grade on a paper.

10. Working out a plan

parentteacherPrior to reading a child’s report, a parent generally has a good idea of their child’s academic ability. If you have concerns about your child’s rate of development and reading their report supports your thoughts, speak to the child’s class teacher about it. Just because a child is struggling it does not always mean that they will struggle for the rest of their educational journey. Work out a plan with your child’s teacher about the next steps that you or the school will undertake to identify what your child’s additional learning needs may be. This could include going to a GP, having a speech or hearing assessment or having an observation survey completed by an OT or specialised teacher. Early intervention is the key, so the earlier you identify the extra needs of your child, the more success your child will have. Always book a date for the next meeting with the teacher in order to discuss what has been completed since the previous meeting.

Grades of an A,B,C, D or E enables parents to have a small insight into the academic abilities of their child. Teachers encourage parents to not use grades as the only way to judge their child’s success at school. They need to also think about their child’s social and emotional development as a factor in assessing a child’s “success” at school.

If your child has special needs and you and their teacher believes that “no benefit” will come from your child reading all “E’s” in their report, you can request to have a report with no grades and just comments. The special need’s teacher at your school can offer more information about this idea.

Reports cause a lot of stress for children, parents and teachers. Always remember to use reports as a way of starting communication with your child about their strengths and weaknesses at school. Try not to compare their grades with their peers or with other siblings. Use it to get your child to set some academic goals they want to achieve before the end of next Semester.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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20 Great Ways To Learn Multiplication Facts - Times Tables

Welcome to my second blog in my new series focusing on how to support the older child in Primary school. In this blog I share 20 great ways that can help children learn multiplication facts, or more commonly known as times tables.

Let me point out from the beginning, that before helping your child to remember multiplication facts, it is essential that they have an understanding of the concept of multiplication. Multiplication and division can be taught together as they are the opposite operations of each other. Children need to experience both operations together to gain a deep knowledge about the idea of multiplying and dividing.

It is important to expose your child to a variety of terms relating to multiplication so they have a greater vocabulary when it comes to mathematics. Below are examples of two concepts that can be used in multiplication problems.

“Groups of”

applesThis is when objects are placed in groups. You can multiply the amount of objects in one group by the amount of groups.

“Rows of”

imagesThis is when objects are placed in rows. You can multiply the amount of objects in one row by the amount of rows.

Children need to understand the both concepts above as well as knowing the terms multiply, times, product (answer to a multiplication problem) and factors (the numbers that are multiplied together).

Here are some strategies that your child may use to work out a multiplication problem (3 x 5=) before the facts become known. These are the strategies taught in younger years.

1. Repeated addition : 5 + 5 + 5 = 15   or   3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 15

2. Skip count: 5, 10, 15      or       3, 6, 9, 12, 15

3. Use a times table chart

4. Draw a picture  imgres-1

5. Draw an array

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Once the child has a clear understanding of multiplication, it is then time to learn all their facts. Most teachers set a particular times table per week that the children must revise. Below is a list of 20 ways to help children remember multiplication facts.

1. Memory Game

memoryWrite a multiplication question on one card and the answer on another. Do this for as many facts as you want. Turn all the cards over and your child needs to find the matching cards.

 

2. Nine times table trick up to times by ten.

9xtablesHave your child put all their fingers up. If the question is 9 x 6, they put their sixth finger down. The answer is shown on their fingers. The amount of fingers in front of the finger that is down is the tens number and the amount of fingers after the finger that is down is the ones number. Therefore the answer is 54.

3. Dominoes

dominoesTurn all the dominoes over. Take turns flipping the dominoes over and multiplying the two numbers. You can make it harder by flipping one domino over and adding the dots together and turning over another domino and adding those dots together. Then you could multiply the two higher numbers together.

4. Multiplication jumping

jumponanswerHave all the answers of a particular times table set (eg 5 times tables) written on different cards (or the facts that your child struggles with remembering). Spread them out on the floor. Call out a multiplication question, eg 5 x 6 and the child has to quickly find the answer and jump on it.

5. Dice roll

GridpaperPrint off some grid paper or use grid paper from a maths book. Roll two dice and draw the rectangle or square on the grid paper. Your child then writes the multiplication fact and answer inside the shape.

6. Egg Carton Multiplication

EggcartongameWrite the numbers one to twelve in each hole of an empty egg carton. Put two objects inside the carton and close the lid. Shake the egg carton up and open it. The child says the multiplication question and answer depending on what hole the objects are in. Eg 4 x 3 = 12

7. Karate belts

karatebeltsGet your child to pretend they are a multiplication ninja. In order to get their new belt they must be able to answer all their multiplication facts set on that particular belt. All the multiplication facts for a set (eg 7 times tables) must be in random order to avoid the child just skip counting.

8. Groups of

groupsofRoll the dice and record the multiplication fact using a “groups of” representation. They could do the same for a “rows of” representation (also known as an array).

 

 

9. Multiplies game

multiplesMake a card with a number in the middle. On the outside of the card put lots of different numbers (some multiplies of the number and some not). Your child then uses pegs to pick all the correct multiplies. You can list the correct numbers on the back of the card.

10. Multiplication Jenga

jengaWrite multiplication questions and stick on the side of slim building blocks. Stack the blocks up (3 going one way and then the next three blocks going the other way - just like Jenga) Your child takes time to slide out one of the blocks without knocking down the tower. They need to answer the multiplication fact on the block they got out.

11. Multiplication board game

MultiboardgameMake up a board game with multiplication questions on each square. If your child lands on a square they need to answer the question before they roll for their next go.

 

 

12. Multiply cut outs

numbermultisUse large number cutouts and a texta. Your child writes all the multiplies or multiplication facts associated with that number on the inside.

 

 

13. Number fishing

numberfishingUse magnetic numbers and a string with a paper clip on it. Your child puts the “fishing line” into a bucket with the magnetic numbers and “catches” a number. They need to repeat this to get a second number. They can then multiply the two numbers together.

 14. Multiplication Bingo

images-1Each child has a bingo card with numbers that will become the answers to multiplication facts. Play the game with one child or a few children. If playing with a few, make sure they all have different bingo cards. The caller reads out a multiplication fact and if the answer in on the card, the player puts an object on it. Once all numbers on the card have objects on it, the child can call out “Bingo”.

15. Multiplication Snakes and Ladders

imgres-2Play snakes and ladders with a twist. Each square will have a multiplication fact that the child must answer before they have their next go.

 

16. Multiplication soccer

dcac1bac36106350e19e6122ea144a6dWrite numbers all over a soccer ball. The child throws the ball up and catches it. They look at which numbers their thumbs are touching and multiply them together. If they get the correct answer they can shoot the ball 2 metres from the goal post. If they get it in the goal, they move back another 2 metres and answer a new multiplication fact. The aim is to get back as far as they can. If they get the answer wrong or miss the goal, they must start again. For every correct answer they move 2 metres further away from the goal.

17. Multiplication Battle Ships

images-1Use a battle ship card that has an x and y axis with numbers on each axis. Get each player to draw some battle ships that are 1 ship that is 3 squares long, 2 ships that are 2 squares long and 3 ships that are 1 square long (altogether there would be 6 ships). Each player takes turns to try and work out where the other players ships are without looking. They ask if there is a ship at 6  x 8  position as well as saying the answer. Always start with the y axis. The player puts a counter on successful hits. Whoever sinks all the ships first is the winner.

18. Pack of cards

imagesShuffle a deck of cards and split in half. Turn over a card from each pile and multiply them together. Jacks represent 10, Queens represent 11, Kings represent 12 and Aces represent 1.

19. Multiplication Songs

images-2There are a variety of multiplication songs out there. Get your child to listen to a song for each set of times tables. You can listen to these songs through youtube or buy a CD online.

20. Multiplication with Clocks

searchGet your child to look at the clock and state the numbers that the hands are pointing to. Multiply them together and say the answer. It would be great to use a clock where a partner can turn the hands to various numbers.

Hopefully these 20 ideas will help your children to be engaged and enthusiastic towards learning their multiplication facts. Knowing multiplication facts will help children solve mathematical problems. Ensure that your children have a solid understanding of multiplication before rote learning the facts.

Please share this blog if you have found it insightful and if you believe it offers practical information that your can implement at home or in the classroom. Remember to email a copy of it to yourself for reference later on.

Until next time …timestable

Kelly Pisani

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