I have used the primary maths questions in Rising Stars Assessment Bank
with a group of children in Year 6 who are ‘more able’ in order to ensure more challenge. This resource has given me the flexibility to select the more challenging Year 6 test questions, in order to give the children practice for the SATs tests.
The first few sessions working with the group were focused on using mathematics questions linked to problem solving on the topics they have covered in class – algebra and fractions/percentages.
One of the strategies used with this group is paired work (a different partner each week). The children are able to talk through all of the questions and discuss how they will tackle them. It is a well-known fact that teaching someone else a concept shows you have a secure understanding. The children compare each other’s’ strategies and work on how to explain their reasoning clearly. Sometimes, this is most difficult for the strongest mathematicians as they go straight for a method. Other children who may not naturally be as strong mathematically look at the problem more logically. We often break questions down into meaningful real-life situations – for example, relating fractions to pieces of pizza! There is a focus on looking at more than one strategy for each question and the children model this to each other on the interactive whiteboard.
My aim is for them to teach each other – the best way to see if someone has really understood is through dialogue, not just ticking answers. The ultimate goal is for them to understand it so well that they can explain and teach their method to others.
The questions in Assessment Bank were easy to select and collate. The presentation of the questions sheet is good – I like the fact that they do not have meaningless pictures with them. The questions are well written and I have found that the children can interpret them easily. With our old test builder, I would always spend ages changing the size of the images, deleting some and getting the questions to fit on a smaller number of pages. Assessment Bank is economical in terms of how many questions can fit on a page – and it leaves enough room for working out. It is also a time saver for a busy teacher!