Earlier I posted that scientists have shown how speaking out loud as you search for a missing item can increase the effectiveness and speed of the search, improving the cognitive process at the time.

I then realised this is a very similar technique to how I have been teaching pupils at Kip McGrath Ashford to learn their times tables.

Many pupils come to us and say they know their tables, either all or their 3’s or 8’s etc. The majority of pupils who believed they knew their tables either had to receit in order to get there, or were having to work them out (counting on mostly)

When we teach times tables I go through a simple series of steps. The first is that a pupil will write them down in their book in order i.e. 1×4=4, 2×4=8 etc At this stage they can do whatever they need to do to put in answers, counting on, fingers out.

Then when the answers have been checked they go onto our computer program, Insight, that throws out the questions in random order.

As they go through the questions they type in the answer if they know it. If they don’t know it I ask them to look up the answer in their book, and, this is now the geeky science bit, they repeat the question and answer, thus fitting in with what the scientists have just proven, it helps the pupils visualise and remember the answer.

When they have gone through it once on the computer, they get to repeat the exercise, either on the computer or from random order on a sheet. This time their book is closed. They are given a similar instruction, if they don’t know they look up the answer in the book, repeat the question and answer, and then to tick the questions they needed to look up. The ticking gives them some immediate feedback, to show them what they don’t know, and to see over a course of  couple of lessons the improvement.

Virtually all our students at primary school start of with their tables with us, they really are one of the key building blocks.

The wonderful thing now with our wonderful new program Insight is that they arrive log in to their unique work and get started. Their independence is great!

I’ve always known that the repeating back the question and answer was the important feature of my method, now I’m pleased that the science explains it.

The researchers claimed that speech could alter “ongoing cognitive (and even perceptual) processing in nontrivial ways” – effectively allowing us to concentrate better.

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