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5 minutes of chanting / quick fluency practise to embed concepts


Effective ways to chant together:


When chanting it is easier if you have something to control the pace and rhythm – you can beat a drum, swing a toy, use a counting stick clap or use hand actions. Alternate these.


Teachers should set the speed and rhythm, but should go quiet to use AFL to assess and intervene. Children who are less confident should be given scaffolding to help them – for example, a times table square or a number line.


What maths works well with chanting?


• Counting

This is an obvious area and regularly used by teachers.  From counting on and back in 1s and 2s for EYFS, up to counting in 10s, 2s, 5s, 20s, 100s, 100s and even fractions and decimals for KS2.


There are a few ways to challenge your class once they have mastered a counting sequence by counting backwards and having different starting points.  Counting in 2s from 33 or in 5s from 7 makes it far more challenging. Children will slowly begin to see the patterns that emerge in each of these two sequences.


• Multiples and multiplication facts

Reinforcing the multiples of each times table is a helpful step towards remembering multiplication facts. This is most effective as revision to practise known facts in short sessions.


Repeating the multiples in order can be made more challenging by dividing the class in two, with each side saying alternate numbers. This is particularly good for x5 as it illustrates the patterns of the multiples ending in 5 and 0.


• Calculation chains

This will involve you giving a start number and instructions on the beats as well as having beats for the children to answer. So instead of the children chanting you will say ‘add 3’ or ‘double it’ and the children answer to continue the chain. Here is an example with the children’s responses in bold. For thigh, clap, snap, snap, the questions and answers are given on the ‘snaps’ or finger clicks:

3          add 5               8          subtract 2        6          times by 4       24        divide by 10


2.4       add 0.6            3          double it          6          add 4               10…


Always plan your calculation chain to begin with as it can be hard to listen to their answer and plan the next task within perhaps only 2 beats.  You can use whatever calculations you wish to focus on.


Teaching points

The advantage of the whole class chanting is that it allows children to join in when they are ready. Chanting together and having a joint answer allows everyone to learn in different ways. Look out for the following in your class:


The ‘goldfish’

These are the children that haven’t quite got the confidence to join in, but want to look like they are taking part. They will open their mouths but no sounds come out. They need your support so give them a nod or a smile when you notice they have started to join in properly. Scaffold for these children with prompts to help them.


The ‘echoes’

These children are listeners, they may not join in at all at first then gradually they will say the chant a second behind as they have listened to others to make sure the answer they have is correct.

How can you differentiate with class chanting?


Listening is part of learning and for children that are not joining in the chant as they don’t know the number sequence this may be a valuable learning opportunity – time to listen and learn. So don’t see the ‘goldfish’ and ‘echoes’ who are not confidently joining in as a problem, but do keep an eye on them and look out for their responses and scaffold appropriately. There will be times when extra support would be beneficial and this can be done by providing number lines, even with the jumps marked on if needed, a 100-square, a list of multiplication facts or any other resources that will help.


With ‘Calculation Chains’ there is more scope to differentiate than with number sequences. If your focus is adding a single digit to 2-digit numbers for example, taking it over the tens number will be a challenge and some children will miss that answer, however make the next two instructions ‘add 1’ and then ‘add 2’ and you can bring back in the whole class. Alternatively, you can throw in ‘subtract 30’ and bring the chant back into single digit numbers and then add into the teens to target the lower ability children. If you really want to wake up the able children in your class, add 0.5 or a 2-digit number. Then you can return to adding smaller numbers to bring everyone back in.


Altering the pace

One useful strategy to try when chanting is to alter the pace. You can slow the pace down to give the children that need it some thinking time and you can speed up the pace to challenge others. Most importantly mix it up, able children will be happy to chant slowly for a while if they know at some point they will be challenged to speed it up. Equally, as long as children have been successful at joining in for part of the chant, they will enjoy seeing everyone struggling (and probably giggling) to keep up with the faster pace.


Do It Now Task

The purpose of the Do It Now task is to consolidate previous learning:


This could be recapping on what was learnt the day before or a topic from a previous unit. This may not necessarily be needed for the current lesson but is a way to continually consolidate and revisit previously taught subject matter.


Do it now tasks should be completely independent for the majority of the class – this gives the teacher the opportunity to work with those children who cannot complete the Do It Now independently.


When pupils can remember their number facts and are fluent in number bonds to and within 10, the concept of place value, and multiplication facts, they can use a greater portion of their working memory space to add numbers, perhaps with fingers, is likely to encounter cognitive overload when coupled with new instruction.


New Learning 


New Learning – this introduces the main learning for the lesson, beginning by sharing the lesson’s key vocabulary with the pupils. This segment will require clear explanations and modelling of tasks to be completed throughout the lesson. Deliberate practice is practice which is both purposeful and systematic. It is a method of breaking down whatever task it is you want to improve on, into its core elements. Rather than practising ‘the whole thing’ you practise getting better at the individual steps in order to achieve your goal of improvement in ‘the whole thing’.


The opposite of deliberate practice is mindless repetition and feedback on your deliberate practice is key to helping you improve.


The 5 principles of deliberate practice are:

Isolate the skill

Develop the skill

Assess the skill

Final performance

Practise again later, so that this in not forgotten

An important through-line for the 5 steps is purposeful practice – pupils must understand why they are practising certain skills, and not simply repeating a task because they have been told to.


Language and vocabulary development:

Developing pupils’ language is an important feature of the way we teach Maths at Oakfield Primary Academy, taking turns and listening are important to children’s development. During this part of the lesson there may be opportunities to practise reasoning so pupils can practise applying the skills they have learnt previously, by discussing and reasoning mathematically.


Learning could be developed by introducing different resources, adding a problem solving element or encouraging further good language use following a Talk Task.


Talk Tasks and giving the children the sentence structures are hugely important for pupil’s at OPA – many of whom have English as an additional language.


Talk Task example: (Year 5)


LO: To investigate the relationship between perimeter and area.


Pupils are to use centimetre squared paper to draw different rectangles, including squares to explore the statements:

If the length of the rectangle is double the width then the area and perimeter will have the same value.

The area of a square will always have a greater value than the perimeter.

Examples can be found that will disprove both statements. Encourage pupils to produce other conjectures and investigate them.


We insist that all children speak in full sentences, often giving pupils scaffolded phrases to help them begin their phrases. In a Year 2 classroom, a simple exchange between teacher and pupil may go something like this:


·       Teacher: What is 5 multiplied by 6

·       Pupil: 30

·       Teacher: Full sentence please… 5 multiplied by 6… Can you use the correct vocabulary – check the Key Vocabulary.

·       Pupil: 5 multiplied by 6 is equal to 30.


The insistence on full sentences, with support to get children started creates a classroom ethos that empowers all children to talk meaningfully which, in turn, helps all pupils feel heard.


Mathematics does have a precise formal language which is distinct from our everyday language. It is important to know what these words mean when teaching maths. For example in maths a ‘product’ is not something you make or buy and a ‘sum’ is more specific than it seems. Insisting on the use of ‘key words’ – vocabulary that underpin the learning – helps lead to the use of precise language.


It is also important, however, to let pupils connect their own informal use of language to the more formal mathematical register. Once the words and scoffolded phrases have been introduced, pupils should use exploratory, often informal talk, in paired activities to get to grips with what they are learning. Teachers should listen to help their pupils refine their own definitions to avoid overlaying ‘correct’ explanations and definitions which can leave children with a disconnected, shallow understanding.



The plenary is used to reflect on learning, gather evidence for assessments and plan for future learning. It should sum up what the children have learnt during the lesson, consolidating all learning, addressing common misconceptions and pose a question for the next lesson.


Plenaries do not just come at the end of a lesson; they can happen throughout the course of a lesson when the teachers feels that a misconception has arisen that needs to be embedded or as a tool for AFL to check the children’s learning .