Maths Star’s brand new Level 5 Mathematics Pack is now available to download!

July 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

The level 5 maths pack covers 36 all-important topics aimed at students in Years 5 and 6 at school. The 36 topics have been chosen to relate to the 11 Plus maths topics, so they are a perfect revision aid for the exams. They also build important SATs skills and help to revise all the different areas of maths that are likely to appear in Year 6 SATs tests.

Each topic has a full and detailed explanation with exam reminders, followed by a series of practice questions. At the end of the pack are 7 revision sheets that students can use during their final week before the exam to brush up on their skills.

You can choose to have the pack emailed to you or you can pay extra to have it printed and posted to you. Emailed versions will be attached to your confirmation email. Posted versions will be with you within 5 working days. If you have any questions or have problems with your order, please contact us at mathsstaruk@gmail.com

Click here of list the topics covered in this pack

Our new Level 5 Maths Pack is designed to help your child with 11 Plus topics
The pack contains worksheets & answers covering 36 topics and 4 revision sheets

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Brightspark Education Review 2 – The Lessons!

February 5, 2011 § 1 Comment

Online lessons can cause some controversy – the idea of learning online makes people very skeptical. But . . . you don’t know unless you try! So, I gave it a go and had 2 lessons with Brightspark Education.

SOFTWARE and SETUP
I have worked with the idea of online teaching for a few years now and I know how difficult it can be getting it set up. Unfortunately, no matter how good your software is, it can’t account for parents that are not too good with a computer! But, I must admit that Brightspark’s set up was very easy to use. I did not have any problems with the sound (it was very easy to adjust the audio settings) and the writing tools were easy to use. I’m sure that most children would not have any problem using them. Attending a session was also very easy. I just made sure I had Flash installed, logged in to my account and clicked a button! The instruction manual I received when I booked made it all very hassle-free.
Overall: 9 out of 10!

THE TEACHERS
I had two different teachers in my two lessons. My first teacher was “Jack”. As you may know, all of Brightspark’s tutors are in India, so Jack had an Indian accent! He was, however, very easy to understand. He was fun to learn from and made sure I was confident in the topic. My lesson was mean, median and mode, but when I said I wasn’t too good at division, he opened up a new whiteboard and went over it with me, then we continued with the lesson. He was full of praise and was always putting up fun pictures of smiley faces and clapping hands when I got things right – just what children want and need. My second teacher was a little less inspiring (I can’t even remember her name!) but that could have been the topic (we’ll get on to that in a minute!). She was, however, clear and easy to understand.
Overall: 8 out of 10 (10 out of 10 for Jack!)

THE CONTENT
First Lesson: Mean, Median, Mode and Range. This was great. There were presentations to teach the different parts of the lesson, followed by lots of different example questions I could try.
Second Lesson: Congruent Figures. This was a bit boring! The problem here seemed to be a lack of material, as after about 10 minutes, we had exhausted the resources and the teacher spent the rest of the time making up questions . . . that were all the same and very boring! It certainly wouldn’t have captured a 10 year old’s imagination! This is an issue that can be easily fixed though and I am sure that if a child was having a real problem with the topic, it would take longer.
Overall: 5 out of 10

All in all, I was very impressed. Of course, I only saw a small amount of what they can do, as they cover a wide range of ages and topics. However, from what I did see, it would definitely be worthwhile for children that need a more interesting tuition method! Watch this space for my third and final review – coming soon!

Is Your Brain a Lefty or a Righty?!

January 24, 2011 § 2 Comments

Have you ever wondered why people who enjoy maths don’t tend to enjoy English and vice versa? I often hear parents who are worried because, “Johnny’s very good at English, but he needs help with his maths.” I am, of course, very reassuring and say that it is often the case that people have a preference towards either maths or English . . . but I have never experienced it myself. So, I started wondering whether maybe I’m a bit . . . odd!

Having looked into it, you can actually get different “modes” of thinking. This apparently depends upon which side of your brain you have a preference towards. And so we get to the question of lefties and righties! What is the difference?

LEFT BRAIN – People with left-brain thinking are rational, logical and analytical
RIGHT BRAIN – People with right-brain thinking are inuitive, subjective and creative

So, basically, right-brain thinkers are more likely to favour a creative approach to problem solving and focus on art and feelings, which are conducive to a literary mind. Meanwhile, left-brain thinkers are more likely to have an analytical approach to problem solving and focus on reason and logic, obviously making it much easier to grasp mathematical concepts.

Both types of thinkers are equally intelligent, but unfortunately schools tend to favour left-brain modes of thinking, meaning more creative thinkers often get left behind. We see this in the eleven plus exams, where very often it is mathematics and reasoning skills that are tested rather than literacy skills. Perhaps it is time to bring more creative teaching into the classroom to develop a better “whole-brained” approach to learning.

As for me, I’m just one of those people who is able to use both sides competently – something I think was gained by a good mix of genes and plenty of mixed brain training! So, go on, get your left and right brain hemispheres talking!!

What To Do With The Kids When It Snows – Build a Snowman!

December 1, 2010 § 2 Comments

Are you snowed in with snowhere to go?! Me too!

The worst part about it is if you have children. There is only so much time they can spend splattering you with snowballs, building countless snowmen and throwing themselves off of a sledge at high speeds! (Okay, yes I enjoy all that too!) It can be all-too-tempting to plonk them in front of the telly with a stack of Disney films while you try and get on with things, but why not get them to spend some of their time on some educational games? (You don’t even have to mention the educational bit!)

Try Primary Resources for some lovely festive learning tools, cleverly disguised as drawing and colouring activities! Or if you fancy something a bit more maths-based, why not visit Maths Star’s site for all sorts of free maths worksheets.

And the best game I found today was building a snowman without having to go out in the cold!!! – Build a snowman

Have fun everyone!

Brightspark Education Review 1 – Is it a Bright Idea?!

November 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Brightspark Education are a company specialising in online maths tuition. There have been mixed reviews . . . especially because of their maths tutors being in India.

However, I like to keep an open mind about these things. Although I am a traditionalist and hold very much to the idea of the ‘good old days’ of marks for spelling and punctuation and learning from textbooks, I firmly believe that we need to move with the times and provide varied teaching methods that will engage the students. And nothing engages students more these days than a computer screen!!

So, I was very excited when I was approached by Brightspark and given the opportunity to try out their tuition process. I haven’t actually had any lessons yet . . . that bit is coming soon! However, I am already very impressed by the resources that they make available for their students. With Brightspark, you don’t just get tuition lessons; you get a whole range of resources and mini tests that you can utilise! This means that the students have work they can do at home before or after their sessions to consolidate their learning.

There is an easy-to-use booking system and they provide you with a very detailed and helpful manual to make it as easy as possible for their clients. Not to mention that there are reduced rates for brothers and sisters!

Helping children with their maths is not just about doing a tuition lesson every now and then. They need to then practice what they have learnt in order to fix it firmly in their minds. So the provisions that Brightspark make are invaluable.

So far, so good! Coming soon: I will be trying out their lessons and the review will follow!

Make Learning Fun!

November 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Let’s face it, getting children to do their homework can be hard enough, let alone trying to help them learn with you at home! Often, children can find plenty of other activities to distract them at home and often it can be a frustrating experience.

The problem is that the idea of “learning” with Mum or Dad just isn’t appealing! So instead, why not make it “playing” with numbers?! There are so many games and activities available online for children of all ages. For younger children, there are magnetic numbers, chalk boards, play money, colourful clocks and lots of other learning based toys available. If your child is struggling with learning money, why not try a toy cash till so they can pretend to be the shopkeeper. Tiddlywinks is a great game for helping learn number skills . . . whilst having lots of fun! Number bingo is excellent for helping with times tables.

The fact is, learning isn’t always about homework and worksheets. While worksheets are important learning tools, try to mix in a little fun . . . It will make teaching your child so much easier!

For some great online games, try the Woodlands Junior Maths Zone then back it up with a worksheet from Maths Star!

What Do National Curriculum Levels Mean?

November 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Here in the UK, the educational system is managed by a series of national curriculum levels. Unfortunately, they can often be very confusing, with numbers and letters all over the place! However, it is important to have an understanding of them in order to judge your child’s progress. There are 8 main levels, then they are followed by the letters a, b or c. But what do the letters in national curriculum levels mean?

c – this is to show that a child has only just started to work at this level, so has yet to grasp all of the concepts contained within that level
b – this means that a child is working comfortably within the level
a – this indicates that a child has reached the top of the level and is ready to move on to the next level

The next question is how to know when a child is working at the correct level. Often, parents know their child’s levels but they don’t know whether this means they are average, above average or below average. The basic rules in the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum Levels are:

By the end of Year 2 – A child should be at a level 2 in order to be in the average band
By the end of Year 3 – A child should be working somewhere between level 2a and 3b in order to be in the average band
By the end of Year 4 – A child should be working at a level 3 in order to be in the average band
By the end of Year 5 – A child should be somewhere between level 3b and 4c in order to be average
By the end of Year 6 – A child should be working at level 4 in order to be in the average band
A child who gets a level 7 at the end of Year 9 is often projected to get a Grade C in their GCSEs, but of course this will vary.

How many levels should a child be progressing by each year? Well, the target set is to go up a whole level every 2 years, so each year your child should be progressing by 1.5 sublevels.

When it comes to maths, the national curriculum is separated into different teaching attainments:

Attainment 2: This is the section called Number & Algebra, which covers operations and problem solving
Attainment 3: This section is Shape, Space and Measure, which covers topics such as area, volume and time
Attainment 4: This section starts at Key Stage 2 and is called Handling Data. It includes graphs and charts

For further information on maths curriculum levels, go to: National Curriculum Website

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