TT Rock Stars positively impacts children's learning at Crosshall Junior School!
Introducing another Showcase! In these extra-special case studies, we’ve been putting our awesome teachers in the spotlight to share their advice, experiences and thoughts.
Next up is Liam Murphy (Rock Star name: Delroy Dylan), an Assistant Headteacher at Crosshall Junior School in St Neots who has co-written this case study with fellow Assistant Headteacher, Dan Ainscow. Liam’s school has been using Times Tables Rock Stars since the autumn of 2016, and a member of the Entourage Programme since it’s foundation earlier this year. Since April 2020 and April 2021, Liam’s Year 4 classes have an average best Soundcheck score of 20/25. In total they have answered 1781 questions correctly! During the same time period, the average studio speed of the whole school is an impressive 2.12 seconds! It’s safe to say that they are doing something right! So, without further ado, here is what Liam Murphy has to say about TT Rock Stars:
Case Study written by Liam Murphy and Dan Ainscow.
Even before the introduction of the Multiplication Tables Check, we have been clear about the benefits of children having rapid recall of multiplication and division facts and the impact of this knowledge across the mathematical curriculum. During Key Stage One, they are introduced to times tables and develop their ability to recall these facts. However, as a junior school, there is a change for our Year Three pupils in how we support them with further developing their times table knowledge. To support this we have, over the years created our own in-house systems, particularly in Years Three and Four. These involved children progressing through times table practise, assessments and resulting rewards at their own pace. However, we are always looking to improve this and, so we first looked into Times Tables Rock Stars in January 2014 and have been utilising it across all four of our year groups since autumn 2016.
We have found the platform to be very engaging for the vast majority of pupils. We generally use the online platform both in school and at home. The fact that it works across all the main platforms and computer web browsers means it is available on all our school devices for use during the school day and for the majority of pupils at home. The children enjoy the rock ‘theme’ of the site and especially the option to use their rewards to ‘buy’ outfits and accessories from the shop. For some children, they also like the ability to challenge others - including teachers - and improve the speed of their recall. In addition to the online platform, worksheets can be downloaded for practice at home and in school. These have been well designed and progress from ‘2, 5, 10s’ through ‘3, 4, 8s’ and eventually to all times tables and division facts. The paper sheets are particularly useful in developing bespoke interventions for children who, for whatever reason, continue to struggle with learning these facts. The range of paper-based resources provide challenges for all pupils across the school; from the pupil at the beginning of their journey in Year Three to keeping the facts ‘ticking over’ in Year Six. The ‘Scatter Charts’ containing the multiples for a times table are an effective way to introduce a times table or support a pupil on a one-to-one, group or class basis.
Ease of Use
How easy is the programme to use?
The Times Tables Rock Stars site is very easy to use. The set-up is completed when children enter the school and then pupils are ‘rolled up’ each year. Additionally, if a pupil moves school, their account can be transferred with them. All adult users of the site have access to all the information contained within, thus empowering them to use it in the way they wish. As a teacher, it is both a teaching and assessment tool. All participants are provided with heat maps based on their results. This allows them, and the teacher, to instantly identify those facts children need to know and what their overall knowledge looks like. The platform offers a number of different options for practising recall of facts and this increases engagement as children can take part in different activities. Importantly, where they answer questions and get an answer wrong, they see the correct answer and the teacher is able to see their results for further assessment opportunities. Of course, in Lower Key Stage Two, this supplements our ongoing teaching of these skills in maths lessons.
Engagement and Awareness
How has TT Rock Stars impacted upon children's engagement and awareness?
This platform has greatly increased our school community’s engagement with and awareness of times table facts and ways to improve the recall of them. The yearly cost of subscription is hugely competitive with any similar platforms and its impact across the school is wide ranging. The site has ‘Bolt Ons’ such as ‘Stats’ (provides additional statistics which is particularly useful for staff) and ‘Sessions’ (allows even more personalisation for individual pupils), which we also subscribe to, at minimal cost, as they also add to the benefits the site offers. For the vast majority of pupils, times table facts are secure by the end of Year Four and division facts going into Year Six.
Pupils (and some staff) very much enjoy playing the range of games on the site. In addition to the in-site rewards (coins), we use the ‘rock’ theme to display success (platinum discs, rock legends) in many year groups. In addition, we have used the ‘Lego Guitar Hero’ Wii game as a reward for pupils or classes - for example, the most participation or improvement. Each week of the school year, we use the ‘Tournaments’ feature to set Battles between different groups in the school such as our ‘Houses’ and the results of this along with other successes are shared on a central school display and via our newsletters and social media. Additionally, as part of this, we also celebrate the pupils who achieve ‘most coins’, ‘fastest speed’ and ‘biggest improvement’ in the same places and with certificates too. Periodically, the Times Table Rock Stars team set up international, national and local competitions too. This sharing of praise advertises the platform well across the school and encourages engagement.
Is TT Rock Stars good value for money?
Our subscription costs under £200 per year for all our 480 pupils, and the school staff, across 16 classrooms to access the site anytime and from anywhere they have internet access. This means that Times Tables Rock Stars is one of our most cost effective resources especially in terms of impact. For a school considering using the platform, we would advise signing up for a year and giving it a go - in our experience it will not disappoint. When using it, give children time in school to use the platform and expect/encourage its use outside of school. Advertise successes publicly and in class to build engagement and put your own little ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ spin on it to further hook the children in.
Get in Touch
Fancy featuring in a Showcase?
You can get in touch with Liam at Crosshall Junior school on Twitter via the handle ‘@crosshalljunior’. If you would like your school to feature in a Showcase then please get in touch - we would love to hear from you. Contact Jen at [email protected] or [email protected]