Yes, Zero Marking!
Big Maths Beat That isn’t like any other assessment and tracking system. It is at the very centre of the school’s entire maths curriculum. It is the engine room of the pedagogy, as opposed to ‘bolt on tracking’. If you were told to throw out all your tracking systems, unless you desperately wanted to keep them for your own purpose, then BMBT would remain. When the curriculum, pedagogy and tracking are one, then you have an easy and natural response to the question, ‘What impact is our curriculum having on our children’s learning?’
The progression and the content of the BMBT challenges are at one with the curriculum design and the age-related expectations from the national curriculum, this means that at any moment in time we can see if a child is on track, off track or ahead of track. This all happens through a simple scoring system. If we take the 19 progressive ‘CLIC Challenges’, we can see that if a child is currently on CLIC Challenge 12 (i.e. CLIC Challenge 11 is too easy and CLIC Challenge 13 is, as yet, too difficult) and has attained 6 out of 10, they would score 12.6. If they carry out the same challenge next week (with only slightly different numbers involved in the questions) and score 7 out of 10 their score goes up to 12.7.
This scoring system could not be more simple and easy to use (all the complexity sits behind in the original Big Maths curriculum construction). It means that the teacher and school leader can, together, easily and instantly;
- See the proportion ‘on/off track’ in each cohort, or class, against national expectations.
- Track this proportion over time, ensuring each class/cohort has a proportion on track that goes up every term (aiming for 100% on track as soon as possible in school, unless there are relevant learning difficulties).
- Track each child’s progress over time (each child should have a progress score of 1.0 each third of the year and 3.0 over a school year, since that is the expected progression through the 10 question CLIC challenges).
- Use BMBT as a simple, accurate and instant baseline assessment to know the starting points for children entering school (either when first starting school in early years, or transferring from another school, or if Big Maths is being introduced across school).
To access these benefits of BMBT then simply ensure every teacher has discovered each child’s CLIC score (using the 1 decimal place scoring system described above). If you already do BMBT each week, but don’t use this simple scoring to 1dp system, then you are missing out!
Children love assessment and tracking! Do they? Well, they do if you do BMBT! The simple scoring and progression allows them to understand the assessment and tracking system. The emphasis is only ever on them getting their best ever score, as opposed to who has the highest score. Every child in the school can go home on Friday with a sticker on their jumper proudly stating, ‘Big Maths… I BEAT THAT!’
If you haven’t remembered it, you haven’t learnt it.
We now know that great teaching has only taken place if children have remembered the curriculum content after some time has passed. Learning from the here and now of a lesson must be transferred into the Long Term Memory. BMBT is pure retrieval practice! Built into the simple design is the need for the child to repeat the same standard questions each week, and become more fluent as they do so. A child whose score moves from 11.6 to 11.7 to 11.8, must be completing the questions they can already get right every week in order to progress. So, on top of everything else, BMBT is the ultimate retrieval practice system; taking the key learning objectives from each term and making sure all children are constantly becoming more fluent with what they can already do.
There is more to say though. A stage beyond all of this is the teacher that inputs the scores of the class into the Big Maths Online website. Once these scores are in, the teacher can turn up on BMBT day and simply click ‘Print Challenges’ on the Beat That! page. All of the children’s challenges are printed out with their names on and their score from last week which they need to beat. Further to this sneaky little bonus, the teacher can also see which children across the class aren’t correctly answering which question. We call this the ‘Learning Gap’ feature. It means the teacher can immediately cross reference the specific children, with the specific question, and within a split second (literally!) the specific teaching response, i.e. teacher notes and resources needed to address that question are placed digitally into the teacher’s lesson plan on the Big Maths website.
There is still more to say though!
The CLIC, Learn Its and SAFE Challenges are available for children to complete digitally on devices. This means that all of the simple, perfect tracking and assessment benefits described above happen with zero pieces of paper, zero photocopying/printing…and yes, zero marking! Once the children are digitally able to log on each week and complete their challenges, the teacher need literally do nothing! The ‘Learning Gap’ feature mentioned above will run just as perfectly, and so the teacher can quickly check each week which children have and haven’t secured the learning from lessons. In effect, this means responding in detail where unexpected learning gaps have revealed themselves, but where learning is successful, merely continuing with the learning journey. We could call this ‘responding by doing nothing’!
At Big Maths, we believe this is what Education Technology is all about. Note how the pedagogy and curriculum come first, then an integral assessment and tracking system is put into place to see the impact of the curriculum, and, finally, best use is made of digital technology to support the teaching and learning cycle in a way that reduces workload for teachers and is fun and motivating for children.
If you are not familiar with the 3 parts of BMBT then they are:
1. The CLIC Challenges (these cover all the basic skills of maths, from subtraction to multiplying by 10 etc.).
2. The Learn Its Challenges (these cover all number facts, including multiplication tables).
3. The SAFE Challenges (these cover Shape, Amounts, Fractions and Explaining Data).