What is Times Tables Rockstars?
Recently, I’ve received several questions about Times Table Rockstars (TTRS): what it is, how it works and above all is it any good. I think it’s excellent – it’s worked well to engage pretty much every student I’ve ever introduced to it. I’m going to explain a bit…
National Curriculum expectations
It’s the expectation that in Year 4 that all children know all their times tables . In fact, there’s a national test in Year 4 – The multiplication check. I’m not going to debate whether it should or shouldn’t happen. The fact is it happens.
In world with Covid, chanting is not advisable in classroom settings for obvious reasons and anyway its not the most thrilling way of teaching and learning timetables! Many pupils and schools have far greater success learning discreetly with the online game (and app) Times Tables Rockstars (TTRS). In fact, it often works so well that teachers do not have to actually teach very much timetables in school as the children learn via TTRS mostly at home. This allows teachers in school to focus on the greater depth elements of maths, such as reasoning.
Why does it work?
The games engenders a sense of belonging but also has a subtle competitive element. Classes can take part in a ‘battle of he bands.’ These battles mean that the class A encourages each other and pulls together as a team to beat the class B. It cleverly empowers all pupils with a feeling of success, meaning everyone is a winner a some level. The competition within the class is still there however, as there are leader boards, but its reworked into ‘Most Valuable player.’ TTRS celebrates success. The top 3 most valuable players are rewarded with a certificate once the battle is over. This is usually in assembly. Finally it offers an element of choice at many levels – choose the rockstar name, avatar, accessories, type of game and then choose all over again next time you play.
TTRS is an online tool that tests children (the rockstars) on their times tables and related division facts. Incorrect answers are always immediately corrected in front of the pupil, so that they start to associate the correct answer with every question. This means they pick up those essential maths skills quickly. Its not incredibly fancy. It tests them at lightening speed and gives coins as a prize. These coins can be spent on the rockstar avatar essentials, guitar, sunglasses, mohawk etc. They can choose a ‘cool’ rockstar name and change it whenever they choose.
Training modes vary. The pupil starts in the Garage. Here, the times tables can be set by the teacher starting with 1 and 2 times tables. Speak to your child’s class teacher if you feel they’re ready for trickier timetables and the teacher will allow them access. Once the trickier times tables are added comes the most difficult part! Help your child to maintain interest here. They will be used to acing the games and seeing their average answer time get better and better. Now suddenly they’re getting answers wrong and their score drops. This is the parent praise bit. Oooo your doing well! Look at you with those hard x tables! Your way better than me! Etc etc. They may even need a bit of help writing out the facts for a quick reference. As they get better disappear the piece of paper. Hey presto! They’ve got it and are quickly getting certificates in school again.
Once they have got to grips it they can enter one of the festivals (Wembley, Glastonbury). Here, they can take part in battles with other children all over the world or those in their class – if they’re active at the sane time. They rise up the ranks of rock stars from Busker to Rock hero – all very motivating. One of the best features for a parent or teacher or indeed the child if they can stop playing for 5 minutes, is the timestable heatmap grid. The questions they tend to get wrong are highlighted in red, this is great as parent you can immediately see where they go wrong and help them with those specific facts 3 x 7, for example.
Its proven to help children learn their tables; I’ve seen it with my own eyes both in the classroom and with my own son. And a massive bonus is many children absolutely love it!! I’ve taught many children who are quicker than me! Check out the incredible speed of the world record holder here!