Jo Boaler’s elephant needs Flipp Flopps! Times Tables
Five years ago I created Flipp Flopps to help the children in my class learn times tables, or multiplication facts. I could see that for many of my students this was a difficult process. I was also concerned that the weekly tests I set often left a group of students in tears.
By using Flipp Flopps with the whole class I instantly reduced levels of anxiety amongst my students. I was also able to teach the children about times tables rather than just testing them. We shared ideas about how to remember or work out the ‘tricky facts’. Everyone could make a contribution. Everyone could benefit. No one needed to feel anxious. It was the starting point in my journey to find different, better ways of teaching times tables in particular and maths in general. I soon came across Jo Boaler’s book and found myself agreeing with her ideas and feeling in tune with her philosophy for teaching the broader maths curriculum.
In this series of blogs I will summarise each chapter in Jo’s book and reflect on the impact her ideas have had on me and the maths community at large. For those of you who haven’t yet read the book, who might be embarking on a similar journey, I would thoroughly recommend it!
In the introduction to The Elephant In the Classroom
Jo Boaler says that many people hate maths due to the way the subject is taught. The traditional approach is to have students replicate standard methods of solving problems. Jo says this approach is too narrow and maths taught this way seems irrelevant to real life. In addition it leaves students, particularly girls, feeling stressed and anxious. A better approach would be to focus on collaborative problem solving which would enable more students to be successful mathematicians. Students would develop skills such as persistence, flexibility, team work and communication, which are sought after by today’s employers. Professor Boaler shares this approach in her book The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping Children Learn and Love Maths.