Maths

# Why use Hamilton's Progressive Short Blocks?

By Ruth Merttens

Tailor Your Teaching using shorter blocks to avoid the increasingly well-evidenced disadvantages of long blocks. Explore the advantages of short blocks.

## Memory

Will children in England (as opposed to Singapore or Shanghai) really remember all the content of a particular block if that topic is not re-visited for another 5 or 6 months? If the subject is peripheral, e.g. Roman numerals or correspondence problems, this may not matter. But if it is place value or an understanding of equivalent fractions then it will. Re-teaching is time-wasting and can be soul-destroying. Revisiting indubitably prevents the necessity.

## Order

In maths, more than in many subjects, the order in which we teach things matters. For example, in order to teach division in Year 5, we need to have taught children fractions, so that children are able to express the remainder as a proper fraction. This means that understanding equivalent fractions is a pre-requisite skill. BUT with long blocks in Year 5, we must teach the Multiplication/Division Block before the Fractions Block because we need the knowledge of multiples and factors in order to do equivalence in fractions. And this problem is replicated twenty times in designing the maths blocks for any year group.

Of course, with a spiral curriculum, this is not an issue as you teach a spiral of skills. However, shorter blocks greatly assist us with a blocked curriculum, as it is easier to take a more skill-based approach to the order in which specific mathematical topics are covered.