Now that Autumn term is done or nearly for most in the UK, I just wanted to mention Christmas crackers, read all the way to the end!
I wouldn’t have thought, all those years ago as a child, when first pulling crackers with my family at the Christmas table that I would be putting some of their contents to excellent use as a Maths teacher. Often their contents is as quickly discarded as the ‘left over crackers’ and yet many of them have use in the classroom. So encourage your friends and family to save those crackers contents for you and here’s how I put some of the most common contents to good use…
The Screwdriver and pencils
Yes these are both keepers, absolutely perfect for construction lessons. The screwdriver is perfect for fixing and tightening the legs on a pair of compasses (put one in each classroom set of compasses)! Constant issue when completing constructions with pupils, they need to ensure not only that they have a sharp pencil that is kissing the point of the compass but also that the legs of the compass are tight.
The Tape Measure Lots of uses for the tape measure such as estimating and measuring objects within or outside the classroom. One of my favourite uses is for pupil loci, as described in our post Teaching Loci.
The Plastic Jumping Frog– Data collection activities with the following question to investigate; “How far will the frog jump?”.
The Magic Calculator Sometimes called the mystery calculation. I’ve collected over 16 of these over the years and can now use in algebra lessons! At first I just put them in my end of term puzzle box.Check out our post here for more on a class puzzle box. Your best ever investment; A puzzle box
Check out Maths Ed Idea’s blog here explaining the binary process behind some of these calculators.
The Bad Jokes
I am always looking for a good bad joke tell to my students or to include in my worksheet resources such as my collect a joke resource like this Christmas themed Collect a Joke worksheet which pupils need to be able to find the nth term of linear sequences and as a result collect the punchline to the joke; “Why isn’t every man in a red suit with a beard Father Christmas”? Check this resource out here Christmas Maths Sequences Collect a Joke Worksheet Activity.
The jokes within the Christmas crackers, although not often with a mathematical edge (these are my favourite kind of jokes), they are most often family friendly jokes that can be used in the classroom. Check out my previous post Joking around in Maths? Collect a Joke! in which I describe these resources and their uses in more detail.
The Playing Cards So many uses from tricks such as these described in our post Magic Maths or the classic probability “higher of lower”, too many to list but grab those cards and keep them.
Thank you for reading this far! Here is a little Christmas Cracker for you, follow this link below for a free download of our most popular revision foldable usually £3…this link will be free just today, that is until midnight tonight Friday the 18th so download and save (checkout of free resources doesn’t require bank details)!
How will you celebrate Pi day in your classroom? Pi day lands on a Saturday this year 2020 but we plan to celebrate a day early on Friday March 13th. Here are some ideas including a free download from NumberLoving.
Beauty of Pi Use this video below to demonstrate the beauty of Pi or download the app by Fraser McKay and Chris Smith from their PiWire site here to explore Pi and other numbers visually.
One Million Digits of Pi Display as a list here or a rap video by AsapScience for just the first 100 digits in the video below.
Pi Day Dingbats These are great for form time; say what you see! Download this PowerPoint presentation shared by Lloyd here.
Pi Day Puzzle Free Download Two different puzzle styles, one is a straight forward pi-doku based on Sudoku but only using the digits 314 and the second is a reasoning puzzle similar to GCSE area/percentage question with no dimensions.
A quick blog to share free set of pie chart resources, require no-prep printable downloads, that we produced when NumberLoving joined up with LittleStreams in collaboration.
The worksheets produced by Littlestreams help introduce how to calculate angles in order to construct Pie Charts. Once pupils are able to construct, you can move them into completing the NumberLoving Treasure Hunt. This requires pupils to interpret pie charts; finding amounts from pie chart sectors and includes questions like those included in Higher EdExcel and AQA GCSE 9-1 Maths papers.
The two resources can be downloaded for free using the links below;
This is a quick blog about Foldables, an alternative to revision notes. Foldables are fairly new to me, since last summer anyway and I love them! The fact that pupils can revise not only when completing them with notes they can then revise from then by being ‘tested’ by a friend or testing themselves; makes them a win in my book. I also print each foldable on colour paper and get pupils to stick to a large piece of A3 piece of paper. Pupils then take these home and complete the poster for interactive revision at home!
First time I used foldables with a class, we made shutter foldables and we made them from scratch. I just gave pupils the blank pieces of colour paper, I then thought it would take just 30 seconds to describe the process of folding and cutting as shown in the picture on the left. It wasn’t that straight forward, but we got there.
This pdf Foldables by Dinah Zike is full of ideas of different foldable styles and instructions on how to build. Check out the layered book on page 17 for advanced foldables!
For my classes I’ve found that lesson time is used most efficiently and productively when I print both guidance on the folding of the foldable (where to fold, cut and glue) but also by giving them diagrams or prompts for each window which they then have to complete for the given topic!
Here is a picture of NumberLoving’ Naming Parts of a circle foldable in action, available here. As you can see it has been printed on bright paper (use same colour for formula, same colour for rules etc), they can be glued into class or notebooks or revision posters.
Pupils could be encouraged to glue their revision foldables on to a poster, alongside the simple revision idea of attaching an envelope to the poster to hold any flash cards created by pupils, providing another on the spot testing or interactive element to the revision.
I’m always adding to my foldable bundle, check it out here or click the image below.
This is a premium bundle of 14 foldables, as I create new foldables I add these to the bundle, which means once purchased any additions will be yours for no additional cost.
The new 9-1 GCSE continues to cause a lot of teachers I know some sleepless nights! The thing which worries me is not so much the new content but the style of the exam papers. It is clear via the specimen and four set of practice papers published so far that they are much less routine and less accessible than the current specification. Again, this isn’t really an issue in itself, I welcome the challenge and problem solving, I just hope I have been able to provide my students with the skills they need.
The main challenge I’m facing with my students is developing their resilience as well as the tools in their problem solving arsenal. I’m a great believer in the simplest solution being the best one and so to tackle my concerns I’m simply trying to expose my pupils to as many different problems as frequently as possible. Above is a picture of how students can “Plan for QWC” using this window overlay. The aim of the overlay is to help pupils breakdown the complexity of the problems; not always useful but has been for most students in the beginning.
Here are just some of the resources I’m using;
AQA have released a set of 90 maths problem solving resources, download from here.
These short problems from nrich make great starters across ages and abilities. They can also be used by tutors during form time if you don’t already have a numeracy programme. There’s a good deal of variety in terms of style of problem and difficulty.
This free problem solving booklet from La Salle comes with teacher notes, I’m using problems from it as homework tasks for years 7 and 8 but it could easily be linked into your SOW for use in lessons.
The premium bundles from NumberLoving are developed specifically with the new GCSE in mind. The mysteries in particular help to develop resilience and thinking skills.
When students are working on problem solving tasks I have a rule that they can’t ask questions for 5 minutes (you can get some good timers here). I’ve found this really helps them to start thinking for themselves and exploring different options. I also have a list of strategies on the wall in my room which can sometimes help them get started (see below).
Problem solving strategies
Draw a diagram or picture
Make a model
Try to spot any patterns
Can you solve an easier problem (make the numbers easier)
Write what you know on the diagram
Can you form a right angled triangle?
Try a number and see if it works (trial and improvement)
Make a list or a table
Don’t obsess over what you’ve been asked for, focus on what you know and what you can work out
Can you express anything using algebra?
What topic is this assessing, think about what you know on this topic
Hopefully if I keep at it my students will become more confident and independent mathematicians and therefore as a matter of course they are able to succeed at the new GCSE. I’d really like to hear other ideas and resources people are using, get in touch @numberloving and check out our free and premium resources in our Store.
This blog post has been sat in drafts for over 12 months! Thankfully in that time there has been a wealth of resources created and shared, too many to include in this post. I have tweaked this draft a little and published, thanks for the encouragement from Twitter Colleagues @ColleenYoung and @mhorley
Revision Pong Those that are regular party goers have probably played this game in a social yet competitive environment and adapting it for the classroom is quite easy and flexible in the way it’s played. You just need a set of plastic cups (numbered), a ping pong ball and a set of questions (also numbered).
It can be played as a team game (I recommend no more than 3 per team to avoid down time). If team gets the ball in a cup say number 4, they then answer question 4 to gain points, I give 10 points for correctly answered questions. In order to keep the other team, team B, involved they can also be calculating the answer to “steal the points” if team A get it wrong or alternatively gain bonus points (I award 5). Team B would have to prove to Team A they got it correct by showing their calculations (I provide each team with mini whiteboards).
These great resources from @JR-Maths-Resources are not only beautifully presented and cover a range of topics, they are differentiated from fluency in the centre to reasoning and finally problem solving as the outside layer. I use these either daily as quick starters (they take around 10 minutes) or as short homework task.
Again some experimentation has led me to believe the best option here is to number the jenga pieces and use with a corresponding set of questions.You can see in the picture on the left that I do have a set of jenga pieces now dedicated to solving equations, but since numbering the pieces I’ve got a lot more use out of them! The game is played in the same way as the Jenna game, the only addition is that pupils must answer that question before they can remove that piece (if numbered, version on the left pupils would answer after removing it, if they get it wrong they go again). This can be differentiated, identifying the level of difficulty on the question card.
I create a revision carousel using a variety of different tasks, one at each of the stations for the topics in the carousel. The timer is set for 7 minutes at each station and pupils rotate through the stations in groups of 3-4. At each station they either answer the questions or taking part in the activity for example Fan & Pick. Therefore a verbal but brief explanation of each station is needed, and reminder notes on how it is played at each station also helps the carousel run smoothly.
Here is an example of a carousel I ran with 6 minutes at each station.
One of our favourite ways to revise, which we love is to use our revision foldables, check out our blog post Fold it to download it Revision Resources and click on the image below for our premium bundle of revision foldables.