Archive | Teaching Tools RSS feed for this section

Easter Mathematical Treasure Trove

22 Mar

easter-collect-a-joke-previewAnother Easter resource we would like to share!

This collect a joke resource requires pupils to perform increasingly difficult addition and subtraction of fractions. Watch out for the red herrings! Download it from here!

Check out our other blogs for Easter ideas!

An Eggciting Eggstravanganza of Resources

From practicing proportion with an Easter cake recipe to making origami rabbits, lots of ideas here to try.

A Lesson Off Never

In this blog we show you how to make pop shapes, use yellow card to make pop up chicks.

How did the resource work for you? Tweet us @numberloving

Best Buy!

29 Feb

Like a lot of teachers I spend a fair amount on things to support my teaching. For example, the smelly stickers from PTS are a favourite of mine for using as rewards. However, without a doubt the best buy I’ve made so far is my Hue HD webcam. This may seem expensive at £39.90, but considering I use it every day it has paid for itself time and time again!


It’s basically a webcam, but it has a weighted base and an adjustable arm so it works really well as a visualizer. You install the software (this takes a couple of minutes) and then simply plug in via the USB connector. I use this on a daily basis and it really is brilliant! Here are some ways I use it:

  • Pick a student at the end of the lesson and display their work. Get the class to assess it and feedback. This is an instant plenary, it exposes misconceptions, promotes discussion, encourages good presentation and much more!
  • As an extension get a student to write an exam question on the topic you’ve been doing. Then just put their question under the webcam and you’ve got your plenary sorted.
  • Display an exit ticket from the previous lesson and get students to find the mistake as a starter.
  • Display students’ exam responses and get pupils to mark them.
  • Use after marking books to showcase really good work or a mistake lots have made.
  • Use when teaching constructions (or measuring angles etc.) so pupils can physically see you doing it.
  • Use to display a nice question in a book which you only have 1 copy of.

The webcam also has a little button on the top which takes a picture, so you can save their work, tweet it, email it to a parent – whatever you fancy!



Exam Technique

28 Feb

A quick blog about different strategies and resources to get your class and classroom exam ready!


exam command words Command Word Display

Print this NumberLoving display for your classroom and use it to reinforce the meaning of command words. They can displayed along side the meaning and it also a good activity to remove the command word and ask the pupils to state the command word given the meaning.

Exam Countdown Display

Print and laminate this exam countdown display, displaying the most appropriate length of time, whether it be months, weeks or days. Using a whiteboard pen this can easily be updated so the countdown to exams is clear for all.

Exam Practice

Training to Triple read

Encourage pupils not only to read the questions but to triple read the question, each time with a different purpose;

  1. Highlight the figures in yellow (numbers or words e.g half)
  2. Highlight command words in green
  3. Read again “aloud in your head” with emphasise on those words

Do this as part of your teaching, highlighting in two colours, modelling by reading aloud with emphasis on command words. It will soon become part and parcel of pupils’ approach to questions.

Start from the back

Little change with the potential of a big impact on pupils’ resilience and mindset. Starting from the back when pupils are more focused and moving towards the front of the paper and the easier questions. Very relevant if working on papers in class, start from the back so pupils can get support from peers, the teacher etc.

However we are not fans of death by past paper, check out our post “Anything but more past papers” for alternative revision techniques.

Walking Talking Mock

This is large scale modelling; modelling as a teaching strategy is simply put as ‘thinking out loud’. Therefore modelling for pupils the thought processes when approaching problems. Pupils will increasingly take this role of modelling, guided and refined by the teacher. The walking-talking mock is described by the Guardian here as the “new initiative intended to boost students’ exam technique”. In brief it is a large scale version of modelling, highlighting exam technique and key exam words, the lead teacher hints, modelling thought processes related to the mock paper in front of the pupil, question by question in the exam hall. Dragonfly Training give a good description of how they ran a walking-talking mock here or check out Kristian Still’s blog here, this is another good example of how to approach the walking talking mock.

Key Skills Builder

As mentioned in our post some topics keep on coming up so it is important that these skills are embedded in pupils’ practice. We discuss exam warm ups as a way of reinforcing and revising vital topics. Check out the blog here.

Has anyone used these strategies or other strategies? We would love to hear you views!

How do you teach yours? Dept. CPD

16 Feb slide3

Effective use of department time, this is a daunting task for a newly appointed head of department! So like most when I first took this responsibility I made sharing good practice (SGP) a permanent agenda item as one way of continuous professional development. However, I soon realised that this wasn’t meeting the needs of professional development for the team, all of which were at different stages of their career. The sharing good practice item too often had become one member of the department “sharing a resource” they have used or ‘found’ recently. For many reasons I decided to keep the format of SGP (rota basis throughout the department). So instead of replacing it, I added other activities to department meetings that I felt actually resulted in discussions of good practice in terms of the teaching of Mathematics. In this post I describe three tried and tested strategies for keeping the objective of deeper understanding at the forefront of your departments’ planning and preparation.

First: Why the importance in the Teaching of Mathematics
One of the key message from “Mathematics: made to measure” (read it here) is our responsibility to enable all pupils to develop a conceptual understanding of the mathematics they learn, its structures and relationships and fluent recall of mathematical knowledge and skills in order to equip them to solve familiar problems as well as tackle creatively the more complex and unfamiliar ones that lie ahead. The Ofsted 2012 descriptors found on page 30 of this summary of  Mathematics’ reports (another good read) are certainly still relevant when discussing teaching approaches with your department. One element for outstanding quality of teaching is; “Teaching is rooted in the development of all pupils’ conceptual understanding of important concepts and progression within the lesson and over time. It enables pupils to make connections between topics and see the ‘big picture’”.

The Bigger Picture


This is a simple concept in which you ask the department to work in pairs during department time, to consider particular topics/skills on three different levels.
1. Method; what is the method, the skill in its most basic form? Are there any generalisations (known by some as rules grrr)?
2. Understanding; How do you teach for understanding? How do you lead the pupils to make their own generalisations?
3. The bigger picture; What are the applications? Are there any links to other topics?

This really is a great for unpicking your departments’ approaches to individual topics in detail. Often revealing gaps in staff knowledge and understanding (particularly NQT/RQT’s), and can even reveal if staff have been oblivious using and teaching tricks just because they were taught that way. How many of your department now how to conceptually explain the division of a fraction by a fraction. This NumberLoving resource, download for free from here, includes a number of examples such as operating with indices,operating with fractions, standard form and a blank grid (probably the most useful) which you can adapt to suit any topic coming up in your scheme of work.

How do you teach yours?
how teach blankThis second approach requires some forward planning, and forethought from your department members. Prior to the meeting give each member of the department a “How do you teach yours” sheet on the topic you will be discussing. Here is an example of what this might look like for the topics of multiplication and division.

how you teachAs you can see the department members are asked to complete each indicating how they would teach the pupils, prior to the meeting. Once at the meeting methods, approaches are discussed and debated. This naturally leads to an agreement of what is the best way to teach for understanding. Once agreed on the best approach this can be documented as shown in the example on the right.

This department activity could easily be adapted for any subject area. I have provided three examples of “How do you teach yours” to help get you started. Download it for free here.

imageDepartment Reading
This can be done with any text or report which you feel will aid discussion. With a pre-determined focus direct the department towards the book/report, or even better provide a paper copy in their tray. Department should read this in preparation for the meeting.

Nix the tricks
As described on the website this book is “filled with alternatives to the shortcuts so prevalent in mathematics education and explains exactly why the tricks are so bad for understanding math”.  I would highly recommend providing each member of your department with this book. This makes for both a great discussion point and a handy resource for alternative methods. I have also found it useful as a point of referral when during work samples I have observed potential teaching of tricks and not of understanding.  This book can be purchased online or downloaded as a pdf for free from the Nix the Tricks website here

I hope this has provided some ideas of how to promote continuous professional development rooted around the effective teaching of mathematics!

Thank you for reading!

Decorate your door!

11 Feb

A nice, simple display for all the doors in the department!


Download the resource from our TES store for free now!

Pimp Your Displays

25 Oct

Hello Readers!

Its been a while since we’ve blogged, we promise it’s for a good reason as we work behind the scenes on the next phase for NumberLoving which we can’t wait to share!! Watch this space!

In the meantime, I want to talk about ‘pimping’ those display! This year one of our focuses is displays, in and out of the classroom. We want to not only update them but reinvigorate them, move away from the dull, unnegiotable displays that have existed for years, to exciting and moveable, easily updated and useful displays!! This year we are rotating department time around the maths classrooms, each teacher hosts; setting up tables, providing a puzzle and putting the kettle! The department then decide on 2 stars and a wish for the room! I got this idea from Mr Jon Colebrook @ColebrookJon at the SSAT London Achievement Show 2015, so simple but effective as everyone takes pride in their classroom and the learning environment they provide!

Celebrating Pupil Work

Great Work Hangs Out Here












Check out my newest display, eagerly awaiting great work! The pegs make this one of the most versatile displays for celebrating pupils work. I’ve used it to peg Y12 A Level maths work up after marking a homework assessment. Also great during the lesson to peg examples of excellent answers!

I also love ‘This work is Incredible’ with Hulk presiding over the work shared by @HeadofEnglish here! Another example using pegs for interchangeable displays!

Variations on this could be an ‘In the Spotlight” display using paper that looks like stage spotlight and a “Wall of Fame”.

How do you measure up?measure2

This display is perfect for the classroom or communal areas to encourage numeracy conversations as well as give pupils more experience of estimating heights. Using a printed ruler (or Ikea paper rulers), pinned at the correct height. Update regularly with the heights and pictures of the latest A-Z list celebrities.

BIDMAS/Countdown Corner

Simple idea, give pupils a target and they have to use the operations to make the target number just like the game show.

Alternatively create a countdown corner. Great for starters, or on-going challenges.

How to Learn Mathsimage

I found this great resource on the TES website here, by Complex_Number. I agree completely that we have to encourage pupils to recognise mistakes as learning opportunities! I printed two copies on two different colours to create two displays for different classrooms by mixing up the colours! Here is one of the displays

Area Perimeter Door


Simply use the classroom  door to remind pupils of the difference between area and perimeter.


Using pre-cut lettering alongside a door or a window to provide this visual of the key terminology.


Suduko Challenge

imageInteractive display, I let pupils complete the suduko. By using PVC electrical tape I have created a damage free display on a painted wall. The tape peels away leaving no marks. You can see the black velcro tabs, these are placed on top of the yellow tape, i.e. damage free walls and a great activity.

The pouch at the bottom holds the remaining cards and a book of suduko’s of varying challenge.

This display is total versatile because it is essential a 9 by 9 grid. Therefore it can also be used when teaching place value, multiplying and dividing by powers of ten, translations, enlargements, coordinates and so much more!

Mathematics Around the World

Create a display by asking pupils to create a Facebook profile for famous mathematicians from around the world and use string to show their country. Thank you to Mrs Walters for this awesome display!

Instant Display Work

barchartPost-it notes and window crayons, rolls of back paper, magic whiteboard and any surface can become a display area.

We have blogged about window crayons before, check out our blog here.

Magic whiteboard, wallpaper rolls also great to create instant display of pupils’ work.


So many great bunting ideas to choose from JustMaths have blogged here about A-Z keyword bunting here. Or Miss Radders discusses how to make bunting from old maths text books here. Also MissBResource’s has an awesome collection of display resources including shape and formulae (by Mr Collins) bunting here.

imageAlternatively make your own like Mr Saunder’s specially requested ‘Maths is Boss’ bunting.

Literacy in Maths Displays

Mrs Rojas shares how she has created her boggle display here and includes free printables. This is my next project which is ideal for the maths classroom too!

Pupils have to make words using the letters on display, award double points for mathematical words. Increase the difficulty by adding the rule that the letters must ‘connect’, vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Using sticky back Velcro again allows the alphabet cards to be changed on a daily basis!image

Key Action Words

In every maths classroom, all the key action words. These are referred to on a daily basis.

Corridor Displays

Elements of Maths: From the awesome Just Maths team find their elements of maths display and resources here. Great for classroom or department display.

Room Numbers: Pimp your room numbers, instead of 5 use operations that give an answer of 5.

Celebration Wall: Celebrate success in using Wall of Fame, in the spotlight!

NumberLoving’s Display Shopping List

Pegs– essential to make your displays interchangeable.

Pre-cut lettering– Widely available on the internet, or if your DT has a laser cutter get them to cut some out! How have I not known about this until now?!

Velcro tabs– these provide another way of keeping your displays adaptable (Suduko or Boggle). Remember stick these on top of PVC electrical tape to avoid damage to walls.

Velcro Wall- Use felt to create a velcro wall, a great idea shared at the recent school Learning Fair by Miss Austin.

Laminator– Essential, means you can keep display for re-use in a year or two or in another classroom.

String or Ribbon– for bunting or clothes line (see great work hangs out here)

Sticky Back Plastic– reinvigorate old filing cabinets or book shelves!

Window Crayons- instant display as pupils complete questions on glass

Thank you for reading NumberLoving!

Tweet us @numberloving

Bells for BIDMAS and More

16 Nov

Hi there! We haven’t blogged in a while as we are busy behind the scenes bringing you some changes to the website and a lot of great new resources, please watch this space!

UntitledBIDMAS Bells

The class is split into eight groups and each group is given a bell. Each bell is numbered, if the answer to the question is the same as their group’s bell they should ring the bell. At first the pupils are likely to be too slow to recognise the tune and therefore you may need to go back the beginning and repeat to here the tune. It is an ideal activity for a short plenary.

In this version of the game the order of the questions is important and should follow the same numbers as the tunes provided on the tun sheet. You set some of the pupils a challenge to come up with questions relevant to the topic studying which give the answers to follow one of the tunes provided with the bells.

This bidmas-bells-twinkle-twinkle resource contains questions which if played in the correct order will play the tune “twinkle twinkle little star”.

Other Ideas

Another adaption would be to group pupils and give each group a bell. All pupils will be given an answer card, and for each answer card there is a question. The order of the questions is again important. Use the interactive display board to pose a question to the class, if pupils have the answer to the question the ring the bell. The trick here is to first make the questions and answers, one for each note of the tune. Then assign each question card to the corresponding bell by numbering the question card. Then group all the cards for each bell, mixing them up so the order isn’t clear.For example if the tune was 1, 2, 2 (the numbers on the bell) a pupil from the group with bell one would need the answer to question 1 and pupils from the group with bell 2 would need the answers to question 2 and 3! This is slightly more complicated to prepare but worth it. My top tip is to label the back of the answer cards with which bell number it belongs to!

They can also add fun to quizzes or team games, not as tuneful but great fun!

About the Bells

The bells are called handbells and are sold in sets.You can buy them from here and many other places, always check that they come with a handy tune sheet.

We hope you find the ideas useful and we would love to hear your feedback on how the ideas work for you. You should also check out our online store NumberLoving online store

Thanks for reading!

%d bloggers like this: