Tag Archives: teaching

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!



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!

Lessons in Love- Number Love

7 Feb

‘<3’ Is a HEART, composed of two parts.

In Mathematics,  this means “less than three”.

Because in real life, LOVE has no space for a third,

Love is only you and me!

It is that time of year and both NumberLoving authors are feeling the love with two weddings to plan, so here are some more math Valentine’s Day activities!

geometry valentine poems-001Mathematical Valentine Rhyme Challenge

Challenge your pupils to write a mathematical rhyme including a set number of mathematical terms. This is a great idea I found on Craft Moms share blog here and the example on the left is taken from their blog and includes 7 maths terms. I will be challenging my pupils to come up with their rhymes for homework! Check this one out, not by a pupil but still a great poem!

We have a number of Valentine and love themed mysteries, in which pupils use the clues to solve the question. Mysteries are a thinking skills activity;



parallel linesAlso not to be missed;

Check out these blogs for great valentines maths ideas;

Googol power bring a wide variety of activities, I like this activity finding the area and perimeter of hearts. Pupils estimate and for extra challenge ask them to calculate. Even better get pupils to use Desmos as described in Colleen Young’s blog here to create their own heart, math-o-gram. Then ask pupils to find the area and perimeter.

One of my favourite activities making heart shaped mobius strips and other great ideas in our blog “Valentine’s Day, send Mobius Hearts Our Way” for other valentine maths activities. valentines

Make Sierpiński sieve pop heart with instructions from 360 (don’t be put off by the dinosaur).

Speed dating with data collection in this blog we describe how to set up a speed dating activity allowing for data collection.

So who will be your math-en-tine?


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!

Number Loving’s 1st Birthday!

26 Oct

Wow over 160, 000 visitors this year! Myself and Laura are made up to be celebrating the success of Number Loving in its first year!

Our Top Ten Posts

1) Mathematical Fortune Tellers; using this childhood game to practice Maths

2) Do or Die with Dice; Many games to play with dice, my favourite practising place value by playing Nasty.

3) Nets to Catch Angry Birds; Studying nets, volume or surface area by making these 3D shapes in the form of angry birds.

4) Treasure Hunts; Get pupils up and out of there seats

5) Pimp your classroom; Looking for inspiration then look no further for ideas on interactive displays

6) The Authors; Yes here we are, we have worked hard to build up our website and appreciate all the great feedback we have received!

7) Maths Top Trumps and Other Games; The Top trumps, one of most successful resources for spicing up practising a skill.

8) Numeracy Coordinator Making the Role Count; Our ideas on how to successfully build the numeracy role and raise the profile of numeracy in your school.

9) Dance Maths; Every department needs a set of numbered dance mats, great for plenary or even open evening.

10) Cooperative Learning; Tools and resources; Ideas and resources built around the Kagan approach to cooperative learning.

Here are some of favourite posts that haven’t made the top ten but are definitely worthy of a mention;

1) Tick or Trash; Our latest resources added to the resource site, tick one answer and trash the other.

2) Outdoor Learning; Using the school building and trigonometry skills out and about the school site.

3) Teaching Loci; Using outside spaces and the pupils themselves to teach loci

Summer Projects

29 Jul

Summer is here and now we can get stuck into those projects requiring a little more time. Here we have listed a wide range of projects that will keep you busy over the summer holidays.

Get Making

Maths Dance Mats

Make a class set for use on any topic with numerical answers. Check out our post “Dance Maths” for details on making the mats and resources to use with the mats are also available.

Instant Pie Charts

These have so many uses from the teaching of pie charts itself to its use in group tasks to rate participation rates of individuals, to measuring a pupils understanding. Easily made using four different colours of paper, and slotted together. Check out our post “Instant Graphs” for further details on making and using the pie chart wheels, as well as free resources to make and use with the wheels.

How do you Measure Up? Display

Make or update your height measuring display in your classroom, and why not post around the school in communal areas and even the staff room. Update with winners from the Olympics, or today’s favourite celebrities.

Check out our post “Pimp your classroom” for our free tape measure and other ideas to jazz up your classroom for September.

Top Trumps

Print and laminate a few sets of top trumps, a wide range is available on our resource site http://www.numberloving.co.uk. Each set is differentiated red (easy), amber and green. We have found they last longer if cut out and then laminated. Well worth it!

Check out our post “Maths Top Trumps & Other Games”, with details of how pupils can play the game and links to all top trump resources.


Tarsia Software

Tarsia jigsaw and dominoes software is great and as many colleagues have shared their jigsaws on the TES resource site or here on Mr Barton’s site, if you haven’t yet made use of it now is the time!

Check out our post “Tarsia puzzles- things you didn’t know” for more ideas on how to use the software to its full potential.


Free webbased graphing software and much much more. Download to your desktop now here, offline installation also available.

Prezi Desktop

The zooming presentation software. Check out our post “Get onto Prezi.com. Present & Collaborate”, with links to some of our own presentations. Ideal software for wowing everyone at the September inset day!

Sign up for


Wallwisher can be used as your very own internet based notice board, use effectively with class investigations. As pupils complete investigations they post their findings onto the wall. Sign up for this free posting wall here. Check out our post “Computer room lessons sorted- no mymaths required” for more online tools we recommend.

NRich Postcards

Nrich offer a service to provide postcards for free, each postcard includes a puzzle to solve, just sign up here stating how many of each you would like to receive. These are great for leaving in communal areas around the school, or use as praise postcards home.

BP trading game

Access and download the free BP educational resource, game is available at two levels of difficulty. Pupils trade in oil, making decisions based on news updates. Check out our post “BP Trading Game- Enterprise/STEM/Maths”, here you will find our adapted resources to use with the game.



Hammer beads

These can be bought from most toy stores, we found Ikea’s to be a bargain at £5 see here. Check out our post “Hammer Beads & Symmetry”, where we use these beads to create symmetrical patterns. Use as an end of topic activity or great for open evenings.

Finger Puppets

Another investment from Ikea, a pack of 10 for £4, check out here. Check out our post “Puppets go the distance with speed & time” , here we describe using the puppets to create stories to match a given distance/time graph.

Rulers (& pencils)

Whilst at Ikea take advantage of their free rulers and grab yourself a set. Check out our post “Teaching Loci”, here we describe guiding pupils under given rules of loci and a paper ruler to create locus of points.

Window crayons

We  love using our windows for displays, puzzles, assessment for learning and found window crayons to be the best tools for the job. Check out our post “Who wants clean windows” for further details, get creative!


Avoid sweet treats and instead reward pupils with mathematical based puzzle such as these Rubik cube key rings. Check out our post “On our best Behaviour” for other ideas for rewards.

Geek glasses

Essential for when you promote pupils to be experts, either they finish and become markers  or are already designated as examiners with a given mark scheme (or self created markscheme). I use cinema 3D glasses with the lenses popped out, also great for control pupil movement in class when running  a treasure hunt with a lively group. Pupils can only be out of their seat if they have the glasses on, limiting movement as each group only have one pair of glasses.

Clock for classroom

Every classroom needs one, a mathematical clock like this equation clock. There are also a number of variations available. Check out our post “Equation clocks and more”.

Post It Notes

Well worth the investment, reasonably priced from most stationary stores. Check out our post “Post-it Addict” jam packed of different uses for post-it notes in lessons!

For more ideas check out our posts on Outdoor Learning and see if these fit into your department calendar.
Have a great summer!

End of term resources

3 Jul

The summer holidays are almost upon us so here are some of our top resources and activities to see you through until the end of term. Have a great summer holiday from Number Loving!

Olympic themed resources

If you are after an Olympic themed lesson then try out our Olympic top trumps (download here) and Olympic mysteries (download here). With four mysteries to pick from and the solutions included there should be something for most abilities.

Also Kentishman has shared a wide variety of good quality Olympic themed starters which are well worth a look.

Other bits and bobs

Craig Barton has put together a collection of the top ten end of term resources available on the TES (try saying that quickly!) have a look here for some great ideas.

One of the best end of term games I have come across is Paul Collins’ Pirate game which is available on the TES here. Basically students place money and other symbols in a 7×7 grid, as you call out the grid references they get whatever they had placed in that square. With symbols such as the ‘steal’ which allows them to steal another persons money and the skull and crossbones which lets them wipe out a whole rows scores this is a very lively game which the students will love. I plan on putting a bit more Maths in (for example a ‘squared’ square which lets them square their total).

I discovered these blank Facebook profiles on the TES a while ago and was thinking of a way to use them. I plan on giving students a famous Mathematician and getting them to research this person in order to fill in their Facebook profile. Printed A3 and laminated they should make for an interesting display. I adapted the one off the TES slightly you can download it here.

This week I am doing a ‘sign post project’ with my Year 7’s to consolidate the work we did on measures and conversions. I wanted to put some sign posts up around the school with the distances to different places on, e.g. Science block 30m, Manchester  150 miles. So I decided to get the students to make them. I have split the class into groups and have given each group a different location within the school where their sign post will go. They’ve had to work out the distance from this place to other locations within the school and further afield, then convert their measures so they were all in m, km and miles. They’ve used trundle wheels and tape measures in the school and Google earth for the others. Here’s the PowerPoint I used with a bit more info on.

I often use my CSI mysteries towards the end of term for a fun lesson which still involves a lot of maths. See the collection on the TES here.

I’ll also be using Hama beads and this Cocktails project which I have blogged about previously. If we get any nice weather the cocktails go down really well!

If you use any of the ideas we would love to hear about it, tweet us @laurareeshughes and @numberloving.

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