Archive for the ‘Learning Aids’ Category

Failing and Sailing

Having read the blog post from Meolscop High School: Shuffling Sums, about First Attempt In Learning and Second Attempt In Learning, and then meeting the lovely @missfilson at mathsconf15 and hearing more about her department’s work on growth mindset, I was inspired to give it a go with students at my school.

The first introduction was with a year 7 group who had been constructing triangles using ASA. I gave them the following problem asking whether students would construct identical triangles if they were gien only angles.


Some students were thinking about it straight away and were happy to write down their opinions, but there was a significant amount of students who were reluctant to write anything down because they didn’t know the right answer. It was important to spend time explaining to the students that I was interested in their thoughts and not whether ther answer was right or wrong. At this point I also said that they may want to write a sentence or try constructions to help them come to an answer. For this first attempt, I wrote individual hints in their books to give the students support towards their second attempt. I also wanted to help students feel ok with not getting the right answer the first time, and to share with each other their “FAILs” and hints.

image image



I also tried this with a year 9 group working through ratio and proportion. Students were gven the miles/km conversion lines and asked to complete any missing values they could. Again, students found it difficult to attempt anything to begin with as they wanted to know the right way to calculate the amounts, but after some encouragement, most students made their first attempt.


Looking through students first attempts, they’d all had a go at a valid method, so with support would be able to continue along their line of thinking. This time, instead of giving individual hints, I grouped the feedback into the three methods they’d attempted:

1. Putting values against each step on the double number line


2. Recognising where the miles value had doubled, so doing the same to the km


3. Finding the relationship from miles to km


I reviewed these methods with them as a whole class, and gave them the option of continuing with the method they started with, or changing to a different method. Some results are below (the final student being keen to make corrections corrected her first attempt before rewriting onto the second!)

image image image

From this work, it is evident to me that students find it difficult to grasp the mindset of attempting something without knowing if they are “doing it right”. This won’t change overnight, but the failing and sailing is another step towards developing growth mindset within my maths classroom.

Sharing Good Practice – 100 Outstanding Mathematics Ideas

Once a fortnight in our department we have a spare 10 minute briefing slot, so a couple of years ago, our then TLR holder introduced a teaching and learning briefing session to share good practice. These are usually topic based for upcoming topics! Today’s, however was a feedback on 100 outstanding maths lessons, by Mike Ollerton. A few of us were tasked with reading and trialling out a few ideas.

One colleague had tried out the cuboid and prism volume, a lovely activity of folding a piece of paper length ways into a cuboid (or bigger edged prism) and using the open end on square paper to find the area and then volume.  Another tested out idea was an angles activity, again starting with a piece of paper, following some rules for folding to provide more than 20 angles to work out using angle rules, or to measure.  What’s even better with these is the lack of time needed to prepare resources!

The ideas I tried out included another paper folding activity to help adding fractions with different denominators.  It was a great way of helping pupils understand how to find a common denominator and why, especially with my lower set group.


I also tried out partition and product – a number investigation which was easily adapted for a lower set year 9 group and top set year 7 by how much information was given to the pupils to start with.

The final idea I partly used was area of 20cm2, but instead of using area, I found a similar idea using perimeter of 12cm.  It worked really nicely with the year 7s, particularly as I could use the visualiser to display some ideas, which then prompted others to find more interesting shapes.

100 Outstanding Maths Ideas (3 of them)

I would really recommend the book.  It does what it says on the cover: Outstanding Ideas, which come with the bonus of being able to use without time needed to prepare (or photocopy) resources.


Maths Foldables

Something I happened across when searching for a resource was a maths foldable. As I delved deeper, I discovered they’re all the craze in America, along with interactive notebooks. I quite liked the idea of actually making something to provide notes on a topic rather than just writing in the exercise book. My thinking was that these would be particularly useful for younger pupils and lower group pupils, but this week I’ve used one for Yr 11, and they’ve used it really well.

Constructions Foldable

6. Geometry Construction Book Foldable (Print double sided, along long edge).

Yr 11 have been learning the constructions and having found this foldable from ispeakmath and tweaked it, my yr 11s have used it to draw their example construction and then refer back to it when working on the different types of constructions. It worked well with the site, which enables a slideshow of the constructions to loop round.

Other foldables I’ve attempted so far are the multiplication grid, BIDMAS, transformations, divisibility and rounding.  For the lower groups, having a template seems to have been successful so far, and just having something a bit different in their books as a point of reference for the topics is very useful.

Mult Grid


IMG_2080 IMG_2079

1. BIDMAS Foldable

IMG_2084 RRTE Foldable

IMG_2083 5. Divisibility foldable

IMG_2082 5. Rounding inc sig figs

Just wanted to add at the end, that making these quick reference tools follows investigation and discussion; they’re not just a write and do tool!



Classroom Sorted

Having viewed a few ideas over the holidays, I spent the first day back, after all the initial meetings and sessions, getting my classroom sorted.  Can’t go in during the holidays with my boys, so got all prepared, ready to staple when I got in.  As a job share, we both have things we’d like on the walls, so just happily staple around each other!

I love being able to display students work.  This year, I’ll be doing my best to display work which has shown an excellent effort and attitude in completing it.  To make it easier, I nicked the idea of bulldog clips, pinned in, so I can quickly clip work onto the board.  I saw this idea from a post on twitter – next is to write down who posted these ideas so I can credit them for it.



The next one I nicked from @just_maths.  There’s a big emphasis on independence this year, so liked Just Math’s way of making it clear the steps to take before asking me!  You can just see my Fraction, Decimal and percentage equivalents hanging in the background, in the hope that the more the pupils see the more common equivalents, the more it will sink in.



“Be Kind, Work Hard” I thought was a quick summary of expectations for the classroom, so displayed above the board to be seen every day!  Again, I need to make sure in future I credit others properly, as this was another idea I saw on twitter. The number pencils have been on top of my board since I moved into the classroom!



So with the classroom freshened up, I can now get down to the real job of knowing my pupils and preparing some lessons!

Learning Mats

It’s that time in the holidays, when, after finally managing to take a complete break, I’m back reading twitter and blogs, mentally preparing for the new year. Very quickly, mentally preparing has become resource preparing.

Last year, I created some learning mats (Basic Learning Map) to aid pupils during their lesson time. I ended up only using them with a lower year 9 group, especially with a couple of pupils who particularly used the 100 square to support their number work. I very quickly wished I’d put a multiplication grid on, as although an advocate for pupils knowing their tables, I also do not want pupils to feel as though they can’t progress in other areas because they don’t know their tables! A blog for another day.

So after coming across Colleen Young’s (Learning Names) idea for name cards, I thought this could be an opportunity to create support aids for pupils which they can keep themselves Name mats. It is initially my year 7 group I have in mind for this, as they are the only group I won’t know, having started our timetable at the end of the Spring Term. The algebra basics comes from a poster created by Mr Williams Maths (Algebra Basics).

The one section outside is left blank for pupil’s to complete with their names, whilst along with the conversions and area formulae, the other section inside I thought pupils could add their own particular ideas that they want to refer to.

I am taking on a Year 11 class this coming year, an extra group that gets created for Year 11 as an extra teacher is put in.  They are C/D pupils, so next step may be to create a name learning mat for that group.

Name Learning Mat Name Learning Mat 1