**Kahoot or not to Kahoot**

Trainee Teachers – we go crazy looking for lesson resources. That’s where OUR hours go. My goodness, what will it be like once we qualify? Well, here’s one piece of tech I’ve already used in one of our GCSE Maths revision groups in preparation for the summer exam period.

Kahoot! – a free online resource – allows you to create quizzes (the most popular), surveys and discussion for use in class. Students love it for its gamifying (is that a word? it is now!) quality, as each student/group pit against one another to score points and be top of the leader board.

I’ve found it to be a nice way to conclude a section of learning too. Set up one as a novel plenary perhaps, or an energising way to start a lesson.

If you’re not brave enough to create your own content just yet, there are loads to choose from in lots of topics (and not, I should add, just in mathematics).

Do you already use Kahoot in your sessions? or perhaps you’ve found another great resource….tell me tell me!

]]>**What inspired me to create formation 5 and example 5 hands?**

I have always found Geography to be a difficult subject for the lower ability, SEN and EAL GCSE students that I teach. Having recently been on a course for the new GCSE specification I realised that the subject was going to become even harder for these learners. It was specifically the new A level style key terminology, volume of content and the eradication of the foundation tiered paper that concerned me. I wanted to create an easy way for students to learn the many scientific based formations, which contained a lot of difficult key terminology and the geographical examples, which contained a lot of facts. I also wanted my keen learners to be able to access the curriculum in a fun and easy way. In the exam the majority of formation questions are worth four marks, I thought for weeks about something in real life that had four sections, however I wasn’t able to come up with anything suitable. I then realised that hands would be perfect even though they had five parts to them, rather than four.

**How do the hands work?**

The formation five hands break the stages of geographical processes down into 5 easy stages. Each finger of the hand is numbered and coloured coded, to help students remember the order. The key words in each stage are also highlighted, so that students know which key words to use to get the marks. The palm of the hand provides a visual representation of the process, and where possible each of the stages is shown clearly on the diagram in the corresponding colour.

I then had to make this work for the country examples of these processes the students have to remember. Most geographical examples are broken down into causes, primary and secondary effects, short and long term management methods. These five aspects replaced the stages of the formation and so each finger contains a short case study specific description for each of the aspects. The palm of the hand became an annotated photo of the event and again where suitable the photo was colour coded to show the five aspects of the case study.

**How could formation 5 be used in other subjects?**

The formation 5 hands just help students to remember a process, and therefore I feel this could be transferred to many other subjects. An easy subject for this to transfer to would be science as like geography there are many processes that students have to remember. The hands could also be useful in maths, where students need to remember the process of using a formula. They could even be used in English for remembering writing techniques for certain types of questions.

Here are some examples below;

]]>This is what happens when your dad works in the movies or whatever you want to call it.

This is a great video to show during any form time session!

]]>Those who do not teach will have no idea to all the extra jobs that teachers do, and those who do teach will be left with a smile on their face.

I love the last job!

]]>As millions of kids around the world begin to download and play the hit phenomenon game Pokemon Go it is paramount that they are aware of the dangers of playing the game.

Below are the Top 5 tips to consider when playing Pokemon Go;

]]>**The Introduction Of Mastery At KS2**

Earlier this week (12.7.16) Minister of State for Schools Nick Gibb announced that £41 million was being made available for around 8000 primary schools to apply for in order to implement a mastery curriculum in England (click here to see the DfE press release); the money is to be used for text books and the training of staff. This mastery approach is based upon the method of teaching mathematics used in Shanghai, an area which regularly tops the Pisa league tables politicians around the globe reference so regularly, and whose position near the summit they prize so highly.

This must be a positive move in so many ways, surely…

Let’s have a look:

It sounds like a lot of money at a time when budgets are being cut left, right and centre. The trouble is that it’s not really a huge amount. That £41 million is to be shared between the 8000 schools, so that’s around £5000 each. This money is to be spread over 4 years which means that would be about £1250 per year; nothing to be sniffed at but already this is looking less impressive. When you consider that text books tend to be quite pricey (we have no idea at the moment but GCSE text books are £15+ each) and the going rate for a day’s training course for one member of staff is £200+, not-to-mention the cost of covering them for the day. So the money will amount to relatively little: a class set of books and some training for one member of staff?

It’s not all about money though; if it is good and delivers better results for our young people then cost is immaterial isn’t it? Absolutely, and I am a big supporter of a mastery approach but only when done properly. The key to the success of mastery is qualified staff and those staff having the time and ability to find/produce the best resources to deliver it. In Shanghai the teachers are all specialist maths teachers and only teach around half a timetable, spending the rest of their time planning lessons, helping those students who are struggling to catch up, and marking all the work they set. The downside, if that’s the way you see it, is that classes are large but with little or no behaviour management this boils down to weight of the marking, and logistically a space to fit all the students in. Mr Gibb has acknowledged that teachers in Shanghai get less contact time but feels schools in England can learn from China. He’s right but he fails to admit a desperate shortage of specialist maths teachers in England, and this is where the entire policy could fall down. There is a myth that mastery is purely doing lots of repetitive questions on a given topic. It isn’t, but if the curriculum is taught by teachers who aren’t fully trained or are not specialist that’s what it could become. The money promised to implement this will not train everyone who will be earmarked to deliver it; ideally every primary school would have a maths specialist or two who only taught maths throughout the school but the £41 million won’t cover this either and nor will dwindling school funds for the extra posts.

The whole point of mastery is to embed deep understanding of mathematical concepts so that those concepts can be applied in real, “ready for the workplace” contexts that industry repeatedly claims to desire from school leavers. Without quality resources or specialist teachers this deep understanding is unlikely to grow. Mastery, in simple terms, is based upon the question “why?” giving students the opportunity to explain their thinking, and this is where the understanding is rooted and embedded. The danger is that a non-specialist with be unable to ask the question “why?” at the appropriate times and draw out the explanations. I would add that this is not a criticism of teachers and that a good text book cannot (will never) replace specialist teachers who can react to the individual needs of the class.

The final issue could be cultural. Mathematical expertise is highly prized in Shanghai whereas it is socially acceptable, if not a badge of honour for some to admit to struggling in maths in the UK and the West in general. This is a major hurdle but as students become comfortable with having a go at the maths and are prepared to make mistakes whilst in search of an answer, the attitude towards the subject becomes more positive in my experience. It takes time and trust, so immediate results should not be expected but eventually the system should pay dividends, as long, and I know I keep banging on about this, as long as the teachers are specialists.

So in conclusion this is a great idea but typically for much education policy of recent times, it is being implemented without the infrastructure, funding or time for it to deliver the results desired by teachers and Westminster. At least the idea is right I suppose.

]]>Teachers love their summer holidays and what a way to celebrate it by looking at this Mathematical fact that I found on the internet

How cool is this!

BTW, for those who do not know what factorial means, 10! = 10 x 9 x 8 x 7 x 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1

]]>**QUICK! Check out this great idea! The Literacy speeding ticket**

**What inspired me to create the literacy speeding ticket?**

Being a geography teacher I feel passionately about improving students literacy, and recently I have found I don’t have much choice but to consistently drive this within my lessons due to the governments new style of GCSE, which places a huge emphasis on not only literacy in geography but also mathematics. With this in mind I have been on the hunt for strategies and resources that will improve students literacy from year 7. One resource that I particularly liked which popped up over Twitter recently was a ‘speeding ticket’, the majority of which were laminated cards issued to students for rushing their work. Wanting something more specific and literacy based I thought about the structure of the ticket and how it could be adapted to invoke a ‘dialogue’ between the teacher and the student to improve literacy.

**How does it work?**

The need to highlight students literacy ‘violations’ lead to me creating a ticket which had easy literacy based tick boxes which clearly explained to the student why they had been caught ‘speeding’. The want to create a dialog between the student and the teacher so that the resource became purposeful for feedback, led to the creation of the ‘speed awareness course’ at the bottom of the ticket. Here students are expected to re-write the paragraph or sentence containing the literacy ‘violations’, which is then re-marked and ‘passed’ or ‘failed’.

**What impact has the resource had?**

As this is a new strategy so close to the end of the school year I have only had the opportunity to introduce the tickets to one class so far, however already I have noticed an improvement in how conscientious they are towards their work when the yellow tickets make an appearance. I have also shared the idea within my school and it has already been adapted for use in art. Sharing the resource across Twitter also created an interesting dialog about its use in maths, with many maths teachers considering how they could adapt the literacy violations for mathematical ones, hence this blog post.

You can download a template of a speeding ticket on the **NEXT** page.

**Calculators and Balloons! #poundlandpedagogy**

One of the things I love on twitter is #poundlandpedagogy. Quite simply, it is a great example of where technology and social media have empowered teachers to collaborate and share their ideas in a quick and accessible way. I appreciate that the concept of going to a poundland-style shop and thinking of ways to use lots of random items in the classroom, in order to add some fun and interest to your subject, isn’t a new thing. Before the hashtag ever existed, lots of teachers including myself have spent many a happy hour (and pound!) doing exactly this. However, what Isabella Wallace (@Wallaceisabella) did when she created the #poundlandpedagogy hashtag was to enable us all to instantly and easily share these ideas. This, in my opinion is what makes #poundlandpedagogy rather special and a little bit addictive. For a quick hit of inspiration, to make any lesson more engaging simply search the hashtag and be met with a plethora of new ideas in photo form, straight from real teachers, out of real classrooms. Initially I searched the hashtag along with #maths and although the ideas were good there wasn’t many specifically for Maths. What I quickly realised is that they don’t need to be, what is unique about the #poundlandpedagogy concept is it’s completely cross-curricular and multi-age range. You simply get an idea and think how you can adapt and build on it to make it work in your classroom, with your kids.

**Using a calculator with balloons**

During one of these little #poundlandpedagogy searches I saw about 4 balloons with paper slips rolled up and posted inside, I could not tell you anymore about the tweet, the subject or the age range as this basic idea was enough to get me thinking. I decided to plan a starter based around those ‘Use your calculator to calculate….’ exam questions as the accelerated year 10 (British Curriculum) class needed an injection of fun and energy in those few lessons between the non-calculator and calculator GCSE papers, whilst also checking they were super-confident with their calculators. I used 32 balloons and 4 identical sets of 8 different questions (printed from exam wizard with mark schemes too) I then wrote 10 points, 8 points, 4 points and 0 points on a copy of each mark scheme answer respectively, then as I blew up the balloons I posted the rolled up mark scheme answer in the balloon and I also wrote the answer on the outside of the balloon in permanent marker. I had also bought some fun shaped little erasers that went in some of the balloons as an extra ‘bonus’ prize to add a bit of excitement to proceedings. The balloons were then released all over the classroom. The class was split into 4 teams; each were given a set of questions and a stapler. They were told to work out the answers, find a balloon with the answer, pop the balloon to retrieve the mark scheme answer with how many points they had ‘won’ and staple it to the question. Obviously if they couldn’t find a balloon with their answer on they needed to check their answer and get another team member to help if needed. The winning team is the team with the most points once everyone has answered the set of questions and popped the balloons. It’s perhaps important to reiterate, this is not a fastest team wins kind of game as it is purely points dependent and there are 4 balloons for every answer and 4 teams.

**What went well….**

The kids loved it. They worked well in their teams, helped each other with any calculator issues, reminded themselves of the important calculator keys whilst all being fully engaged. The points idea worked well and emphasised that it’s not about speed.

**Even better if….**

There was the small matter of blowing up 32 balloons and transporting them in 2 large bin liners to school…..it’s not an activity anyone would do every week! It did take about 25 mins to prep and did only last around 15 minutes in the classroom – but it was a fun, productive activity and in my opinion worth the effort! In hindsight, if you don’t want to blow up as many balloons, perhaps a treasure hunt type thing where some of the answers involve balloons would take less time to prepare!

I’m confident the balloon/team/points idea would work well for other topics and would love to hear if anyone does anything similar in the comments or via twitter!

]]>As an international Foundation Stage (kindergarten) teacher working in Singapore, I am surrounded by dedicated professionals broadening young minds by installing childhood wonder, every day.

Recent research carried out by ‘**nrich’ **in 2015 questioned; *‘If we want to create more positive attitudes and higher achievement in mathematics, what better place to start than in the **E**arly **Y**ears?’*. This study details one of the constant challenges faced by Early Years educators – ‘How do we develop exciting, enriched and positive mathematical activities?’ It is often perceived that young mathematics is 1,2,3,4,5….of course it is, but it is so much more!

The findings outlined in the ‘**nrich**‘ study showed; ‘*What is needed is a clear progression of ‘**big ideas**’ to develop number sense – giving guidance on what to look for and how to provide for it.’ *This is supported by The National Council of Teachers in Mathematics (NCTM) who in October 2013 stated: ‘*Young learners’ future understanding of mathematics requires an early foundation based on a high-quality, challenging, and accessible mathematics education.’*

So what does this look like in practice? What is ‘number sense’ in the day to day classroom? What is a mathematically developed child? When looking around our 8 classes in the reception unit, the awe and wonder can be seen….but dig deeper and the mathematical magic is all around!

The above activity shows block play, large wooden blocks, being used independently within the classroom. If you were a visitor in this room, would this activity shout ‘maths’ to you? The children here are working collaboratively to create a helicopter. The skills needed to create such in-depth play include…team work, problem solving, positional language, awareness of shape and length, to name but a few. The NCTM state, ‘*An engaging and encouraging climate for children’s early encounters with mathematics develops their confidence in their ability to understand and use mathematics.’ *It is these open ended, child led, mathematical play opportunities that broaden thinking and challenge our mathematical brains. Similar can be seen in the map drawing activity below, the children are challenging their spatial awareness, predicting length and visually creating shapes. The open ended water tray activity can lead thinking beyond number, it is about challenge, problem solving….fun!

However, as educators, our desire to stretch children’s hypothesis, prove, dis-prove and enlighten them to new concepts is innate inside of us. This is the passion that starts each day. Myself and my foundation stage colleagues take great care, thought and often luck through accidental learning opportunities to ensure ‘mathematical encounters’ are regular in our practice.

It is through these activities, incidental or planned that mathematical readiness and the beginnings of ‘number sense’ evolves.

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