Archive for May, 2013

Keep up the hard work

May 30, 2013 2 comments

This is a response to the May #blogsync topic

Teaching is a profession that I love. Having discovered the joys of teaching, I don’t think I’ll ever leave. I, like most teachers, work extremely hard. Yes, the holidays are superb, but the hours I put in through the week are long, and can be particularly hard through the winter.

My mum was a teacher, and growing up I remember the hours of marking she did at the dining table after cooking tea for me and my brother, I remember sitting playing in classrooms over the holidays while she planned, marked, renewed displays. So I knew it was not a 9-3 job, I knew I was signing up for 50-60 hour weeks, and I’m fine with that, and I feel it is nicely offset by 13 weeks of holiday time (some of which, but not all, does include some planning). Before i joined I knew about the profession, and I respected it. Perhaps this is what the public are missing.

Earlier this year a year ten pupil arrived at school around ten to six to go on a school trip to a football match. I was just leaving. He assumed I was going on the trip, and was shocked to find out that I wasn’t, he asked in amazement, “well why are you still here then? School finished hours ago.” I explained that marking and planning were part of the job, he paused, thought a bit then said, “yeah, that makes sense. I’d never thought of it like that before. I guess you lot are here loads more than us then.”

I reckon that’s what most people think. And it’s an idea perpetuated by the constant attacks on the profession by the government and the media. It’s probably an impression also given by poor teachers.

When I think back to my school days I can tell you which teachers planned, and which ones didn’t. Which teacher’s lessons were engaging, had been thought about, had real deep learning attached, and which ones didn’t. The worst teachers lessons were all very similar, no matter what the lesson: “Chris, you can go first today, start reading from the top of page 22”. One science teacher who did this regularly used to often notice my friend Liam and I playing noughts and crosses or writing songs and would randomly fire questions at us to catch us out. The problem with this was she’d fire a question about the passage being read, and it was not hard to gave a quick scan of the page and answer correctly. The next table housed a couple of lads called James and Anthony, they hadn’t worked out that if you had the book open you could find the answer, Liam and I used to throw the odd answer to them. One time the question was “which organ does” something, and I said quietly to Anthony “pipe organ”, which he confidently shouted as his answer, the class burst into hysterical laughter, much to the chagrin of The teacher, and to Anthony who was then on the receiving end if a right rollicking. This was the highlight of all science lessons from this teacher. She, and others like her, who spent the lesson sat at the front of the room while we took it in turns to read from the text book then answer questions on said part of textbook, are more than likely responsible for some people perceiving all teachers work 9-3, as they certainly seemed to.

Thankfully, teachers like this are a dying breed, and I think (hope) that the current generation in schools realise and appreciate that. When they grow up, then I hope that perception will change, but as long as the government and sections of the press are fuelling the feeling with their regular attacks on teachers, then it will be hard work.

What can we do? Short of bringing people into schools and showing them, I’m not sure. Keep writing blogs that show our passion. Continue doing our best to educate, and improve the lives of, the pupils in our care. Engage with parents in a positive manner, showing them that we are on their side, that we care and that we work hard. Ensure we read the party manifestos (especially on education) and campaign for the parties we agree with. And support the sections of the press that support us.

We are the frontline. We are the teachers these pupils will remember, we are the ones who can alter the perceptions of people who suffered in a different age. It might not work, but if we continue to work hard, we might just raise our status.

Data Revision Quiz

May 17, 2013 Leave a comment

So, following on from the success of my “pub quiz” style revision tasks for Years 12 and 13 (, I thought I would try some with some of my Y11 classes and see how they fared. The first one I have tried is one I have written on data topics (the class are all sitting foundation) and the resource can be found here:

I tried the quiz with a small class of pupils who have previously been known to have behavioural issues. The quiz format worked really well for them, they helped each other out a bit with some questions, but all tried to make sure they were still winning. It was a close fun thing with the range of scores being only 4!

I enjoyed running the quiz and they enjoyed participating. The all revised topics they haven’t covered for a while and going through the answers has meant they all can now do things that will more than likely come up on their exam that they couldn’t before! all in all, a successful and enjoyable lesson was had by all. I think I will run similar quizzes next week for them and for my other Y11 classes.

Logic and conjecture

May 17, 2013 2 comments

A couple of months ago I was at my Gran’s house and I came across her copy of “Puzzler”. This instantly took me back to my childhood. Back then her and my Granddad lived on the Isle of Arran in Scotland and my mum, my brother and I would spend the majority of the summer holidays there. My dad would be there for some of it, but he wasn’t a teacher like mum, and as such couldn’t take the whole summer off. Granny was always a keen puzzler so there were always many of these compendiums around. She liked Crosswords and Wordsearches, but I much preferred these logic puzzles:

Logic1     Logic1

I also enjoyed the many number puzzles such as ken kens and sudukos. I think it was these puzzles at a very young age that might have been the first indicators of my love for maths.

When I came across this compendium a few weeks ago I immediately looked for and completed a logic puzzle. While I was doing so I realised that the reasoning being used was quite mathematical and that the able i was filling in was basically a two-way table. I decided that this would be a nice starter activity and so I made a purchase.


I’d not used these as starters yet, and then this week Emily Hughes (@ilovemathsgames) tweeted this link to her puzzle of the week ( Tis weeks included this puzzle:

Which reminded me of my compendium! I have used Emily’s this week as a starter for a few classes and they loved it, so I am going to incorporate more of these in future lessons. I’ve used it with a variety of classes from KS3 – KS5 and all enjoyed it, the faculty members i gave it to also seem to enjoy it too!

Revision Quizzes

May 16, 2013 1 comment

Currently my further maths class are revising for tomorrows D1 exam. Due to the fact we changed the order of the modules we teach the year 12s are also revising for the same exam and I have my class last lesson on a friday at the same time my ATL has year 12, so over the ast few weeks we have been joining up for the last 20 minutes or so and facing of in a head to head “pub quiz” type revision event, these quizzes came from the ATL. They worked really well, helped consolidate some of the learning and gave the students chance to see where they needed to put more work in. In this vein I have made a C1 and a C2 quiz ( ). The C1 quiz went really well and I am going to run the C2 quiz for the first time tomorrow.

Given the success of these quizzes I am planning on doing some similar ones for GCSE classes next week!

Edit – 09/12/13 – I have added some new rounds to the C1 quiz and have also uploaded exported ppts for those of you unable to access notebook.


May 14, 2013 2 comments

Inequalities is a subject that I enjoy teaching, it is one which easily lends itself to SMSC discussion around inequality in society and it is quite a fun topic to do.

The first lesson observation I had that was a solid “good” during my NQT year was for a lesson on inequalities. This introductory lesson on inequalities as been tweaked and formed the basis of the lesson i use most of each time. That lesson can be found here: 

The lesson starts with a few pictures of different inequalities and I ask the class if they know they word and if they can tell me what it has to do with the pictures I have put on the board. This can produce some lively debate and often some brilliant answers about social inequality and how unfair that can be.

I then introduce the signs and discuss what they mean and the difference between them before moving on to some questions which pupils need to answer on whiteboards. These start with easy numerical ones before moving on to some sums. I include one where they get 4 and 4 and have to put a sign in. Most put one of the “or equal to” ones but there’s always one or two who opt for = despite it not being on the list. I think this is a great discussion point to use with pupils. As it gets further on I throw a couple of fun ones in. Most pupils get Maths > English correct (thankfully), but most get Rugby > football wrong!

The lesson moves onto numberlines and writing integers which satisfy inequalities and then refers to a card sort activity which involves pictures showing inequalities on a number line, integers which satisfy the inequality and the inequality written algebraically. The lesson moves on to solving them and the plenary (or “Final challenge”) is to solve a wordy past paper GCSE question.

I enjoy using this lesson and my pupils enjoy it, understand it and learn from it and i hope that some of you can have a similar experience with your classes.

NB: I’ve also included an exported powerpoint of the notebook file.


May 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Today I decided to try look into uploading resources to the TES website. I figured that I get so many off there from such fantastic contributors (my favourite ones can be found here: ) that it was about time I started to put some of my own up.

My page can be found at 

So far I haven’t put much up there, but my first upload is a collection of my favourite starter puzzles (

In this collection is my 4 pics one word starter, which created a whole raft of other similar resources by other superb teachers. I have blogged in more detail about that here:

Also included are the “wedding maths” starter ( and an old favourite ( .

I have included two show-me activities based around reflection, rotation and enlargement which i find fun and engaging. They included pictures of celebrities they will know, and some they may not know. I have found this can be a good way to get some wider discussion into the lesson, perhaps around the prime minister. I do find it slightly worrying that more pupils recognise the President of the USA than our PM!

The final one I have included is a whiteboard activity called “Whats wrong with this chart”, which was inspired by a series of tweets from @nyoungmath (a maths teacher from Canada) which included the pictures I have used and the answers from one of her classes about what was wrong with them. I have used this today as a revision activity with Yr 11 and they loved working out the mistakes!

Wrong, but useful

May 8, 2013 5 comments

For those of you that have missed the first two episodes, “wrong, but useful” is a superb new maths based podcast produced by Dave Gale ( twitter: @reflectivemaths  blog: and Colin Beveridge (twitter: @icecolbeveridge blog:

Podcasts are not something I’ve really known much about before, and I’d certainly never listened to one, especially a maths one, so I didn’t know what to expect! I thought it would be similar to a radio show, and a radio show about maths was something that appealed to me, so I decided to give it a shot.

The first episode ( was good, I enjoyed the maths chat and it gave me some food for thought. This was great and I was excited for episode two. My favourite bit was the discussion around the coolest numbers! (although 73 didn’t get a mention!) This episode also signposted me to other maths podcasts which I will investigate.

When episode two came around I was amazed. The whole thing was fantastic. The improvement was immense, which is saying something because I had loved the first episode! I imagine the improvement came due to Dave and Colin having the experience of episode 1, so really can’t wait till the next.

The second episode ( started with a theme tune, which was great, and the maths behind it was pretty interesting. The discussion then covered a few interesting topics.

A few of the bits that stick out for me were:

Colin discussed twitter and basic maths. He mentioned the fun that can be had by searching #basicmaths (it can be fun, although a lot of traffic currently about a new wordpress theme with that name!) Colin disclosed an anecdote where someone had claimed “a 110% increase”, and someone else had told them it didn’t make sense and used #basicmaths as an insult. Which is ironic, as in this context it does make perfect sense. This segment put the ludicrous idea into my head that Colin and Dave would take up a role of twitter “maths police”, spending time looking for other mistakes like this and correcting them. This idea made me giggle a lot. Who knows, perhaps it will become a segment!

A discussion around Peppa pigs maths, inspired by this pic I tweeted!


All in all, the podcast are awesome, and if you love maths, as I do, I would urge you to have a listen for yourself!

The archive can be found here:

Categories: Maths Tags: ,
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