Things I Learned This Week: Sep 8

This week in class…
  • In my first lesson with each class I have been talking to my students about being gritty and green!  The green refers to our engagement with learning assessments where we traffic light students green / amber / red for their engagement with their learning. They certainly all listened and understood the message and clearly want to do well.
  • I have used the name cards I described here; I printed the address of my homework blog on one side for them to see and note and they wrote their name on the other. I find these really helpful, seeing the name beside the student means you can use their name when you talk to them and I already know many names. I collect them in at the end of the class, providing another opportunity to use their name thanking them for returning the card. (The ‘cards’ are actually folded A4 paper.)
  • Diagram - T SherringtonI read Tom Sherrington’s post “Empowing students to own their learning solves maths problems“; a great idea to start with a diagram with no labels at all as a way into a problem. I tried this with Year 10 (very able students) in their first lesson, presenting them with only Tom’s diagram and was very pleased indeed with the outcome. I didn’t even give them the question – just the diagram (a small copy each) and we started by deciding what the question might be. We quickly got onto areas as a possibility so then answered Tom’s original question ‘what fraction of the shape is shaded?’. The class happily discussed how to solve the problem and a student asked ‘can we write on the diagram?’ which of course was perfect – absolutely they could write on it. We solved the problem, revising some basics and had the discussion about what to do when you don’t know what to do! I will certainly use diagrams with no labels again.
New Discoveries
  • Numbers AndroidNrich now have modules for STEP preparation which look excellent. Note also their related resources such as preparing for university.
  • The wonderful Desmos graphing calculator keeps getting better and better and now has animations.
  • I tried an Android app I rather like, Numbers which is similar to Countdown. Use the given numbers to achieve the target. There are over 200 levels. I’m not sure the levels have a lot to do with increasing difficulty – look at level 61 here for example – this is much easier than some of the earlier problems. When I first started playing I didn’t realise you could click on intermediate results as you see in the illustration here and actually managed several levels without doing do! Dave Gale has written a post on the app here. I think I’ll try some of the problems this week with my Year 7 class when we discuss order of operations because we could write out the solution on several lines as in the app but then discuss how we could write the solution with brackets. I really want this on my interactive whiteboard (as well as my tablet and my phone!)
  •  Maths News
  • I have written before on Jane Hart’s Top 100 Tools for Learning, the 2013 list is now published.
Blog Updates 
….and finally 
Thank you Doug Belshaw, I enjoy your Thought Schrapnel every week.


The wonderful NRICH site from the University of Cambridge which offers outstanding free enrichment resources for teachers and students has a new look. (Old links still work.) I like the design of the new website – a clean and modern feel which seems simple to navigate. Simply choose  the stage required from Teachers’ or Students’ menus on the front page.

Choosing Secondary under Teachers for example includes a link (under Collections) to an excellent stage 3 and 4 curriculum page which suggest NRICH activities by curriculum topic. Also, very usefully, activities are listed by mathematical processes such as Thinking Strategically and Working Systematically. Note also the link to the (updated) mapping document which is very valuable when searching for activities.

It is still possible to Search by topic if you wish. Activities organised by topics are also available on student pages. The Other Resources collection includes the excellent poster collection as well as a wealth of other resources.

The guides for Students and Teachers include links to register for newsletters.

This is such a valuable resource for teachers and students – thank you NRICH team!

Online Whiteboards & Feedback

One of the most popular posts on this blog is the one on online whiteboards which I keep updated. Note with Screenr now retired as you will see in the updated post, Screencastomatic will allow you to achieve the same result as seen here – easily create a screencast and upload to YouTube.

This was part of some feedback on a homework task (Tethered Goat – see nrich version here).
The video has been uploaded to our class wiki (I use Wikispaces).

The wiki page includes advice on the features of  a great solution, some questions for reflection and some images of student work.


Note the Diigo list with links to (free) Mathematics posters.  See for example all the posters created by nrich of various problems on their site or the excellent classic mistakes posters. (For non Diigo users clicking on the green link will take you direct to the relevant website, select back to return to the list).
Note that the list is also available as an Evernote shared notebook. You do not need an Evernote account to use this, though it is excellent and it is free!

For vocabulary posters it is very quick to produce an attractive poster with a site such as Wordle for generating word clouds.

This post has proved to be very popular, an updated version can be found here,


A favourite site I return to again and again. The site has extensive resources including problems, games, interactives and articles for teachers. Full teachers’ notes are provided.

The teachers’ menu has links particularly useful for teachers. Curriculum mapping documents suggest resources relating to the National Curriculum – both content and process. Something I use a lot is the search by topic facility to find all the resources for a particular topic. For the Interactive Whiteboard there are many outstanding interactives, for example, a favourite with my classes for practising with directed numbers is Connect Three. There are many games available; personal favourites which have worked well with classes are included in this collection.