Friday, 23 June 2017

Solvemoji & Number Talks

Today we solved our first Solvemoji puzzle.

Once the children had their answers, we carried out a Number Talk.

Was excellent. The end.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

#Taskmaster - How Much Would You Give?

Yep, another one from the most recent series of Taskmaster!

Each episode, the contestants are asked to bring something. In this particular episode, they were asked to bring a sum of money. Whichever contestant brought the most money got to keep the lot.

Now, it's unlikely our primary-aged pupils will want to bring all their hard-earned pocked money to school, so we thought of a way round that...

We've created 10 fictional people and written how much is in each person's bank account. Split the children into groups of 4 or 5 and get them to decide how much of their money is going to go into the pot. Then, get them to share their decisions and see who would have taken the loot! The footballer? the teacher? how much, or little will the highest amount be? who takes risks and who doesn't?

A bit of estimating, a bit of guess work, a bit like Top Trumps. A great oracy opportunity to discuss people's thoughts and choices.

Monday, 19 June 2017

#Taskmaster - Draw the Median Duck

Yep, another idea from the fantastic Taskmaster on Dave.

 Image credit: screen capture of Dave TV Channel

This one is about averages. Get a group of about five children together and ask them to 'Draw the median duck'. 

Once they have all drawn their ducks, measure each one from beak to tail. The person closest to the median wins. Do you draw large, small? What's everyone else going to do? Who knows! It's similar to Spoof, in that thinking about the likely actions of others needs to be thought about. 

NB: Guess what! It doesn't have to be a duck. IT could be anything!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Times Table Relay

A little while ago we saw this video on Facebook:

Today, we gave it a go with our Year Five Class:

It was good:

- times tables
- team work
- critical thinking
- proof reading
- correcting other's work
- fun in the sun
- #math

Just another way to cover times tables that doesn't involve sitting at desks! Thanks to AnAppleForTheTeacher for sharing.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

How it Feels to be 40

Saw this Tweet,
Asked some Year Five children for their responses...

This sort of question gives an insight into their thinking and raises interesting talking points. I'll be doing it more often.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Flags & Emojis

So, last month I saw the below Facebook post from a friend.

It got me thinking; do the children know the answers?

So, here's what we did:

- I gave them tablets (iPad);

- Got them to open a document and, from the Emoji keyboard, insert a flag that contained a Union Flag.

- Next, find out where the flag is the flag of, why it contains a Union Flag and some of the history of the country*. They used the internet, books and each other for help.

-> Of course, this could be used for any flag in the Emoji keyboard, "Whose is it?" "Why that 'pattern'?" "Why those colours?" and so on... 

Here's some of that they produced:

*Not all of them are countries!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Book of Knowledge

Since February, we've been undertaking something we've branded 'The Book of Knowledge'. It uses a resource on the ReadWorks website called Article-A-Day™.

We'd noticed that some of our Key stage Two pupils didn't always focus during reading time, didn't appear to know 'the purpose of reading' and struggled with some basic comprehension skills.

So, we did something about it. Either first thing in the morning or first thing in the afternoon, every day, the children complete their 'Book of Knowledge' activity:

1. Class teacher needs to print out one of the resources from here - we make them into a booklet for each child.
2. Each child chooses one of the articles to read.
3. They note down three interesting facts they've learned (into their BoK).
4. The teacher chooses three pupils to each share a fact and write these onto the Working Wall.
- The whole thing takes no more than fifteen minutes. We've learned all sorts!

In the week, all pupils read all the articles, but in an order they choose. They learn new facts, they note them down and the asking of three pupils to share a fact ensures everyone is taking part. The texts are in American English, but for us this is a minor issue.

At the start of each session we remind pupils that we're reading to:
- learn new information;
- practice 'the art of reading';
- develop of ability to recall something we've read. 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Here's How That COULD Be Spelt

The Phonics Screening Check is undertaken in Key Stage 1 and is supposed to indicate a child's understanding of phonics. 
As part of the check, children are asked to read words. Some real; others made up (pseudo):

How about turning that on its head when studying phonics, reading, writing and spelling across primary (and maybe even secondary) education?: 

When studying a spelling, ask the children for examples of how it could be spelt. There are 44 phonemes. How can they be rearranged and swapped to create the same sound, but a different spelling: fone, phone, phowne, fowne...

Which one looks right, do all the suggestions look likely, how could this be useful for spelling new words?

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Count von Count Place Value

Each day, or a couple of times a day, the count Tweets a number. Stick it on your board in your classroom:
 - can the children write it in numbers;

- what are its factors? Is it prime?;

- what's half of it? Double it;

- and so on...

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Physical Multiplying and Dividing by 10, 100 & 1000

Here, we go. Another, "We saw a Tweet and post..."

So, we saw the above Tweet and then went and tried it out. This video has always aided our teaching of this mathematical concept, but saw instantly how this could add to it. 

We took some chalk and wrote out some place value headings and asked the children to stand behind them. Then called out X and ÷ questions and watched them move. Sometimes they were correct, sometimes wrong and sometimes disagreed. They enjoyed it, did some learning and we had a few discussions. See below for a video of what we got up to.


Friday, 12 May 2017

#Taskmaster: 5 Letter Word Game

Yay! Taskmaster is back on TV. Yeah, it inspired us, again!

This time it was Series 4, Episode 3. On this occasion, it was the final task that we were most interested in. The contestants stood side-by-side and were told that music would be played. In turn, they needed to say a five letter word when the music stopped. If someone couldn't say a word or repeated a previously said word, they were out. Each time the game restarted, the number of letters in the word changed (2 letters was surprisingly hard). 

Image credit: UKTV - awaiting permission

- Group of children stand up.
- Give them a number of letters in a word (e.g. 5).
- Play music.
- Each time the music stops, the pupils, in turn, say a word with the required number of letters.
- Repeat or fail and you're out.
- Change number of letters.


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Letter and/or Number Reversal Search

Some children struggle to write some letters and numbers the correct way around. An alternative to getting them to write out lots of the letter or number the right way can be to find the letter, in its correct orientation, on a page of correct and 'incorrect' letters.

The above example is for finding b and d. A copy of this can be found here.

Monday, 1 May 2017

'We Make Use of...' 123 Learning Books

Our next post in our 'We Make Use of...' series...
"123 Learning books boost confidence and attainment in maths.  That's a fairly bold claim, but our repeat sales are testament to this.  They each work on the principle that some people need and benefit from extra support and practice." That's taken from the company's website, and we'd agree. 

In Years 3 - 6 we've used Plus 1, Power of 2 and Perform with Times Tables with some excellent results. The books are set out in a very similar fashion to Toe by Toe (for those of you that are familiar with it). A pupil, with an adult, answers mathematical questions a couple of pages at a time and when they've shown that they can recall a fact and group of facts a number of times, they move on through the book. The books get progressively more challenging and therefore build confidence while working on attainment.

It's important to provide this intervention for the right pupils. Also, for some, the books stay in school and are completed with TAs and teachers only; others complete some in school and some at home. For some children, maths is difficult because they're missing basic fact knowledge or strategies: this can help with that. 

If ordering, contact them in advance. Discounts are given for larger orders...

We've written this blog post to outline our use of these publications. We have not been asked to write this or received anything for the purpose or expectation of this blog post being written. This is, as always, the view and opinion of two full-time class teachers about something we use in the classroom.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

What Can I Do With My Abacus?

Previously, I successfully asked for some help in making use of the counting stick(s) I have in my classroom. I now make much better use of them. In addition, the crowdsourced document is still there for others to use too. Now, another thing I have in my classroom is my large abacus. I use it a fair amount, but am sure I can use it more and better...

Friday, 28 April 2017

The Grid Challenge

Saw a Tweet earlier this week:

Wow. Didn't the child do well. And, we really liked the look of the task, so we set about making some of our own. Our class have really enjoyed trying to solve them since. We made an Excel document for creating them and extended it over the four operations

At the time of writing, we've used multiplication and addition grids with our class. Not sure how useful the subtraction and division versions will be, but they're there if needed.
Find the resources here. Hope it's useful.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Hand Facts

Got a fact you want your class to remember? Try Hand Facts...

By the entrance to your classroom, place a hand and each week, below it, place a fact (we've used it for maths, but there could be one for English too, or the fact could change between subjects). 

As the children enter and leave the room, they place their hand on the fact and say it. This repetition helps them to remember the fact. Fact.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Visualiser and Mistake Annotations

Today, I had some of yesterday's maths work that I wanted to show the class. So, I decided to use the iPad stand, an iPad device with the camera app on and AirServer. This allowed me to show the child's work on the classroom projection, where all the children could see it. In addition, I laid a piece of OHT paper over the work so I could annotate it as I spoke about the work. As you know, we love OHT here at PI Towers! Go to your school office; they'll have loads of the stuff in a dusty corner and will be happy for you to take it away! Child's work, visualiser, projector and transparent paper. Was very effective. 

Here's what the children could see.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

What I Wish Me Teacher Knew About Me

Over half way through the year, and now working as a job share (with each other incidentally), we decided to ask the children to write down something they wanted us to know. We've gotten to know them quite well, some more than others, but there's always more to find out. 

Some wrote down things we already knew, others wrote about school or home, and some were really surprising:

- a boy whose parents have separated;

- a child who had recently overcome a fear;

- someone who had taken up a new sport;

- a girl who pointed out she'd like us to stop getting her name wrong.

So, if you get 5 minutes, ask your class, "What would you like your teacher to know about you?" 

It'd make a really good transition day activity, first day of term task or, as we did just ad hoc...

Saturday, 25 March 2017

5 Gold Rings in Class

Have you been watching ITV's new quiz show, '5 Gold Rings'? It's great, we really like it. Watched the first episode, shouted at the TV, discussed (little left, bit down, bit more up...) and decided we'd watch again. Then, second episode, we discovered the app - we could play too while watching the contestants! Then, of course (like we do), we thought of a way to get it into class...

The uses are endless. Here's how it works: there's a picture of something with part missing or covered up. The person playing the game has a ring and needs to predict where something is. For example, finding the number 4 on this clock face:
Print out the picture with a missing part on paper, provide children with a pen and something circular and ask them to draw a circle where they thing the target is located. To allow children to check their work, have the answer printed on a piece of OHT paper that they can lay over their answer to see how they did. 

                 Guess                                                                  Compared to Answer

Both, Side by Side

As I said, the opportunities for this are endless. But, here are some example questions and answers. Included there are: the clock face shown above, 'find Northern Ireland', 'locate the amber traffic light' and 'Where's the top of the A?'.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Could Papa, Actually Get The Moon?

At the weekend, I watched an animation of 'Papa, Please Get The Moon For Me' for the first time. As I watched it with my own children at home, it struck a chord with me as my class are currently studying a unit in science about the Earth, Sun, Moon and our Solar System. So, today, I played the animation for my class. After I'd played it, I played it a second time and asked the children to write down anything in the video they thought was fictional rather than scientific fact.

Made with Padlet

In future years, I might use this task as a pre and post assessment. What do they think is fictional before some teaching and then afterwards. Nice story, nice animation and some good science learning...

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Slow / Fast Motion Video Task

Again some inspiration from the TV series Taskmaster. We've had success in the past with the 'Backwards Video Task'. In the most recent series, the contestants were asked to film something that when sped up or slowed down made it more interesting or amusing.

Again like before, use it as a group work and/or ICT task. Both iMovie and Movie Maker allow speeding up or slowing down a clip and apps can be purchased to do the same too.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Twitter for Parts of Speech

Find a Tweet or two (with no swearing or major punctuation/grammar errors*) and ask the children to identify the parts of speech contained in it. They'll be short texts as they've got to be within 140 characters.

  In this example, I found a Tweet with the word 'stamp' in it:
Here's another...

* It's a challenge!  

You could even write your own, or get the children to

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Story of the Rugby Match

In rugby (union and league), points are earned in various different ways during a game. 

Here's the scoring system in rugby union:
- try, 5 points (and then the opportunity to kick a conversion for 2 points);
- penalty, 3 points;
- drop goal, 3 points (not frequent).

So, looking at a scoreline from a game, can pupils work out how the teams achieved the scores they have? These could be mid-game (like the ones below), full time or even fictional.

Are all scorelines possible? Can any scores only be gained in one way?

Friday, 3 March 2017

The Shoe Shop is Open

Here's an idea to help with those practical lessons. Particularly art, DT and so on...

You know, sewing where half the class want their needle rethreading, DT where everyone needs to use the glue gun and similar occurrences.

It uses the system I first came across as a child in Clarks. You go in the shop, take a ticket with a number on and then wait. In an orderly fashion, those with tickets are seen. The shop assistant decides when they next see someone.

In the classroom, put up five Post-It Notes with the numbers 1-5 on them. If someone needs help from the teacher, they take a number and see what else they can get on with. In order, the teacher calls out which number they will see next (in a "Cashier number 4 please" voice of course!). When the child has been seen, they put their number back for someone else to use. If there are more than one adult in the room, each adult has their own coloured Post-It.

It works quite well. Give it a go.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Weather Tree

Another post that is in response to a Tweet we received.

So, here's something we did a fair few years ago...

To start with, the tree is empty and each day a leaf is added. The colour of the leaf is dependant on the temperature outside. On the leaf, other observations and readings about the weather can be added. 

What is creates is a very visual display of the temperature changes across the year. On closer inspection, further information about the day's weather can also be seen.

The leaves were kept in coloured pouches at the bottom that had the key written on them to explain what the colours referred to.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Some Quite Interesting Numbers

Watching last week's QI on the BBC, they had a feature that I thought would be useful in school to ignite some interest in maths. 

What's interesting about these numbers?

The picture is the Mayan zero.

The '2 to the power of...' is the largest known prime number (at the time of writing).

If someone wrote out the numbers 1 - 10 billion in words and organised them in alphabetical order, 8,000,000,085 would be the first odd number.

142,857 is a cyclical number: multiply it by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 and the product (each time) is an anagram of it!

Frobenius number - Chicken nuggets are sold in 6s, 9s and 20s. 43 is the largest number of nuggets that can't be bought.   

There you go. Share them as they are, or even make an investigation out of some of them. Quite interesting.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Christmas Countdown Problem

The above shows a Christmas countdown that we have on a window in our kitchen at home from the 1st of December. It's designed to be used like an Advent calendar and only in December (hence having 2 lots of 2 for '22 days to go' and 2 lots of 1 for '11 days to go', but not 2 lots of the other numbers). Today, I noticed that someone has begun a countdown towards Christmas 2017 (don't worry, it's coming down shortly). However, if we were to continue, how many days could not be shown with the numbers available and what 'days to go' are they? For example '222 days to go' can't be shown as there are only 2 lots of 2, but 357 and 356 can both be shown.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Órlagh's Birthday Riddle

It is true, I know 'cos it's my daughter. I'm going to give that statement to my class this week to see if they can figure out how it can be true.

In case you hadn't already worked it out... She was born on 31/12/2014. She therefore spent sometime (not much) in 2014, also 2015 and 2016. As it's now 2017, that's a fourth (calendar) year. The years are actually irrelevant as the answer is she was born on New Year's Eve and two years and one day later, it's now New Year's Day.