Thursday, 29 August 2013

Starter Displays

I'm in the process of setting up my new classroom and when thinking about what displays I wanted to have up in my new room I was trying to think about what has worked best for me in the past. The displays I think work the best are those that you can either use or refer to in lessons. In the past I have used the '4 4s' problem, my '2 0 1 3' display and my 'Mathematical Concept Wall' displays in class as starter problems to pose my students; their answers then go up on the displays for all to see.

You can view my blog posts on these displays by clicking on the below links:

4 4s -->
2 0 1 3 -->
Mathematical Concept Wall -->

All of the above displays will be used again this year at some point. I already have a space marked out for the '4 4s' problem and a wall in mind for the 'Mathematical Concept Cards'. However, I wanted some displays that I could use on a daily basis. Displays that would allow me to direct students and then allow them to get on with a short task that we could then discuss the results to as a class. So, with this criteria in mind I have created the following...

'Number Cruncher'

This starter activity is often found in daily newspapers and comes under many different names 'Brain Gym', 'Mental Maths' etc etc. I downloaded a resource from dwatson802 on the TES website last year which had an interactive version of this starter task ( The ppt has 2-3 of these puzzles that are displayed on the board with a minute timer counting down before revealing the answer. I used this and my classes liked it, however there were too few of these to use on a regular basis and I didn't really want to spend loads of time creating a mega ppt of 'numbercrunch' puzzles. A reason for this is that I regularly forget about all of the starter tasks that I have used in the past/created - there's just too many ideas I have used. So, in order to forget forgetting about this one I have made a 'number cruncher' display. The display is simply a set of laminated arrows and start/finish circles that I can write on and change as I feel fit.
I have put the display above my IWB so the class can see it easily and as soon as they enter the class be getting on with it whilst I do the register and other adminy things.

Here it is...

The start number will go to the far left then the students will follow the operations on the arrows until they get to the end shape where the answer will be written when going through the workings as a class after they have enough time. I may even start from the 'finish' shape and get students to do the inverse operations to get back to the 'start' number.

The thing I like about this starter is that I can differentiate by my classes by changing the operations on the laminated arrows, the 'size' of the starting number, the type of operations on the arrows etc.

I may even write the 'start' and 'finish' numbers and then the workings in between each arrow before asking students where the mistake(s) are and to correct it. This will be one of the ways I try to get my classes to think about the mistakes they make in Mathematics, that it is OK to do so and how they can go about correcting them.

I will change the operations on the arrows as required depending on what class I choose to do this starter with and how often. By no means will I do this starter with every class every lesson. But it is there as and when I need it!
I'm hoping my students will get into the habit of doing it so much that they'll want to do it?

The number of the day is...

Another starter display I have made is a 'the number of the day is...' display. Here it is...

I made this using the products I use all the time when putting up displays. I just put one of their A1 magic whiteboards on the back wall of the classroom (visible to all students) and on it I put half of one of their green A4 magic whiteboards.

Simply, I will just write a number of my choosing on the green magic whiteboard sheet and get students to answer the 7 questions written below.
The 7 questions range in difficulty and are suitable for most, if not all, classes. Some lower KS3 classes may not be able to do the 'product of prime factors' question but all the others are doable by all. Some of the questions are quite open too and have multiple entry points which helps the 'growth-mindset' I'm trying to induce in my students. For example, if the number of the day was 24 students could answer 20 + 4 or 12 + 12 for the first question. They could answer 8 and 3 or 6 and 4 for the 3rd question and question 7 allows them to pull out any other fact about the number. It could be that it is the square root of 576!? It's up to them.

Again, this display can be used as and when I decide (or my students desire). It won't be used every lesson with every class but is there when I need it. I can already see certain days of the week/year being used as 'the number of the day'. For example, Pi (3.14....) can be used on Pi day, 13 for Friday the 13th etc. I can get other teachers to guest on the display and choose the number of the day, perhaps in the style of Sesame Street where 'Today's 'the number of the day is..' is bought to you by...Miss Moore'. Perhaps my Twitter followers would like to suggest some too...

I'm hoping that both these displays will take off from the 1st week back. It will hopefully create a bit of intrigue in my students and will get them wondering what the 'number of the day is' or what the 'number cruncher' will be (I can only hope). If nothing else it'll jog my memory of two tasks that I can pull out of the hat at the last minute if necessary!

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