Friday, 28 October 2016

#MathsMeet Presentations

A week ago I hosted a Teach Meet with a Mathematics focus at my school. The event went really well and we had some great presentations that were given on the day.
@Mahoney_Maths has already written a great write up of the event, which you can read here. So, I won't regurgitate that here. Instead I will just post links to the very kindly shared presentations that were given on the evening.
Should you need further explanations on the presentations then please feel free to contact the presenter via their Twitter handle.

Thank you to everyone that attended the event, presented and helped me out on the evening setting the School Hall up, etc (you know who you are). I will look to host a future MathsMeet at our school, possibly after this Summer's GCSE results have been published and we have had time to think about the implications of the new GCSE, etc.

WAGOLLs presentation (Ryan Foster) is here

Engaging Students with Book Work/Worksheets presentation (@mrprcollins) is here
(the last slide on this presentation provides a link to @Maths_Master's Forgetting Curve Homeworks presentation

The Power of Boxes and Circles (@mhorley) is here

5 Maths Websites you need to know (@mathsjem) is here
Jo has been blogging more on each of her 5 recommended websites on her blog, you can see the first 2 here and here

Assessment and Homework without Levels (@Mahoney_Maths) is here

Numeracy Ninjas at Oakwood School (@mrprcollins) is here

Monday, 10 October 2016

#MathsMeet (20th October 2016)

I have been fortunate enough to attend a number of TeachMeet events over the past few years and have benefitted greatly from the presentations and discussion had at them.

Whilst completing my NQT year I hosted #TMSurrey at my previous school and then later attended the event the next year.

This year I have been asked, by our Assistant Headteacher to organise and run a Mathematics focused TeachMeet at our school. So I am!

The Mathematics focused TeachMeet or #MathsMeet will take place on Thursday 20th October 2016 between 4:15 and 6pm at Oakwood School, Horley, Surrey, RH6 9AE.
We're right by Gatwick Airport and down the road from Horley train station, which is just one stop away from Gatwick Airport on the Southern Line. We have a large staff car park too for those who will be driving - plenty of space available!

There will be refreshments available (tea/coffee and biscuits) from 4:15pm with presentations starting from 4:30pm. There will be a raffle on the evening with some great prizes (Numeracy Ninjas goodies, books, wine, chocolates, Magic Whiteboard goodies, plus more to come) already being provided by some very generous friends via Twitter. Thank You!

Presentations so far include (in no particular order):

Jo Morgan @mathsjem - 'Five maths websites you need to know about'
Mark Horley (@mhorley) - 'The power of boxes and circles'
Ryan Foster - 'WAGOLLs and WABOLLs'
Paul Collins (@mrprcollins - me) - 'Engaging Students with Book Work/Worksheets (Codebreakers)'
Will Emeny (@Maths_Master and creator of 'Numeracy Ninjas') (via video) - 'Forgetting Curve Homeworks'
Michelle Mahoney (@Mahoney_Maths) - 'Assessment & homework without levels'
Paul Collins (@mrprcollins - me) - 'Numeracy Ninjas at Oakwood School'

All the presentations have a focus on the teaching and learning of Mathematics. The event should be great too to network and share good practice/ideas.

On arrival there will be puzzles and activities for all to complete on tables with some resources I really like put out for others to take away and use.

With just 10 days to go there are still places to attend and a few spots left to present so if you'd like to come along just e-mail me:

Thanks for looking and I hope to see you there!


Saturday, 8 October 2016

Open Evening

Open Evening is always a busy night on the school's calendar and this year was no exception. We had an extremely good turnout this year and the buzz around the school was great. We had lots of our students supporting the evening and attached to different departments for the evening, some were tour guides for our prospective year 5 and 6 parents and others were welcoming parents to the school and on 'car-parking duty'!
We were lucky to have the same 8 students who supported me with the Y6 Problem Solving Day supporting us in Mathematics, plus one other student who was selected to help out on her request.

The Year 5 and 6 parents were shown around the school on the usual route, coming through 2 of our Mathematics classrooms to see some of Y7 work and take part in some activities whilst meeting the department and asking us any questions they may have had.

I haven't written about what we do at Open Evening (or PPE as some call it) and so I thought I'd share what we did this year...

Since I have taught at my school we have always displayed the Y7 Average Student work. This is the first unit of work in our Y7 scheme of work and is what our newest students do each year on starting. They have to collect data about their peers in their new form groups and then work out averages from the data and choose suitable graphs/diagrams to represent their data before writing their own conclusions of their results. This has worked well in the past and it gives the students an opportunity to survey each other, helping them get to know one another. Each class's work is put on display across 2 tables (placed atop other tables).
My colleagues each set out their class' work on the large sugar paper sheets given to them. Work was checked for accuracy and spellings, etc before going up on display.
The work gives the prospective students and their parents an idea of the standard of work produced by Y7 in the first few weeks in Mathematics. They then get set based on our school's baseline assessments and data from the Primary Schools.
In the other room we have lots of Mathsy activities for parents and students to have a go at. The first of which was the Darts challenge. Given 6 darts students/parents were challenged to get a score of more than or equal to 100.
Students were encouraged to mentally add their own scores, which were verified by our supporting Y9 students. If they added correctly and got 100 or more they grabbed themselves a sweet for their efforts.

This dart board is the one I have in my classroom as I often use it for rewards when students have finished work or personally when freshening up my mental Mathematics/getting out my frustrations prior to a class arriving!

There's a fantastic dart board investigation resource on the TES I have done a few times too, nearer the end of the school year, that is worth a look. Check it out here. Every Mathematics classroom needs a dartboard in my view!

The good ol' Horse Race. For those who don't roll two dice add the scores on the dice together and that's the numbered 'horse' that moves forward one square in the grid. You keep going until one horse makes it out of the grid. The students/parents/student helpers are the 'horses' and I/the student helpers roll the two large foam dice to generate the numbers. Lots of fun and engagement from our visitors and throughout the rolling (the dice take a while to stop) we have lots of discussions around which 'horse' should win, which is most likely, which 'horse' can't win and why, etc. I use a random dice generator website on my iPad to speed up the rolling! The large dice are there to emphasise that a 6 on the first dice and a 4 on the second is a different outcome to a 4 on the first dice and a 6 on the second, etc.

Higher or Lower!
The standard 'Generation Game' higher or lower activity where students/parents get given a card (on the far left) and they have to then choose whether the card to the right of it will be higher or lower than that card. If they get all the way to the right end of the table they get a prize.
This gets them thinking about the cards that are higher or lower than the one they're on and what the chances are of them getting it right. Of course, they also have a chance of getting the same card and therefore losing either way.
Mathematical board games. Over the summer holidays students were all given 'Summer Work' to do. Our Y8 students going into Year 9 were tasked with creating their own Mathematical board game based around Time. These were some of our favourite games that were produced and so we thought it only right that they be displayed at Open Evening for others to see and have a go at.
Some students, including those chosen here, put in a lot of effort with their 'Summer Work' and you could easily see hours of work that had gone into their games.
The Frogs Problem is one I have used lots at our Y2 Problem Solving days, but the frogs are also great to look at and were well placed here too. The students and parents were tasked with moving the green frogs to the right lily pads and the purple frogs to the left lily pads by only sliding a frog to a vacant lily pad or hoping a frog over a frog of the opposite colour. The shortest number of moves to correctly swap the frogs over creates a nice sequence when increasing/decreasing the number of frogs on either side of the central lily pad. Although the work on the generation of the sequence and the nth term of said sequence is probably too advanced for Y6 students it shows that from a simple task/activity it can lead to some quite high Mathematics.
I had to investigate the frogs problem on my GTP course and so I like that it has it's place at our open evening. What I should do next time, is dig out my old coursework on it to display alongside it for any parents/students that are curious as to what I'm rambling on about when I start talking about sequences!

So that's what we did at Open Evening this year amongst talking to students and parents. This, of course, was the most rewarding part of the evening - talking to our prospective parents and students. It was also great to see some familiar faces with our y11s that left last year showing up throughout the evening to say hello, and thank you for helping them get their C+ grades, etc. It made the long day worthwhile!

It would be great to hear what other schools did for their Open Evenings this year. Our Science department were dissecting stuff and blowing things trying to compete with that is always going to be tricky, plus all the student helpers end up down in PE doing sports! I think we did good and like I said at the start of this post...there's definitely a buzz around our school at the moment!

Y6 Problem Solving Day 2016

On Tuesday I hosted our school's annual Y6 Problem Solving Day, read more about the previous Y6 problem solving days I have run here. We had 5 of our local feeder schools join us for a morning of activities. Here are the activities I ran this year...

As there were 5 schools there were 5 bases for them to rotate around and then at the end of the day we did the usual team challenge...The Marshmallow Challenge!

Base 1 - 'Crossing the River'
This activity is well known and I found a nice introduction to the problem on the TES and used this as the 'base instructions'. I then cut out and laminated some of the characters in the resource to be used by the children to try and solve the problem. I managed to find a piece of blue scrap plastic to act as the 'river', but this could have been improved...especially if I had a boat too that they could have used to put the laminate pieces in.
The resource I used can be found at:
Thank you to TES user cariad2

Most schools finished this one in 5-10 minutes so I asked a few extra questions on this base once they had finished to throw in a few extra scenarios. i.e. what if the fox could row the boat, can you safely get everyone across the river then? Does it take fewer or more steps if possible? What if the fox also ate the grain as well as the hen? Is it possible to get everyone across safely...etc.

Base 2 - 'Charlie's Shoes'
Another resource I found on the TES. This one I liked as the 9 grid of statements the children had to read through included some that were important to the problem and others that were not. They had to read the 9 statements and then answer the question given on one of the cards. I tweaked the wording of the cards slightly to suit the age and ability of the students. The hardest part of this task was to find an original price of the shoes based on a sale being 30% off. I briefed the teachers of each school prior to starting the task as to how they might support the students with this and then let them guide them from there.
The resource is available at:
Thank you to TES user altypotter

You may have noticed the whiteboard books on each table and their accompanying correctable whiteboard pens. These are available from the Magic Whiteboard company. We have a class set of these for each teacher and are used in various ways in our lessons. You may want to read up on my previous blog post about these here.

Base 3 - 'Locked Up'
This activity was one my GTP mentor (Richard Cottyn) used to do as an end of term activity with his classes. It is one I am still very fond of, that creates a high level of challenge for students. The activity is based around a locked bag within which there is a prize. The lock is a 4-digit combination lock that students have to try and unlock. The students answer questions, in my activity they had 8 money based questions to answer. The sum of all 8 questions' answers should then give them the 4-digit code for the lock. All I did was write (took some questions from a text book) and ensured their combined answers added to the 4-digit code of the lock.
The students got very engaged with this activity and when getting the final answer wrong had to go back over their answers to check which was wrong. This I love as it got them checking eachother's answers and working together as a team to ensure they had all 8 answers correct before trying the code again. I put some sweets in the locked bag that, if they unlocked the lock, they could eat as they continued around the bases.
The questions I used can be downloaded here. (The number trail in question 8 was intended to be done from left to right and not applying the laws of BIDMAS).

The bag I used was found in my office (I think it was an old laptop bag). The combination lock was @MissJoyceMaths' gym lock...our Y9 helpers all now know when her birthday is!

Base 4 - 'Crack-a-lacking'
For this activity I used a 1-26/a-z codebreaker to set up a code for the students to crack. There were 26 questions (a-z) for them to answer, each with a corresponding number between 1 and 26. I made sure that a) did not equal 1 and b) didn't equal 2, etc so they had to think about it. The questions I used can be found here. The questions were all about properties of numbers and key number facts, etc. Once the students had their answers they new which letters to put in place of the numbers in the code that was on the instructions sheet. The code I used can be found here and can be edited for your own use. The code read 'Don't eat the marshmallow in the team challenge, you'll need it to win'.

What I liked about the code was that it did not contain every letter of the alphabet. So, although students may have worked out that the answer to question b) was 1, there were no 1s in the code and therefore no letter bs either. This got them thinking.

Base 5 - 'All Four 6'
The only remaining base activity from last year's problem solving day.
The students had 4 of each of the numbers between 1 and 9 and using any operation they liked had to make the 4 1s, 4 2s, 4 3s, etc, all equal 6. There were a lot of brackets used around the numbers and operations to ensure BIDMAS was applied correctly.
The 'All four 6' sheet is here if anyone would like to use it.

The students had a copy of the all four 6 sheet and the code to crack attached to the back of their answer pack, which is available by clicking on one of the previous links for the questions used in base 3 or 4.

Here's a picture of the students getting stuck into the first rotation of the bases...

We usually use our 'study centre' (school library) to host the event as there is plenty of space for all the children/staff. Luckily we were able to use this space again.

I was very fortunate that 8 of our Y9 students supported the event and were fantastic throughout. Each of them supported a school and then the left over students circulated between the schools offering help and obviously helped me out on the day too including escorting the children to and from our reception and tidying up the study centre afterwards. These students then helped out the department at our school's Open Evening later that week on Thursday.

Finally...The Marshamallow Challenge

20 pieces of spaghetti, 1m of string, 1m of sellotape, a couple of pairs of scissors and a marshmallow. The the tallest structure possible in 30 mins with the marshmallow supported at the top of the structure. The height of each school's structure was measured and this height then gave them points to contribute towards their overall total from the 5 bases.

Here are my Y9 helper's attempts...

An ingenious use of the scissors to support the structure here!

This one stood standing the far!

Later in the year I will be running our Y2 Problem Solving Day, see previous posts about this here and here. Our school also do a cross-curricular Y5 carousel day that we will be providing a session for. More about these in due course.
Thanks for reading and I hope the resources are of use.