329. Quick acrostic starter

Here is a zero preparation revision or recap starter for you and it might tick a literacy/spelling box too. It’s fiendishly simple, but can be devilishly difficult to complete.

  1. Give students a topic word (eg circles) or use your school name.
  2. Tell them they have to complete an acrostic of maths words related to that topic or general revision words.

That’s it! You can make it more difficult by saying partners must have different words or narrowing the focus of the task.

Interestingly none of my students used the textbook index or Maths dictionaries to help them. The finished product could be used as a wall display, revision prompt or stuck on the front of an exercise book.

A Wise Word of Warning – W Maths words are in short supply.

Here is the example I used in class:

328. Slice of genius

So, I was doing my usual Human Piechart  activity when an interesting point occurred. I had the class split into a group of 20 and a group of 18 (I had a student in charge of each group so that the circles would be factors of 360). I asked the class how we could combine the groups to make a whole class pie chart. One student suggested we add together the angles and divide by two. Several other students agreed that it was a good idea.

There goes my lesson plan.

I put this prediction on the board and asked them to prove it or disprove it using hard facts. I was very impressed by the different techniques they used. Most students started by adding the angles and dividing by two, then:

  • They went to the raw data and calculated the actual answers, disproving the prediction.
  • Some looked at the angles on the ‘combined’ pie chart and worked out the number of degrees per person for each angle. They used the irregularities in angles to disprove the prediction.
  • Looking at how many degrees there were per person and using logical deduction that you cannot add the angles.
  • Others noticed that categories with the same number of people had different sized angles.

All this before they’d answered a single pie chart question! The moral of this story is: don’t ignore the wrong suggestions, embrace them and use student knowledge to dispel the myths.

327. Digital Exercise books

Sorry – haven’t invented a digital Exercise book and I don’t use iPads/tablets in class. Today I’m sharing the inventiveness of my class.

I printed out one of those brilliant Corbett Maths textbook exercises to use with a Y7 class. It was a recap task, so I stressed that students could pick the level of difficulty. They cut out the sections they were doing and stuck them in their book. Because there were lots of different questions being completed, I allowed them to use their phones to scan the QR code to access the answers. A couple asked to scan the help video QR code.

I saw a few pupils being fussy about their cutting out – why were they cutting out little bits? That’s time wasting! No one should be time wasting!

Then I checked exactly what they were doing …

… The little geniuses:

They were cutting out the relevant QR codes and sticking them in their books. If this is the level of forward thinking in Year 7, they are going to fly through GCSE revision.

326. Instant whiteboard

Welcome back to school!

I must say your display boards look lovely …

What’s that? You could do with another whiteboard

Why would you need that? They’re not cheap you know!

To help you actually teach? You’ve never needed the space before…

Oh … you have needed the space … you have raised this before …you’re still waiting …

Why didn’t you say! I’ll put you on the list for when we have some spare funds & time

You know the feeling – you could do with more space, but there just aren’t the funds to do anything about it. I initially needed an extra notice board because two form groups were going to use my room. We have a split lunch and I thought it only fair to give the other tutor some space. The idea of those ‘magic whiteboards’ was nice, but they are flimsy and expensive. They’re also pretty useless when you have a rough breeze block wall. Rummaging around Amazon I found some extra thick sticky back whiteboard roll, which was half the price of the ‘magic’ ones. There are a lot of different makes and sizes of roll depending on your needs. I bought a long narrow roll and cut it in half: it fits splendidly on my double doors. The quality is good too, however I think they’ll need a bit more TLC than a heavy duty whiteboard.

So, I’m feeling rather chuffed by my ingenuity when I discover they’ve changed our form rooming and I’m no longer sharing with another form. Nevermind – one board for form notices and one board for homework reminders!

If you like the look of mine it was by Rabbitgoo on Amazon. They are different sizes and prices so I haven’t put a specific link. The description of the one I bought is: Thick Whiteboard Chalkboard Wall Sticker 44.5cm×200cm Thickness:0.18mm

325. Mrs D’s Delightful Display

Anyone else been purging their classrooms of ragged wall displays ready for a fresh start in September? But then you end up rushing displays ready for the Autumn Y6 open evenings? And you need to get to know your new classes too!

Mrs D had a splendid plan to address all these issues. The first step was to introduce the problem: step through a piece of paper. It’s a classic problem involving maximising perimeter – I remember seeing it in a children’s Annual as ‘The journey through a postcard’.

This isn’t the easiest of tasks and takes a fair bit of determination and patience. Teamwork skills are also helpful. You can really get to know your class with this activity.

Once they’ve figured out how to do this you can reflect on how they overcame obstacles. All of this can be pulled together to make an amazing wall display on problem solving.

Thank you to the excellent Mrs D for allowing me to share her idea!

324. Glamping Gallery 

I’m a hard facts, scientific evidence kinda person. I don’t do New Age aura type stuff. However I could be converted on ‘good karma’. Last September, I spent the morning supporting the local Scout group by litter picking at a Festival. Afterwards I bought one raffle ticket for £1 and was  I was lucky enough to win first prize – a ‘Glamping’ trip. Cleaning up other people’s rubbish won me a holiday!

But this is a Maths blog – surely there is some probability investigation coming next or a comparison of good deeds and good fortune?

Nah – just some holiday pictures of a mathematically pleasing nature. Enjoy!

323. Split book headache 

As we reach the end of term and peruse our new timetables, here is a simple way to keep on top of your books. With the continued belt tightening in the curriculum more of us are sharing classes with colleagues. Do you have one book or two? Should you share a book? Should you keep the books?

How about a bit of funky duck tape? You know I love it!

I’ve put this rather garish tape on the spines of the books so both the students and myself can tell whose book they are. It also reinforces the spines. The Year 8 class thought it was ingenious. My Year 9 class were rather jealous and said they wanted tape too!

(You can get the same effect by wrapping a large sticker around the spine, but it’s not as ‘cool’)

PS That’s not my class size in the picture, before anyone gets jealous. There are 33 of them in total.