Tag Archives: blp

162. TMNW – Learning wall 2

This post is a progress report on the learning wall from the post 160.

I gave Year 11s (post GCSE group) A4 templates and objectives from the Y7 scheme of work. Their job was to write a clear explanation and address common misconceptions. They were free to use any resource in the room or on the internet to help them.

Here are some examples of their work:



They would make a great wall display on their own. If you want to use this template you can download it here: Student template.

The next task is to put their explanations onto help cards. The idea is to have the explanation and a question on the front of each card and the misconceptions and worked solution on the back. I will also have the chance to correct any errors before they reach the wall.

So far, so good …

160. TMNW 2 – Learning Wall 1

Earlier this term, my colleague, J, and myself attended the rather brilliant #TMNorthWest at Calderstones School. We were particularly inspired by the idea of independent or ‘Help yourself’ learning walls. We’ve chosen this as our Departmental focus for the year and once we have trialled it, we hope to install a learning wall in every maths room.

The basic premise is that ideas and key points are collected in themed pockets, which students can go to whenever they require assistance or a hint on how to progress. The cards are numbered and indexed. The idea was introduced by Claire Gillies in the context of English lessons.

The self help cards were stored in hanging wallpockets:


Claire used the Kusiner wallpockets from Ikea.

There are six pockets in this particular product. We have chosen to split them into the following categories:
*Using equipment

We designed our cards to have methods, misconceptions, Levels/Grades, a question with worked answer and possibly QR codes to useful videos.

Now, sitting and designing a self help card layout is easy. Completing them is a much bigger task! We have decided to start with KS3 and have selected key objectives from the Y7 scheme of work.

We also have GCSE classes who sat their exams last week and, quite frankly, need a break.

This sounds like fate …

The plan is that Year 11 students will take Y7 objectives and write self-help cards. Teachers will moderate/edit what they write.

Well, that’s our plan for a bit of independent student power. I’ll continue to post about our walls as they develop.

156. Tweeting tips

Here’s a quick idea for revising or researching vocabulary: Maths tweets.


I know that lots of educators on Twitter like to use tweets to summarise learning. I used this with my Year 7s to investigate the meanings of Prime, Factor, Multiple, Square number and Cube number.

After they independently researched the meanings and wrote the definitions in their books, I challenged them to summarise their learning in 140 characters or less. They then filled in their ‘tweets’.


If they had leftover characters they could create their own hashtags.


The ‘Maths Tweets’ sheet didn’t take long to put together – you can download the maths tweets template here (pdf format).

150. TeachMeet fever

This weekend I was at TeachMeet NorthWest at Calderstones School in Liverpool. A TeachMeet is a free event where anyone can present so long as it’s relevant to education and only lasts 5 minutes.


It was the first TM I’ve been to and I also presented. I’m not sure if anyone understood the opening line of ‘S’mae, dw i’n hoffi deinosoriaid’ (Hi, I like dinosaurs) but at least I did my best for languages day as a Maths ASTosaurus*.

Reflecting on the whole event, I can safely say that it was the most energising CPD event I’ve ever attended. You could never run such a diverse event as a fee paying course. The element of the unknown, not knowing what the next topic would be, kept everyone engaged. The pace didn’t let up – there was no time to get bored or doodle on handouts. By the time I got home, my colleague J and myself had already discussed half a dozen ideas we would implement and come up with a Departmental project that would be good for both our Performance Management and whole school BLP focus.

So, I’m taking a week out of blogging to try out all these amazing ideas that are buzzing around my head. Then I’ll share who the brains are behind the ideas (so you can follow them on Twitter) and the impact they’ve had.

* I describe myself as an ASTosaurus as the AST grade was abolished nationally this year. There are still ASTs, but most are being moved to Lead Practitioner roles.

For those who don’t know, an AST is an Advanced Skills Teacher. To become one, you must prove yourself to be outstanding in all areas and pass an assessment. Unlike Excellent teachers and Lead Practitioners, ASTs can only be assessed by an assessment body from London. Less than 5% of teachers are ASTs and now we are going the way of the dinosaurs.

143. Jumping the gap

The transition from GCSE to A-level Maths is as smooth as can be for some students. Others need the London Underground sign:


This time last year the biggest issue (amongst many others) was the lack of logic and rigour in their algebraic solutions and graphs. I tried giving model answers (‘Thank you, Miss’, then file it in the recycling …. Grrr!). I tried explaining why it was important (you could almost hear the shutters slide down in most of their heads). I tried sharing the best student’s work on the board using the visualiser (type of document camera), but all to no avail. The majority of students thought they knew best and ignored all advice.


Now rather than go all Professor Umbridge on them*, I switched things around. They critiqued each other’s work.


1. You will need an exam (style) question, paper and post-it notes.

2. Ask students to complete the question on a sheet of paper – do not write names on it.

3. Put all the solutions out at the front or stick them to the board.

4. Give each student three post-its. They should write something good and something to improve and stick it on the work. Do this three times.


5. Each student reclaims their work and reads the notes. They then discuss the feedback and draw up a list of keypoints for improvement.


That could be the end of it, but I wanted to remind them of the task so:

6. Collect in the work and notes and mount them on half a noticeboard.


7. In the middle of the board put the question, the model solution and their list of key points for improvement.

8. For the next week or so keep referring to the wall display in lesson.

9. Set another question and repeat steps 2-5. Discuss how their work has (hopefully) improved.

10. Fill the remainder of the wall display with the work and comments.

This could be a useful activity to do at the start and end of a topic. It would also be a good BLP (Building Learning Power) activity.

* Professor Umbridge had a particularly sadistic detention task in Harry Potter, where whatever you wrote on the paper was etched into the detainee’s skin. Vile woman, odd ideas on education.