Monday, 12 August 2013

Art with Circles

Some amazing examples of beautiful circles. 

Kaleidoscopic Floor Installations Made of Mirrors, Crystals and Glass by Suzan Drummen

Video showing what happens when you take a completely white living room, thousands of colourful circular stickers and lots of children.  Yayoi Kusama’s legendary installation, Obliteration Room:


Crop circles - fabulous 'art' on a huge scale

File:Crop circles Swirl.jpg

.... some circles in architecture .....

circles 2

....circles in the sand

Kandinsky loved painting circles:

and so did Delaunay (Thanks to @lennyvalentino for letting me know about him):


Jake Beckman sculpture made from cycle wheels:

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Celebrity Salaries

Here's a versatile little resource using 8 famous people and their annual wages.

Firstly there's a slide with pictures and some prompt questions:

Then there's a slide for each celebrity with their name, job, salary and age on it, for example:

The resources can be downloaded here from TES.

Here are some suggested activities to do with them.  I'd be grateful if you could add any other ideas in the comments box below please:

Starter Discussion

Show the first 2 slides. What does the word ‘annual’ mean.  Do we know who all the famous people are?  What are their jobs?  Who earns the most? Least?  How much do you think they earn?


Whole class activity  

Print each slide out onto A4 and cut along the dotted line.  Shuffle and using blu-tac try to match each famous person to their wage.


“I earn …………..  Who am I?”

Use to help learners read, write and say big numbers.

Conversion between time units

Ask learners to calculate each celebrity’s average monthly/weekly/daily/hourly wage.

Using dates

Work out the age of each celebrity.



Ask leaners to round to 2dp, nearest pound/ten/hundred/thousand depending on the activity you are doing.


Saturday, 10 August 2013

Food for thought - and for learning about Maths.

I shouldn't be surprised that I've put on weight since I started teaching.  Food is a great way to help learners understand lots of mathematical concepts.

Pizza for fractions, chocolate bars for fractions, cake for fractions!  Could I teach fractions all the time please?

'Best Buy' - the opportunities are endless!  Crisps, different packs of Caramel bars, in fact anything that catches my eye at the time or is on offer at the Supermarket at the time.

Similar solids with the larger Coke bottles.

Strawberry shoelaces for perimeter and measuring.

Making Vimto and peppermint creams for ratio (think green food colouring and mint flavouring).  Easy recipe for it here.

Dropping toast for probability - does it always land butter side down?

Pizza for volume of a cylinder.

Investigating ice cream cornets for volume and SA of cones,frustums and spheres - that's a resource I have on TES here.

Cake for division using upper and lower bounds.

Students budgeted for, planned and did my family's shopping for a week - but that's a whole other post!

Please share in the comment box below other ways I can find as an excuse to eat during lessons....

Thanks to:

@SueSutcliffeC4S for suggesting using 100 Quality Street chocolates to investigate percentages

@RJS2212 - here's the Chicken McNugget problem for Frobenius numbers discussed by Numberphile.


Friday, 9 August 2013

Using Symbaloo to support parents - Example: GCSE Maths Module 1 Integers Foundation Edexcel

Starting from September I'm going to send a letter out to parents and carers with a link to Symbaloo webmixes for each module we will be covering that half term. 

That way they can see what their children are going to learn and be able to support them through direct, easy access to internet links.

I was thinking that each webmix could contain links to:
  • The whole of the scheme of work and learning objectives for the current module (red tiles)
  • Video clips for each learning outcome (green tiles)
  • Practice sites (pink tiles)
  • Games (orange tiles)
  • Extension suggestions (purple tiles)

I've made a start on Module 1 here:

Is there anything else you can think of that could be included?

Please note that the webmix above is interactive - you can visit any of the webpages by clicking on the tile.  I will also be updating so there may be new tiles on it if you visit it again.

You can save a copy of it if you click on 'View on Symbaloo'

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Outdoor learning - Inclinometer for trigonometry.

My Year 10s loved making this during our trigonometry learning.  We then took it outside to estimate the height of trees, the school building, lamposts etc.

They made their inclinometer from a straw, string, sellotape, a small weight and a card version of this template:

Here's one made-up:

It takes one student to look at the top of the object through the straw and one to read the angle made by the string as demonstrated in the first picture.

The only other piece of equipment Year 10 needed was a tape measure and they were off!

Before making any calculations about the height of the object they made diagrams and included any measurements in it:

Many thanks to for allowing me to include their template in the blog and on the resources- they have a lot of fantastic maths-in-context information on there - well worth a look round. If you follow the link there's also a picture of someone using one of the inclinometers to correctly angle satellites.
A word document with a template and picture of how it should look are available to download here from TES.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Quick, easy way to check learners' confidence or progress.

Just a quick and easy idea of how learners can indicate to you and each other how confident they feel about a current topic or question.

Obviously it's then important to then check understanding. 

"How do you know ....?"  "What do you need us to do to help you improve?"

I have a portable laminated class set of these and then students also have them stuck inside the front of their exercise books too.

The good thing about them is that learners can indicate more than one position at once - where they started the lesson with one finger and where are they now with another as a simple way for them to see that they have made progress.

Copies can be downloaded here from TES.

Monday, 5 August 2013

AfL Show Me Shape Activities

I love mini bulldog clips - perfect to use with these cards!

I've had sets which have been used by everyone from Year 7 to Year 11 many, many times and they last really well.  Copying them onto several different colours of card really helps to sort them out when they occasionally get muddled!

There's a basic set of 24:

and then an extension set to promote discussion:

Plus an A4 laminated front-of-the-class-sized set with the shape's name written on the reverse is handy to have too.

The grid-lines you can see don't print which makes them much less stressful to cut out or guillotine.

Suggested activities which can be led by teachers or learners:

1)    Not all the cards have to be used at once.  Ask learners to put the shapes into groups of triangles, quadrilaterals, regular polygons etc. then concentrate on the properties of one or two particular group at a time.


2)     I use mine blu-tacked onto the board or a wall and play ‘Splat!’ in teams.


3)   I have a laminated A4 size of each shape, hold one up and play ‘Match my shape’


4)    Alternatively they can be tacked up around the room in advance of the lesson and play ‘Silent staring’.  “Stare at a …..”


5)    Make a big deal of picking a shape from a pack.  Then play “I’m thinking of a shape.  It has ……………”   Give a prize/point for the first person/team to hold up their matching shape.


6)    Bingo – students pick 6 of the cards and put them face up on their table, they then put them face down when either their names/properties have been called. I use a spare set shuffled to choose the order.


7)    Then there’s always lots of ways to ask “Show me ….

…. all the triangles/quadrilaterals/prisms

…. a shape where all the angles are equal/right angles/60O/sum to 360O

…. a quadrilateral with no special properties

…. a shape with 1/2/3/4/no lines of symmetry

…. a solid shape with 1/2/more than 2 planes of symmetry

…. a shape with 1 / 2 pairs of parallel sides

…. all the regular polygons

…. a shape with rotational symmetry order 2/3/4
....a shape with 8 vertices show me another ....
Sets of these (including greyscale A4 front-of-the-class-sized copies) plus the suggested activites, are available to download here from TES.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

10 Ways to More Happiness & Less Unhappiness.

A couple of posters I'll be putting up in my classroom - never hurts to remind myself of these!  Seems so obvious when you look at it like this:

Many thanks to @CelestineChua for permission to use her '10 Surefire ways to Achieve Unhappiness'! Please see her inspirational blog and web pages here

Also thanks to @actionhappiness for their amazing posters and attitude to life - love you guys!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Posters for BODMAS / BIDMAS Misconception

It's a great mneumonic, but it can lead to the misconception that division is done before multiplication, when actually they should be done at the same time reading left to right, like a sentence.

The same applies to addition and subtraction.

Today's home-made offerings are posters to remind learners of this.

The first states the theory and the second models an example using the 'Drop it Down' method I use to teach Order of Operations.

They can both be downloaded here from TES.