Avoid Avoidance

I have a list of changes and improvements that I want to make to my teaching. As I read other teacher blogs and twitter feeds, my list grows. I have a notebook in which I make a note when I spot something online that I want to try out or investigate more.

What’s the problem then? I have come to the realisation that I spend so much time looking for the next great idea that will revolutionize my teaching that I am avoiding spending time actually making any improvements. Coupled with the huge daily workload that goes along with being a teacher I have become an expert at avoidance.

Here is the current list: Continue reading

Better Questions

Week 3 of the 2016 Blogging Initiative!

The blogging prompt this week is about questioning. There were many different prompts and I decided on the following:

You’re planning a lesson and you try to come up with super good question to ask to get kids to think about something. What is that question? Why did you phrase it the way you did? Why do you think it will prompt discussion/thinking?

This week my S3 class have been looking calculating arc length and area of a sector of a circle. The class have previous knowledge about circumference and area of a circle. Continue reading

Volume of Solids

Over the past couple of weeks, my S3 class have been studying volume of solids. The class taught each other all about volume (Who’s the Teacher?), then looked at composite volume.

What did we do next? A Design Task


Each pupil made a sketch in their jotter and worked out the volume calculations. They had to consider the size of each solid and what material to make it out of. Continue reading

Nriching Integers

Negative numbers is not one of my favourite topics to teach. Pupils often struggle to understand the differences between adding and subtracting integers and get fixated on rules such as “two negatives make a positive” and it can be a struggle to get pupils engaged.

One way I try and put some excitement into the topic is using a couple of activities from http://nrich.maths.org.

Here are two of my favourites:

  1. First Connect Three

Continue reading

Who’s the Teacher?

In a previous post I talked about the difference between massed and interleaved practice. I wanted to experiment whether or not pupils would embrace learning a topic in a different way.

My S3 class were starting the topic of Volume of 3D shapes – this involves finding the volume of prisms, cubes, cuboids, cylinders, triangular prisms, spheres, cones and pyramids.

Normally I would teach these shapes separately – maybe grouping a few shapes together. But primarily I would show the pupils how to calculate the volume of each shape, give an example then ask them to find the volume of some shapes. I have found that this gets very boring and repetitive and wanted to try something different. Continue reading

My Favourite – Fractions

Week 2 of the 2016 Blogging Initative!

When I read the second challenge for the 2016 Blogging Initiative, my instant reaction was “I love fractions”.

My twitter name is @fractionfanatic and all my pupils at school know I love fractions. But why do I love fractions?

The main reason is that they are accurate and far easier to work with than decimals.

Here are some examples: Continue reading


I spend a lot of time planning my lessons. How will I introduce a topic? What investigation, task or activity do I want my pupils to complete? What homework do I want to set?

What I often neglect to think about is how to end my lessons. Most of my lessons end with me looking at the clock and realising we only have one minute until the bell and have to spend that time packing up.

I have been trying to focus more on simple plenaries that do not need much prior preparation but are effective.

Here are a few I have been trying: Continue reading

Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Week 1 of the 2016 Blogging Initiative!

When I signed up for the 2016 Blogging Initiative I thought that this would be my start with blogging. However, thanks to some great teachers on Twitter I started blogging in the Christmas holidays taking part in the Yule Challenge.

So here is my official start to the 2016 Blogging Initiative – I have selected Option 2 to write about.

Continue reading

Am I doing the best for all my pupils?

I’ve been thinking about my previous post Structured Problems.  In it I considered how I make problems for my pupils easier by adding too much structure and not letting them think it out for themselves.

Yesterday I was reading a chapter from “Make It Stick” (Brown, Roediger, McDaniel) entitled Mix Up Your Practice.

It talked about Massed Practice

the practice-practice-practice that’s supposed to burn a skill into memory

and Interleaved Practice

interleaving the practice of two or more subjects or skills

The chapter concludes that massed practice leads to initial success but not long term success where as interleaved practice is tough and challenging to start with but leads to long term benefits.

So what does this mean to me as a teacher? Continue reading

Structured Problems

Over the past few years I have noticed that my pupils are becoming less confident when faced with challenging problems. If they read a problem and don’t know how they are going to work out the final answer they have a tendency to give up and not even try it.

Part of the problem is that the pupils are scared of making a mistake. How do I get my pupils to make an attempt at a problem even if they don’t know where they will end up?

Continue reading