Non-Calculator Skills Part 1

Here are a sample of questions from National 5 exam papers that my current S3 class could face next year.

Now these questions are not that tricky and most would manage them easily with a calculator. However, these questions appear in the non-calculator section of the exam. This is where many pupils trip up. I am always amazed how after such a focus on non calculator skills in S1-3, once we start focussing on algebra, trigonometry, quadratics etc the pupils seem to forget all about written calculations. Continue reading


Common Mistakes Wall

mistake 1I was listening to Mr Barton’s Podcast with Doug Lemov as I was driving home this afternoon. If you haven’t listened to this podcast or others then you should as they are the best CPD out there and are so informative and interesting. Here is the link to the podcasts.

During this podcast the issue of common misconceptions that pupils have and how to address them in class arose. Continue reading

Maths Game – 1 to 100 grid

I recently shared on Twitter about a maths game I had played with my Higher class. We were practicing differentiating using the chain rule. This is a game I read about on Twitter previously but cannot remember where from. 

Here is how the game works:

On the whiteboard I put up a 1 to 100 grid as shown below and choose one of the numbers as the winning number, which is written on a piece of paper and hidden away. 

I have a set of questions and answers prepared in advance (and all numbered to help marking).

The pupils, who were working in pairs, take a question and work out the solution. They bring me the solution for checking. If it is correct they get to select a number on the 1 to 100 grid. Then they take another question.

If the pupils answer incorrectly, they take the question back to re try. If still incorrect I will provide a hint.

This continues until all the numbers are taken.

The winning number is then revealed and a small prize awarded to the winners. 

I like this game as the more questions each pair answers correctly the higher the chance of choosing the winning number and I get to check every single question completed by the class. This allows me to see all the common errors and misconceptions. 

This game works well with a relatively small class as it can get quite hectic. I will definitely be using it again. 

It can be used for any topic at all. Here’s an example.  

Everything Organization

I do like to organize. I like pretty folders and files. I like colourful drawers and trays. I like labelling boxes and shelves. I like to organize cupboards and rooms. Disclaimer – even though I try to be organized, it doesn’t always go to plan. I do end up with piles of messy papers, misplace things and my pen drive is a mess.

Life is very hectic as a teacher. Constantly changing from one class to the next. Being handed jotters and pieces of paper. It is very easy to lose important documents, pupil work and feel chaotic.

For me, how do I cope? Continue reading

Classroom Management #1

Often there is a pair of rose-tinted glasses on my blogs about awesome lessons and amazing students. While there are great things going on in my classroom there are also periods, classes, days, weeks etc where I am faced with behaviour issues that impact on learning.

I would like to regularly share stories about difficult situations I have faced in my classroom (or corridor) to paint the realistic view of my teaching life. Some of these stories will have happened as recently as last week or as long ago as I can remember. All the names have been changed.  Continue reading

First Day Plans

It’s a funny thing to think about first day plans after the summer holidays as in Scotland we start with our new classes for a few weeks in June before the holidays. So most of my first days with classes have passed. However, I will be meeting my S1 class (11-12 years old) for the first time next week. (Small lie: I did meet them briefly in June when they visited the school for a few days)

So what will be my first day plans for my new S1 class? How do I decide what to do on the very first lesson. I’ve had many first lessons over the years so I began to think back over what i had done previously and here’s what I found:

  • I will start the course officially – hit the ground running – set these expectations for the year ahead
  • I will set problem solving tasks to see how pupils work together and follow instructions
  • I will give a numeracy task to evaluate where pupils skills are

So my thoughts are: is there something I can do to cover all of the above?

Here’s what I have come up with: Continue reading