Saturday, 10 March 2018

Part Part Whole, Bar Model & Perimeter

Earlier this year, we were calculating perimeter of compound shapes with some missing measurements. Some children were struggling to work out which measurements were missing. 

So, we took to using the bar model to offer some support.

1. Count the sides of the shape
2. Colour horizontal sides one colour and vertical sides another colour
3. Identify which sides have an unknown length
4. Use 'Part Part Whole' bar model (one for horizontal and one for vertical) to help find missing lengths
4a. The bar models can also be colour coded the same as the sides
5. Check the number of lengths found matches number of sides and looks sensible 
6. Add them up...

It worked well for us. Of course, as always with the bar model, it will help work towards an answer, but not give an answer. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Every Primary Teacher Needs a... Lab Coat

It's Liam writing this one. As a trainee teacher, I observed Dan (the other 1/2 of Primary Ideas) teach art with a lab coat on. I saw him in his lab coat in his art lesson and it made sense.
So, I purchased one - actually it came from Santa somehow, but that's another story! From my NQT year (2006) to now, I've had a lab coat in my classroom. It comes out for water colours, clay, 'messy science' and various other activities. It allows myself to throw myself in without worrying about my clothes. The 30 children have art aprons on, so why shouldn't I? Currently, 11 years on, we're still the only two members of staff in our school with a lab coat for art. Mine gets borrowed fortnightly! why has no one else got one? 'Cos they keep borrowing mine, I know! 

So, get yer self a lab coat - you'll use it loads! 

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Proud of Your Work?

Lee recently published his 'Taking Teaching Back Episode 1 - Book Scrutinies' video. While watching it, one of his points really struck a chord with me.
The above image is from 5:14 in the video. I've seen this online many times and thought it a good idea, but never got round to it. Lee's point is about the extra work this places on the teacher. His solution is something along these lines...
This is a poster we've now placed in our classrooms. We used 'iPad' as those are the devices we have and used 'Google Drive' as every child has access. You can adapt it for the devices your school has and whatever cloud the children have access to.

So, 'Request a Selfie' nice but no thanks. Take your own photo, put it in your own cloud and show the adults at home: yes please.

Any similar ideas, please let us know. And, check out Lee on YouTube (Or Facebook - he's Facebook royalty!)

Saturday, 3 February 2018

The Canary in the Coal Mine (Classroom)

Whilst watching The Graham Norton Show last week, I discovered a name for something I often do with with class.

One of Graham's guests was Tom Hanks. Hanks asked Norton if he'd ready the copy of the book he'd sent him. Norton replied that he had, and that he'd found the 'Canary in the Coal Mine'. On one of the pages, to test if Graham Norton would read the book, Tom Hanks had left an inscription for him to read. 

Hanks described this as a 'Canary in the Coal Mine' and added that they're often put into scripts to check that the actors read the script. 

The above picture is one I recently used with my class. You'll see that not only did I give them a sentence that didn't need correcting (that was the activity), but I repeated it. How many would notice? How many would plough on regardless?

So, in slides, worksheets and in your own speech, start dropping in the odd canary to check the people in the coal mine as still 'with it'.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Piano Key Problem

I was watching a program about how a piano works earlier with my daughter. One of the facts was about the number of white and black keys. Wonder if children can use their reasoning skills (drawing a picture, making a model or looking for a pattern) to solve this:


On an 88 key piano, there are 52 white keys. How many are black? 
The lowest key (first note) is an A. The last note is C.How many A, B, C, D, E, F & G notes are there?

Here's the answer with a picture from

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Supermarket Maths

It's a quick one...

Supermarkets are full of maths, well everywhere is. You're probably walking around with your phone in your pocket. Snap some maths starters or additions to your lessons. they'll be a real life link. We've started here.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Team 100WC – Comment on Writing

One of the biggest impacts on writing standards in our classrooms has been the use of the 100 Word Challenge and similar writing opportunities. Blogging and 'little and often' writing tasks really help children improve as writers.

A huge part of this is children receiving comments about their work. Writing in a book and me marking it and then that book sitting on a shelf is ok, but only ok. What's much better is when someone from some far-flung part of the globe comes along and says what they like about a child's writing and what could be improved. Being part of a 'Hub' and receiving peer comments is part of this, but adults in 'Team 100WC' are a massive help and have a huge impact on children's writing. 

The 100WC is free to use, is offered by a retired head teacher and relies on volunteers to operate. 

Think you have 20 minutes spare a week to read some fantastic writing and leave some comments? Do you know someone else who might? You don't even have to be a teacher, or be any good at writing - just need to be an audience! I do it each week. It is enjoyable. I read work from around the globe. I read work that's amazing. I read work that's no-so amazing. But, for each one, I say what I like and offer some advice. I hope I'm making a difference. 5 pieces of work a week - it's not much. When children in my own class receive comments, they really, really appreciate it!

If you can, take a look here!