Friday Bulletin 23/9/16

Hello Maths,

The end of week 3! It’s seemed a very long one this week, possibly because of the recent open evenings. I hope you aren’t all too tired and are looking forward to a relaxing weekend.

I’ve managed to pop into a few more classrooms again this week.  Thank you for making me feel so welcome. I’ve loved seeing the KS3 lessons. The level of discussion and questioning that I have seen has been fantastic.  One class I saw at Wollaton who were working on the Cryparithms lesson in year 7 were so excited that they were begging to take the work home to finish!  I know some classes are finding the discussion based lessons difficult to keep concentration in.  Remember it is fine to supplement the lessons with consolidation/book work exercises if they need a break from all of the deep thinking!



For ALC and WPC CPL is joint faculty time from 2.30 – 4.00. I’ll let you know which campus on Monday. It is on the use of ratio tables and how they can be used in the GCSE as a tool for all students.

For BBA it is in the hall for Oracy Strategies.  This fits in very well with the work we are doing in KS3, so hopefully the maths department will have a lot to offer the session.


Hopefully the finalised year 7 intervention lists should be ready this week. Please make sure you have put your updated info onto Go 4 Schools.



Most people in year 7 are up to, or coming up to ‘Sandcastles’.

You may have wondered why on earth we are doing sandcastles followed by charges etc when lots of students can already ‘do’ negative numbers.

Negative numbers is one area that is full of misconceptions all the way up to GCSE.  Children are usually taught a several rules that many get confused about (how many times when simplifying -7x -6x do students say ‘13x, because two minuses make a plus’.  The idea here is to build up an understanding of negative numbers before diving straight into rules.

Please read this article from the ATM – MT217 that Lewis at Beechdale reminded me of this week.

The Sandcastles lesson isn’t a new one: the MrBartonMaths TES resource referenced in the article was made in 2007. We developed it in our department following a great CPL session by Richard Dunne. He talked about engaging learners through the systematic use of concrete objects, actions and language to make the abstract, symbolic language of mathematics accessible and enjoyable.  The current lesson uses an updated version of that resource.

Also, please read this  quick summary of Bruner’s Stages of Representation.  The lesson aims to follow the Enactive/ Iconic/Symbolic stages (although the students  aren’t actually building the sandcastles or digging the holes, the main idea is there).  This is sometimes also referred to as the Concrete/ Pictorial/Abstract, or CPA model , particularly when linked to maths education in Singapore.

Sandcastles and holes are things that are very familiar to children and are something they will recognise.  The ‘charges’ represent the sandcastles pictorially, and then students can move onto the actual calculations.

I think that this paragraph sums it up for me:

Furthermore, Bruner’s theory allows teachers to be able to engage all students in the learning process regardless of their cognitive level of the concept at the moment. While more advanced students may have a more well-developed symbolic system and can successfully be taught at the symbolic level, other students may need other representations of problems to grasp the material (Brahier, 2009, p. 54). In addition, by having all students go through each of the stages, it builds a foundation for which the student can fall back on if they forget or as they encounter increasingly difficult problems. For these reasons, it is essential that the teacher go through each of the stages with the whole class; however the time spent on each stage can and will vary depending on the student, topic, etc.


In year 8, there has been a lot of work using ratio tables this week.  Again, the idea for this is for all students to have the tools to be able to answer the many types of direct proportion questions. In faculty time on Thursday there will be a CPL session on the topic. Please bring your experiences (good or bad) to discuss at the session and any examples of student work that you have been pleased with.



We are in the process of finalising the first set of mock exams for year 11. The intention is that they are in the week commencing 7th November.  More information should be available in next week’s bulletin.