It's been a while since my last post, way back in October after the #MathsMeet I organised. A lot has been going on since, at school; focused on Y11 interventions, hence the title to this post.

I thought it would be useful to highlight what we're doing with our Y11s and what is/isn't working (in my opinion).

Since the end of Y10 the year group were put into different tutor groups, based on their needs following their Y10 mock exams. These tutor groups are with specific teachers based on their subject that were already in the Y10 tutor team. There is a Maths, English, Science, 'aspirational', 'vocational' and then 2 'normal' tutor groups. The focus of these tutor groups is that twice a week they will come away from the normal tutor time schedule and focus on subject specific work. The students were placed into a tutor group based on their greatest need, following the results of their Y10 mocks and final report predictions. They stayed in these groups going into Y11 and have recently been rejigged based on the Y11 mocks and final reports and will now stay like this for the remainder of their time with us.

I, as Head of Maths, was not given a tutor group at the start of the year, but after the Y11 mocks it was decided that both myself and the Head of English would pick up a form of those students in our 'key groups' that needed additional support in either or both of the subjects.

As of the start of this term I was therefore given a group of 16 students that I now do Mathematics with every tutor time, except on Mondays when they have assembly. The head of English does similar with her tutor group. The other tutor groups now have slightly fewer students due to this creation of 2 additional groups.

So, there are now 2 tutor groups of students solely focusing on their Mathematics at least 2 days a week in form time. My colleague takes the other tutor group and is supported by another of our colleagues with that group.

With the group that I have, we do the daily foundation revision calendar questions created by @mrchadburn and this has been working well, with the students writing key facts/notes along with each daily solution in their exercise books I gave them. In addition to this, once we've finished with the daily question, they are given time to work through a pack of questions I printed for each, which includes a set of questions on every topic covered on the foundation GCSE. They are also given the opportunity to complete their Mathematics homework, classwork or to ask me any questions they have from what they have covered/revised individually.

Problems with the tutor group include low attendance from a few students placed in the group, meaning I've rarely seen them since the start of this term.

However, other than this, I personally think the group I have are benefiting from the extra time spent focusing on their Mathematics. I personally like now having the group. I missed having a form group, given that I had one previously for 3 years and enjoyed building the relations with the previous group I had, some of which I still hear from now and have seen at parents' evenings when they have accompanied their younger siblings. I've had e-mails from parents too to tell me they've passed their retakes and even a few of them have visited the school to say hi (it's always the ones you least expect that return to say hi)! These are the nice things the job brings that you otherwise miss from not being a form tutor - the little things that make a difference on a day that you're not as enjoying as much as the last; it's nice to know you're making a difference and that what you do is appreciated.

Hopefully, we will see an improvement from the mock results to the next assessment we do with the Y11s and will see some evidence that the extra sessions during tutor time are working.

In addition to the tutor groups, the students placed in both the Mathematics and English tutor groups have also been selected to be taken out of core PE (when it backs onto English or Maths) and to do an additional hour of one of the subjects. Some students are doing both and so are also being taken out of RE, which is then given back to them somewhere else in the timetable (I have no idea of the minutia behind all of the timetabling here, just when the Mathematics sessions are on)!

My colleague takes one side of the year for their double Mathematics lesson (1 lesson of their core PE and then the subsequent lesson where they would have normally had Maths) and another colleague (the deputy head) takes the other side of the year. We've only been doing these sessions for a week and have decided that they're not working as well as they could be due to the fact that 1) the students are begrudging missing their PE lesson and 2) can't cope with 2 hours of Maths back-to-back. So, I believe going forward they will be taken out of PE as per usual for the one hour and then go back to their normal Maths lesson with their normal teacher. Whether this actually solves the 2 problems above I'm not sure yet, but we'll see how it goes!

Like previous years we're also doing the usual after school sessions. These have changed in terms of what we've been doing in them. Before Christmas we were identifying students in our classes that were under performing based on their target grades and had them back with their class teachers working on specific work, chosen by the class teacher - just the fact we had them coming back and they were doing some Maths in addition to what they otherwise would have been doing was a start. Since the new year we have made these sessions far more specific with certain topics covered in each session after school on Mondays with certain members of staff in the department. We are each taken a couple of sessions each aimed at either Foundation or Higher tier students. The topics we chose were based on those topics that regularly come up in the exams (based on previous exams of course...no idea what will be the 'norm' come the new 1-9 GCSE)! Students were then chosen for these sessions based on who were still working below their target grades and needed the extra support, also those students that had missed some work or just had asked for extra help. These sessions are then repeated each Friday for any student in the year group that feels they need to work on Pythagoras or tree diagrams or whatever is being covered each week. The timetable of these sessions is sent to Y11 tutors and we give out reminders in our lessons as to what sessions are on each week, where and with what member of staff. We also have our faculty assistants print off reminder slips that are given to form tutors each morning to hand to students that are expected to attend the sessions on a Monday. This is happening in other subjects too especially English and Science.

All of these sessions and which students are required are kept centrally on the 'Intervention Bulletin' that one of our deputy heads collates and sends out each week. This avoids any clashes with subjects requiring the same student(s) on the same days. Maths and English are given priority.

I think that's it, well apart from the obvious teacher-led in-class day-to-day interventions, use of our TAs in department, etc.

It's a lot.

I think, for some students it's far too much, given that they are doing the same or expected to do the same in other subjects across the school too. It's overkill for some.

However, for certain students, it's what they need and have, in a few cases, asked for. They're motivated to attend everything they're asked to attend because they know they need help and want to be doing better. For one such student, we'll call him Bruce (because I recently watch Finding Nemo and find the shark funny), it is working wonders for him. He came to me prior to the mocks and was worried that he was struggling in the class he was in, he felt he was behind others and felt he knew nothing. He then moved into my class and was given the foundation paper for his mocks to hopefully build his confidence. He got a grade 5 on his mocks and has continued in my class, learning all the Higher topics that the class are still covering (we've still got too much to get through, but that's for another post)! He is in my Maths tutor group, he's in the timetabled intervention sessions, coming out of core PE and he's coming to every session after school. And, for him, it seems to be working. He's far more confident, he's coping with all the higher content we're covering and he will be sitting the Higher paper in his next assessment as a result.

It was even commented to me (and the Head, deputy heads, etc in a recent meeting) that Bruce wasn't looking forward to moving into my tutor group because he'd have to do maths every morning, and just simply liked the tutor group he was in previously. But, since he's been there he's really liking it and said 'that man's going to get me my GCSE', which made my day that day.

So, for some all these interventions can have a great effect on them and their confidence. But for others I wonder how much good it is doing and potentially how much harm it could be doing - some times too much of something isn't a good thing and they may be better off just being left to it themselves, but I don't think that would be 'allowed'?!

I do wonder if we did nothing whether it would be much different, in terms of the students outcomes, to what we are currently doing. Given the amount of effort put in by myself and my colleagues I do at times wonder if it's all worth it? What if we did nothing. Other than just teach good lessons and offer the kids a time after school once a week to do some revision and get help. Trust them to do what they need to be doing for themselves, rather than make all these sessions compulsory and punish them every time they failed to attend, etc. The trouble is, how would we know for sure what did or didn't make the difference. Equally, if these sessions and interventions continue to be directed from above how do we ensure we pick the right students to be in each form of intervention, all of it or none at all. It's not a 'one size fits all'...they'll work for some and have no effect on others.

Fingers crossed for them all come May/June.

# Mr Collins Mathematics Blog

Head of Mathematics at a Secondary School in Surrey. Passionate about Mathematics and teaching in general. I am the same Mr Collins from 'Mr Collins' Reflective Journal' Blog (http://mrcollinsreflectivejournal.blogspot.com) This is my stream of consciousness...

## Sunday, 5 February 2017

## Friday, 28 October 2016

### #MathsMeet Presentations

A week ago I hosted a Teach Meet with a Mathematics focus at my school. The event went really well and we had some great presentations that were given on the day.

@Mahoney_Maths has already written a great write up of the event, which you can read here. So, I won't regurgitate that here. Instead I will just post links to the very kindly shared presentations that were given on the evening.

Should you need further explanations on the presentations then please feel free to contact the presenter via their Twitter handle.

Thank you to everyone that attended the event, presented and helped me out on the evening setting the School Hall up, etc (you know who you are). I will look to host a future MathsMeet at our school, possibly after this Summer's GCSE results have been published and we have had time to think about the implications of the new GCSE, etc.

WAGOLLs presentation (Ryan Foster) is here

Engaging Students with Book Work/Worksheets presentation (@mrprcollins) is here

(the last slide on this presentation provides a link to @Maths_Master's Forgetting Curve Homeworks presentation

The Power of Boxes and Circles (@mhorley) is here

5 Maths Websites you need to know (@mathsjem) is here

Jo has been blogging more on each of her 5 recommended websites on her blog, you can see the first 2 here and here

Assessment and Homework without Levels (@Mahoney_Maths) is here

Numeracy Ninjas at Oakwood School (@mrprcollins) is here

@Mahoney_Maths has already written a great write up of the event, which you can read here. So, I won't regurgitate that here. Instead I will just post links to the very kindly shared presentations that were given on the evening.

Should you need further explanations on the presentations then please feel free to contact the presenter via their Twitter handle.

Thank you to everyone that attended the event, presented and helped me out on the evening setting the School Hall up, etc (you know who you are). I will look to host a future MathsMeet at our school, possibly after this Summer's GCSE results have been published and we have had time to think about the implications of the new GCSE, etc.

__Presentations:__WAGOLLs presentation (Ryan Foster) is here

Engaging Students with Book Work/Worksheets presentation (@mrprcollins) is here

(the last slide on this presentation provides a link to @Maths_Master's Forgetting Curve Homeworks presentation

The Power of Boxes and Circles (@mhorley) is here

5 Maths Websites you need to know (@mathsjem) is here

Jo has been blogging more on each of her 5 recommended websites on her blog, you can see the first 2 here and here

Assessment and Homework without Levels (@Mahoney_Maths) is here

Numeracy Ninjas at Oakwood School (@mrprcollins) is here

## Monday, 10 October 2016

### #MathsMeet (20th October 2016)

Updated

I have been fortunate enough to attend a number of TeachMeet events over the past few years and have benefitted greatly from the presentations and discussion had at them.

Whilst completing my NQT year I hosted #TMSurrey at my previous school and then later attended the event the next year.

This year I have been asked, by our Assistant Headteacher to organise and run a Mathematics focused TeachMeet at our school. So I am!

The Mathematics focused TeachMeet or #MathsMeet will take place on

We're right by Gatwick Airport and down the road from Horley train station, which is just one stop away from Gatwick Airport on the Southern Line. We have a large staff car park too for those who will be driving - plenty of space available!

There will be refreshments available (tea/coffee and biscuits) from 4:15pm with presentations starting from 4:30pm. There will be a raffle on the evening with some great prizes (Numeracy Ninjas goodies, books, wine, chocolates, Magic Whiteboard goodies, plus more to come) already being provided by some very generous friends via Twitter. Thank You!

Presentations so far include (in no particular order):

Jo Morgan @mathsjem - 'Five maths websites you need to know about'

Mark Horley (@mhorley) - 'The power of boxes and circles'

Ryan Foster - 'WAGOLLs and WABOLLs'

Paul Collins (@mrprcollins - me) - 'Engaging Students with Book Work/Worksheets (Codebreakers)'

Will Emeny (@Maths_Master and creator of 'Numeracy Ninjas') (via video) - 'Forgetting Curve Homeworks'

Michelle Mahoney (@Mahoney_Maths) - 'Assessment & homework without levels'

Paul Collins (@mrprcollins - me) - 'Numeracy Ninjas at Oakwood School'

All the presentations have a focus on the teaching and learning of Mathematics. The event should be great too to network and share good practice/ideas.

On arrival there will be puzzles and activities for all to complete on tables with some resources I really like put out for others to take away and use.

With just 10 days to go there are still places to attend and a few spots left to present so if you'd like to come along just e-mail me: pcollins@oakwood.surrey.sch.uk

Thanks for looking and I hope to see you there!

Paul

I have been fortunate enough to attend a number of TeachMeet events over the past few years and have benefitted greatly from the presentations and discussion had at them.

Whilst completing my NQT year I hosted #TMSurrey at my previous school and then later attended the event the next year.

This year I have been asked, by our Assistant Headteacher to organise and run a Mathematics focused TeachMeet at our school. So I am!

The Mathematics focused TeachMeet or #MathsMeet will take place on

**between 4:15 and 6pm at Oakwood School, Horley, Surrey, RH6 9AE.**__Thursday 20th October 2016__We're right by Gatwick Airport and down the road from Horley train station, which is just one stop away from Gatwick Airport on the Southern Line. We have a large staff car park too for those who will be driving - plenty of space available!

There will be refreshments available (tea/coffee and biscuits) from 4:15pm with presentations starting from 4:30pm. There will be a raffle on the evening with some great prizes (Numeracy Ninjas goodies, books, wine, chocolates, Magic Whiteboard goodies, plus more to come) already being provided by some very generous friends via Twitter. Thank You!

Presentations so far include (in no particular order):

Jo Morgan @mathsjem - 'Five maths websites you need to know about'

Mark Horley (@mhorley) - 'The power of boxes and circles'

Ryan Foster - 'WAGOLLs and WABOLLs'

Paul Collins (@mrprcollins - me) - 'Engaging Students with Book Work/Worksheets (Codebreakers)'

Will Emeny (@Maths_Master and creator of 'Numeracy Ninjas') (via video) - 'Forgetting Curve Homeworks'

Michelle Mahoney (@Mahoney_Maths) - 'Assessment & homework without levels'

Paul Collins (@mrprcollins - me) - 'Numeracy Ninjas at Oakwood School'

All the presentations have a focus on the teaching and learning of Mathematics. The event should be great too to network and share good practice/ideas.

On arrival there will be puzzles and activities for all to complete on tables with some resources I really like put out for others to take away and use.

With just 10 days to go there are still places to attend and a few spots left to present so if you'd like to come along just e-mail me: pcollins@oakwood.surrey.sch.uk

Thanks for looking and I hope to see you there!

Paul

## Saturday, 8 October 2016

### Open Evening

Open Evening is always a busy night on the school's calendar and this year was no exception. We had an extremely good turnout this year and the buzz around the school was great. We had lots of our students supporting the evening and attached to different departments for the evening, some were tour guides for our prospective year 5 and 6 parents and others were welcoming parents to the school and on 'car-parking duty'!

We were lucky to have the same 8 students who supported me with the Y6 Problem Solving Day supporting us in Mathematics, plus one other student who was selected to help out on her request.

The Year 5 and 6 parents were shown around the school on the usual route, coming through 2 of our Mathematics classrooms to see some of Y7 work and take part in some activities whilst meeting the department and asking us any questions they may have had.

I haven't written about what we do at Open Evening (or PPE as some call it) and so I thought I'd share what we did this year...

Since I have taught at my school we have always displayed the

My colleagues each set out their class' work on the large sugar paper sheets given to them. Work was checked for accuracy and spellings, etc before going up on display.

The work gives the prospective students and their parents an idea of the standard of work produced by Y7 in the first few weeks in Mathematics. They then get set based on our school's baseline assessments and data from the Primary Schools.

In the other room we have lots of Mathsy activities for parents and students to have a go at. The first of which was the

Students were encouraged to mentally add their own scores, which were verified by our supporting Y9 students. If they added correctly and got 100 or more they grabbed themselves a sweet for their efforts.

This dart board is the one I have in my classroom as I often use it for rewards when students have finished work or personally when freshening up my mental Mathematics/getting out my frustrations prior to a class arriving!

There's a fantastic dart board investigation resource on the TES I have done a few times too, nearer the end of the school year, that is worth a look. Check it out here. Every Mathematics classroom needs a dartboard in my view!

The good ol'

The standard 'Generation Game' higher or lower activity where students/parents get given a card (on the far left) and they have to then choose whether the card to the right of it will be higher or lower than that card. If they get all the way to the right end of the table they get a prize.

This gets them thinking about the cards that are higher or lower than the one they're on and what the chances are of them getting it right. Of course, they also have a chance of getting the same card and therefore losing either way.

Some students, including those chosen here, put in a lot of effort with their 'Summer Work' and you could easily see hours of work that had gone into their games.

I had to investigate the frogs problem on my GTP course and so I like that it has it's place at our open evening. What I should do next time, is dig out my old coursework on it to display alongside it for any parents/students that are curious as to what I'm rambling on about when I start talking about sequences!

So that's what we did at Open Evening this year amongst talking to students and parents. This, of course, was the most rewarding part of the evening - talking to our prospective parents and students. It was also great to see some familiar faces with our y11s that left last year showing up throughout the evening to say hello, and thank you for helping them get their C+ grades, etc. It made the long day worthwhile!

It would be great to hear what other schools did for their Open Evenings this year. Our Science department were dissecting stuff and blowing things up...so trying to compete with that is always going to be tricky, plus all the student helpers end up down in PE doing sports! I think we did good and like I said at the start of this post...there's definitely a buzz around our school at the moment!

We were lucky to have the same 8 students who supported me with the Y6 Problem Solving Day supporting us in Mathematics, plus one other student who was selected to help out on her request.

The Year 5 and 6 parents were shown around the school on the usual route, coming through 2 of our Mathematics classrooms to see some of Y7 work and take part in some activities whilst meeting the department and asking us any questions they may have had.

I haven't written about what we do at Open Evening (or PPE as some call it) and so I thought I'd share what we did this year...

Since I have taught at my school we have always displayed the

__work. This is the first unit of work in our Y7 scheme of work and is what our newest students do each year on starting. They have to collect data about their peers in their new form groups and then work out averages from the data and choose suitable graphs/diagrams to represent their data before writing their own conclusions of their results. This has worked well in the past and it gives the students an opportunity to survey each other, helping them get to know one another. Each class's work is put on display across 2 tables (placed atop other tables).__**Y7 Average Student**My colleagues each set out their class' work on the large sugar paper sheets given to them. Work was checked for accuracy and spellings, etc before going up on display.

The work gives the prospective students and their parents an idea of the standard of work produced by Y7 in the first few weeks in Mathematics. They then get set based on our school's baseline assessments and data from the Primary Schools.

In the other room we have lots of Mathsy activities for parents and students to have a go at. The first of which was the

**challenge. Given 6 darts students/parents were challenged to get a score of more than or equal to 100.**__Darts__Students were encouraged to mentally add their own scores, which were verified by our supporting Y9 students. If they added correctly and got 100 or more they grabbed themselves a sweet for their efforts.

This dart board is the one I have in my classroom as I often use it for rewards when students have finished work or personally when freshening up my mental Mathematics/getting out my frustrations prior to a class arriving!

There's a fantastic dart board investigation resource on the TES I have done a few times too, nearer the end of the school year, that is worth a look. Check it out here. Every Mathematics classroom needs a dartboard in my view!

The good ol'

**. For those who don't know...you roll two dice add the scores on the dice together and that's the numbered 'horse' that moves forward one square in the grid. You keep going until one horse makes it out of the grid. The students/parents/student helpers are the 'horses' and I/the student helpers roll the two large foam dice to generate the numbers. Lots of fun and engagement from our visitors and throughout the rolling (the dice take a while to stop) we have lots of discussions around which 'horse' should win, which is most likely, which 'horse' can't win and why, etc. I use a random dice generator website on my iPad to speed up the rolling! The large dice are there to emphasise that a 6 on the first dice and a 4 on the second is a different outcome to a 4 on the first dice and a 6 on the second, etc.**__Horse Race____Higher or Lower!__The standard 'Generation Game' higher or lower activity where students/parents get given a card (on the far left) and they have to then choose whether the card to the right of it will be higher or lower than that card. If they get all the way to the right end of the table they get a prize.

This gets them thinking about the cards that are higher or lower than the one they're on and what the chances are of them getting it right. Of course, they also have a chance of getting the same card and therefore losing either way.

**. Over the summer holidays students were all given 'Summer Work' to do. Our Y8 students going into Year 9 were tasked with creating their own Mathematical board game based around Time. These were some of our favourite games that were produced and so we thought it only right that they be displayed at Open Evening for others to see and have a go at.**__Mathematical board games__Some students, including those chosen here, put in a lot of effort with their 'Summer Work' and you could easily see hours of work that had gone into their games.

**is one I have used lots at our Y2 Problem Solving days, but the frogs are also great to look at and were well placed here too. The students and parents were tasked with moving the green frogs to the right lily pads and the purple frogs to the left lily pads by only sliding a frog to a vacant lily pad or hoping a frog over a frog of the opposite colour. The shortest number of moves to correctly swap the frogs over creates a nice sequence when increasing/decreasing the number of frogs on either side of the central lily pad. Although the work on the generation of the sequence and the nth term of said sequence is probably too advanced for Y6 students it shows that from a simple task/activity it can lead to some quite high Mathematics.**__The Frogs Problem__I had to investigate the frogs problem on my GTP course and so I like that it has it's place at our open evening. What I should do next time, is dig out my old coursework on it to display alongside it for any parents/students that are curious as to what I'm rambling on about when I start talking about sequences!

So that's what we did at Open Evening this year amongst talking to students and parents. This, of course, was the most rewarding part of the evening - talking to our prospective parents and students. It was also great to see some familiar faces with our y11s that left last year showing up throughout the evening to say hello, and thank you for helping them get their C+ grades, etc. It made the long day worthwhile!

It would be great to hear what other schools did for their Open Evenings this year. Our Science department were dissecting stuff and blowing things up...so trying to compete with that is always going to be tricky, plus all the student helpers end up down in PE doing sports! I think we did good and like I said at the start of this post...there's definitely a buzz around our school at the moment!

### Y6 Problem Solving Day 2016

On Tuesday I hosted our school's annual Y6 Problem Solving Day, read more about the previous Y6 problem solving days I have run here. We had 5 of our local feeder schools join us for a morning of activities. Here are the activities I ran this year...

As there were 5 schools there were 5 bases for them to rotate around and then at the end of the day we did the usual team challenge...The Marshmallow Challenge!

This activity is well known and I found a nice introduction to the problem on the TES and used this as the 'base instructions'. I then cut out and laminated some of the characters in the resource to be used by the children to try and solve the problem. I managed to find a piece of blue scrap plastic to act as the 'river', but this could have been improved...especially if I had a boat too that they could have used to put the laminate pieces in.

The resource I used can be found at:

https://goo.gl/hv7W9F

Thank you to TES user cariad2

Most schools finished this one in 5-10 minutes so I asked a few extra questions on this base once they had finished to throw in a few extra scenarios. i.e. what if the fox could row the boat, can you safely get everyone across the river then? Does it take fewer or more steps if possible? What if the fox also ate the grain as well as the hen? Is it possible to get everyone across safely...etc.

Another resource I found on the TES. This one I liked as the 9 grid of statements the children had to read through included some that were important to the problem and others that were not. They had to read the 9 statements and then answer the question given on one of the cards. I tweaked the wording of the cards slightly to suit the age and ability of the students. The hardest part of this task was to find an original price of the shoes based on a sale being 30% off. I briefed the teachers of each school prior to starting the task as to how they might support the students with this and then let them guide them from there.

The resource is available at:

https://goo.gl/sTUeIu

Thank you to TES user altypotter

You may have noticed the whiteboard books on each table and their accompanying correctable whiteboard pens. These are available from the Magic Whiteboard company. We have a class set of these for each teacher and are used in various ways in our lessons. You may want to read up on my previous blog post about these here.

This activity was one my GTP mentor (Richard Cottyn) used to do as an end of term activity with his classes. It is one I am still very fond of, that creates a high level of challenge for students. The activity is based around a locked bag within which there is a prize. The lock is a 4-digit combination lock that students have to try and unlock. The students answer questions, in my activity they had 8 money based questions to answer. The sum of all 8 questions' answers should then give them the 4-digit code for the lock. All I did was write (took some questions from a text book) and ensured their combined answers added to the 4-digit code of the lock.

The students got very engaged with this activity and when getting the final answer wrong had to go back over their answers to check which was wrong. This I love as it got them checking eachother's answers and working together as a team to ensure they had all 8 answers correct before trying the code again. I put some sweets in the locked bag that, if they unlocked the lock, they could eat as they continued around the bases.

The questions I used can be downloaded here. (The number trail in question 8 was intended to be done from left to right and not applying the laws of BIDMAS).

The bag I used was found in my office (I think it was an old laptop bag). The combination lock was @MissJoyceMaths' gym lock...our Y9 helpers all now know when her birthday is!

For this activity I used a 1-26/a-z codebreaker to set up a code for the students to crack. There were 26 questions (a-z) for them to answer, each with a corresponding number between 1 and 26. I made sure that a) did not equal 1 and b) didn't equal 2, etc so they had to think about it. The questions I used can be found here. The questions were all about properties of numbers and key number facts, etc. Once the students had their answers they new which letters to put in place of the numbers in the code that was on the instructions sheet. The code I used can be found here and can be edited for your own use. The code read 'Don't eat the marshmallow in the team challenge, you'll need it to win'.

What I liked about the code was that it did not contain every letter of the alphabet. So, although students may have worked out that the answer to question b) was 1, there were no 1s in the code and therefore no letter bs either. This got them thinking.

The only remaining base activity from last year's problem solving day.

The students had 4 of each of the numbers between 1 and 9 and using any operation they liked had to make the 4 1s, 4 2s, 4 3s, etc, all equal 6. There were a lot of brackets used around the numbers and operations to ensure BIDMAS was applied correctly.

The 'All four 6' sheet is here if anyone would like to use it.

The students had a copy of the all four 6 sheet and the code to crack attached to the back of their answer pack, which is available by clicking on one of the previous links for the questions used in base 3 or 4.

Here's a picture of the students getting stuck into the first rotation of the bases...

We usually use our 'study centre' (school library) to host the event as there is plenty of space for all the children/staff. Luckily we were able to use this space again.

I was very fortunate that 8 of our Y9 students supported the event and were fantastic throughout. Each of them supported a school and then the left over students circulated between the schools offering help and obviously helped me out on the day too including escorting the children to and from our reception and tidying up the study centre afterwards. These students then helped out the department at our school's Open Evening later that week on Thursday.

Finally...

20 pieces of spaghetti, 1m of string, 1m of sellotape, a couple of pairs of scissors and a marshmallow. The challenge...build the tallest structure possible in 30 mins with the marshmallow supported at the top of the structure. The height of each school's structure was measured and this height then gave them points to contribute towards their overall total from the 5 bases.

Here are my Y9 helper's attempts...

An ingenious use of the scissors to support the structure here!

This one stood standing the longest...by far!

Later in the year I will be running our Y2 Problem Solving Day, see previous posts about this here and here. Our school also do a cross-curricular Y5 carousel day that we will be providing a session for. More about these in due course.

Thanks for reading and I hope the resources are of use.

As there were 5 schools there were 5 bases for them to rotate around and then at the end of the day we did the usual team challenge...The Marshmallow Challenge!

__Base 1 - 'Crossing the River'__This activity is well known and I found a nice introduction to the problem on the TES and used this as the 'base instructions'. I then cut out and laminated some of the characters in the resource to be used by the children to try and solve the problem. I managed to find a piece of blue scrap plastic to act as the 'river', but this could have been improved...especially if I had a boat too that they could have used to put the laminate pieces in.

The resource I used can be found at:

https://goo.gl/hv7W9F

Thank you to TES user cariad2

Most schools finished this one in 5-10 minutes so I asked a few extra questions on this base once they had finished to throw in a few extra scenarios. i.e. what if the fox could row the boat, can you safely get everyone across the river then? Does it take fewer or more steps if possible? What if the fox also ate the grain as well as the hen? Is it possible to get everyone across safely...etc.

__Base 2 - 'Charlie's Shoes'__

Another resource I found on the TES. This one I liked as the 9 grid of statements the children had to read through included some that were important to the problem and others that were not. They had to read the 9 statements and then answer the question given on one of the cards. I tweaked the wording of the cards slightly to suit the age and ability of the students. The hardest part of this task was to find an original price of the shoes based on a sale being 30% off. I briefed the teachers of each school prior to starting the task as to how they might support the students with this and then let them guide them from there.

The resource is available at:

https://goo.gl/sTUeIu

Thank you to TES user altypotter

You may have noticed the whiteboard books on each table and their accompanying correctable whiteboard pens. These are available from the Magic Whiteboard company. We have a class set of these for each teacher and are used in various ways in our lessons. You may want to read up on my previous blog post about these here.

__Base 3 - 'Locked Up'__

This activity was one my GTP mentor (Richard Cottyn) used to do as an end of term activity with his classes. It is one I am still very fond of, that creates a high level of challenge for students. The activity is based around a locked bag within which there is a prize. The lock is a 4-digit combination lock that students have to try and unlock. The students answer questions, in my activity they had 8 money based questions to answer. The sum of all 8 questions' answers should then give them the 4-digit code for the lock. All I did was write (took some questions from a text book) and ensured their combined answers added to the 4-digit code of the lock.

The students got very engaged with this activity and when getting the final answer wrong had to go back over their answers to check which was wrong. This I love as it got them checking eachother's answers and working together as a team to ensure they had all 8 answers correct before trying the code again. I put some sweets in the locked bag that, if they unlocked the lock, they could eat as they continued around the bases.

The questions I used can be downloaded here. (The number trail in question 8 was intended to be done from left to right and not applying the laws of BIDMAS).

The bag I used was found in my office (I think it was an old laptop bag). The combination lock was @MissJoyceMaths' gym lock...our Y9 helpers all now know when her birthday is!

__Base 4 - 'Crack-a-lacking'__

For this activity I used a 1-26/a-z codebreaker to set up a code for the students to crack. There were 26 questions (a-z) for them to answer, each with a corresponding number between 1 and 26. I made sure that a) did not equal 1 and b) didn't equal 2, etc so they had to think about it. The questions I used can be found here. The questions were all about properties of numbers and key number facts, etc. Once the students had their answers they new which letters to put in place of the numbers in the code that was on the instructions sheet. The code I used can be found here and can be edited for your own use. The code read 'Don't eat the marshmallow in the team challenge, you'll need it to win'.

What I liked about the code was that it did not contain every letter of the alphabet. So, although students may have worked out that the answer to question b) was 1, there were no 1s in the code and therefore no letter bs either. This got them thinking.

__Base 5 - 'All Four 6'__

The only remaining base activity from last year's problem solving day.

The students had 4 of each of the numbers between 1 and 9 and using any operation they liked had to make the 4 1s, 4 2s, 4 3s, etc, all equal 6. There were a lot of brackets used around the numbers and operations to ensure BIDMAS was applied correctly.

The 'All four 6' sheet is here if anyone would like to use it.

The students had a copy of the all four 6 sheet and the code to crack attached to the back of their answer pack, which is available by clicking on one of the previous links for the questions used in base 3 or 4.

Here's a picture of the students getting stuck into the first rotation of the bases...

We usually use our 'study centre' (school library) to host the event as there is plenty of space for all the children/staff. Luckily we were able to use this space again.

I was very fortunate that 8 of our Y9 students supported the event and were fantastic throughout. Each of them supported a school and then the left over students circulated between the schools offering help and obviously helped me out on the day too including escorting the children to and from our reception and tidying up the study centre afterwards. These students then helped out the department at our school's Open Evening later that week on Thursday.

Finally...

__The Marshamallow Challenge__

20 pieces of spaghetti, 1m of string, 1m of sellotape, a couple of pairs of scissors and a marshmallow. The challenge...build the tallest structure possible in 30 mins with the marshmallow supported at the top of the structure. The height of each school's structure was measured and this height then gave them points to contribute towards their overall total from the 5 bases.

Here are my Y9 helper's attempts...

An ingenious use of the scissors to support the structure here!

This one stood standing the longest...by far!

Later in the year I will be running our Y2 Problem Solving Day, see previous posts about this here and here. Our school also do a cross-curricular Y5 carousel day that we will be providing a session for. More about these in due course.

Thanks for reading and I hope the resources are of use.

## Sunday, 7 February 2016

### Numeracy Ninjas

Massively inspired by this tweet by Jon O'Neil (@jonsmcest)

https://twitter.com/jonsmcest/status/690648802240434176?lang=en-gb

I have been putting up our very own Numeracy Ninjas Display this week.

If you are not familiar with Numeracy Ninjas then you must check out their website now and have a look at their free resource. http://www.numeracyninjas.org/

The numeracy intervention is working wonders at our school and we have all of our set 3 and 4 students across KS3 doing the programme. We typically have 3 or 4 classes on each side of our year groups and so we are mainly using with our 'lower-ability' groups.

The kids have taken to the Ninjas really well and after trialing the intervention programme in the first half term of the school year we were all happy to continue with it. I, personally, only have 1 KS3 class doing the 'Ninjas' and it has been a godsend in getting them in and settled and working silently for a sustained period of time. So much so, that I now do this with them every lesson, rather than just once a week like we started doing at the start of the year. The reason for this was that, without the Ninjas, the class just took ages to get settled and were very rarely quiet for sustained periods of time. Now, we have a good 10-15 minutes each lesson of focused numeracy.

After running the ppt for the 5 minute duration each session I go over the answers, the kids find out their scores/belt and then I choose 4-5 of the 'Key Skills' questions to go over as a class - some of these are chosen by the students as they ask how to do certain questions. This time is, in my opinion, the most beneficial as it is the moment where they get feedback from me and are learning more ways to do their basic numeracy. We discuss methods used by those students that answered the questions chosen correctly and I then tell them how I saw the question(s) and how I would approach them.

We have been doing the Ninjas in little A5 booklets in 10-session blocks. Each 10-session booklet has a table on the back where they can record their scores/belts. This makes it really visible as to how well they are doing and the progress can easily be seen.

I have even found other ways of using the class' numeracy Ninja results and building these into my class' learning. When covering unit 3 of our SoW (charts and diagrams), I got students to: draw a pie chart to represent the colour belts they had achieved in that 10 week session; draw a time series graph for their results and we briefly looked at trend lines and tried to predict what score/belt they would get next session and we looked at averages too.

By linking their numeracy Ninjas intervention into their 'normal' learning it has helped keep them focused and engaged.

Now I have put up the display, inspired by Jon's, the students each have a ninja with their name on it tagged to the display board. Each week I will update the board if a student needs to move up (or down) to a different belt.

We have also bought in some of the rewards from the website. We have pencils and postcards that we have started giving students who have made a significant improvement, or have consistently achieved highly. These have been gratefully received so far.

Here's the display board...

and again.

I have started to put the word out to staff about the display too, giving out a message in our staff briefings about the ninjas display and to get students to keep looking at the board/asking their teachers to move them up (or down) when appropriate. They're there for all staff to see and so my hope is that staff will see where particular students are, perhaps those that are in their form group or just those they are familiar with, and comment on how they're doing...'Joe, I notice you're on a red belt in your numeracy ninjas'...'Nicki, well done for getting a black belt, there's not many students on that belt is there...', etc! This should help encourage students and keep them engaged with their numeracy and motivate them to do better.

One of my students did say this week - 'oh sir, is this just one of those things that gets updated for the first week or so and then that's it'. No, no it won't be! I will aim to update the board as much as I can, at least after each 10-session booklet where we can take the modal belt for those sessions, or, for the classes that only do the ninjas once every week, their last score.

The only thing I can see 'negative' about the board is that for those students at the bottom it is a bit of a 'wall of fame and shame' - lets hope that instead of this we can encourage those students lower down to get into the green belt section (at least) and take every opportunity to move them up!

I love the Numeracy Ninjas and it has been a massive boost to improving students numeracy and engaging them in their Mathematics lessons in general.

I'm sure there will be future posts on how we are using the Numeracy Ninjas at our school.

https://twitter.com/jonsmcest/status/690648802240434176?lang=en-gb

I have been putting up our very own Numeracy Ninjas Display this week.

If you are not familiar with Numeracy Ninjas then you must check out their website now and have a look at their free resource. http://www.numeracyninjas.org/

The numeracy intervention is working wonders at our school and we have all of our set 3 and 4 students across KS3 doing the programme. We typically have 3 or 4 classes on each side of our year groups and so we are mainly using with our 'lower-ability' groups.

The kids have taken to the Ninjas really well and after trialing the intervention programme in the first half term of the school year we were all happy to continue with it. I, personally, only have 1 KS3 class doing the 'Ninjas' and it has been a godsend in getting them in and settled and working silently for a sustained period of time. So much so, that I now do this with them every lesson, rather than just once a week like we started doing at the start of the year. The reason for this was that, without the Ninjas, the class just took ages to get settled and were very rarely quiet for sustained periods of time. Now, we have a good 10-15 minutes each lesson of focused numeracy.

After running the ppt for the 5 minute duration each session I go over the answers, the kids find out their scores/belt and then I choose 4-5 of the 'Key Skills' questions to go over as a class - some of these are chosen by the students as they ask how to do certain questions. This time is, in my opinion, the most beneficial as it is the moment where they get feedback from me and are learning more ways to do their basic numeracy. We discuss methods used by those students that answered the questions chosen correctly and I then tell them how I saw the question(s) and how I would approach them.

We have been doing the Ninjas in little A5 booklets in 10-session blocks. Each 10-session booklet has a table on the back where they can record their scores/belts. This makes it really visible as to how well they are doing and the progress can easily be seen.

I have even found other ways of using the class' numeracy Ninja results and building these into my class' learning. When covering unit 3 of our SoW (charts and diagrams), I got students to: draw a pie chart to represent the colour belts they had achieved in that 10 week session; draw a time series graph for their results and we briefly looked at trend lines and tried to predict what score/belt they would get next session and we looked at averages too.

By linking their numeracy Ninjas intervention into their 'normal' learning it has helped keep them focused and engaged.

Now I have put up the display, inspired by Jon's, the students each have a ninja with their name on it tagged to the display board. Each week I will update the board if a student needs to move up (or down) to a different belt.

We have also bought in some of the rewards from the website. We have pencils and postcards that we have started giving students who have made a significant improvement, or have consistently achieved highly. These have been gratefully received so far.

Here's the display board...

and again.

I have started to put the word out to staff about the display too, giving out a message in our staff briefings about the ninjas display and to get students to keep looking at the board/asking their teachers to move them up (or down) when appropriate. They're there for all staff to see and so my hope is that staff will see where particular students are, perhaps those that are in their form group or just those they are familiar with, and comment on how they're doing...'Joe, I notice you're on a red belt in your numeracy ninjas'...'Nicki, well done for getting a black belt, there's not many students on that belt is there...', etc! This should help encourage students and keep them engaged with their numeracy and motivate them to do better.

One of my students did say this week - 'oh sir, is this just one of those things that gets updated for the first week or so and then that's it'. No, no it won't be! I will aim to update the board as much as I can, at least after each 10-session booklet where we can take the modal belt for those sessions, or, for the classes that only do the ninjas once every week, their last score.

The only thing I can see 'negative' about the board is that for those students at the bottom it is a bit of a 'wall of fame and shame' - lets hope that instead of this we can encourage those students lower down to get into the green belt section (at least) and take every opportunity to move them up!

I love the Numeracy Ninjas and it has been a massive boost to improving students numeracy and engaging them in their Mathematics lessons in general.

I'm sure there will be future posts on how we are using the Numeracy Ninjas at our school.

## Saturday, 23 January 2016

### Teaching Trigonometry

Before the end of Term 1, I attended the #Christmaths event that @mathsjem organised up in London. Unfortunately, I was a bit late getting there and so missed a few of the presentations, but did manage to catch @Kris_Boulton's presentation. He got me thinking about how I taught Trigonometry and whether this was the right approach/best approach to it. What Kristopher said made a lot of sense...he suggested that the way in which we teach topics makes a big difference to whether students really understand what they are being asked to do or whether they have just temporarily learnt a process/method to follow, which is often later forgotten, leading to you having to teach the topic all over again.

Our Y11s had their mock examinations before Christmas and I had marked these before the #Christmaths event and so knew that my Y11s hadn't answered correctly the trigonometry question that was on their paper(s), despite being taught it last year, and most didn't even attempt the question...nothing. So, when I heard Kristopher talking, I thought about how I had taught them Trig and what I could do next time when teaching it to my current Y10s so the topic sticks next time. Kristopher was discussing about how we shouldn't be re-teaching topics every school year and that if we taught it 'right' the first time round, there wouldn't need to waste time re-teaching the topic(s). I know I'm going to have to go over trig with my Y11s again, before their actual GCSEs, so I decided to try my best to improve how I teach this topic to my Y10s so I'm not in the same position next year.

When planning the lessons, I've also incorporated some of the changes to the NEW 1-9 GCSE and I've made the lessons suitable for Foundation students too, when I need to cover this with them (probably, later on in their Y11 year). Initially, though, I have taught the below unit of work/series of lessons to my Higher set 2 Y10s.

Here's my new approach/how I've tweaked things...

This resource is available FREE on my TES resources if you think it would be useful when teaching the topic yourself! See here: https://goo.gl/eR1iNO

The lessons are all on SMART Notebook and on each slide I have 'pull tabs' that allowed me to refer back to learning outcomes, the trig formulae and other self assessment activities at the end of a series of tasks/questions.

I start the series of lessons/unit of work by getting students to measure lengths of similar right-angled triangles and divide pairs of these lengths by each other and see what they find. I then held a discussion with the class as to what they found and why the numbers come out the same, what this means, etc.

After I have discussed this, the ratios between different side lengths being the ratios, sin, cos and tan I then got the students to just focus on labeling the sides of right-angled triangles, dependent on where the angle is.

After they had comfortably understood the labeling of the sides I then gave the class some examples of how to find the missing length of a right-angled triangle using the sin ratio. During the examples, I refer back to the measuring task at the start of the lesson, bring up my Casio calculator emulator to discuss the importance of typing in the calculations correctly (using brackets), used the SOH triangle and linked to SDT/physics lessons and even referred to the sin graph. I just drew this on the board when a question cropped up about what sin (34) or sin (27) was...I drew the graph and wrote the 90, 180, 270 and 360 angles on the x axis and then drew a line up to the 'wave' and across to the axis to roughly show the value of it, we checked it on the calculator, etc.

All of the above additions/discussions continued or came up when students were then answering questions themselves.

These slides had 6 questions on them, 3 finding the opposite length and 3 finding the hypotenuse so they'd have to use the SOH triangle both 'ways'.

I got students to round to 3sf at all times as this is something we had covered previously in the year and I wanted them to continue practising this skill as the questions often ask for this degree of accuracy.

There were plenty of opportunities to discuss the rounding to 3sf too, when the answers were, say 8.99542 and the answer would end up 9.00, or when 8.596 came up as the answer and they had to round to 8.60...when they included 0s, when they didn't consider them 'significant', etc.

When introducing COS, after having covered finding a missing angle using SIN in a similar way; with me giving examples, showing them the emulator on the board and typing in the calculations, why we use 'shift SIN' and what that meant (what the inverse function was), etc...again drawing back to the graph and showing certain values on here, I gave students some basic notes to copy into their ex books. They had a similar set of notes to write for SIN.

After covering the slides/lessons on SIN and COS, finding both missing lengths and angles I did a plenary style task whereby students had to identify whether to use SIN or COS - I found students were discussing why it could/couldn't be one of them based on what they were shown quite a bit here and they were convincing each other whether they should or shouldn't stand up.

I then gave them more practice questions, but this time they had to decide which of SIN/COS to use and whether they were finding opposite, adjacent or hypotenuse. I used the 'pull tabs' lots here, referring back to the formulae for each.

The NEW 1-9 GCSE includes students knowing exact trig identities, so at the start of one lesson I just put all the trig values students need to know on the board and asked them to write down exactly what came up on their calculator (not to press the S->D button)!

After revealing the answers I dropped the bombshell that they had to remember each of these and be able to recall them in their actual GCSE (just like their times tables)! I said we'd do a timestablesesque quiz soon to test their memory of these. I wrote them on the board so that they could see a pattern between the values. By putting SIN, then COS, SIN, then COS from 0 degrees to 90 degrees you get a pattern emerge - see the slide. I said as long as they remember the first 5 they just reverse the order of the answers for the 2nd 5. As for the TAN values...I just said they'd have to remember these as they were as I didn't see a better way of remembering them!? Has anybody any ways of them remembering these?

In the next set of questions, there was one which comes out as cos-1 (8/16), so cos-1 (1/2) when finding one of the missing angles - at this point I referred back to the trig identities and asked if anyone would know what the answer would be before we even typed it into the calculator, based on what we had done before. Some then had a 'light bulb' moment, shouting out 60 with glee!!

Once all 3 had been covered, in the same way, keeping the consistency between my approach each lesson so the only thing that was changing was SIN/COS/TAN or what length/angle we were working with, rather than the style of questions, ppt/resource I used, etc, I then gave them a mixture of questions where they had to decide upon what ratio and what they were working out, emphasising that they would not be told which to use in their examinations.

I then gave them some extended problems that used a combination of triangles and needed the use of Pythagoras or Trig.

That's where I'm up to now. I have only just (after 5 lessons) mentioned SOHCAHTOA and have set them the homework task on the resource to find a suitable mnemonic for them to figure out which one to use for any question they're asked.

Next...I plan on giving them more basic practice questions where they have to decide which to use/work out. Then, I will be giving them some contextualised questions include bearings and combinations of triangles using a different set of resources I have used in the past - just a worksheet of 'wordy' questions. As I understand it...Foundation students will be given a 'simple' type question where they are merely given a right-angled triangle and asked to find a missing length or angle. The 'wordy' contextualised questions with other topics combined with them will be saved for the Higher tier?!

So, I did manage at one point to refer back to our work on Surds and hinted at the fact they may get you to use the trig identities in surd form to calculate a missing side/angle and put your answer in surd form. This went slightly over their heads and may have been too much at that point in that lesson when they had only just been told about knowing these 'off the top of their heads'!

I felt much more confident lesson to lesson when teaching the topic this time round. I thought more about how I was teaching it as I went through the lessons and covered many more questions/misconceptions as I previously had as the students weren't just given SOHCAHTOA in the first lesson and told a method/process to follow as I may have done in previous years...basically just teaching them how to answer a question, without much understanding of what/why they were doing what they were told.

I will see, soon, whether this approach/series of lessons has had an impact. We are following Pearson's 2-year SoW and I'm currently up to Unit 5. In their Unit 5 assessment there are plenty of trig questions that will test their understanding and, of course, in future past papers we give them/specimen papers I'll see if it has 'stuck' this time and hopefully, they won't need teaching it next year.

Please let me know if you've found this useful or have used this resource. There are bits of the resource that I have collated from other teachers...I've used a few of the fantastic Diagnostic Questions from Craig Barton and there are a few slides from other TES users too, which, if they are you (I can't remember who/where I got them from) please let me know so I can give you a mention/shout out here!

Our Y11s had their mock examinations before Christmas and I had marked these before the #Christmaths event and so knew that my Y11s hadn't answered correctly the trigonometry question that was on their paper(s), despite being taught it last year, and most didn't even attempt the question...nothing. So, when I heard Kristopher talking, I thought about how I had taught them Trig and what I could do next time when teaching it to my current Y10s so the topic sticks next time. Kristopher was discussing about how we shouldn't be re-teaching topics every school year and that if we taught it 'right' the first time round, there wouldn't need to waste time re-teaching the topic(s). I know I'm going to have to go over trig with my Y11s again, before their actual GCSEs, so I decided to try my best to improve how I teach this topic to my Y10s so I'm not in the same position next year.

When planning the lessons, I've also incorporated some of the changes to the NEW 1-9 GCSE and I've made the lessons suitable for Foundation students too, when I need to cover this with them (probably, later on in their Y11 year). Initially, though, I have taught the below unit of work/series of lessons to my Higher set 2 Y10s.

Here's my new approach/how I've tweaked things...

This resource is available FREE on my TES resources if you think it would be useful when teaching the topic yourself! See here: https://goo.gl/eR1iNO

The lessons are all on SMART Notebook and on each slide I have 'pull tabs' that allowed me to refer back to learning outcomes, the trig formulae and other self assessment activities at the end of a series of tasks/questions.

I start the series of lessons/unit of work by getting students to measure lengths of similar right-angled triangles and divide pairs of these lengths by each other and see what they find. I then held a discussion with the class as to what they found and why the numbers come out the same, what this means, etc.

After I have discussed this, the ratios between different side lengths being the ratios, sin, cos and tan I then got the students to just focus on labeling the sides of right-angled triangles, dependent on where the angle is.

After they had comfortably understood the labeling of the sides I then gave the class some examples of how to find the missing length of a right-angled triangle using the sin ratio. During the examples, I refer back to the measuring task at the start of the lesson, bring up my Casio calculator emulator to discuss the importance of typing in the calculations correctly (using brackets), used the SOH triangle and linked to SDT/physics lessons and even referred to the sin graph. I just drew this on the board when a question cropped up about what sin (34) or sin (27) was...I drew the graph and wrote the 90, 180, 270 and 360 angles on the x axis and then drew a line up to the 'wave' and across to the axis to roughly show the value of it, we checked it on the calculator, etc.

All of the above additions/discussions continued or came up when students were then answering questions themselves.

These slides had 6 questions on them, 3 finding the opposite length and 3 finding the hypotenuse so they'd have to use the SOH triangle both 'ways'.

I got students to round to 3sf at all times as this is something we had covered previously in the year and I wanted them to continue practising this skill as the questions often ask for this degree of accuracy.

There were plenty of opportunities to discuss the rounding to 3sf too, when the answers were, say 8.99542 and the answer would end up 9.00, or when 8.596 came up as the answer and they had to round to 8.60...when they included 0s, when they didn't consider them 'significant', etc.

When introducing COS, after having covered finding a missing angle using SIN in a similar way; with me giving examples, showing them the emulator on the board and typing in the calculations, why we use 'shift SIN' and what that meant (what the inverse function was), etc...again drawing back to the graph and showing certain values on here, I gave students some basic notes to copy into their ex books. They had a similar set of notes to write for SIN.

After covering the slides/lessons on SIN and COS, finding both missing lengths and angles I did a plenary style task whereby students had to identify whether to use SIN or COS - I found students were discussing why it could/couldn't be one of them based on what they were shown quite a bit here and they were convincing each other whether they should or shouldn't stand up.

I then gave them more practice questions, but this time they had to decide which of SIN/COS to use and whether they were finding opposite, adjacent or hypotenuse. I used the 'pull tabs' lots here, referring back to the formulae for each.

The NEW 1-9 GCSE includes students knowing exact trig identities, so at the start of one lesson I just put all the trig values students need to know on the board and asked them to write down exactly what came up on their calculator (not to press the S->D button)!

After revealing the answers I dropped the bombshell that they had to remember each of these and be able to recall them in their actual GCSE (just like their times tables)! I said we'd do a timestablesesque quiz soon to test their memory of these. I wrote them on the board so that they could see a pattern between the values. By putting SIN, then COS, SIN, then COS from 0 degrees to 90 degrees you get a pattern emerge - see the slide. I said as long as they remember the first 5 they just reverse the order of the answers for the 2nd 5. As for the TAN values...I just said they'd have to remember these as they were as I didn't see a better way of remembering them!? Has anybody any ways of them remembering these?

In the next set of questions, there was one which comes out as cos-1 (8/16), so cos-1 (1/2) when finding one of the missing angles - at this point I referred back to the trig identities and asked if anyone would know what the answer would be before we even typed it into the calculator, based on what we had done before. Some then had a 'light bulb' moment, shouting out 60 with glee!!

Once all 3 had been covered, in the same way, keeping the consistency between my approach each lesson so the only thing that was changing was SIN/COS/TAN or what length/angle we were working with, rather than the style of questions, ppt/resource I used, etc, I then gave them a mixture of questions where they had to decide upon what ratio and what they were working out, emphasising that they would not be told which to use in their examinations.

I then gave them some extended problems that used a combination of triangles and needed the use of Pythagoras or Trig.

That's where I'm up to now. I have only just (after 5 lessons) mentioned SOHCAHTOA and have set them the homework task on the resource to find a suitable mnemonic for them to figure out which one to use for any question they're asked.

Next...I plan on giving them more basic practice questions where they have to decide which to use/work out. Then, I will be giving them some contextualised questions include bearings and combinations of triangles using a different set of resources I have used in the past - just a worksheet of 'wordy' questions. As I understand it...Foundation students will be given a 'simple' type question where they are merely given a right-angled triangle and asked to find a missing length or angle. The 'wordy' contextualised questions with other topics combined with them will be saved for the Higher tier?!

So, I did manage at one point to refer back to our work on Surds and hinted at the fact they may get you to use the trig identities in surd form to calculate a missing side/angle and put your answer in surd form. This went slightly over their heads and may have been too much at that point in that lesson when they had only just been told about knowing these 'off the top of their heads'!

I felt much more confident lesson to lesson when teaching the topic this time round. I thought more about how I was teaching it as I went through the lessons and covered many more questions/misconceptions as I previously had as the students weren't just given SOHCAHTOA in the first lesson and told a method/process to follow as I may have done in previous years...basically just teaching them how to answer a question, without much understanding of what/why they were doing what they were told.

I will see, soon, whether this approach/series of lessons has had an impact. We are following Pearson's 2-year SoW and I'm currently up to Unit 5. In their Unit 5 assessment there are plenty of trig questions that will test their understanding and, of course, in future past papers we give them/specimen papers I'll see if it has 'stuck' this time and hopefully, they won't need teaching it next year.

Please let me know if you've found this useful or have used this resource. There are bits of the resource that I have collated from other teachers...I've used a few of the fantastic Diagnostic Questions from Craig Barton and there are a few slides from other TES users too, which, if they are you (I can't remember who/where I got them from) please let me know so I can give you a mention/shout out here!

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