I love teaching my year 9 group. I’ve taught them for 2 years now and in the main, they are really up for having a go at most things I give them and they usually try their best. There are times when they’re a little loud but they are such a fun group to teach. When it comes to planning these lessons I’m always mindful of trying to create opportunities for lots of ‘eureka’ moments that they’ll want to recreate time and time again, whilst building on their very strong number skills to aid fluency BUT also looking at ways to demonstrate different strategies to apply in unfamiliar situations. WOW! That sounds a lot … the reality is that it isn’t a conscious thing – I don’t go through a mental list of things to include in a lesson but I am definitely aware of my ‘wish list’ when I’m planning their lessons.

We’ve just moved on from looking at HCF and LCM in context and I wanted something to link these lessons to our next topic – “product rule for counting” – rather than just a very abrupt ‘one topic ends. Another one begins’ kind of thing, so I put together the attached three “pens” questions** and it was fab! With the first question we agreed that “drawing 3 lines would help us to ‘see/remind us’ that there were 3 students” (it sounds very simple but I feel that we need to verbalise why we do things like this in maths lessons and not just assume they’ll even notice it). We then went onto writing a list of possible numbers from which we could eliminate further numbers. A discussion about the importance of not being “scattergun” in our approach and what being systematic means – I was able to link back to “find the factors of 40” kind of question and why we try to take a logical approach in listing the factors: 

  • 1,40      2,20      3      4,10       5,8         6           7         8,5 (repeating so we STOP!)

It was such a simple lesson that led to lots of discussion about why we use specific strategies and the best way to justify why certain numbers could be eliminated using reasoning rather than just .. “because”… e.g. we can eliminate 13 from the list because the other two students would each have 1 pen but we are told that none of them has the same number of pens. We did eventually get onto trying to find a way of working out when it is appropriate to use the product rule for counting which is a great place to pick up on the topic next lesson! 


In other news … I still can’t tell you any more about our news but logos are appearing on this page faster than you can … ummm … aaahhh …  oh I don’t know where thats’ going so I’ll give up whilst I’m ahead. Must dash … early night required as I’m off oop North again tomorrow.

** Not to be confused with Don Stewards 15 pens which is fabulous! I used it with this group as an introduction to forming and solving equations last year.