Remote Learning: Ideas and activities for parents and teachers

The team have been working hard to get these materials ready for people.  We hope you find them useful and informative.

We have tried to include a wide range of activities and ideas so there will hopefully be something for everyone.

Many of the activities can be done easily with everyday materials you have in the home.  Some require a digital device, dice, a deck of cards or squared paper.  If schools have these easily accessible and can provide these to pupils before they close on Friday, this would be useful but by no means essential.

Each document has a range of ideas from Early to Second as well as some ideas at Third/Fourth level.

For the Senior Phase including those taking National 5 or Higher, the most relevant document will be: Structured Learning at Home.

Click on each image to be taken to a PDF for further ideas for that area.

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If anyone spots any errors on any of these or broken links then please do let us know and we’ll try our best to fix them.

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Remote Learning: Teacher Guide to setting up Khan Academy for your class

I’ve put together this guide for setting up Khan Academy with your class.  This may be useful for some people who are looking for options to support distance learning during school closures.

Khan Academy is a free website that is accessible on all devices: laptops, PCs, chrome books, tablets and mobile phones making it quite versatile.

It provides video tutorials, questions and quizzes which you can set for individuals, groups or your whole class and it also allows you to monitor their progress.

If you want further information on how to set up your class and the things you can do with it, click on the guide below for more information.

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Please be aware that this is based on the US Grade system and while I feel the content is suitable there are some differences in the timing of when certain things are introduced and how they are taught.  It certainly isn’t a replacement for face to face teaching but it may prove to be very useful to teachers, pupils and parents in the coming weeks and/or months.

We have a few more materials we are working on at the moment to support parents with ideas for maths related activities at home.  These will be published on the Highland Council Digital Learning Hub and also on here.  This will most likely happen on Thursday.

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Sumdog Competition

Sorry, a bit late in posting this but I believe there is still time to enter.

If your pupils like a bit of competition then you might be interested in signing up to the Sumdog Highland Maths Contest which starts on Friday 28th February (tomorrow… or today if you’re not reading this late at night!)

It’s a free competition.  See the details from Sumdog below:

Sumdog’s Highland maths contest is fast approaching. It starts this Friday (Feb 28) and runs until next Thursday.

The contest is a fun way to motivate your class. Questions adapt to each pupil’s level – so everyone has a fair chance of winning.

They can play online or on the app, either at school or at home. It only takes about an hour in total over the course of the week.

Last year over 75000 pupils in Scotland took part in a Sumdog maths contest. If you’ve not entered the Highland contest yet, it’s not too late to join in the fun!

Enter here:

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Early Years CPD Opportunity

This was emailed out to schools already but just in case anybody has missed it there is an Early Year CPD Opportunity coming up next week.  If anyone is still keen to sign up but wasn’t aware of it, please see the details below and sign up on the CPD calendar.  The date on the CPD calendar will have passed but you can email to confirm your attendance if you are signing up past the cut off date.

Day 1 Dates/Location:

  • Option 1: 25.02.20     Dingwall  Academy               0930 – 1500
  • Option 2: 28.02.20     Inverness Royal Academy   0930 – 1500

Day 2 Dates/Location:

  • Option 1: 04.06.20     Dingwall  Academy               0930 – 1500
  • Option 2: 02.06.20     Inverness Royal Academy   0930 – 1500

Here is a description of the course:

Maths and Numeracy at Early Level – a course for managers/leaders with responsibility for Early Level in their setting/classroom.

This is a two day course – staff must sign up for both sessions.

The course will provide attendees with 5 sets of slides, which can to be used for staff training.  This course links closely with the principles of Emerging Literacy and ‘Words Up’. The slides will cover the following areas: Language of Maths, Curiosity, Confidence and Creativity, Real World Use of Maths, Spatial Awareness and Understanding Number.


·         To provide managers/leaders with 5 sets of slides that can be used to deliver maths training to staff in their setting/school.

·         Managers/leaders will be encouraged to engage staff in discussions to help them reflect and evaluate their own practice, and consider next steps for improvement. Through discussions, staff will consider how they engage learners in maths, both indoors and outdoors. Staff will be encouraged to reflect and consider the specific needs of their own setting/classroom and families.

·         Managers/leaders will explore how children develop their understanding of maths through rich connected experiences.

DAY 1:

·         Language of Maths

·         Real World Use of Maths

·         Curiosity, Confidence & Creativity

 DAY 2:

·         Feedback on the previous sets of slides which have been used in settings/schools – share ideas etc. Staff will be encouraged to bring photographs to share with others.

·         Spatial Awareness

·         Understanding Number


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Game Series: Guess My Way

Below is a short video clip of a game called Guess My Way being introduced to two pupils.  This game can easily be introduced to a whole class (if you have enough Rekenreks) or a smaller teaching group. The game can easily be modified to use a single or double tens frame and counters if you don’t have Rekenreks.

It supports understanding of a wide range of different ways to group numbers and also supports retention of basic facts in a meaningful way.

Click here or the image below for a PDF that outlines more details about the game including:

  • Setting up the game
  • Rules of the game
  • Ideas for exploring patterns and relationships
  • Suggestions for ways that pupils can be questioned further.

Guess My Way

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SMC Conference 2020

The Scottish Maths Council Conference 2020, which will be held at the University of Stirling on Saturday 7th March, is now live for booking.  Click here for booking.

The keynote speaker is Craig Barton, who I’ve written about before as I’m a big fan of his podcasts which always keep me thinking while I’m driving from school to school across the Highlands.

There are a wide variety of workshop options and these can be viewed by clicking on the image below:Screen Shot 2020-01-19 at 23.36.59.png


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A slice of pizza is not a triangle! Exploring mathematical precision from the start.

We’ve been running our training session on Language of Maths in a few schools recently which includes the use of Frayer Models which have been discussed in previous blog posts.

When discussing language such as triangles and squares it is very common for the following things to happen:

  • Pupils to be provided with only REGULAR examples of shapes (e.g. a triangle with 3 equal sides and orientated so that the horizontal base is on the bottom, pentagon with 5 equal sides etc.).
  • Pupils to be provided with imprecise examples of shapes – in the triangle example, this might be showing them the musical instrument called a triangle or a slice of pizza… neither of which have the properties of a triangle.
  • Only naming rectangles where one pair of parallel sides is longer/shorter than the other pair.  A square is also a rectangle… just a special type of rectangle where all the sides are equal in length.  This means that a square is always a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t always a square.
  • Only sharing examples of the objects but not non-examples.  Using non-examples that are similar to the language/item you are trying to explore but not exactly the same can support pupils understanding.  By knowing what something is not, you can make better sense of what it is.

If pupils develop an imprecise understanding early on, this may cause problems in the future!

Take a look at this video with Doug Clements who explores this in more detail and then try to think about your own practice.   Click on the image of the video to be taken to the site where you can watch it.

Screen Shot 2019-12-11 at 12.52.38.pngWhat ideas related to understanding of shapes and their attributes are you supporting your pupils to make sense of through the activities you provide for them? 
Is there anything that you could improve on or that needs to change?

A thorough and correct understanding from the beginning is crucial if pupils are to have greater success with geometry later in their school careers but also to develop their spatial awareness which is vital in our everyday lives.

Take a look at these other two short videos of young pupils exploring shapes as well as making sense of examples and non-examples. Click on the image of the video to be taken to the site where you can watch it.

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Job Opportunity

For any PSAs in the Highland area, please see the advert on My Job Scotland for 3 PSAs fixed term until the end of March. Closing date is tomorrow – sorry for short notice, I hadn’t realised the job advert had been put out already.

This will be an exciting opportunity to work alongside the Highland Literacy and Numeracy Development Officers to provide additional literacy and numeracy support to pupils to help close the poverty related attainment gap.

Follow the link for more details:

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Upcoming CPD – November and December

29th November:
Mastery in Mathematics

Free CPD event run by La Salle Education and hosted by Inverness High School.  Follow link and book your place online if you are interested in attending:

3rd to 5th December:
Multiplication, Division, Language and Bar Models!

We still have a few spaces left on our training sessions next week.  The same day will run on three consecutive days – times and locations below.

The day is for probationers however the remaining spaces are open to anyone who wishes to attend.  Feedback from non-probationers who attended the first event earlier in the year found it very useful.  We deliver similar training in schools and so would hope that teachers would find it valuable regardless of their prior teaching experience.

The day will largely be focussing on multiplication and division taking a journey from Early Level to the end of Second Level and a little beyond.  We will also be exploring language and pre-teaching vocabulary as well as the use of bar models.  It should be an informative and action-packed day!!!

Sessions will be as follows:

Tuesday 3rd December: Inverness Royal Academy CPD Suits (enter through sports hall) 9.30am – 3.30pm

Wednesday 4th December: Alness Academy 9.30am – 3.30pm

Thursday 5th December: Inverness High School 9.30am – 3.30pm

If you wish to attend please sign up on the Highland CPD site.

11th December:
Teachmeet UHI

Teachers from Highland and Moray are being invited to attend the Teachmeet at UHI on Wednesday 11th December from 5pm – 7pm.  The session will be aimed at secondary maths teachers or primary teachers with an interest in maths in the upper stages.

Sign up using the Google Form, entry is on a first come first serve basis.

I’ll hopefully see some familiar faces there.

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Cuisenaire Rods Extravaganza!

I am a huge fan of Cuisenaire Rods.  They are probably the most versatile concrete material I’ve come across and can be used to teach such a vast array of mathematical ideas in ways that pupils (and adults) can really make sense of.

I frequently come across schools who assure me they have no Cuisenaire Rods only to find deep trays of old faded wooden rods hidden away in a cupboard or in a draw that someone thought was just some wooden construction blocks for the P1s to play with… it is so much more than this!

If you haven’t ever come across or used Cuisenaire Rods, I can almost guarantee they will change your life (from the perspective of teaching maths anyway).

Here are a couple of older videos from the 60s with their extensive use being highlighted by Dr Caleb Gettagno.

This first one is one of three…  you can find the others on YouTube if you are so inclined (they are worth a watch)

And another here exploring them in a slightly different way:

If you want to read and learn more about Cuisenaire Rods, you can check out this free ATM open resource: Working with Rods and Why

Or you can follow this link for a series of books by Gettagno himself (all available for free online):  (Scroll down to find the titles… some are related to subjects other than maths.)

So, what are you waiting for!  Go and have a look in that dusty old cupboard and dig out the Cuisenaire.  If it’s not there then see if you can encourage your school to purchase some – it is definitely worth it!

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