Maths v Sport – Maths Week Scotland

For those of you who know me personally, this is like all my Christmases coming at once.  Maths AND Sport… sign me up!

As part of Maths Week Scotland, Skills Development Scotland have paired up with UHI Stem Hub to host this FREE event.  I believe it’s aimed at anyone from 12+.  I’ll certainly be going myself.

Check out the poster below which has details of times and locations.

Screen Shot 2019-09-26 at 16.11.56.png

You need to register for a ticket on the Eventbrite site.

Hopefully see you there and thanks to Gail for bringing this to my attention – I knew nothing about it!

Don’t forget to head on over to the Maths Week Scotland website for a wide range of activities and competitions as part of Maths Week Scotland.

Keep an eye out on the blog next week as we post a problem a day for you and your kids to get your teeth stuck into.


Posted in Professional Development | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

CPD Opportunities next week!

Next week there will be a Numeracy CPD event held in Inverness and Dingwall (the same ‘day’ will be run on 3 consecutive days).

Option 1: 30.09.19      9.30am-3.30pm (Inverness)
Option 2: 01.10.19      9.30am-3.30pm (Dingwall)
Option 3: 02.10.19      9.30am-3.30pm (Inverness)

The event is put on as part of the first of two training days for Probationers however the content is relevant to all, no matter your years of teaching experience.  There are still some spaces left on each day so we are publicising it more widely so that others can benefit from the training if they wish to.

The first day will look at the progression of learning in numeracy with a more in depth focus on addition and subtraction and we will be exploring a wide range of practical ideas and activities from Early through to Second Level+ to support conceptual understanding.  This will include exploration of a wide range of materials and how to implement ‘The Teaching Model’ in the Highland Numeracy Progression.

Login to the Highland CPD Calendar to sign up for the course which is entitled: Numeracy Progression for Primary Probationers.  If you do decide to attend, please email me: as there was a pre-task that probationers were sent in preparation for the course.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Posted in Professional Development | Tagged | Leave a comment

Making Arrays

Making Arrays is the second post in our series on games and activities to support basic facts as well as conceptual understanding.  This time we’re delving into multiplication and division.
If you missed the first one which explored basic facts relating to addition and subtraction facts within 10 and 20 (and extensions of this) take a look here: Strike It Out

In this one, we’ve taken the concept of making arrays and used it to explore all of the following:

  • Thinking carefully about moving from concrete representations to increasingly abstract representations
    Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 17.47.32.png
  • Understanding multiplication and division (including both grouping and sharing)
  • Making sense of the relationship between multiplication and division
    Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 17.55.28.png
  • Understanding the properties of multiplication and division including:
    • The commutative property
    • The distributive property
    • The associative property
  • We’ve included some ideas for how to teach a range of strategies that are based on these properties as well as extending this to multi-digit multiplication
    Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 17.56.03.png        Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 17.56.13.png
    Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 17.58.38.png
  • And finally some explorations into factors and multiples.
    Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 17.59.27.png

There is loads more we could have done with this but that’s probably enough for now.  Look out for a future extension of this to include multi-digit division and some ideas related to algebra including multiplying out brackets.

Click on the link here to view the PDF of Making Arrays which includes more detailed information including things to think about, questioning and details of games that can be played with these ideas.



Posted in Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Games to Support Basic Facts – Strike It Out

Quite often pupils are taught ‘basic facts’ by rote learning or flash cards and while some pupils like this, many do not and while some may be able to learn and understand the facts this way, again there are a large number of pupils who learn the facts but lack the understanding or don’t learn the facts because they don’t understand them.

We’ve been working hard to produce or adapt some games that we hope will help to support pupils in the following ways:

  • Improve conceptual understanding
  • Improve the understanding and use of add/sub and mult/div strategies
  • Improve fluency in recall of basic facts (with understanding)
  • Allow pupils to have fun and enjoy learning these facts
  • Some of the games also include an element of strategy!
  • Most can be played collaboratively or competitively

We’ll be posting a game a week for the next few weeks which you can try out with your class.  When introducing the game, we recommend:

  • You are clear with the pupils about the purpose of the game (i.e. what they are learning from it)
  • Support them initially with questioning about the strategies they are using and encourage them to question one another when playing independently.

Most of the games we’ve managed to adapt so that there is a variation of it that can be used from Early Level right up to Third Level and sometimes beyond.

Check out our first one here: Strike It Out – we based this on the game from the NRICH website.

Strike It Out – sample image from our teacher info. resource

Strike It Out sample.PNG


We’ve had lots of pupils using this game and loving it!  Let us know if you use it and how your pupils get on with it.

If you have any creative adaptations for it, feel free to send them our way!

Posted in Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Improving N5 Conference

The Northern Alliance will be hosting an Improving N5 Conference in Inverness.  Please see details below for further information and how to register.

Date: September 28th 2019
Location: Millburn Academy, Inverness
Sign Up: Please note that registration will close on September 13th.

The day will consist of 5 workshops/activities:

  • Networking
  • The National Standard – Bob Barclay, PA N5 Maths
  • N5 Applications – Iona Coutts (Education Support Officer, Education Scotland) and Deirdre Murray (Faculty Head, Alness Academy)
  • Building Understanding for N5 maths – Paul Smith (Coaching and Modelling Officer, Inverclyde)
  • Applying research in practice – Chris McGrane (La Salle Education)

Lunch is provided and all attendees will get a copy of Craig Barton’s book, ‘How I Wish I’d Taught Maths’.

It would be great to see lots of people there from across the authorities in the Northern Alliance.


Posted in Professional Development | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

More Ideas for Maths Week Scotland

Local: Beads and Seeds – STEM Highland

This looks like a great opportunity for Maths Week Scotland and has come out of a collaboration between the University of Glasgow and the STEM Highland.  Two live online CPD sessions for this will be hosted to help teachers to use the activity packs the dates and times are:

16.09.19 from 1 – 3pm                   24.09.19 from 3.45 – 5pm

You can register for the events on the Highland CPD website.
See the poster below for more details.

Beeds and Seeds.PNG

General: Scotland Wide Activities/Resources

Maths Week Scotland 2019.PNG

Click on the Maths Week Scotland image directly above to find out more information about ways you can get your class or school involved in Maths Week Scotland (the information will either open in a new browser window or download a word document to your computer).

Posted in National Initiatives | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Online course materials – we need you!

Over the last year we’ve been working to produce some online course materials so that people can access a wider range of professional development for free regardless of where they are and without needing to wait for a Development Officer to visit the school.

The first of these is being piloted at the moment but we need a few more people to test the materials.  If you’d be interested, keep reading:

The first course is related to the diagnostic assessment materials and is in 2 parts (so far).  Each part will take approximately 3 hours to work through but you can go at your own pace and it doesn’t need to be done all in one go.  The exact length depends on the depth you go into.

Screen Shot 2019-08-31 at 18.32.58.png

What do you get out of it?

  • Professional development
  • Access to the most up to date materials for the diagnostic assessments
  • Improved guidance around using them
  • Improved guidance on how to link the assessments to one another and with the Highland Numeracy Progression as well as consideration of next steps
  • A chance to offer feedback in terms of improving the materials.

Who we’re looking for?

Any teachers within Highland or the wider Northern Alliance can access this.  Eventually the materials will be open to everyone.
We’re looking for people using the materials in a range of different ways, if you think any of the following might suit you then let me know:

  • Face to face training with development officer (this is now full)
  • Face to face training led by your school (a key teacher within the school will need to work through the materials first and then lead approximately four CAT sessions with staff using the materials (this is nearly full)
  • A group of colleagues working through the materials collaboratively (some spaces left)
  • Individuals working through the material on their own at their own pace (some spaces left)

Can’t commit that much time at the moment?

We’re also looking for people to do just one small section of the training (approximately 45 minutes for Part 1 and the same again for Part 2).

What else do I need to do?

  • Those who are interested would ideally be in a position to complete both parts of the training before the October holidays.
  • You would also need to complete an anonymous pre and post-training questionnaire.
  • If you are interested, please send me an email on


Posted in Professional Development | Tagged , , | Leave a comment