Using visuals and manipulatives

If you’re looking for some ideas to support your teaching so that pupils understand what’s going on conceptually take a look at Berkeley Everett’s site which has lots of short animations on a wide variety of concepts.

Here’s an example with some reflective follow up questions:

How to use: Ask: What do you notice? What do you wonder? Why did it take 2 from the 6? Could you use this strategy for 9+5?

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3-Act Tasks: Part 3

If you’re interested in trying to implement 3-Act tasks within your class then there are some videos that have each of the 3 Acts in the following places:

If you’re looking for Primary content, Graham Fletcher has a range of activities available for free on his website here.  Although the content is linked to US standards you’ll see from the ‘Big Ideas’ section which area of learning they address so you can link it to your own setting and class.  These activities address ideas typically taught between P1-S2.

3-Act List

If you are secondary based then you may prefer some of Dan Meyer’s activities which typically address ideas from S1 and beyond (although do have some content for younger students).

3-Act List Secondary

In deciding which activity to use, it would be useful to look at the big ideas and concepts you are trying to develop with your class at the moment and link it that way rather than necessarily looking at the corresponding Grade level.  If you do want a rough gauge of where to start, this chart provides a conversion between Grade Levels in the US and Primary Levels in Scotland.

This morning I had the pleasure of working with a Primary 3 class at Milton of Leys Primary School as they embark on the start of their journey trying to incorporate 3-Act tasks to support teaching and learning.

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3-Act Tasks: Part 2

In the previous post, I discussed using 3-Act tasks as a way of opening up your tasks.

Below is a link to an article about implementing this with primary pupils (click on the photo and then download the pdf) and also a video clip so you can see it in action (click on the second photo to be taken to the video link).

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Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 20.58.07.pngIn the next post I’ll share some websites where you can find some examples of 3-Act Tasks at both primary and secondary level so you can implement this in your own class.

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Opening up your activities: 3-Act Tasks

This is going to be a series of blog posts aimed at exploring ways to ensure that many of the tasks and activities that we’re providing our pupils with are open ended.  This can be done in a variety of ways hence a series of posts rather than just one but essentially we’ll be exploring things like trying to get multiple representations of mathematical ideas; how one task could be accessed by learners at different stages of development (great for those multi-composite classes and small schools in particular) and in this case how we can go beyond just recalling information and performing a calculation.

First up is a video from Dan Meyer speaking at the NCTM Annual Meeting earlier in the year about something he’s called 3-Act Tasks.  These originally started with secondary school pupils but there are now plenty of primary schools using them too.  It’s quite a long video but definitely provides food for thought and is well worth watching all the way through!

It would be great if people could comment on what they thought and if you try any of the examples come back and say how it went.

Thanks to all those who have completed the survey in the last post already.  It’s great to get people’s feedback and there have been some really helpful ideas.  If you haven’t completed it yet, there’s still time… it only takes 2 minutes!

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PD in your PJs!

I’m trying to gauge interest in an online professional development opportunity for teachers and PSAs in Highland.  If you might be interested or want to know more, please could you take the survey below.  The survey should take approximately 2 minutes to complete!

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Welcome Back!

You’ll have noticed that there has been a bit of a lack of new blog posts since the schools went back but we’re back up and running and regular posts with content that you’ll hopefully find interesting and informative will resume!

Kirsten Mackay who has been working as the Numeracy Development Officer in Highland over the past 3 1/2 years has now gone back to class teaching and has taken up a promoted post within a local school.  She’s done a huge amount of work within Highland during her time.  Hopefully we can continue to build on what she’s done already and continue to create a culture of maths enthusiasm and support high quality teaching and learning across Highland and perhaps beyond!

We are fortunate to now have two Development Officers going forward.  I (Sarah Leakey) started in post last week and my colleague (Helen Moss) will be joining me soon.

If you need to contact me I can be found on:
If you and your pupils/school have been up to anything that you’d like to share on the blog, please do get in touch.

I look forward to working with as many people as possible in the near future.




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Deputy First Minister’s Summer Holiday Challenge!


Scottish Government colleagues have advised that the Challenges will be delivered to primary schools this week.  It will also be delivered to holiday clubs and libraries and will be available at some of the Glasgow2018 venues.  Gaelic versions will also be issued.

As with the previous Challenges, the content has been very generously created by the primary school specialists within the Scottish Mathematics Council (SMC) for the Deputy First Minister.

Pleae follow these links for more information:

DFM Summer Holiday Challenge 2018



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