Times tables grid

A simple grid to stick in the back of the books of students.  I tend to give to everyone in Year 7, and then observe carefully who uses it and who doesn’t.  Once it becomes easier to look inside their memory than flip to the back of the book, I know they are secure in their times tables!

Creating data by learning your prime numbers

Here’s a little idea for a team activity that could get quite competitive and hopefully “fun”. I haven’t tried it yet, and it might be a while before I use this. When I do, I’ll try to update this post with any tweaks depending on how it runs.

It’s based a on this really simple website Is This Prime created by@christianp which I saw on Jo Morgan’s MathsGems.

It presents you with numbers and you click YES (i.e. it is Prime) or NO.  It’s not an app so it can be used on a laptop / desktop although it works really well on browser on a tablet.  I’ll be doing this in a computer room as a group activity.

I reckon this could work with classes from Year 5 to Year 8, but most pupils in the class will need to have a reasonably good grasp on their times tables or it could be frustrating. It provides consolidation of times tables and primes but I think the real objective here is actually to use this as a lead in to various data and averages topics.  I always try to teach KS3 Statistics using data that the students have created themselves as they are far more engaged and care about what the data is telling them. This not only provides that meaningful data, but does so in a way which consolidates some fundamental number facts at the same time

I plan to use Google Sheets to collect the data which we will then analyse in a later lesson.  Google Docs in general is great for this type of collaboration.  I have created a template for a group.

Each group has a separate sheet that they fill in as they go.  Just duplicate the sheets for as many groups as you have, making sure that each group is working on their own sheet before you start.

Talking of groups, here are my general rules for planning any group activity:

1. I chose the groups.  I have nothing against pupils working in friendship groups but I know who to avoid putting together and the process of self-selecting can be painful for some.
2. Everyone has a role. Some pupils will see group work as a chance to sit back and some will naturally dominate.  Assigning specific roles reduces this.
3. Everyone contributes equally. By rotating the roles I will try as far as possible to make sure that everyone ends up doing the same activities by the end of the session.

To get some excitement going, I’ll keep a running commentary on the highest score.  I also plan to write up the “Errors” that the Error Recorders give me as we go. I want to make sure we have some time at the end for reflection on how it went, i.e.

• Did you work together as a team? How did you support each other?
• What was a good strategy for a high score? (When I play it, I rarely use all 60 seconds as I am trying to go too quickly and so I am often tempted to guess ones I don’t know)
• As a team what did you do to make sure your scores were improving (Write down the errors on a big piece of paper? – I didn’t say you couldn’t!)

I would definitely leave the data analysis part until the following lesson.  There is lots you can do with this and it could form the basis of a series of lessons on Averages, Data representation including Box plots. We can start with the question, “Who was the winning team?”,  which in itself is open to interpretation.

Learning times tables – Number Happy Families

Anyone looking for a simple maths game for end of term Year 7 lessons? Here’s one.

I’ve always felt that secure knowledge of times tables at Year 7 is so important simply because it gives kids the confidence to engage in so many maths topics covered in that year.  As such any opportunity to practice is good even when it is in a simple game like this.

A Simple Factors and Multiples Team Game for 3-4 players

I came up with this idea whilst playing the traditional Happy Families card game with my family when on holiday. Kids seem to love this game – could I create a maths game as engaging?

I’ve tried this several times with Year 7 classes, playing in teams of 3 or 4 and they love it.

It takes very little preparation or explanation – in fact the students make the resources themselves!

The Cards

You need a set of 36 blank cards for each team. Anything will do.  I spent…

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1001 is a lovely number!

I like to use this as a sort of a crescendo to teaching prime factor decomposition which is itself a very satisfying experience.

Although it sometimes feels a bit procedural it’s a nice way of:

1. Practicing times tables
2. Getting to know your primes
3. Appreciating the commutativity of multiplication.

Anyway, here’s the trick (everyone needs a calculator in front of them)

1. Chose any three digit number. Write it down somewhere.
2. Type your number into your calculator and divide by 7.
3. Hands up if you got an integer answer. Opportunity here for a nice discussion that we might expect 1 in 7 hands to be up at this point.
4. Press clear and divide the same number by 11. Repeat again with 13. Right, now they’ve appreciated that not many numbers are divisible exactly by 7, 11 and 13.  Time to blow their minds…
5. This time type your 3 digit number into your calculator twice so you have a 6-digit number. e.g.
6. Divide by 7. Hands up if you have a whole number. Wow, everyone. Now don’t press clear, but divide by 11. And then 13. Wow. Gets you exactly back to your original 3-digit number.

How much you chose to explain this will depend on the ability of the class, but the points are:

1. Whatever 3-digit number you chose, the 6-digit number is 1001 times the 3-digit.
2. 1001=7x11x13. Weird but true. And this is why it works.

If your students seem to like it, I always ask them to try it out on their family when they get home. I love the idea that I just might have created a discussion about maths around the dinner table – you never know…

Learning times tables – Number Happy Families

I’ve always felt that secure knowledge of times tables at Year 7 is so important simply because it gives kids the confidence to engage in so many maths topics covered in that year.  As such any opportunity to practice is good even when it is in a simple game like this.

A Simple Factors and Multiples Team Game for 3-4 players

I came up with this idea whilst playing the traditional Happy Families card game with my family when on holiday. Kids seem to love this game – could I create a maths game as engaging?

I’ve tried this several times with Year 7 classes, playing in teams of 3 or 4 and they love it.

It takes very little preparation or explanation – in fact the students make the resources themselves!

The Cards

You need a set of 36 blank cards for each team. Anything will do.  I spent about 10 minutes furious chopping on the guillotine for 7 teams, getting 12 cards out of each A4 sheet, so 3 sheets per team, 21 sheets in all.

The learning starts by getting the teams to create their cards using the following instructions:

1, Arrange your cards into 4 columns by 9 rows

2, You need to write the first 4 multiples of each number 2 to 10 so that every card has a number on it.

I put the 36 blank cards and the above on a slip of paper in an envelope and gave an envelope to each team.  With a bit of discussion within the teams, they worked out what they needed to do, but if you feel the task needs a bit more scaffolding you could use this diagram:

The Game

Once each team has their cards laid out on the table, they can start playing.

1. Shuffle the cards and deal them all out.
2. The objective is to collect “families” of numbers, e.g. 3,6,9,12 is the 3 family. The player with the most families wins.
3. Play starts with the first player asking one of the other players (they decide who) for a particular card, e.g. “Natasha, do you have a 5?” If Natasha has that card, she must hand it over. The first player can ask again (again, they can chose any player). If the answer is no, play moves on to the next player.
4. When a player has a family they must lay it face up on the table.
5. Play continues until all the cards are gone – it’s that simple!