Well we used a SUPERB video today as a plenary during numeracy in year 6. Very challenging but lots of FUN! See if you can answer the question: Oh! and no cheating … you must pause the video at the end of the song!

Maths Question Tinie Tempah from Paul Cowburn on Vimeo.

More of these videos can be found here



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REAL LIFE Maths Challenges

Welcome back!

Hopefully this is the start of a regular, MAGIC MATHS blog. At least, that’s the plan for this year! Promoting what we are doing @StPaulsSalford – the exciting teaching and learning that is going on … the 21st Century teaching and learning that we are delivering and experiencing everyday!

This week in Year 6 we had a go at ‘practically’ applying our numeracy knowledge and the learning that they have experienced. I divided the class into 4 equal groups and assigned each table a task that they had the undertake – How many children could fit into our playground? How much material would it take to cover the Year 6 building (yes! we do have a self-contained unit for Y6 … very lucky!) and if you were given a £200 budget, how much and which flowers and plants would you buy for the school!

During the challenge, it may have seemed at a distance that the children were just talking and walking around school, yet on closer inspection the thinking skills and vocabulary bouncing around the groups made me believe in the importance and benefits of the task. Most groups struggled to provide a definite answer by the end of the lesson, yet much learning took place. Children experienced calculating area for REAL – a practical activity that will hopefully provide a ‘hook’ for later lessons. Measuring for REAL – as you would in REAL LIFE! Making mistakes and thinking for themselves!

I believe that we instruct the children too much. We provide the equipment for them, give them very little thinking time and eventually tell them how to solve the question. We allow the children in Early Years and KS1 to explore and experiment – why does this learning style change the older they become? This was the first time that I have experimented with this ‘free-rein / DIY’ lesson – yet with structure, safety and clear expectations I’m confident that this will become the most enjoyable lesson of the week – with the most benefit!

IMG_1487 IMG_1488

How many children can fit on 1 flag? So how many on 66?


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iPads, Angry Birds and Algebra

AB Seasons       Algebra


Superb ALGEBRA lesson this week in Year 5 using inspiration from http://mrparkinsonict.blogspot.co.uk/ again.

To start the lesson I let the children ‘play’ Angry Birds in pairs, asking them to keep a running total of their score, ensuring all children had jottings on their whiteboards. We then had a quick game of finding the difference between partner scores. Lots of adding and subtracting with numbers up to 10,000.

We then began with our Algebra. I asked the children to find the total score of each level, from Angry Birds Seasons, when the birds were worth various points: Red (R)=1, Chuck (Y)=2, The Birds (TB)=3, Bomb(B)=5 and Matilda (M)=10. The only rule was not to just record a score.

When all children had completed Level 1 and 2 answers, I then took feedback on how the children had recorded their results, and discussed methods used … and why we now, progressing to the next stage of algebra, couldn’t write, as some had for 1 Matilda + 2 Bomb, 10M + 5B.

To complete the lesson, we then had the challenge of finding which birds were in my imaginary level when the points were worth 6 … an incentive of a sweet for anyone with the correct answer (sorry Healthy School Status) certainly encouraged them all to find more than one possibility.

Great lesson, all were challenged, even my Level 5’s, and all understood and succeeded, even my level 3c’s!

Italian Method Multiplication

Times Table Challenge

Starting this week for the next 6-weeks we are holding a ‘Times Table Challenge’ at St Paul’s, for all pupils from Year 1-6. You have 1 week to learn your multiplication facts off-by-heart, then when you are ready ask a member of staff to ‘challenge’ you (they’ll ask you 3 randomly selected questions, e.g. for Week 1; 2×7=?, What is double 6? and How many 10’s make 90?) Get them all correct to WIN!

Week 1: 12th Nov./Challenge 1 = x2 and x10 facts

Week 2: 19th Nov./Challenge 2 = x5 and x4 facts

Week 3: 26th Nov./Challenge 3 = x3 and x8 facts

Week 4: 3rd Dec./Challenge 4 = x6 and x9 facts

Week 5: 10th Dec./Challenge 5 = x7 and x11 facts

Week 6: 17th Dec./Challenge 6 = x12 facts

Good Luck. Mr Cowburn

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