I See Reasoning – KS1

I’m delighted to announce that I See Reasoning – KS1 has now been released! It arms teachers with 281 thought-provoking prompts for embedding reasoning in every area of the KS1 maths curriculum.

The eBook’s creation has been a personal odyssey, beginning 18 months ago teaching a quite wonderful year 1 class. I’ve always been passionate about the power of visual, rich tasks to engage children in deep mathematical thought; designing tasks that achieve this for children in KS1 has been an awesome challenge. It’s led me to work side-by-side with some great teachers and share many memorable classroom moments.

So here’s what to expect. First of all, there are loads of prompts that help children to distinguish between right and ‘likely wrong’, helping to generate meaningful talk. Words are kept to a minimum – simplicity is king!

There’s a raft of questions presented with visual supports that encourage non-counting calculation strategies. Scaffolds are provided to focus children’s thinking onto key ideas or strategies.

There are a wide range of challenges, giving children the opportunity to build conceptual understanding and apply their skills in various ways.

And questions are diverse, covering all areas of the curriculum.

I believe I See Reasoning – KS1 will help to enrich maths lessons on a day-to-day basis. It’s been a joy to write and it’s my great privilege to share. I hope it gives you many great classroom moments!

I See Reasoning – KS1 is a digital download (£14.99). Buyers receive their eBook (as a PDF file) attached to an email from Etsy. There is no need to have an Etsy profile.

To see more information about the resource and to get access to the free addition sample section click here.

Also check out I See Reasoning – LKS2 and I See Reasoning – UKS2.

Full details about my maths training can be found at www.iseemaths.com and you can follow me on social media at Gareth Metcalfe Primary Maths (Facebook) , @gareth_metcalfe (Twitter) and I See Maths on Pinterest.


All-New CPD for 2018!

I’m delighted to announce a new range of maths CPD opportunities available for 2018, all with the aim of making my work high-impact and as cost-efficient as possible.

I’m particularly excited to advertise my teaching and staff training days support. Here, I am proposing coming into schools and teaching up to three example lessons per day, allowing teachers to see visual, deep maths learning in action! I would also, if requested, run a staff meeting after school.

I’ve found that my training has had the greatest impact where schools have been immersed in a combination of example lessons and training, so I’m delighted to be able to make this offer. Not that I can promise perfect lessons: I’m very happy, though, for people to learn from both my successes and my failures in the classroom!
Click here for more details about in-school support

Over the last four years I have ran a series of conference training events. However, with school budgets increasingly tight (and the cost of hiring venues becoming increasingly expensive), this no longer seems like a cost-efficient way of delivering training. Instead, I’m looking for schools, teaching schools and organisations that would like to host a conference. This will minimise costs, especially for the host school/organisation.
Click here for more details about hosting a conference

I’m also looking forward to running more whole-school INSET and twilight training events, giving schools a collective, exciting vision for developing rich maths learning experiences. The new pricing structure discounts training for smaller schools and provides significant discounts for cluster training events.
Click here for more details about INSET & Twilight training

At the time of writing I have space for eight more bookings this school year (one day left in May, three in June, four in July) then I am taking bookings for 2018-2019.

I love my work. I teach more maths lessons than ever, meet more passionate teachers every week and have plans to create so many more new resources. I hope, in one way or another, I can help you to deliver great maths lessons!

For more information, email gareth.metcalfe@hotmail.co.uk 

Improving reasoning at the point of answer

Here’s a simple, cost-free, whole-school idea for improving mathematical reasoning – when children give an answer to a question, don’t tell them (or infer to them) in that moment whether the answer right or wrong.

Here are two reasons. First of all, we want to communicate that what we value is children’s thinking, their justification, their strategy; not simply whether they have the correct answer. In doing so, especially when this is a whole-staff approach, I believe that children become less anxious about making mistakes.

Also, by creating a moment of doubt at the ‘point of answer’ we give children the space to check their thinking and explain their thought process. Generally speaking, the greater the child’s certainty, the greater the seed of doubt I try to plant. This can be great fun, and it certainly gives children an incentive to justify and explain.

I always liked Jo Boaler’s three levels of reasoning:

I can convince myself
I can convince a friend
I can convince a sceptic

And don’t be surprised if more able children can find it harder to explain their thinking in certain contexts. I remember Mike Askew saying that if children have found an answer without much of a ‘grapple’, they are likely to have almost automatised that thought process. This can make it harder (but still very important) for a child to explain their solution.

I hope this principle gives you many great classroom moments – it certainly has for me!


Big plans, after your help!

My vision is to help children experience maths – visual, open, deep maths – in all its richness. An overwhelming number of the teachers that I meet share this passion. I’m also acutely aware of the huge time and energy constraints that we operate within every day. That’s why I See Maths was set up: to provide practical ideas and resources to enrich lessons.

My plan for achieving this is simple: work with people who make me a better teacher; teach loads of lessons in all age-groups; share the things that have worked well. The reaction to the I See Reasoning eBooks (LKS2 and UKS2) has been quite overwhelming (the KS1 eBook is in production) and there’s lots of free resources on iseemaths.com

Future plans, your help
Over the next few years, I’m totally committed to designing a range of affordable (and many free) resources to make it easier for teachers to deliver great lessons. There’s I See Reasoning – KS1; I want to make a range of EYFS/KS1 apps; I’m working on an app that work like the calculation flipbooks; a range of rich problem-solving tasks are in the pipeline.

I’m after a team of people who will trial these ideas in their classrooms, let me know what they think of them and tell me how they can be improved. I’m going to email out new ideas to people on each mailing list (EYFS, KS1, LKS2, UKS2) to trial. No strings attached, it’s all free, there’s no obligation to reply. The ideas won’t be polished, but I hope people will find them thought-provoking.

There will only be emails to the KS1 list whilst the next eBook is in production, then I’m going to start working on the other projects. If you’re up for it, sign up here. Thanks!

I See Reasoning – LKS2

I am delighted to announce that I See Reasoning – LKS2 is now on sale! It will arm teachers with a range of visual and thought-provoking tasks for interweaving reasoning within day-to-day maths lessons.

I See Reasoning – LKS2, the little sister of the hit resource I See Reasoning – UKS2, is a PDF file received as a digital download. It is comprised of 240 questions for deepening mathematical thinking and encouraging purposeful peer discussions. It is a go-to resource for prompts that build understanding and tasks that allow for extended investigations. This blog showcases what to expect from the resource by looking at three typical example questions.

Prompts that show concepts visually

There are a wide range of questions that use visual representations to help children to make connections and develop a conceptual understanding of core concepts. There are lots of ‘read the picture’ examples like the one above, ideas are often represented with bar models and many other images are used.

Prompts that generate discussion around key ideas

There are lots of examples that get children talking about key concepts and identify likely misconceptions. In this example, will children recognise that the size of the angle is represented by the amount of turn rather than the length of the lines? There are thought-provoking images from right across the LKS2 curriculum.

Opportunities for extended exploration

Many of the questions will ask children to calculate in different ways or find multiple solutions. This means challenge is added by getting children to explore the same type of question in more depth, working systematically and flexibly to find all possible answers.

It’s my belief that teachers generally agree on the principles of great maths teaching. However, time-pressured teachers need great resources at their fingertips. That’s what I attribute the unbelievable success of I See Reasoning – UKS2 to. It is ever-increasingly popular and has sold in 12 countries!

I have been so touched by the very many positive messages I have received in recent months. It’s my great pleasure to help teachers create meaningful and engaging maths lessons. I hope I See Reasoning – LKS2 is another piece of this jigsaw.

I See Reasoning – LKS2 is on sale via Etsy here. Information about the resource, plus the free multiplication section, can be accessed on this page.

For further information about training and resources, visit www.iseemaths.com

For me to improve… September ’17

This is my first blog post in the ‘For me to improve…’ series in which I explain what I’m doing to be a better maths teacher. This blog explains the thought process behind the series.

I’m always looking to use equipment and images to represent concepts, and I like my maths lessons collaborative and open. This makes my classroom management skills important so lessons teeter on the healthy side of organised chaos. My partner Y1 teacher last year was the maestro in seeing a logistical detail that I’d missed. I learnt a lot from her, and I also came across some interesting ideas reading Visible Learning for Mathematics. So here are my five targets for the new term:

Promote a learning action
In each lesson, identify one key ‘learning action’ to promote. My thought process will be ‘Which learning behaviour will improve the outcomes in this particular lesson?’ It could be as simple as turning your body to face your partner; it may be more complex like asking clarifying questions; it might be a maths-specific thing like finding different ways to answer a question.

Prepare individuals for the social demands of lessons
I’m a big fan of small-group pre-teaching to help all children access the big ideas of a lesson, breaking down barriers and predisposing misconceptions. It’s helped me to facilitate mixed-attainment groupings. However, for some children the barriers may be the social demands of a lesson. Perhaps Harry finds it harder to share resources; maybe Jade dominates group discussions. A quick conversation or organisational change beforehand might make a big difference.

Make discussions active
I liked this idea from VL for Mathematics: during a whole-class discussion, put your thumb up on your chest if you agree with the speaker and want to add something; put your fist against your chest if you have a different viewpoint. This encourages children to actively participate in discussions without being intrusive to the speaker.

Exit tickets
I’m going to make a clearer distinction between most questions and tasks, used to generate discussions, and short ‘exit ticket’ tasks that are completed independently and used to give more accurate AfL information. The nature of the marking may also vary depending on the conditions in which the work is completed. I’m hoping that this will help to keep children accountable for their own progress and avoid social loafing in group tasks.

Cognitive load and challenge in calculation
In some lessons, particularly early in a unit, I want the challenge to come from understanding the concept so I will minimise the challenge in the calculation. Consider 14 = 6 + ___ (WR Progress Check, Aut Y1, q4). We can learn the concept ‘= means same as’ using numbers within 5. Once that concept has been secured (a concept which tends to need more than a little reinforcement), the challenge within the calculation can be set at an age-appropriate level.

And as ever this year, I make the same vow to the children in my care:
‘I promise to learn alongside you.’

For me to improve…

No book has had a more powerful effect on me as a teacher than Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed. My summary below doesn’t do the book justice.

Inside every aircraft there are two practically indestructible black boxes: one box records flight information, the other records the dialogue between the pilot, co-pilot and air traffic control. In the event of an accident, the black boxes are hunted down and scrutinised so that the exact causes (or contributory factors) behind a crash can be examined. Crucially, in the aviation industry mistakes are viewed as precious opportunities for improvement. Processes are in place so that these lessons can be shared across the industry. Little wonder that you are infinitely safer in an aircraft than driving to an airport.

Black Box Thinking goes on to examine the cultures that exist in some of the world’s most innovative organisations. It also looks at the damage that can be caused when an attitude of fear, or an unwillingness to learn from mistakes, exists within a profession.

It made me reflect personally. Did I actively seek out my own weaknesses? Was confirmation bias making me blind to my shortcomings? When I started teaching (back in 2004) I really struggled and needed to find ways to improve to maintain some degree of sanity. Since then I’ve always been driven to keep getting better, but my processes for improvement could, well, improve. I made three simple commitments:

  • Broaden my experience.
  • Showcase the weakest (rather than the strongest) aspects of my teaching.
  • Make others feel comfortable to suggest how I can get better.

I think that my greatest responsibility as an experienced teacher isn’t to teach the best lessons, but to model the best processes for self-improvement. That, for me, is about being comfortable with (and even enjoying) vulnerability, and about empowering the people around me.

To that end, each term I’m going to write a blog called ‘For me to improve…’. It will chronicle the mistakes I’ve made and the aspects of my teaching that I’m trying to get better. I’m sure I’ll pick up lots of great advice along the way – episode 1 is coming soon!

Experiencing 100 with Y1

Here’s an idea for helping children to experience numbers up to 100. I came across it in a NCETM video in October last year (not quite in time to use it with class).

On the video, a year 1 class had a display on which they count the school days in a year. The number of days was shown using dienes, Numicon and symbolically. The children described how many days there had been, for example, on the 27th day as two sets of ten days and 7 more. After 100 days the class held a 100-themed party to celebrate.

The children saw the number of days increasing gradually; they saw ten ones become one ten; quantities were represented using different visuals. It gave me an idea. We’ve just moved house, so I thought I’d count the first 100 days with my 5 year-old daughter – it’ll give us another opportunity for a party too!

As you can see, we’re going to record the day on a number line, using 10-frames, symbolically and on a diary. We’ve not unpacked yet, so I’ll need to find a better space for our poster than the kitchen table… I’m sure it’s also an idea that many teachers will consider using with their classes.

I hope you have a fantastic start to the new term. Look out for my upcoming ‘For me to improve…’ series of blogs, being written soon, where I will write about my weaknesses as a teacher and what I’m doing to address them. It promises to be a great year!