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…

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!

I See Reasoning – UKS2

We all want to be able to build reasoning into daily maths lessons. For a time-pressured teacher, that can be easier said than done. I See Reasoning – UKS2 provides rich tasks to deepen learning across the maths curriculum. It’s my ‘go-to’ resource when preparing lessons.

Concepts in I See Reasoning – UKS2 are often shown visually. In the Which picture? questions children match questions to a correct visual representation:

Explain the mistakes questions draw attention to likely errors:

Questions encourage connections between related calculations:

Children are encouraged to find multiple solutions:

And there are a range of other question types besides:

I See Reasoning – UKS2 comes as a PDF file emailed direct to your inbox. You can then save the file in a location of your choice. You can view the file from an Etsy account if you have one (although you don’t have to make an account to receive the file by email). Circulation of the file is prohibited.

Screenshots can be taken to be used in presentations or printed for children’s work. There are 176 questions, all varied in form, with answers provided where necessary. I See Reasoning – UKS2 corresponds to US grades 4&5 and Australian year groups 5&6.

I believe that I See Reasoning – UKS2 can be used to supplement any scheme of work. I hope it helps to deepen the learning in your classroom; I also hope that it makes your life easier when planning at the end of a busy school day!


Training and Resources for Summer ’17

I set up I See Maths to help time-limited teachers create powerful learning experiences in maths, engaging children intellectually and emotionally. To that end, here’s what I’m offering this summer:

I’m delighted to announce four new conference dates this summer: full conference details can be found here. Early Number Sense: Beyond Counting  will give a clear Nursery-Y2 vision for how children build a strong feel for number and learn to calculate using non-counting strategies. We will explore how mathematical play can be extended and how reasoning can be embedded. Reasoning and Depth in KS2 Maths will give an exciting and practical vision for deepening mathematical learning, including how images and resources can be used to build understanding.

If you are interested in this training, you may consider arranging a conference event at your school – all that is needed is a spare room. This is a very cost-effective and popular way of running training – for full details click on the top two links on this page.

Resources to Buy
I’m working hard on the I See Reasoning eBook range and hope to write the UKS2, LKS2 and KS1 versions this term (I may be dreaming!). This will give teachers a massive bank of questions and tasks that will open up discussions and encourage reasoning. I’m extremely excited about this project – this blog gives more detail.

The iPad app I See Calculation is also in the final stages of being built. It will show standard written methods for calculation one step at a time. A child could check their answer to a question with a calculator; with I See Calculation they will be able to check each step of their written calculation.

Free Resources
I’m intending to create a series of free ‘flipbook’ dot pattern games that will help children to visualise addition, subtraction and multiplication, opening up discussions about calculation strategies.

Full details about my INSET training and in-school support can be found by clicking the links. I’m a NCETM Charter Standard provider of CPD and, being a class teacher, still very au fait with the realities of teaching in the classroom.

I hope that, in some way, my work can help you in the daily challenge of delivering great maths lessons. Enjoy the summer term!

I See Reasoning – In Production!

I’m passionate about creating maths tasks that get children thinking in new ways and generate curiosity. I’ve spent many enjoyable hours dreaming up such tasks: open-ended prompts that promote discussion; images that build understanding; questions that get children exploring big mathematical ideas in depth.

This summer I’m releasing all of my favourite tasks in a series of eBooks called ‘I See Reasoning’ – there will be UKS2, LKS2 and KS1 versions. I believe these tasks will become a ‘go to’ resource for primary teachers as they plan lessons, giving a range of thought-provoking questions and prompts for each maths topic. This isn’t another bank of SATS-style questions – tasks are more visual, more extended and much more open-ended.

First released will be ‘I See Reasoning – UKS2’. For each topic expect:

Prompts that facilitate open discussion

Explain the mistakes (above left), less information (above right), rank by difficulty and ‘broken calculator’ are common structures.

‘Minimally different’ questions
Varying the structure of questions very slowly. All of a child’s working memory is focused on the mathematical concept being developed – a structure I suggest using early in a sequence of learning.

Tasks providing variation and deep exploration
A wide array of varied question structures and ideas. Think visual, open and extended, often making use of structures like ‘how many ways’ or ‘always, sometimes, never’ and a range of games using digit cards 0-9.

A place value activity using digit cards 0-9

Sorting quadrilaterals branching database task 

I’m aiming to release the eBooks every 4 weeks. They will be view-able from different devices, making them user-friendly. I hope they help save teachers’ time in preparing lessons, supplementing your current resources.

Alongside First Class Maths and Maths Outside the Box, I believe that the ‘I See Reasoning’ eBooks will help children to engage in mathematics intellectually and emotionally.

More updates to follow!

Designed to Thrill: Maths Outside The Box

There’s so much to applaud about the way primary maths education is changing. Equipment and images are being used to build understanding; open questions allow children to explore ‘big ideas’ in depth; fixed mindset views are being challenged and changed.

I want to see one more piece added to this jigsaw: children becoming more emotionally engaged in mathematics, the kind of mathematics that I love. Rich, diverse and intriguing tasks that fire the imagination, the kind that you don’t want to put down. That was the vision behind Maths Outside The Box.

The 15 Maths Outside The Box tasks will broaden children’s experience of maths and give them interesting, extended contexts in which to apply their skills. I trialled the resource with a group of high attaining Y4 children (we had so much fun); I also used the tasks with all but my most able Y6s. Challenge comes more from the application of logic than the difficulty of calculations, so tasks aren’t specifically designed for children in a particular year group.

There are four Number Challenge tasks: for example, in The Raffle Puzzle the challenge is to work out the five winning raffle ticket numbers by piecing together the information from the six clues:

One of the three Data Cruncher tasks is Can We Have a Dog? where a range of information and graphs are used to estimate the cost of owning different breeds of dog over the course of their lifetimes:

The Mountain Pass is one of four mind-bending Logic Puzzle tasks: can you piece together the information to work out how the four walkers can all cross Gravely Gorge before sunset?

I love the Investigation tasks. The Human Ruler allows children to explore the relationship between different body parts and I will always remember trialling Marathon Pace: the children tried to replicate the exact running speed of Uncle Grant and Aunty Kirsty on the school field!

I’m extremely proud that my resources are published by Alan Peat ltd. I first attended one of Alan’s training sessions in 2006 and was absolutely blown away by the quality of his ideas. Alan and Julie also happen to be 24 carat gold as people too. They have given me unconditional support, are fiercely principled and are great company. Amy Doorbar also deserves great praise for her amazing graphic design on the resource.

I hope Maths Outside The Box inspires many: on sale here!

Help! Long Multiplication

So it turns out that I’m not 100% sure how to do long multiplication. I really should be, you probably are. Please help.

I want to make a resource that will support children doing long multiplication so but first I want to make sure I’ve got my method straight. Here’s the issue: when you are multiplying by the tens value in a 2-digit number, where are you supposed to position the digit being carried? Here, I’ve done 80×3=240 and have put down 40. Where should the 2 hundreds go?


A shows where the 2 hundreds will be added to (but it could make the calculation messy). B shows the 2 above the hundreds column, the column that it will be added to (but two places along from the 3 we’ve just multiplied by). puts the 2 above the next number to be multiplied, but in the same column as the 4 tens.

The example on the national curriculum (below) somewhat ducks the issue in that there are no carries from the 20, and the examples in the mark scheme for the 2016 SATS don’t show the position of carried digits.

I inferred from this it’s up to schools to decide which way is best. Is there a ‘right’ way? What do you do? I’d love to know. Just to repeat, this isn’t me trying to make a point, rather I’m in the process of designing a resource that will model this calculation process, but I want to do it right. I’d love to know what you think, or from any ‘higher power’ if they can give a definitive stance.

All input welcome!