Mine’s a pint

I can’t remember where I saw this but I saw it as a bar trick first. My year 8 class have been studying circles and so I showed them this starter. I got a pint glass and asked the question “Which is bigger the circumference at the top of the glass or the height of the glass?”. It is an optical illusion and most of the class voted for the height. I then put the glass on a thick book and asked again. Virtually all now agreed it had to be the height (with book). However, a bit of string showed it was still the circumference. Try it and see, you might be surprised. Filling the glass with your favourite beverage whilst testing the idea is, of course, optional.



One of my colleagues discovered this site. It seems good as it allows you to generate worksheets on lots of topics. These are then produced into a pdf (with answers) making the idea of producing several similar worksheets but with different figures really quite simple. This means students can’t just “borrow” other student’s answers. All the answers are created so they can just be printed out along with the worksheets. The only downside is that this is a subscription service. It’s not outrageously expensive and does give you lots of options. I produced my first worksheets this weekend so these will get tried this week.

Pizza Puzzling

I used the free Pizza activity which is on the Mathalicious site. I didn’t use any of the materials they provided but just used it as inspiration and made it localised to the UK. The idea is simple, students have to compare the value for money for 3 pizzas. I used Pizza Hut and got our local prices for the simplest pizza. My year 8’s have just been covering circles so this was an ideal activity. As soon as the title went up there were whispers that if it had to be about pizza then this was going to be a good lesson! There was my hook and I had not even started! It was interesting that students were able to get the idea of working out the area but lots of them were putting things like inches as the units. When I asked them what an inch of pizza looked like they seemed confused. They thought it was obvious that what they actually meant was a square inch. Others took time to convert all the units to metric which was patriotic at least . Some decided to round the prices to the nearest £ as the prices were £6.99 etc. This was a sensible idea. I even got to discuss with one pair how doubling the diameter did not double the area. The students had assumed it would so I asked them to prove it and then they realised it made the area 4 times bigger. It was like they were really learning!

Why are we doing this in Maths?

This was a question I was asked this week. I was a little surprised. The task we were doing was a Nuffield maths task “School Holidays” and involved the students redesigning the school holidays within certain parameters (190 school days, bank holidays and religious holidays). They had to try and apply logic to the situation and look at the best solution. Some still don’t get that problem solving is a large part of maths as is communication of solutions. I guess this is just one of these messages we need to try and make clear as we go.

Graph Matching Activity

I just wanted something straight forward for one of my lessons on straight lines. We had worked out gradients from lines and equations. We had plotted graphs using equations and by creating tables of coordinate points. I decided to create a straight forward matching activity between equations, tables and graphs. To add a little twist, I left one table, one graph and one equation blank. They had to figure out the missing one. This really got some of them talking and they used a whole range of methods to get to their solution. I have posted the resource on the TES Website.


In my bid to try and avoid just using computers as an “easy lesson” I set my year 8 class a task which I have used before. It is great for a one of computer lesson and particularly suited to those who are not so confident with using ICT in maths. The task is called Spirolaterals and is part of Bowland maths. However, it is somewhat hidden away. There are quite a number of smaller activities and they are in the Professional development modules. This one resides (with 3 other options) in the Professional development module 4. Use the Bowland Player to access it and all the resources including hand-outs and some video of it being used in action. Well worth the trouble and time and you get taken through it step by step.

Faculty Newsletter

This is an idea I used in one school I worked in and have now introduced it into my current faculty. Every few months we put together a 2 sided sheet with all the important faculty info. This is the staff’s one stop shop to all the current admin and notices. It covers assessments, news, upcoming deadlines and resources. It saves staff ferreting through emails and means we don’t clog up faculty meetings with endless admin. All staff and LSAs linked to the faculty get a printed copy and an email copy to ensure there is a good chance they read it!