Maths Software Evaluation Checklist

How to Evaluate Maths AppsMaths software comes in many different shapes and sizes. From apps on ipads, to online services such as Mathletics or MyMaths. From online maths games to installed software on your local computer network. As budgets get tighter and the choice of maths software grows greater every day, we need to really think carefully about the needs of the children and the school. To help with this I've put together a checklist of questions to ask when evaluating maths software.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Learning Styles in Maths

Maths Learning StylesBased on recent studies, two distinct maths learning styles have been identified for children learning maths. The characteristics of these two styles are often classified by the labels or terms “inchworm” or “grasshopper”,“quantative” or ”qualitative” and “sequential” or “holistic”. It is helpful for teachers to be familiar with these two distinct learning styles in order to use the teaching style to match the needs of the pupil.

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Overcoming Problems in Maths

Overcoming Problems in MathsChildren struggle with maths for many different reasons. If we, as teachers, can identify exactly where the problem lies and then address it, barriers can be overcome resulting in confident young mathematicians. I've attempted to categorise the types of problems in maths and then idetify possible solutions to these problems.

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Supporting Dyslexia and Dyscalculia in Maths

Supporting Dyscalculus in MathsDyslexic learners often have difficulties with the language of mathematics, sequencing, orientation and memory, rather than with the mathematics itself. Dyscalculic learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers, and have problems learning number facts and procedures. This article identifies ways in which these types of learners learn differently and strategies that can be put in place to help.

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NCTM Illuminations Maths Resources

Illuminations Maths ResourcesThe National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in the US has produced a plethora of interactive resources to improve the teaching and learning of maths for everyone. The ITPS (interactive teaching programs) are available for both KS1 and KS2 maths and can be used by teachers and pupils alike. Each resource has a thumbnail, a description and a link to the relevant resource.

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BBC Teach

BBC TeachBBC Teach features more than 1500 clips from across BBC Learning to support teachers around the UK - completely free. On the Teach YouTube channel, which is updated daily, there are over 1500 carefully selected clips from the BBC archive, Learning Zone and School Radio, covering more than 20 subjects at early years, primary and secondary level, and across all national curricula.

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Coding Story Books

Coding Story BooksProblem Solving. Literacy. Maths. Coding. They're all here in the latest and greatest coding story books. From graphic novels to traditional picture stories, these engaging books get children really thinking about problem solving and how this relates to coding. These coding story books are available from ages 4 through to 12 and are lots of fun too.

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Maths Across the Curriculum

Maths across curriculumMaths skills are consolidated and enhanced when pupils have opportunities to apply and develop them across the curriculum. Poor maths skills hold back pupils' progress and can lower their self-esteem. Improving these skills can be tackled on a whole school basis by ensuring mathematical skills are used across the curriculum so that pupils become confident at tackling maths in any context.

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Handy Times Tables

Handy times tablesFor those kinaesthetic learners (the ones that learn by doing and can remember movements more easily than words) here is a handy method for finding the harder multiplication facts from the six, seven, eight and nine times tables. It involves memorising a routine but the routine is something to do, rather than something to say.

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Exciting Stimulus for Writing at School

Exciting Stimulus for Writing at SchoolWhen I first started teaching, I remember teaching a lesson about bonfire night where I got the children to close their eyes and use their imagination to sense what was going on around them. Fast forward a few! years and here we have a much more exciting stimulus to develop emotional writing: involving the children in their own disaster movie!

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Scratch Maths

Scratch mathsScratchMaths is a two-year computing and mathematics-based curriculum for Key Stage 2 pupils (Years 5 and 6). Its aim is to enable pupils to engage with and explore important mathematical ideas through learning to program, using the free online programming environment Scratch. The ScratchMaths curriculum is currently being used in over 50 schools across England.

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Problem Solving using Bar Models

Here in the UK, we have a myriad of different approaches in solving word problems in maths. In Singapore Maths, students use a bar model to solve word problems. They take the problem apart and then create a representation of it using simple blocks. This then helps them understand the problem better and creates a lot higher success rate in solving word problems.

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Getting Girls Programming

Getting Girls ProgrammingThere’s been a lot of talk about digital skills and preparing young people, especially girls, to be confident and thrive in a digital future, but where to start? The answer may be TechFuture Girls: a free out-of-the-box after-school club that has been specifically designed to encourage girls to stay engaged in IT and technology.

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BBC Megamaths

BBC MegamathsBBC Megamaths is a series of eight audio programmes which were broadcast on BBC radio in 2011. They are aimed at children aged 7 - 9 and the emphasis is on mental maths and problem solving. There are seven different themes covered mainly all to do with measure which include time, money, capacity, length, weight, fractions and decimals.

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Helping your child with maths

Over the years I've been asked "How can we help our child with their maths?" many times. There are lots of things that parents can do to help develop their children's maths skills. The activities included here are free and found in everyday situations, so no need to buy any books or spend money on expensive resources.

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Teaching Logic through Sudoku

Teaching Logic through SudokuSudoku is a great way for children to develop their logic skills whilst having fun at the same time. To solve a Sudoku puzzle, students needs to use a combination of logic and trial-and-error. Regular Sudoku is a 9 by 9 grid but these simpler puzzles are on a 4 by 4 grid, making the game easier to understand and beat, before moving onto the larger grids.

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Ways to use the Counting Stick

Ways to use the Counting StickThe counting stick is a very versatile tool for teaching maths to primary aged children. Whilst sometimes seen as a tool for teaching foundation and KS1 children, it still has many uses when teaching both lower and upper key stage 2 classes. I've included here a number of techniques that can be used across different types of numbers including decimals, fractions, percentages and negative numbers.

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Reasoning in the classroom

Reasoning in the classroomA key skill in becoming fully numerate (and to becoming an independent adult) is the ability to make your own decisions and learn from them. This key skill is central to these activities: they have been developed to allow learners to choose their own methods and ways of recording, then present their findings in whichever way they decide.

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Logical Thinking Detectives

Logical thinking detectivesHere is a series of activities to develop logical thinking and listening skills for KS2 children. The resource includes 5 video interviews which the students watch to gather clues. They then use the database to input the information they have gathered and search for a culprit. They can also use the virtual PDA to examine the files of all criminals held on the database.

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Times table colouring

Times table colouringA great way to learn times table facts is by making it fun and getting children colouring. These times table colouring sheets are great for reinforcement and make a great starter or filler activity. Children enjoy working out the puzzles and use their times tables knowledge to do this. These sheets are suitable for use across a wide ability and age range.

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Maths SATs Organiser

Maths SATs organisersDo you struggle with identifying each child's areas of weakness in maths? Wouldn't it be great if you could let them decide on which topic they'd like to practise and then leave them to it. Child initiated learning at its very best! This fabulous tool from Mr Hammonds does just that.

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Blooms Action Words

Blooms Action WordsUsing Blooms action words to define what you want your pupils to achieve is a great approach to differentiated lesson planning. These verbs which are aligned to Bloom's Taxonomy help create discussion questions and lesson plans that ensure your students' thinking progresses to higher levels.

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Maven's Maths Mysteries

Mavens Maths MysteriesThe Maths Maven is always finding herself in the middle of a fun new mystery — and she counts on her "super sleuths" to crack the case. This website has 27 different audio visual maths puzzles for children across the KS2 age range. Each mystery focuses on a particular area of math reasoning and problem solving.

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Maffy's Best Numbers

Maffy's Best NumbersMaffy's Best Numbers was written and produced by the Resources and Learning Development Unit in Bristol back in the 1980's with the help of local schools and teachers. It consists of maths related puzzles, problems, investigations and games that are suitable for children in primary and secondary schools.

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Maths Starters for KS2

Maths StartersThese resources are really useful for the KS2 maths class. Each of the resources share three things in common: you can generate an infinite number of questions, you get all the answers and they are completely free! You can use them for maths starters, for revision, as part of a carousel of activities or to print out for worksheets.

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Classroom Posters for Primary Maths

Primary Maths PostersHere are a selection of fabulous maths posters for the primary school classroom. Based on problems from the nrich site, they are well suited for display around the school to challenge more able children and to embed mathematical thinking around the school. The maths posters are for both KS1 maths and KS2 maths.

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Brain Rules for the Classroom

Brain rules for the classroomIn John Medina's book, Brain Rules, he outlines 12 big ideas that science knows about the human brain. These rules can be applied to teaching and education in general. As a teacher, if we aware of how the brain works and then put these rules into practise then our teaching practise will be more effective, resulting in better learning outcomes for our little learners.

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Scratch Extensions for KS2

Scratch extensions for KS2The popular programming language Scratch has now got a sister site called Scratch X. Scratch X contains lots of extensions to Scratch which allow it to do such things as control hardware and talk to external services on the internet. With Scratch X you can get Scratch to speak, control 3D environments and play synthesised music as well as controlling Lego EV3 robots and Roamers.

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Teaching Maths Using Robots

Sphero is a robot ball with several features that can be controlled through mobile apps, including computer programs that the students build. Sphero can roll at a given speed and direction for a given amount of time and it can light up in any color. Its really fun for the children to program and includes mathematical concepts such as angles, distance, speed and shape.

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Maths Problem Pictures

Maths Problem PicturesMaths Problem Pictures are about bringing mathematics to life with photographs. Striking photographs are combined with original questions and problems to challenge students at all levels. Although they are aimed at more able students, some of them will be accessible by primary maths students.

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Teaching Finance at Primary School

Teaching finance at primary schoolAccording to research, the average age that children start to purchase items online is 10. So we need to teach them about finanical matters. Luckily, there are resources available to allow us to do this. Cha-Ching is a financial education resource, designed to equip primary school children with the knowledge, skill and attitudes they need to make informed money decisions.

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Best Drones for School Use

Further to my article about using drones in schools, I've had a number of questions about which is the best drone to buy. Here is a look at the best drones on the market at the moment (2016) and their suitability for using in schools. Their prices range from £150 to £450 so there's something here to suit every budget and need.

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The Importance of Questioning

The importance of questioningQuestioning is the key means by which teachers find out what pupils already know, identify gaps in knowledge and understanding and scaffold the development of their understanding to enable them to close the gap between what they currently know and the learning goals.

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Problem Solving Activities KS2

Puzzleboxx is a collection of puzzles and problem solving activities suitable for upper KS2 children. Well suited for maths groupwork, they are arranged into visual, word based, practical, logical and lateral problems so there's something here to suit everyone's preferences and learning styles.

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HTML Projects for KS2

HTML Projects for KS2Those fabulous guys at Code Club have created some great resources to help KS2 children learn how to program in HTML and CSS. HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a language for describing and structuring web pages and CSS is used to style them. Young coders can save their code online, allowing them to access their webpages both at school and at home.

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Intel Primary Maths Resources

Intel Primary Maths ResourcesHere are a 24 interactive maths lessons, created by Intel, covering many areas of the KS1 and KS2 programme of study including number, statistics, shape & space and measure. They have also been added to the Primary Maths Resources section and sorted into the correct year group objective. The lessons include three elements - learn, test and review.

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Scratch on ipads

Scratch on ipadsAlthough Scratch isn't officially available on ipads (unlike its little brother Scratch Jr) there is another app that is based on the Scratch source code and runs on ipads. Pyonkee looks exactly like the Scratch interface, reduced to fit on the smaller ipad screen with a different set of characters.

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3D Pens in the Classroom

3D Pens in the ClassroomForget 3D printers in the classroom that take forever to print anything out. Imagine getting children to create 3D shapes immediately in a maths lesson by drawing them in the air! Or drawing 3D musical notes and passing them round to children to look at in a music lesson! All these things and more are now possible, at a reasonable price, thanks to the development of 3D pens.

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Laying the Foundations for Algebra

Laying the foundations for algebraAlgebra is about putting real life problems into equations and then solving them. Although formal algebra does not really start until Key Stage 3, primary schools can lay the lay the foundations for algebra in Key Stages 1 and 2 by providing early activities based on algebra from which later work in algebra can develop.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall