Analogue tool of the week: The Counting Stick

How many of us have one of those long duel coloured plastic sticks in the corner of our classroom?  It is not quite a metre rule and it is too big to use as a pointer without taking somebody’s eye out.

The counting stick is a versatile tool for counting, which if done regularly and with variety will help children rehearse and ultimately  learn number sequences. The coloured rectangles, some clever teacher prompts and questioning can provide hooks to help children to visualize position and increments. Indeed this humble stick can be a magic wand in the right hands.

I was reminded of this and indeed inspired to pick up the neglected stick, following a Primary Advantage Maths Course was at last week. Here our trainer showed us a shaky video of a teacher making use of Visual, Auditory and kinesthetic cues and a stick to teach the 17 times table. Once you get the hang of the tricks she used you can apply this to other number sequences. Following some careful rehearsal this week, I have proved that this method works well for both the 13 and 4 times table.

What is Primary Advantage Maths then?

This video explains a bit

By skinnyboyevans Posted in Maths

The Whole NC for 69p


Adding to my list of apps for teachers comes Pocket Curriculum.  The app is simply an e version of the National Curriculum, but without the need to go online or trawl through the messy .gov website. I have found that I use this app on an almost daily basis.  It comes in handy during planning, observing or just discussing the content of the new curriculum.

Usability is to the fore in this app, it is very easy to navigate, free of distractions and the inclusion of a DFE news feed means you can also keep up to date with all the exciting education news. Today there has been an update to include the secondary curriculum too. Great value and great sense of humour from Angel App Publishing too, just read the rating it has been given and why.








Chocolate Tub Maths


Sometime ago I asked the twitter and Facebook community for some Maths ideas.
I had lots of chocolates left over from Christmas and in particular an abundance of Cadburys Heroes tubs.

I had an abundance of answers and suggestions that formed starters and discussin points for my Year 6 Maths group. While some ideas have been filed in my brain for next Christmas.
It would be interesting to find out whether you get the same amount of chocolates when you lift the lid. Also how does my tub of Heroes compare with a box, is the ratio the same?

Answers and further suggestions in the comments please.



I have always been keen that our iPads do more than just work as laptop replacements. I saw many examples in other schools of the iPad as a research tool or a reward. The phrase “we got the iPads out” didn’t always fill me with excitement as often this was about digital babysitting.

With this in mind I came to Padlet – a web-based collaborative word wall that reminds me of Etherpad or Primarywall. Padlet can be accessed from a tablet or a computer via a browser. It can be entirely open or password protected, it can be exported as CSV, PDF, embedded in a blog, shared through social networks or emailed to a colleague. Crucially it provide another way for using iPads and a range of possibilities and contexts for using them other than just a spelling task described below.

Today I explored how it might be used in a lesson as part of our whole school INSET on Guided Spelling. One of the most important elements of learning new “spelling” words is seeing them in context. With the help of the app children can find definitions and exemplar sentences before using them in their own phrases and sentences.  Of course, you could ask your class to write these in the back of their literacy book or on ephemeral dry wipe boards. But Padlet allows groups to create and compile a shared list of sentences which can be accessed beyond the lesson.

For this to really work, I’d recommend a small group working together on a Padlet, with the teacher having the same Padlet screen on the interactive whiteboard. This means that during the lesson activity children can feel th excitement of seeing their ideas appear on-screen. It puts a bit of pressure on the group to come up with a substantial list too as everyone can see their efforts. It also means the teacher has a visible record of the learning, which can the be exported or shared for further contributions.

To illustrate the idea of using Padlet for sentence writing in spelling, I asked colleagues and friends to contribute to a Pad with a focus on “ou” words. Take a look at their efforts on the link below – thanks to all who helped:


Friday was Day 2 of our enrichment week and gave me another opportunity to work with children from across Key Stage 2. Most of the children enjoyed the challenge of building code routines for the Angry Birds maze. This is the first tutorial found on and 20140119-205519.jpgmentioned here on this blog.

Aside from the enthusiasm that pulsed through the room it was good to see collaboration and support amongst the group. It would be very easy for me to sit next to pupils who hit the coding wall and offer my support and advice and find that the mouse had lingered in my hand for a bit too long. But I wanted to try to mimic the conditions of an IT company, where expertise and knowledge is shared. Back in my time at 2Simple, we were adept at helping each other and grew to understand who could do what.

Traditional ICT lessons in a suite can involve children connected to their device and completing their work, without wasting time messing about with others. But, with a bit of trust you can introduce and pursue the idea of coaching and mentoring each other and sharing knowledge. Far more effective than you, the teacher, being the conduit of all knowledge.
And I’d like to point out that on Friday this worked really well.

20140119-205013.jpgThis did not mean that all the early finishers became the unpaid TAs, they could move on and spend time looking at other tutorials. One of the most popular was Tynker and their puppy and spaceship focussed code environments.

Find the tutorial here and learn more about Tynker below:

An Hour of Code well spent

So privileged to be back home in an ICT suite today. I worked with a class of mixed age Key Stage 2 children as part of our enrichment week.

We used and the associated Angry birds maze tutorial. I would highly recommend stating children the hour of 20 challenges. Motivation was high and children were learning command, loops , condionals and debugging and collaboration. Except they behaved like they were playing a game.