Every term, we have a new strategy to teach the children to use when problem solving in maths. Earlier in the year, we used trial and improvement, and then working systematically, taught through the use of NRich activities.  This term, our focus has been spotting patterns.

For many activities, the approach to recording a finished activity is obvious, as there is something to stick in their books, but the approach used is lost. I wanted a way to show how the children actually worked, and so I used the LearnPads to add to the recording process.  Our activity this week was Domino Sets, again from NRich, where the children had to spot patterns in the numbers on their dominoes, sort them and work out which, if any, were missing.  I could have given them photocopies of dominoes to sort and stick, but the children found it more meaningful to be given boxes and bags of real dominoes: especially when we discovered that some had what appeared to be full sets, some had fewer than 2 dominoes in, and some bags had remnants of 5 sets mixed up together! The joys of getting out resources before the lesson without having checked each pack indiviually! However, this provided an instant differentiation – the more logically thinking children were given the mixed up bags and asked to try and create a full set, whereas the less confident were given those sets which were almost complete.

The children had great fun sorting the dominoes, some choosing to just move them around on the table, others getting whiteboards and making lists and jottings to help them.

Once they had formed what they believed to be a complete set of dominoes (or as close as they could get), the children then used the Annotate app on the LearnPads to take a photo of their set and annotate it to show the process they used to sort their dominoes. These were then handed in and printed out as evidence (The new ClassCloud layout has made this process far simpler and much quicker to get the work from the LearnPads and into the children’s books).  The quality of explanations varied massively, and was excellent evidence to show just how well the children understood how they had reached their conclusion – was there a system or just good luck?!  Thinking back to the lesson now, I would also get the children to make a short video explaining what they did – handing in and uploading to somewhere like Dropbox would mean the children would have a QR code to stick in their books and show their parents at the end of the year (I am kicking myself now that I didn’t think of this yesterday!).

I have used the LearnPads many, many times in my lessons, but never before in this way. Such a simple activity has provided some great evidence and gave the children real motivation to make sure they understood how they had solved their problem.  Annotate will definitely be making more appearances in my maths lessons from now on!