When promos go wrong

‘When promos go wrong’ is a fantastic resource from the Money Saving Expert.

The webpage contains a variety of photographs of incorrectly priced discounts such as Tesco’s Indian Meal Bags £2.81 each or 2 for £12 and Asda cakes reduced from 15p to 49p.

Here are a few ways that I thought the resource could be used in skills for life lessons:

  • As a way to contextualize multiplication and division in real life situations
  • As a way of highlight the importance of being able to carry out mental arithmetic
  • As a discussion starter about technical issues or human error
  • As a conversation starter about people’s spending habits


My learners are often drained towards the end of a lesson therefore I’ve started using quizzes as a fun way to bring all of my students together at the end of the session.

Quiz rounds have included sport, guess the chocolate bar (using pics of cross sections of chocolate bars as clues), true or false, general knowledge and guess the musical intro. To make the activity student centred and to cut down on my planning time, I’ve encouraged ss to write their own questions. These have then been used in the following weeks quizzes. The ss love this as they are able to guarantee that the questions are focused on their own areas of interest and they are more likely to score high in these rounds.

YouTube is also a fantastic resource for finding ready-made quiz rounds. I recently used the ‘Guess the 90s Kids TV Themes’ but there are a wide variety of resources available including the ‘Top 10 Movie Soundtracks of All Time’.

On your mark, get set, go!

On your mark, get set, go! is a reading comprehension game where the students compete against each other to be the fastest team to correctly answer a series of questions based on a short piece of text. This is a fast paced activity that can be used as an individual or small group game. I only had three students in my class when I tested this idea so the students competed as individuals which worked really well.

What you need to do is:

Choose a small piece of text, no longer than one side of A4.

Write a series of questions based on the text.

Print off one copy of the text and questions per group (colour coding each group saves a lot of time if you want to reuse the material)

Laminate and cut each question out individually.

Give each group a copy of the text and the first question.

Facilitate the game from your desk.

Rules for the students

Once the tutor says ‘Go’, one person from the each group runs to the question desk, takes a question and then runs back to their group with it.

Using the text that you have been provided with, as a group, find the answer to the question and then write this down on a separate piece of paper.

The next person in the group takes the answer to the tutor to mark. If the answer is correct you will be given the next question if not you will be have to go back to your group to try again until you have the right answer.

The winner is the first group to correctly complete all of the questions.



Quick Reads – Writing a book review

I’ve recently realised that my lessons and I are too exam focused. This has partially come from my last lesson observation where I was criticised for constantly reminding my students how the sessions fitted in with the exam for the Adult Certificate in Literacy and partially because I have always been very exam focused but have come to realise that my students may not be.

As the students only have six weeks to complete the course, for the last two months the reading lessons have purely focused on reading comprehension and skimming and scanning techniques as this is normally part of the end of course exam. After being inspired by Cathy Wint’s blog post on class reading I decided to change the focus of my lessons and encourage my students to start reading short stories. In order to do this I adapted one of my favourite lessons, the film review/planning your writing lesson that I blogged about in March. Instead of writing a film review I changed the lesson to focus on writing a book review.

Before the lesson I visited the local library and borrowed a selection of books from the Quick Reads series, a series of books written especially for low level adults. Each ss chose a book and read the first chapter. The ss then wrote a book review based on what they had just read. Although I’d provided a wide variety of books for the students to choose from most of the students didn’t enjoy reading and after writing their book review most decided to not continue reading their book. All was not lost though as one students loved the short story that he had chosen and decided to spend the rest of the session reading it and then decided to take it out of the library to finish reading at home 🙂

Here’s a quick overview of the lesson plan:

  1. Discuss what ss have read or written today – bus numbers, labels on pop bottles, the Metro, their timesheet etc.
  2. Discuss how reading and writing is a part of everday life
  3. Discuss todays lesson objectives and planning order and how the session will help them in their everyday tasks
  4. Explain that there are five stages in the writing process, write the first letter of each stage upon the board for the students to guess what each stage is.
  5. Split the ss into groups and give each ss a collection of title cards.
  6. As a class fill in the missing words from the writing process on the board.
  7. Ss arrange the titles in the order
  8. Ss match the description cards with the title cards
  9. Ss make a note of this information as a mind map or list
  10. Discuss the planning process – show ppt
  11. Ss plan what information could be included in a book review
  12. Ss pick a book and discuss what they think it’s going to be about
  13. Ss read the first chapter and write a review about it
  14.  Discuss what they thought about the first chapter of the book and what they think about the Quick Reads series
  15. Ss can then either continue reading the book or complete a series of reading comprehension worksheets
  16. Recap what the ss have learnt today

Paper Bridges and Egg Drops

I’ve just merged two separate classes together. Therefore I decided to spend some time last week fostering group cohesion by running two team building sessions.

The first session was an adaptation of Mister Mike’s ‘Newspaper Bridges’. I started the lesson by discussing the effects being part/or not being part of a team can have in the workplace. I then related this to the effects that not working as a team/working as a team can have in the classroom, then I introduced the team building task. The students were put into pairs and then told that the bridges they were about to build would need to be wide enough to roll a football under, strongenough to hold a dictionary and would need to be free standing, therefore theycouldn’t be sellotaped to the floor or supported by human strength. The only materials that the students could use were newspaper and sellotape. In order to get ideas for their own structures the students spent a few minutes in groups looking at pictures of world famous bridges. We then discussed the pictures as a class and looked at common traits amongst the different structures. The students then had five minutes planning time before starting to make their own newspaper bridge.

Below are a few photographs from the session:

The second team building challenge was to build a basket that could enable an egg to be dropped from 8ft off the ground without breaking. Each group was given one egg, a piece of card, string, balloons and sellotape; they were also allowed to use anything that they found within the room.

Despite each group putting in loads of effort no groups egg survived the drop

Lesson observation – maths money

Having started my first teaching post two months ago I received my first formal observation today. After a weekend of preparation, a rubbish
night sleep and morning full of nerves my observation came and went. I often wonder why I get so nervous before an observation as they are never as bad as I imagine. This one was in fact a lot, lot better than I thought as I achieved a grade 2 and the feedback that I received was that the lesson only just missed out on grade one, which is outstanding,  as my lesson objectives were too vague and couldn’t easily be measured. I was over the moon with this as not only is it my first teaching post, I was observed teaching an age range and a subject I’m not trained in, with ss from Entry Level 1 to Level 2, so I was surprised by how well I actually did. I trained to teach Functional Skills English to teenagers but was observed teaching numeracy to a group of unemployed adults.

Idecided to focus the session on money. During the last session we had looked at maths vocabulary so I started this class off by splitting the room into different maths symbols e.g. +, -, =. I then called out a word that corresponded with one of the signs e.g. add, equals, subtract. The students then had to stand by the symbol that they thought represented the word. This exercise not only got the ss up and moving around, it provided an interested activity for kinaesthetic learners. To grab the learners attention and to focus their minds on the session I followed this activity with a bag reveal; I pulled out various objects relating to money and shopping and the ss had to guess what the lesson would be about. I then revealed the lesson objectives and the running order for the day. To continue with the maths language theme the ss were then given a selection of money vocabulary cards and had to match the number and word to the correct coin, for example 1p and one pence were put at the side of a picture of a one penny piece and so on up to £2. As the ss are really competitive I then split them into teams and we had a game of money snap. I shouted out the name of the coin and the quickest team to pick up the corresponding word or image won a point.The class  then discuss how different coins can be used to make different amounts of money. I demonstrated this upon on the board. I gave the  ss a pile of paper money and after writing an amount on the board the ss had to pick a selection of coins that could be used to make that amount. for example 70p = 10p +10p + 50p.

As I was catering for every level possible, inorder to provide the correct level of differentiation, the main part of the lesson focused on individual worksheets. The first exercise involved the students analysing various shopping receipts in order to decide what coins could be used to create
the various totals. I then brought the group together to discuss various methods for addition, for example splitting coins into smaller amounts, long division, using number lines etc. The students were then given an individual addition worksheet depending on their ability level. For the next part of the lesson I had adapted the celebrity shopping baskets activity that I blogged about in February. I extended the worksheets and adapted the activities to suit the needs of the students; each workbook was tailored to the specific level of the exam they will be sitting.

To bring the students together at the end we played ‘I have…who has?’. I got the idea form Super Teacher worksheets but adapted the  resource to use British coins rather than American. The students really seemed to enjoy the session and as I received excellent feedback I will certainly be using the session again.

Game cards for ‘I have…who has’ can now be found on my profile at Skillsworkshop. The addition, reciepts and celebrity shopping baskets will be published shortly.