Design Ideas

As part of the first module of the MMEL MSc  I am required to create a learning resource that integrates a range of ICT tools  into current teaching practice.

Below is a list of my ideas. I would appreciate it if you could vote on the idea that you feel would most benefit my basic skills learners.

Idea 1 – Wordle a-z activities

Like the activity above from Skills Workshop I am thinking of using Wordle to develop a series of A-Z worksheets for my adult literacy class. Each worksheet would be based on the differing themes from the live exams. The worksheets would then be used to prepare students for the end of course exam as there is quite often a question where the students must arrange a list of names or objects in alphabetical order. The students are generally ok with ordering things from a- z but struggle when they are faced with two words that start with the same letter, for example Peter and Paul. The worksheets could be used to address this problem.

As my learners can range from the age of 18 to 70  I often have a wide range of ability levels when it comes to using software on the PC. An advantage of using Wordle is the fact that I can make an online and paper based version of the resource so that my learners can have a choice over how they use it.

Idea 2 – Hot potato multiple choice worksheets

As the L1 and L2 numeracy exam consists of an on-line multiple choice test I think it would benefit my learners to be able to practice using this format of questioning as they learn different topics throughout the course. Therefore my second idea is to use Hot Potato to develop a series of interactive end of topic multiple choice quizzes

Idea 3 – Interactive Word documents

Although I teach on a basic literacy course a lot of my learners have English as an Additional Language and often have very low level English skills. A lot of the learners have higher level writing skills but struggle to understand the English language  when it is spoken. However my native English learners are often the other way round and are fine at understanding spoken English but struggle with their reading skills. Therefore I feel that it may be beneficial for both sets of these students to be able to hear as well as read the instructions on Word based worksheets. I would like to develop this resource further by creating a series of gap fill activities where the students use drop down boxes to choose the correct word.


Strategies for mental multiplication

Today I taught a really successful 3 hour lesson on strategies for working out mental multiplication. Here’s how it went:

1.Ss fill in a blank 0 -12 times table grid. This is then used throughout the lesson as a reference sheet.

2.Ss then fill in the jumbled up grid at the bottom of the worksheet

3.Card match activity. Give each student a set of cards matched to their ability level. Ss then match the sum e.g 6 x 6 with the answer, 36

4.Discuss how people use a variety of ways for working out mental multiplication e.g counting up on their fingers, a times table grid, long multiplication etc

5.Split the class into pairs/small groups. Give each group a different strategy to research and present to the class. Strategies could include; traditional/long multiplication, grid method, lattice method, finger tricks.

6.Ss present their findings and explain how to use the method to the rest of the class. (My students really didn’t want to have to get up and speak in front of the rest of the class so instead they created A1 size posters and the students moved around the class looking at them whilst I explained the content)

7.Ss complete a worksheet for each of the following methods: grid, lattice and traditional/long




8.Ss complete a variety of mental multiplication based worksheets

Lesson starter – flat numbers

I found this idea on Jules Shares Teaching and liked the idea so much that I thought I’d share it with you. It’s a numeracy puzzle that looks at the numbers involved when painting doors. Therefore it is an ideal resource for embedding in Painting and Decorating courses.

The question posed to the students was:

A new block of 100 flats has been built.

Dave has to paint the numbers from 1 to 100 on the doors.                                                                                                          

How many times will he have to paint the number 9?

Although when Julie used this puzzle with her class she looked at the number 9 the puzzle would work with any number in the 1-9 range.I haven’t tried this idea out yet but Julie found that ‘A lot of learners say 11 as they do not count 90, 91, 92 and so on as they have counted up from 9, 19, 29 and their brain gets into a pattern. Then when they do realise they get to 19 and forget the number 99 has two 9′s in it. The answer is 20. This creates discussion regarding writing information down, so that learners can visualise what they are doing.’

Julie teaches Functional Skills maths, English and ICT at Barnsley College. Her blog is full of useful ideas for the SFL classroom and is well worth a read.

Collabrotive, social learning – Lino It and Answer Garden

Today I attended a workshop session about free online software packages that can be used to enhance learning in the classroom.  Lino It and Answer Garden were two collaborative software packages that were presented. They are both suitable for the SFL classroom as the software can be used to encourage  learners to share their opinions and knowledge in a non-judgemental and anonymous way.

Lino It

Lino It is a sticky note based web page that can be used to post memos, ideas, and photos anywhere on an online web canvas.

Why do earthquakes happen?

You could use the software as a student focused starter or  plenary. One of the ways you could do this would be to post a question in the corner of the canvas and then hand the activity over to the students to post replies, for example you could ask the students in what situations have you wrote an email. The students might then reply, to complain about extra charges on a phone bill, to tell a friend some good news or to inform my tutor that I won’t be in for a few days due to sickness.

As you can change the colour of the post-it notes it’s easy to add an element of competition to the activity as you could assign a different colour per team, this means that you could also have girls (yellow post-it notes) vs boys (green post it-notes) competition. The team that comes up with the most replies could win a prize such as choosing the next question or activity.

The software is also useful as an assessment tool. It could be used at the start of a session to assess the learning and knowledge retention of previous lessons, it could be used at the end of the lesson to check understanding and if you asked the students questions such as did you enjoy this lesson, what did you think about the lesson materials it could also be used as an evaluation tool to assess how well the lesson has gone.

Although you can use the software without setting up an account I don’t recommend using the software with your learners without one. By setting up an account you can retain control of the activity once it has been passed onto your learners as you can remove any  post that you do not approve of. It is also a good idea to set up different groups for different classes as that way you can keep the canvases private and prevent different classes from cheating by copying the other groups notes.

Answer Garden

Answer Garden is similar to Lino though it is a lot simpler to use. Once you open up the software click on create, post a question, give your students the url address and once they open the web page they are able to post replies.

One of the ways that this could be used in the SFL classroom would be to teach about tallies. The students could post a question e.g what is your favourite mobile phone brand? Share the web page with their class mates and then once all of the responses are in, use the information for creating tallies of how many times each brand appears.

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

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.

Super Teacher Worksheets and Compound Words

Super Teacher Worksheets is a free, printable resource website containing literacy and maths resources.

Using the compounds words resources I have developed a E3 Functional Skills lesson plan:

Compound Words

  • Warmer-Word Match

In pairs the learners put two words together to create a new (compound) word.

Introduce compound words to the learners – give a few examples of compound words, then get students to guess

the ending  to a few common compound words.

  • Activity 1 – Compound Worksheet A-L and Compound Worksheet M-Z (Each student is given the opposite worksheet to the person sat next to them in order to prevent copying)
  • Activity 2 – Compound Worksheet (Pick the correct word ending)
  • Activity 3 – Compound Word Practice ( A mixture of circling and gap fill activities to summarise learning)
  • End Activity – Catch Phrase (In teams and taking it in turns the learners compete against each other to guess the catch phrase

Click on the links below to access the lesson resources:

Compound Words PPT

Word Match


Compound M-Z

Compound Words

Compound Words Practice

Catch Phrase Interactive Quiz