Using the 5Es in Remote Maths Instruction

This is an outstanding article from Edutopia about the benefits of the 5Es instructional model, although it doesn’t address a lot of the specific difficulties in adapting this model to remote instruction.

It suggests, for example, dragging and dropping clipart on a Google Slides presentation to simulate the physical manipulation of objects in the classroom. I question the extent to which this is a substitute for physical manipulation and the engagement that results, although any interaction is better than none.

There are two good links to activity websites: Desmos, which offers a good range of algebra and geometry activities, with a section curated for British GCSE Maths, and Open Middle.

Sugar Awareness Week

‘Sugar Awareness Week’ runs until 24th January – and I don’t know about you, but I can always benefit from being reminded of the healthy limits on sugar intake.

Young people may also need some extra guidance to interpret food labelling and so there is a very important role for mathematics here, including developing a better understanding of measurements and proportions.

You can use food labels from students’ favourite foods and explore potential sugar intake; with the students learning remotely from home, they could use the food they have to hand. E.g. How much sugar is in a can of baked beans?

This factsheet provides a useful introduction to the topic:

There are numerous resources on food labelling here:

Today is World Religion Day

World Religion Day is an opportunity to promote understanding and harmony between different faiths. It was started by the Bahá’í faith, which itself promotes respect and understanding between religions.

Here is a fabulous table that breaks down the proportion of religious followers in every country in the world, providing an opportunity to learn about religions and percentages simultaneously!


There are a number of ‘Countdown’ simulators on the net – this one has some added functionality and features the letters and conundrum games, as well as the numbers.

Have fun using it, either as a starter or as a buffer between sections of a lesson.

Digital Inequality

Here is a link to an interesting – though not particularly surprising – study on the importance of hands-on computer usage on digital self-efficacy and positive attitudes to STEM learning.

It states that we as teachers need to go beyond modelling behaviour through our increased use of ICT in the classroom, and effect change by providing more opportunities for students to use the technology themselves.

Those of us who have been teaching young people online have come to realise that confidence in using technology for social use does not necessarily translate into wider competency in ICT. Those of us who have taught ICT previously were already aware of this at a certain level. The declaration “I know how to use Word” doesn’t necessarily signal competency to a professional standard. And so we shouldn’t assume that hours spent texting and surfing social media translates directly to digital self-efficacy.

The four distinct access gaps highlighted in section 2.1 of the report are important considerations, with perhaps the most concerning being the lack of any access to ICT itself. Digital poverty is a very real problem that disproportionately affects those from deprived backgrounds, with its negative effect on possible STEM careers a definite inference from the study.

The college I work at has been excellent during this epidemic in identifying learners who need hardware to be able to access learning from home, as well as providing additional support for those who have struggled with its use.

We must continue to avoid making assumptions about young people’s competence with, and access to, ICT in order to provide students with the best chance of success in this increasingly digital world.

Today is ‘World Braille Day’

Louis Braille was born on this day in 1809. His invention is a writing system that allows blind and partially-sighted people to communicate, using patterns of raised dots that can be identified as letters by touch.

There are a number of opportunities to raise awareness of Braille in the maths classroom:

  • There are a limited number of configurations of dots in a Braille cell. Can you work out how many?
  • Can you describe the layout of dots in a Braille cell in words? (Promotes use of language such as ‘parallel’, ‘rows’ and ‘columns’.)
  • Which letter in the Braille alphabet has the most lines of symmetry?

You can find out more about Braille and its usage here:

And here is a very engaging maths activity that use Braille to encourage mathematical thinking:

Maths from Home

Terms start up again in many places on Monday, which means parents may be looking for ideas for home-schooling.

One great source of activities is the NRich website, which has a wealth of maths resources for ages 3-18.

They’ve published a special page giving information on how you can work with children at home during the lockdown using mathematical activities and games to enhance engagement and learning.

They’ve also hand-picked activities for different age groups (11-14, 14-16, 16-18) that are suitable for working on without the help of a teacher and are asking parents/guardians to tweet resulting work using the hashtag #nrichmathsathome

Be warned! A quick ‘dip’ into the activities may mean you lose a substantial amount of time, as happened to me with ‘Charlie’s Delightful Machine‘…

Have fun!