In an IT Room

Padlet - select the image to see this wall

Padlet – select the image to see this wall

In an IT room Padlet is an excellent resource for a starter or a plenary. Students can be asked to post a sticky note with something they have learned in the lesson or perhaps to ask a question. Students can simply o link to the wall, an account is not necessary. See Interesting Ways to Use Padlet in the Classroom where teachers have contributed ideas for inspiration.

Another possibility in an IT room is to ask students to create a word cloud of any vocabulary they know on a topic at either the beginning or end of a lesson.

By Colleen Young

Starter of the Day

From Transum Software, the well known Maths Starter of the Day has just that, a starter for every day of the year. What makes the site particularly useful is the index by topic and note the link to Quick Starters, Random Starters and Substantial Starters. There is also a complete index of starters which includes the topic of the starter.

Many of the starters would make ideal Bell Work; there are several starters here which could be written up on the board whilst you are waiting for any IT – or maybe if you don’t have IT!

Some of the Shine and Write activities would also make good lesson starters. For example are these statements true, sometimes true or false? As with many of the activities on this site you can refresh the page for further statements, you can also change the level. Or perhaps some Mathanagrams?

Know Your Place - Transum SWoftware

Know Your Place – Transum SWoftware

Checking the National Curriculum (UK) section I came across this really useful mental calculations activity which you can refresh for a never ending supply of such questions. I then discovered the same activity in another format, using the topic index, under Mental Methods, we see that Know Your Place is one of the activities, this time a timer is included as are the answers. Further investigation of this section, led me to this rather nice starter on algebraic notation. As you can see each section has suggestions for activities, with additional suggestions such as the algebraic notation starter at the end of the section. This site is well indexed, from the algebra activity mentioned here, there is a link to other algebra activities

Well worth exploring for your favourites – this site is a rich source of starters and plenaries.

By Colleen Young

Christmas Starters

Advent calendar Alex Pett

Advent calendar by Alex Pett

See Christmas 2013 on Mathematics learning and Web 2.0 if you are looking for Christmas activities generally. Here I will concentrate on those activities suitable as December starters.

Perhaps use an advent calendar such Alex Pett’s very beautiful version complete with history and problems for each day (and turn the sound on!). It is an ActivInspire resource but Alex has also provided a pdf version or use as a Google document.

Nrich secondary advent calendar

Nrich secondary advent calendar

Also worth checking for starters are the various Nrich advent calendars. Look at problem 1 on the secondary calendar for example; Special Numbers would make an ideal starter. The calendars link to posters of Nrich problems but you can easily search on Nrich for the problem if you want to look at the teachers’ notes and solution. Take problem 1 for example – Special Numbers. Go to the Nrich website and enter special numbers in the search box, the first entry is the required problem.

If you want number properties for each day in December then you could of course use WolframAlpha, eg 19 or Tanya Khovanova’s wonderful Number Gossip site. A good starter can be to ask students to come up with a question which has an answer of 19 and then go on to look at properties of that number.

Transum Software who provide the popular Maths Starter of the Day activities have some Christmas Starterstry ChrisMaths for example.

From TES Resources these Christmas grid puzzles or Operation Christmas Tree would make rather nice starters. Back to the subject of calendars. this very well presented PowerPoint advent calendar could easily be adapted for your students. You could use it to plan your December starters!

Happy Christmas!

By Colleen Young

MEI GCSE Starters

MEI Starters - fit eight to a page!

MEI Starters – fit eight to a page!

MEI have an excellent free collection of GCSE starters. Designed for the start of a GCSE lesson, the diagrams and questions are very clear and will display well on the IWB. There are several starters under the following headings: Mathematical Reasoning, Number, Algebra, Geometry and Measures and Statistics and Probability. Files with the answers and teachers notes are also provided.

It is not always possible to have the IWB up and running, particularly if you are coming from a different room and I do like to get students working straight away. Experimenting, I found that I could tale a screenshot (I do like the snipping tool in Windows 7) and fit eight to a page! I used a Word document with very small top and bottom margins and a two column layout.

For more ideas on a calm start to lessons – getting everybody working straight away – see Bell Work.

By Colleen Young


Colleen Young:

Arithmagons can make ideal starters or plenaries as well as being used for a main lesson activity.

Originally posted on Mathematics, Learning and Web 2.0:

What is an arithmagon?

Clearly the numbers in the rectangles are the sum of the numbers in the adjacent circles. Of course there is no need to use addition and no need to use triangular arithmagons!

These could used with students of all ages. Young children could practice basic skills or students studying advanced Mathematics could look at Calculus or Complex Numbers for example.

The challenge is of course to go backwards…
Jonathan Hall’s excellent Flash Maths site includes Addagons and Productagons which will provide an endless supply of arithmagons where the operation can be addition or multiplication; it is also possible to specify the number types required and to choose which parts of the arithmagon are displayed first. This can be displayed full screen making it excellent for the interactive whiteboard.

Nrich have some very useful resources including this introduction to arithmagons which includes an interactive allowing…

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By Colleen Young

Desmos Problems

Think FastFrom Desmos we have the outstanding graphing calculator, their Facebook page (you do not need to be a Facebook user to view this) is also worth keeping an eye on. Some of the photos available make ideal starters. See the Think Fast series or perhaps Mental Maths Monday; there are also several probability problems. I think I’ll try some of the Mental Maths Monday series with my sixth form students – look at this for example!

The problem shown in the image could be used with younger students but also with older students who could look at an algebraic proof.

Talking of problems, here’s a reminder of some of the great problems published in Numberplay in the New York Times, I do like this Coins in the Dark Puzzle!

By Colleen Young


Originally posted on Mathematics, Learning and Web 2.0:

I first came across when looking at some resources on TES (TES requires registration but all resources are free). Games of Bingo have been a great success this year with my Year 8 class and also my Year 11 students. Each time the students have been highly motivated and asked if they could continue playing to try and achieve ‘Full House’. With Year 8 we used Bingo games for practising directed numbers and substitution in algebra; with Year 11 a Bingo game provided a great way to revise completing the square. At the moment all the resources on this site (except the loop cards) are free to use. As well as the Bingo games, I like the Settlers, activities which could be given to a class immediately they enter the room for a lesson, giving a clam and productive start to a lesson. (See also ‘Bell Work’).


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By Colleen Young

Ever wondered why?

Ever wondered why Indices

Fractional and negative indices from (Number)

Just Maths has a collection of outstanding resources including their ‘Ever wondered why’ worksheets which make ideal starters as a class can begin work immediately on the activity, they are also self-checking – a great start for a lesson. Check the resources in each category. I have used this style of worksheet successfully many times.

By Colleen Young