10 Maths Hacks All Teachers Should Know

With the year just beginning, it’s worth investing a few minutes putting together these simple maths hacks to save you time for the rest of the year.

  1. Phone time for rotation groups:  Did you know you can set the timer function on your phone by just holding in the button and talking?  For iphone:  Hold in main button and say, “Set timer for five minutes”.  For Android, say “Ok Google, set timer for five minutes”.IMG_0728
  2. Dice in a plastic lunch container:  When playing rotation games, seal dice in a clear plastic container to make an instant shaker.  The dice don’t disappear and games run more smoothly.
  3. Three colour pen for marking:  Use a three colour pen to add comments to student work.  Blue = A (like the colour of a first place ribbon), Red = B (second place ribbon), Black/Green = C or below.
  4. Master folder in files for each unit:  Each time you start a new unit of work, open a new hanging folder in your filing cabinet.  Every time you give out a photocopy or sheet to your class, and every time you do planning, place a copy in that file.  At the end, add a contents page and bind the lot.  That way if your electronic copies ever go missing you have an easy-to-access paper copy for every unit.
  5. Card games:  Free rotation group card games can be made using the downloads at the bottom of the page here.
  6. IMG_0729Shrink wrap for cords:  You can buy rubber “Shrink wrap” at electronics stores to put around your chargers.  This protects them from kids who bend them in the wrong direction.  The wrap is basically a rubber tube.  You cut it to the right length, slip it on the cord and add heat (lighter…).  It shrinks to the right size and is very sturdy.
  7. IMG_0730Coloured paper for Differentiation:  When making games for rotation groups, use mixed groups of students organised for behaviour rather than ability, but use different coloured paper for differentation.  For example, higher end students always use the blue activity in the box…  That way you can give differentiated activities when needed.  For more on how to run behaviour groups for rotations, check out this link.
  8. Shoe boxes for games:  In the first week of school, ask your parents to donate a spare shoe box.  You will probably end up with 10-15 as everyone has just bought new shoes for the year.  Use these to keep your most commonly used rotation group games in, stored neatly on a shelf in your room.  That way you just have to put out the boxes on tables at the start of group time and everyone knows what to do.  The activity you see below is for a “hiding” partitioning game:  Starting with eight blocks, one child hides some under the bowl.  The other group members work out how many are hidden.IMG_0732
  9. Laminating paper = instant white board.
  10. Sticker frames are great for tough kids to organise their stickers with.  Keep the outside sticky frames of smiley face or round stickers.  For your really difficult students, place the sticker frame in the front of their book.  They then try to get enough stickers to fill the frame.  Give out stickers for set jobs (e.g. you get a sticker every time you remember your book, text, pen and calculator for class).

Have a fantastic year, and I hope these simple hacks get you started well!

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