Wednesday 18 May 2016


Every year we try to do something a little bit special. This year we have done something a big bit special. We have been busy writing our Action Maths – that’s active maths with a pulse, the new superfood for mathematics.


To begin, I must go back to the last century (yes that long ago), when as a young teacher I taught maths and PE. I was sent to Blackpool (not the northern equivalent of being sent to Coventry) to the Easter Blackpool PE conference. This was when LEAs (yes remember them?) had money to train teachers. The Blackpool conference put on a whole assortment of PE courses for those who wanted to use their Easter break for betterment. That year I was on a Health Related Fitness course, a relatively new concept that involved growing like a tree and relaxing to whale music...quite progressive for the time.


Going back to school, I had to implement a Health Related Fitness programme into the PE department. One lesson involved the circulation of the blood through the body. Here we used four hoops for the heart and a circuit around the hall that involved picking up red bands (oxygenated blood) and swapping them for blue bands (deoxygenated blood) as we progressed around different parts of the body. We threw in some sit ups, press ups etc just for sadistic pleasure. It was the start of kinaesthetic learning. The student retention rates of the facts, compared to their level of ability, were quite impressive.


This concept has been gnawing away at me for years. Finally, this year, I have buckled down to produce Action Maths. This is maths that involves running around and raising the pulse whilst solving mathematical problems. I have always been a big fan of doing active maths rather than passive maths. This Action Maths creates a new superfood group of mathematics, combining the benefits of active maths with the benefits of exercise. The boring research stuff is at the bottom of the page.


To find the Action Maths activities use the Search tool. Click on refine by worksheet type and select Action Maths. Refine by other criteria, if needed, then click search. In this initial set there are activities for Reception up to Year 9, with the bulk covering the Primary phase. This will also support less able KS3 students.


The Action Maths activities are there to consolidate the skills that have been taught through the 10ticks worksheets and are a way of reinforcing concepts through a variety of physical game play.

I won’t go into great details of the Action Maths activities here; you need to look through them to see the variety on offer and which suit you. They involve circuit training, hunts, relays, chases, skittles, dancing, jigsaws, trails, time challenges etc. We are always looking for suggestions, so once you have tried some of these please send us your ideas. We can add the best to the collection.


Double the benefit. A benefit of many of the resources is that they can be used away from the Action Maths environment as support material for lower abilities in small groups. This is the active maths element of the course supporting kinaesthetic learners.


Five reasons to use 10ticks Action Maths:


1). Two lessons for the price of one. As curriculum time becomes tight deliver a core subject in PE time, or add extra physical activity in core time.


2). Action Maths games are fun for the majority of children and can build a strong sense of community in the classroom.


3). Being physically active can increase attention spans, reduce stress and help students to learn. Children love to move—and they need to move. Too much sitting results in decreased circulation and a subsequent decrease in concentration, whilst certain kinds of movement stimulate the release of dopamine and noradrenaline in the brain, which are important in learning. These benefits carry on throughout the day, supporting other subjects.

4). Variety is the spice of life. The more ways you introduce and consolidate mathematical concepts the greater they are retained by students, making the students more motivated in the subject.


5). The materials can be used as support materials for low ability, kinaesthetic learners in a one-to-one, or small group environment. This active learning style has been shown to be an effective way of increasing knowledge retention.


Research: The combined benefits.

1).           Exercise              

It has been shown that after exercise people learn vocabulary 20% faster. Exercise improves short-term memory, reaction time and creativity. It increases attention span, coordination and complex thinking. 30% extra blood flow, oxygen and glucose to the brain improves learning ability.

According to Dr. John Ratey, physical fitness is like “Miracle-Gro” for the brain.   “I cannot underestimate how important regular exercise is in improving the function and performance of the brain,” he writes.  Exercise stimulates the brain to produce extra BDNF (brain-derived-neurotropic factor)  which is used to enhance the development of new neurons (and their connections).

Simply put, being physically active can help students improve attention spans, reduce stress and help students learn (Jones, 2012).

2).           Active maths

Research shows that pupils learn more when they are involved in active learning. This is because the emphasis is placed on higher order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation.


Further research has shown that pupils retain 90% of what they say and do. Compare this with the fact that pupils retain just 10% of what they read and 20% of what they hear and you will start to understand why active learning is so important (source: E.Dale, 1969).

Posted by Ian Fisher at 09:02No comments
Labels: action maths, active maths, action, active, active learning
Wednesday 20 April 2016


Every summer we update the worksheets and website with the work we have done over the past 12 months. This gives me time for reflection on the year and to look back at our achievements.


Writing for 10ticks is extremely rewarding; there are no constraints on what we do. We do it because we love it. We do it because we know it will make your life easier and motivate your students into finding mathematics fascinating. We can put time and effort into crafting a successful worksheet for the benefit of time starved teachers. In this blog I will look over some of the worksheet ideas produced for our new edition. 


As a quick digression, the worksheet seems to have become an unpopular bedfellow for the teacher over the last decade. It has been given bad press because of the hastily prepared sheet of work, possibly hand written, with reams of questions and no progression, photocopied and given out to a class as a last minute homework, and just for the sake of tick-boxing the homework given box. I have heard of head teachers banning the use of worksheets in their schools. Should we now call our worksheets a digital maths resource, so that we are not tagged with the label? This short-sightedness is the equivalent of saying, “ I have seen a bad text book, so we will not use text books in our school”. Ludicrous.


Yes, I believe practice is an important element to learning. Our consolidation worksheets have sets of questions to allow time for this, along with structured, graduated progressions. More able pupils may work on odd numbers, or down columns, and those that need consolidation can work through more. The worksheets have been likened to a lesson plan in their progression. Our texts are successful because of this .... but there is much, much more to 10ticks than just consolidation questions. Variety is just as important. That is why we have games, puzzles, investigations, Action Maths, Calculated Colourings etc, all linked to specific mathematical concepts, so the teacher can focus on delivering a skill in a variety of ways. It has been shown that this wide variety of delivery mechanisms actually helps teacher development by thinking about pedagogy.  I could go on, but a short digression has now become a long rant, so enough.


This year we have added over 270 worksheets to the 10ticks collection and I want to highlight one or two of my favourites. We do have a new Search tool that will help you navigate through this vast, rich resource.


As a side note, for those of you referencing 10ticks into schemes of work, use the comment field, as this doesn’t change from year to year. Page numbers and Years will, depending on the whim of the government at the time.


Frequency Trees (search M16.162 then onwards) is a brand new area. We have developed this from scratch. It is a graduated series of worksheets, linking frequency trees with two way tables and probabilities. The progressions are easy to follow, allowing for instant student success.


The Monty Hall Problem (search M16.113) is a very famous problem that can be solved easily by running a trial with the whole class. Will you win a car or a goat?


Roman Numeral Matchstick Puzzles (search M16.64) is a delightful page of puzzles that involve moving matchsticks around to solve questions in Roman numerals format. Great fun.

The last question of the sheet, Sec D 6)., is obviously a trick question,  which can be answered gleefully by spinning the sheet around 180 degrees.


BIDMAS Snake (search M16.78) is a question that hit the news this year. It is a question that was given to third graders (8 year olds) in Bao Loc, Vietnam. See how your class fares.


There is alot of introductory algebra in the update. Stars and Circles (Algebra) (search M16.253) is a typical start to algebra, replacing a star and circle with numbers to solve the questions. Also look at Balancing Shapes (search M16.86) for a starter to solving equations.  Algebraic Expression Diagrams (search M16.95) is a visualisation method for algebra. It is consistent with the way multiplication is taught using grids.


Algebraic Pyramids (starting Algebra) (search M16.255) looks at number pyramids, and finding generalisations for different pyramid sizes.  We do this by using polygon shapes, rather than numbers, to see how many of each polygon appear in the top block. You should find a generalisation for the 3-block base, 4-block base and 5-block base, before guessing what it will be for a 6-block base. To find a link between the generalisations it may be wise to cover Pascal’s triangle immediately before this topic.



OK, I could go on, but won’t. There is a plethora of enrichment material this year:  puzzles, games and investigations, so go and explore these new materials. My apologies to those worksheets that didn’t get a mention by name - I hope you weren’t offended.

Posted by Ian Fisher at 13:06No comments
Labels: 10ticks, mathematics, maths, new worksheets, ideas, primary, secondary
Tuesday 28 July 2015


Summer is an ideal time for students of all ages to strengthen their academic skills while still having plenty of time left over for summer activities.

When the school doors close for the summer, many children struggle to access educational opportunities. Summer Brain Drain is another term for learning loss and is the loss in academic skills and knowledge over the course of summer holidays. On average, children lose about 2.6 months’ worth of grade level equivalency in mathematical skills during their summer break! What’s more, children only need to spend 2 – 3 hours per week using educational resources during the summer break to prevent any learning loss!

Studies have found that all children, regardless of background, made similar improvement during term time. It is during the long summer break that differences occurred: children from wealthier backgrounds had better access to the kinds of activities that keep their brains active, be that summer camps, physical activity programs, formal tutoring or simply more conversation with adults. In short, summer brain drain affects all children, but unfortunately is much more apparent with children from less-wealthy families.

Summer Learning Loss Facts:

  • Equivalent of one month of overall learning is lost after summer break
  • Six weeks are spent re-learning old material to make up for summer learning loss
  • Two months of reading skills are lost over the summer
  • 2 – 3 hours a week during the summer break is need to prevent any learning loss
  • As early as Reception summer learning loss can be recognized
  • Two months of all subject focused learning is all it takes to improve specific learning skills
  • Two thirds of income based achievement gap is attributed to summer learning loss
  • It can take up to 2 months from the first day of school for a student’s brain development to get back on track.

How can you prevent the learning loss?

When it comes to helping to stop the flow of learning loss, parents have a key role to play. Learning loss is much less pronounced, if there at all, in families that provide learning opportunities. As a parent, we know that you want your children to have a break from formal learning this summer but it is also important for you to understand the importance of learning and try and introduce the opportunity to keep their brains active. Thanks to the 10ticks Home Learning System, the power to stop Summer Learning Loss is literally at your fingertips.

Wednesday 17 June 2015


Education Secretary Nicky Morgan will insist that all pupils study the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects up until the age of 16.  At present, only 39 per cent do - itself up from 22 per cent when the EBacc measure was first introduced in 2010 by her predecessor Michael Gove. This means that every pupil in Secondary School will have to study the five core academic subjects; English, maths, science, languages and geography or history up to GCSE level as a result of radical reforms.

This policy outlined by Nicky Morgan is set to be introduced alongside the new GCSE grading system being introduced for first teaching this September, which replaces the A to G system with a new nine-to-one numbered scale. The new grading system has been designed to reveal the differences between candidates at the top end. Currently, candidates are expected to achieve a C to attain a "good pass", although grades below this are still officially considered passes.
Teachers’ leaders will argue the plan on studying the EBacc subjects is too prescriptive - and that not every pupil is suited to such a demanding academic diet.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said last night that Ms Morgan had reversed the previous government policy of allowing schools to decide which pupils to put in for the EBacc “with just one speech” and “without the least consultation”.
She said the new policy would “cause dismay amongst parents”, adding: “Parents, like teachers want a broad and balanced curriculum for their children”.
However, Ms Morgan states her plans are a key element of the Government’s commitment to social justice. “We want every single person in the country to have access to the best opportunities Britain has to offer - starting with an excellent education,” she said.
In addition, she will announce the appointment of school behavioural expert Tom Bennett to draw up plans for training teachers how to tackle low-level disruption in the classroom - which, education standards watchdog Ofsted estimates, is losing pupils up to an hour of learning a day.
The inspectorate found that children were having a significant impact on the learning of others by swinging on chairs, playing on mobile phones, making silly comments to get attention and passing notes around in class.

Friday 22 May 2015


Banning mobile phones from schools saves one week's worth of learning per pupil over an academic year, it has been claimed.

According to new research by Louis-Philippe Beland and Richard Murphy, published by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, the effect of banning mobile phones from school premises adds up to the equivalent of an extra week’s schooling over a pupil’s academic year, according to research schools which banned the devices saw their 16-year-olds' test performance improve by 6.4%.

Mobile phone usage in Schools has only become a problem within the last 15 years. In a survey conducted in 2001, no school banned mobiles. By 2007, this had risen to 50%, and by 2012 some 98% of schools had opted to restrict them. In the UK, more than 90% of teenagers own a mobile phone; in the US, just under three quarters have one. The prevalence of the devices poses problems for head teachers, whose attitude towards the technology has hardened as it has become ubiquitous.

However, some schools are starting to allow limited use of the devices. New York mayor Bill de Blasio has lifted a 10-year ban on phones on school premises, with the city’s chancellor of schools stating that it would reduce inequality.

The study was run in schools in Birmingham, London, Leicester and Manchester before and after bans.


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