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Maths - Let's talk triangles

What it's all about

As maths is taught in a modular way, pupils regularly forget key concepts if they have not been revisited for a while. Searching for a way to make concepts more memorable, I began characterising key elements in maths, writes Jon Makepeace.

When teaching 3D shape, I gave triangles personalities and tried to make sure they were all nice to each other. The equilateral triangle spoke in a gentle voice: "I like everything equal. My sides must all be equal in length and my angles must all be 60 degrees, no more, no less." The scalene triangle took on a mischievous tone: "I like everything different, all my angles and all my sides."

To back this up with visual reminders, I printed out images of the triangles, hung them from washing lines in the classroom and referred to them regularly.

Next, I began to involve the pupils more, adding actions, jingles and snappy slogans. To tackle misplacing of the decimal point in the answer of a column addition or subtraction sum, we invented a dance routine. I would draw the sum with a decimal point and ask where it should go in the answer. To indicate that its position in the answer was directly below the one in the question, the children would call out in unison "get down James Brown" and take on a John Travolta pose pointing to the floor.

None of the pupils forgot the concepts, and the results they achieved last year reflected this.

What else?

Test pupils' knowledge of shapes and angles using MrBartonMaths' interactive "shape jungle" quiz, bit.lyShapeJungle.

Encourage children to remember the angles of different triangles with rach6ye's hat-making maths, bit.lyHatMaths.

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