Pete Roythorne visits a school which has been bowled over by a programme of worksheets and free online resources created by a former teacher
Maths teacher Sue Hughes injects a sense of fun into a subject that sadly lacked it in my schooldays. Her enthusiasm seems to rub off on the children as she moves from old-fashioned whiteboard to state-of-the-art Smart board, pulling up an array of quizzes, games and worksheets to illustrate her points and test the children's retention. Even this close to lunch she's keeping the attention of her Year 8 class.
Myton School in Warwick, where Sue teaches, was awarded specialist school status in 2002 for its excellence in science, maths, design technology and ICT, and money was put towards equipping the school with interactive whiteboards. Since then the school has embraced this technology, and it's evident, at least within the maths department where I spent the day, that this is something they are integrating wholeheartedly into the curriculum and into their day-to-day teaching.
But it's the department's links with a company called 10ticks that is of particular interest. If you've not discovered 10ticks before, it produces a wealth of maths worksheets and other resources that are tied to the national curriculum and divided into curriculum levels, and is the brainchild of former maths teacher Ian Fisher. Sue Hughes has been a fan since the early days.
"Initially I was just buying the worksheets out of my own money," Sue says.
"But I realised one day that I'd spent around pound;500 on resources and the other staff members wanted to share the load. The worksheets themselves come in PDF format, so you just print off more when you need them, and you get a full lesson and homework on one worksheet."
Now 10ticks is an integral part of maths lessons at Myton. "We probably use 10ticks resources about 70 per cent of the time," says Sue. "That's around two to three lessons a week. The fact that it's curriculum level based is a major bonus."
At first, some staff thought the worksheets were not much more than they could produce themselves, but they're really just the tip of the iceberg.
Today, these worksheets are backed up by a vast array of online resources that would be almost impossible for a school to replicate.
Sue's lesson on factor pairs and highest common factors made heavy use of the 10ticks website, projecting test sheets on to the Smart board and using some incredibly handy gadgets on the website, including the Factor Pairs calculator and the maths dictionary, to help the children.
Next it's off to Natalie Fry's Year 7 class. We kick off focusing on angles with a game called Alien Angles on the 10ticks website. There's a murmur of appreciation around the class. The game helps children calculate angles by sight. An alien appears in one quadrant of an XY axis grid, and in the centre is a laser that fires at the alien. The class has to estimate the angle (by majority concensus), which is then typed into the box on the screen and the laser rotates to that angle and fires. If the angle is correct the laser hits the alien which explodes (not surprisingly the class loves this bit) and you don't lose a life; if you miss you do.
Then Natalie moves on to corresponding and alternate angles. 10ticks provides resources which define all these and also provides quizzes to back it up. One nice touch is the interactive diagrams: lines can be moved on top of other lines to show they are parallel and the diagram denoting the corresponding and alternate angles (two parallel lines with a line bisecting the two lines to create a Z shape) can be rotated to demonstrate which angles are which.
"This was using 10ticks Interactive Curriculum Level 5 Parallel Lines,"
explains Natalie. "I find 10ticks is a really useful extension to textbooks. If you want something extra or interesting on a subject go to 10ticks. It's not solely for low achievers; there's something for everybody in here."
And it's not just in lessons that the students benefit from 10ticks. Sue runs a maths tutorial group and a lunchtime maths club which draw heavily on the 10ticks website. "Their collection of maths games is fantastic, and it's really driving students' numeracy levels," says Sue. It's true: the site contains more than 50 games covering numbers, area, shape, space and probability.
"The most popular is Boom, which can be used to test adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying," says Sue. "The site always displays its most popular games and Boom pretty much always comes out on top. They also create games for special occasions, such as Christmas or Valentine's Day."
On top of this, there's a daily puzzle, which keeps the staff as entertained as the students.
Although the 10ticks worksheets go from level 3 to level 910 and cover everything from Years 7 to 11, plus enrichment materials, they will stretch beyond that. Sue has one of her A-level maths students doing the Cypher Challenge coming to her Year 7 maths club to give a session on encoding and decoding using the 10ticks Code Breakers section. The site also has a reaction time testing game, which Sue is using with her A-level students to study the difference between girls and boys and their reaction times with dominant and non-dominant hands (left or right).
Furthermore, 10ticks extends out of the school as students can use it from home and can do their worksheets online and can mark them themselves. If they can't do a question they are referred to a resource that will help them understand and then they go back and do the question again and repeat the process until they get it right. Teachers can sign up to get access to check the scores of their pupils to see how they are doing. Students can also get help on individual topics using the maths worksheet online help section where they can search by type (algebra, numbers, probability etc), keyword, level and pack and page number of their worksheets or help number.
There's also an online calculator and a Roman numeral converter.
"10ticks also does a number of one-off and specialist work sheets," says Sue. "One of the most popular ones we've had is the calculated colouring sheets. Each segment of the pictures has a sum in it and the answer corresponds to a colour key. The children find these very motivational as they can colour them and take home."
The amazing things is that the bulk of the 10ticks website is free, you just pay for the worksheet sets. This feature just scrapes the surface of this massive resource. If you've not added 10ticks to your maths resources, you're missing out.
10ticks operates exclusively through the internet as an e-publisher and was started in September 2000 by former maths teacher Ian Fisher.
Ian believed that millions could be saved if curriculum-specific, photocopiable maths worksheets were employed as the major teaching resource in schools. By linking these worksheets to the website, 10ticks gave parents a support route.
There is a comprehensive online help area which is linked to each worksheet. The help involves a presentation showing how to attempt that type of problem, followed by 10 questions. These questions are different each time, are marked online and, when logged in, stored in a profile for the child.
The worksheets have been written to aid delivery of the National Numeracy Strategy. They give thorough coverage of national curriculum topics reflecting the Years 7 to 9 Framework and also intermediate and higher GCSE syllabus.
* Free to your school: a sample pack of 40 photocopiable maths worksheets.
* Available to buy: 240 pages of level 3 photocopiable worksheets in six packs, pound;76; 320 pages of level 4 photocopiable worksheets in eight packs, Pounds 80; 240 pages of level 5 photocopiable worksheets in six packs, pound;82; 320 pages of level 6 photocopiable worksheets in eight packs, pound;94; more than 240 pages of level 78 (intermediate GCSE) photocopiable worksheets in six packs, pound;98; more than 240 pages of level 910 (higher GCSE) photocopiable worksheets in six packs, including an O-level compliant pack, pound;104. (All prices exclude VAT.) Most worksheets give a minimum of 30-45 minutes' work, and some give up to four hours'. This makes them ideal for homework or cover for absent staff as well as normal classwork.