Author Archives: peacockmaths

About peacockmaths

Welcome to my blog. I'm a secondary maths teacher, dad of two and part time supplier of maths resources for teachers. Sometimes happy, sometimes grumpy and occasionally cynical. Full of opinions and ideas about education. Find me on here, on twitter, on facebook and on my website. I hope you enjoy.


One of the most popular things that I use in the classroom is my game of BINGO.

We play it as a whole class and the winners get a reward. It covers a whole host of topics.

Try it – you’ll love it (more importantly so will your classes).

You can find all the bingo games on the TES website.

Go to my website to buy the template so you can make your own.

Hope you enjoy it, any comments would be very welcome.

1 Comment

Posted by on June 9, 2011 in Teaching


Hula Hoops, String, Circles and pi

I was recently asked by a friend (OK, it was a tweet by the excellent @thought_weavers aimed at anyone at all ) for my thoughts on introducing circumference and area to a class of year 6 pupils.

I quite liked my reply so I thought I’d blog about it at is is nice and simple.


Hula hoops, Coins, String, Scissors, Cans of baked beans {or other}, Anything else of a circular nature. Cotton


Place various circular objects around the room along with scissors and string/cotton.

Split pupils into small groups or pairs and position them at an object.

Ask them to show where the diameter of the circle they have is. Then ask them to cut the string into a piece equal to the diameter.

Ask the question – how many times does the string fit areound the circle.

Investigate. Hopefully they will discover that it fits round just over three times (3.14 to be more precise, 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679 
  724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384146951941511609 to be even more precise). That’s it, they have discovered pi.

That’s it really. Chance for pupils to investigate pi and see what it is and where it comes from. There are loads of worksheets and things for working out circumference and area but you can always explore a bit too with some tape measures etc – there are genrally plenty of circles to be found.

For pupils who forget how to calculate you could let them watch this (It will annoy them but stick in their heads):

Or this rhyme:

Tweedle dum and tweedle dee
Round the circle pi times d
If the area’s to be declared
Then you need pi r squared

Hope you take the opportunity to use the investigation.



Posted by on May 15, 2011 in Uncategorized


Grades, Levels and sub-levels – a grumpy rant

What exactly are these? Once upon a time I believe they used grades to separate students. The top however many got a grade A and then the next lot a grade B and so on and so forth. Seems to make complete sense.

Over time things changed a little bit and then grades referred to a certain standard rather than just sorting the top however many. Again, still making sense.

As time went on subjects (including Maths) then were split and every ‘objective’ (eduspeak has to be put in ”s or “”s) was given a grade. Again this seems to make perfect sense as some things are harder than others so it is logical to separate things out into grade C skills, grade B skills etc.

Then came levels – all objectives were put into levels and students can now see which level they are at and what they need to do to reach the level and therefore improve their understanding.

 Again all this seems very laudable and understandable so why am I having a grumpy rant? Well, last week I found myself at a Parents’ Evening for my 7 year old son. The teacher was talking about English and told my son (who was sat next to me) that if he could start using exclamation marks in his writing then he would be able to reach the next sub-level. This got me thinking.

Do we now put exclamation marks into writing so we can reach the next level, or should he be using them so that he can become a better writer?

The next day I was teaching my GCSE maths class. They all have a grade C already and now are trying to improve that to grade B or A and I found myself telling them that if they can find the right time to use the cosine rule then that would very possibly be taking them up to that A grade. Aaaarrrgggghhhh I’d fallen into the trap – I was no longer teaching why they should be doing it in a mathematical situation but instead helping them to get a grade.

I felt so bad but I know for definite just how much at least one of my students needs that A, as that will get her onto the dentistry course that she wants to study at University.

My brain now continues to to and fro between the idealistic me that just wants to allow students to learn and enjoy maths and develop the skills that will help them when they need to use maths and the pragmatic me that just wants to make sure my students get the grade they need to move on.

I’m hoping that one day I will discover that the two events are not completely mutually exclusive.

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Grumpy rant, Teaching


Tags: , , , ,

My top 5 tips for teaching maths

1. Students who are succesful in maths enjoy maths.

Wait, that’s not a tip I hear you say. Well actually it is. As teachers it is our job to make sure that students can be succesful with their maths. When a student leaves a class feeling that they’ve learnt something they generally feel they enjoyed it. Always set goals (I don’t like to use the words objectives and outcomes) that students can achieve. They may not achieve the very challenging ones but some will.

2. What would you do if you did understand?

The words I hate to hear – “I don’t get it” or “I don’t know what to do”. I now always reply with “What would you do if you did?”. Amazing when a child can answer that question and realises that they do get it.

3. I learn more when I teach.

That is true for me. My understanding of maths has improved so much when I’ve had to teach it. Give students the opportunity to teach others. A win, win situation. Less work for the teacher, better understanding from those teaching and better understanding from those being taught by peers.

4. Games.

Yeah, I know this one is always given but playing games like bingo, quizzes, answer races and things like that really do students have fun in what they are doing. Click here for 5 free bingo games:

5. I can do maths, I like it and I’m proud of that.

How often do students hear that parents, friends and sometimes teachers were never very good at maths. Be proud that you can do it. Be proud that you enjoy maths for its own sake.

Please, please, please feel free to add your tips to the blog.


1 Comment

Posted by on April 29, 2011 in Teaching


Hello world!

Wow, I’ve finally made it into the world of blogging. For some strange reason I think that people will actually be interested in what I have to say. That is the beauty of the internet though isn’t it.

Anyway, in my first blog let me tell you a bit about me.

I’m a maths teacher and have been for 10 years. I’ve been head of department and even spent some time working for the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics. I’ve seen changes in education and maths – some good and some not so good.

Away from teaching I have a little sideline producing some resources for maths teachers and I hope to expand this over the next few years. I’m a dad of two fantastic boys – one in year 6 and one in year 3.

I am also a big fan of Rochdale AFC.

My twitter: –

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my blog.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 27, 2011 in Uncategorized