I have a bottom set Year 7 class. A group of students with varying and challenging needs within the set are a handful but also great fun.

I was coming towards the end of the spring term and we had just finished studying ratio, so I wanted to do something fun to finish the term. My plan was to organise something outside and that was interactive. So, I devised the following plan.

We would go out as a class, and they would be split into three teams. I would draw a circle in chalk in front of each team, and give them 16 beanbags of four different colours. Then I would show them various ratios on a big piece of paper and they would have to make the ratios with the beanbags as quickly as possible. An example would be “Red : Blue, 2:1”. I recorded the order they finished in under the circle in chalk so there was an element of competition.

Oh, and one more thing, I did not say a word all lesson. Silence.

All the organisation and instruction was done through hand gestures, mime and physically moving students to where I wanted them. It was brilliant fun, the silence gimmick hooked the students immediately and kept them hooked for (most) of the lesson. It was easily extended by giving them a ratio like 3:3, but taking away some of the bean bags so that they did not have enough to just put three of each colour in, but first had to simplify the ratio to 1:1. This took them some time to work out, and some gentle encouragement from the class teacher and TA both miming that they knew the answer.

I then also ‘flipped’ the classroom giving the students the chance to make up their own ratios on a mini whiteboard whilst the usual class teacher, TA and I became one of the teams. This gave them the chance to think about how to make the ratios so that they would be difficult to complete, and increased the competitive aspect even more as they were now competing against the adults. I highly recommend doing a silent lesson to all trainee teachers, it forces the students to think for themselves rather than being spoon fed, something I think I fall foul of sometimes. In addition, get the students outside, we do not get to do that enough as mathematics teachers!!

Jacob Blair is a Maths Scholar. Last year he took the plunge and applied for a scholarship award. Perhaps you might be wishing this is something you would like to do. Don’t be afraid. We have plenty of information on the Scholars website to help you make your application a success. Check the News section and see just how much Maths Scholarship information there is available.