Sharing Good Practice – St Gabriel’s

I was invited to go to St Gabriel’s and join P1 & teacher, Helen Maule, for their numeracy lesson today. What a fantastic experience. Helen was trained in MR Tracker in October and now uses the Maths Recovery techniques in her teaching.

This is how she structured her lesson:

Learning Intention – adding two groups together 

Warm up

  • Number Word Sequences:
    • “Clap, Clap, Pat, Pat” 
      • Teacher says first two numbers of a number word sequence on Clap, Clap
      • Children say the next two number in the sequence on Pat, Pat
      • Teacher asks if the sequence was forwards or backwards (links forwards to adding and backwards to subtraction)
      • Challenges children to say number word after
      • Helen throws in some challenging numbers sequences and lets all children have a go 
  • Finger Patterns:
    • “Bunny Ears”
      • Children put hands in “bunny ears position”
      • Teacher asks the children to put a quantity on each hand
      • Teacher asks how many altogether.
      • Teacher supports those children who need support by directing them to look at someone elses ‘ears’ (this changes the task from a screened task to a visual task)
      • Teacher then invites the children to check their answer
        • Key questions to challenge thinking: How do you know? Can you prove it another way? Can you make that number a different way?
  • Domino Patterns
    • “Domino Add”
      • Helen show the children a domino on the interactive whiteboard and challenges the children find out how many dots their are altogether.
      • Children are encouraged to use a range of strategies to solve the problem
      • Children check the answer by counting and highlighting the spots.
        • Key questions to challenge thinking: How did you know how many spots there were? Prove it a different way?
        • Techniques to challenge thinking: flashing the domino initially  (screened task) hiding half of the domino (partially screened task)
  • Numerals
    • No formal teaching of numeral sequences this day (Helen does use washing line numerals)
    • Children were provided with whiteboards and pens to write down numerals/ sums depending on their ability.

 Problem Solving Task:

  • Adding two collections together
    • Children are grouped by ability.
    • They each have an adding task targeting their development needs
    • Some tasks are visual, others are partially screened to challenge more sophisticated strategies (Helen leads this group to ensure she challenges thinking)
      • Children can all be given the same challenge but this can be differentiated by providing the challenge visually, partially screened or fully screened. We discussed using clear and opaque screens/boxes so the children all had the same equipment (the clear screen/box would allow for visual counting)
      • 2 clear boxes- visual
      • 1 clear & 1 opaque – partially screened
      • 2 opaque – fully screened


  • How did you get on?
  • How did you solve the task?
    • This is a good time for pupils to demonstrate their strategies.

 This is an excellent example. Helen linked all her progressions together. The warm up introduced/practised the key skills that were required to do the problem solving activity. The problem solving activity was simple and therefore children were working independently and on-task. Helen made sure that she used her time to challenge children’s thinking by introducing screens.

Thanks Helen!