Maths Week 2016 15th - 23rd October
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Welcome to this August issue of Maths Week Ireland Newsletter.

The summer holidays are coming to a close and with that preparations are being made for the new academic year. This issue hopes to give teachers food for thought about what preparations you might need to make for teaching maths this year and the importance of developing mathematical thinking in your pupils from day one.
With less than 8 weeks to go until Maths Week 2016 (15th- 23rd October) preparations are well under way and schools will soon be receiving posters to display in their schools. In this issue you will find a list of planned events for Maths Week but if you have already planned something for your school please do get in touch and let us know by dropping us an email at: or let us know on Twitter @mathsweek  .

In this issue:
Top ten tips to prepare for September

Leaving certificate and A Level results: How did maths score?

Get involved: How to organise your own maths week event

Puzzle of the month: 38

Coming events:
Free Primary Problem Solving Workshops

Maths Week 2016 events

Féilte 2016 Expo

Top Ten Tips to prepare for September:

As September 1st approaches and all of our teachers prepare for the year ahead, we thought we would lend you our top 10 tips for success for getting started with particular reference to teaching maths, although most of the tips can be applied across the curriculum.

1. Familiarise yourself with the maths programme used in your school and all relevant documents for your year group.
Get an overview of the concepts taught in each term and the order in which they appear – is this right for you and your class? Are children building on what they have learnt in the previous year and throughout the year? If not don’t be afraid to move some topics around to do what’s right for your class.

2. Know your pupils as best you can
It is important to speak to the teacher who taught your year group previously to learn more about your pupils and consider how you might meet the differing needs of your pupils from day one.

3. To set or not to set
This is the age old question of how best to group your pupils. Many teachers do not get to decide how their class will be grouped but if you do have a say try to think flexibly about the groupings – there are just as many advantages to having mixed attainment groups in your class as there are to having ability groups. Think about the concept and what would work best for it specifically – remember your groups should change throughout the year depending on the topic you are teaching.

4. Know the first concept
Plan September in depth so that you are aware of the basics you need to revise and also what foundations you need to be laying for the year ahead. Set clear expectations for your pupils and give yourself time to reflect on the lessons, what worked well and remember to allow for flexibility with a new class.

5. Language expectations
One of the key aims of the Primary Maths Curriculum is to “enable the child to use mathematical language effectively and accurately” (p.6). This is a great opportunity to set high language expectations from day one – remember that you, as the teacher, are the greatest role model they have so you need to use the correct mathematical language at all times. It is also a good idea to have 5 minutes in each lesson where the pupils are practising the correct language with a partner. For example, this could entail, for column addition, giving each pair of pupils a column addition that is completed incorrectly. Pupils must talk to each other about why it is incorrect and how they would correct it – no recording would be expected here – they are just talking about it.

6. Everyone deserves a gold star for something!
Think carefully about how you are going to praise your students work throughout the year. Always praise the effort put into something, for example, “well done – I can see that you tried really hard with that question and you got there in the end!” Praising a child for a mistake can also be of huge benefit, for example, “Well done – at what point did you realise that you had made a mistake?” Or “if you were to do this question again what would you do differently?” This allows pupils to realise that mistakes are good and we can learn from our mistakes.

7. Resources, resources, resources
Familiarise yourself with what resources you will need throughout the year: how can these be made most accessible to pupils? Would it be beneficial to have a pack of resources for each table/group? Are there resources that will be reused throughout the year and would benefit from being laminated? It is important to remember that manipulatives should be used in each lesson, either as the main learning, or alongside the pictorial and, or abstract and all pupils should have access to them- - don't only reserve them for the lower attaining pupils! Pupils will need training in how to use new or unfamiliar manipulatives, so remember to factor time in for this as well.

8. Seek advice
Is there an area of the curriculum that you have not taught before or are you teaching a new year group? If so seek advice from experienced members of staff who may be able to offer practical help and support for you. If you are unsure of who you should ask for help or support please feel free to get in touch with us at and we will do our best to help you out or put you in touch with someone that can!

9. Timetable
As well as doing your long term yearly plans plan out the first half of the autumn term in detail. The morning time is usually considered one of the better times to teach maths as pupils are generally more alert and focused at this time.

10. Have fun!
Most importantly make sure that the lessons are lively, interactive and practical where possible – it should not always involve taking out the maths book no matter what age! Remember if a pupil can understand where the maths is used and relate it to their own life they will have a better chance of remembering it.
Leaving certificate and A Level results: How did maths score?
This month over 58 000 students received their Leaving Certificate results. This year saw an increase in the number of students taking honours level LC maths with 28% of pupils opting for the higher paper. This has risen from 15.8% in 2011.
The A Levels in Northern Ireland showed a similar trend and maths proved to be the most popular subject with the highest levels of achievement. The NI results show that STEM subjects remain popular with a growth in participation by girls in ICT, maths, biology and chemistry.

Students who received results and did not get the course of their choice should remember that there are usually several ways into a career. There are lots of Spring Board courses available to students starting in September 2016 - registration for many of these courses is still open now. 

Get involved: How to organise your own maths week event

The thought of organising your own Maths Week event can be quite daunting whether you are in a school, business or community and just want to get involved. Here are some top tips to help you get started:
  • Work together with other members of staff in your school, business or community – it’s always good to bounce ideas off each other and everyone has their own strengths you can draw on. Having decided upon an idea or theme for your Maths Week events involve students in a brainstorming and decision-making session for ideas on what they would like to do. Set up a smaller team of students to help you plan and create the resources required. Your students will have lots of creative ideas to help.
  • Work with your team on the details of each activity. Guide the student team to keep the activities easy to understand.
  • You may want to have small prizes or rewards when challenges have been successful completed.
  • As part of the Maths Week Ireland you could plan to have a family fun afternoon/evening to celebrate the successes of the week. Give out prizes and/or fun certificates for game winners.
  • Have a team of students capture the day on video or in photographs and use this to share the positive experiences of the day via social media.
  • If it’s your first time organising a Maths Week Activity it’s a good idea to keep it simple, and then build on the activities you have found to be most successful year on year.
There are lots of ideas on the Maths Week website on which to base your theme. Examples include:
  • Maths Trails
  • Maths Puzzle Day
  • Maths Mazes
  • Maths Art’
Most importantly let us know at or on Twitter (@mathsweek) what you are planning and send us photos of your great event so we can share them with the wider Maths Week community!
Coming Events:
Maths Week Ireland have developed a Problem Solving Workshop for primary teachers and will be rolling it out this year.
The workshop will focus specifically on developing problem solving skills with your pupils. It will cover aspects such as:
  • Flexible thinking and number sense
  • Using classroom resources to build number sense
  • Language and questioning
  • Growth mindset
Waterford, Monaghan, Tipperary and Limerick Education Centres will be running this workshop prior to Maths Week with other Education Centres running it after Maths Week. The workshop is free to attend and will run after school. Specific timings for each Education Centre are as follows:
Monaghan Education Centre           28th September               4-6:30 p.m.
Waterford Education Centre            4th October                     4-6:30 p.m.
Tipperary Education Centre             5th October                     4-6:30 p.m.
Limerick Education Centre              6th October                     4:15 – 6:30 p.m.

Please contact the Education Centre to book a place on this workshop.
We’ve been saying now for some time that we are busy preparing for Maths Week 2016. Well we thought it would be a good idea to give you an idea of some of the events that will be taking place in the lead up to and during Maths Week. Please note this is only a snapshot of what will be taking place during Maths Week – full details of all events nationwide will be listed on our website.
15th October:                    Maths in the City of Dublin
Come and visit us on Grafton Street and take part in some fun and interactive maths activities. There will be activities suitable for all age groups!
16th October:                     Hamilton Walk
The annual walk organised by Maynooth University follows the route taken by William Rowan Hamilton as he walked from his home at Dunsink Observatory into Dublin along the Royal Canal.

16th October                       Munster Maths and Science Fair
The Munster Maths and Science Fair is an annual event gathering together maths and science outreach teams from around Ireland. It aims to inspire and entertain families with lots of different science and maths activities.

20th October:                     PRISM (Problem Solving for Irish Second Level Mathematicians)
This is a problem solving competition open to all second level schools across the island.

22nd October:                     Maths in the City of Belfast
Come and visit us at the Ulster Museum and take part in some fun and interactive maths activities. Activities are suitable for all age groups

23rd October:                     Botanic Gardens
Maths Week presents “Celebration of Mind” joining with the National Botanic Gardens Dublin Pumpkin Festival to bring Maths games, puzzles and magic to families and the general public in an outdoor setting.

Féilte Expo:
This year’s Féilte Expo takes place in the RDS on the 1st of October. Now in its fourth year, the day provides a platform for teachers to share their stories of innovation with each other and the public. There will be a series of workshops and talks held on many different areas including STEM topics.
Arrange the numbers 1 -19 in the grid below so that each row, column and diagonal adds to 38. You can only use each number once and every number must be used.
Go to for the solution.
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