Maths in the Real World

‘Most pupils want to know why they are studying something; this is particularly significant in relation to the maths curriculum.”

Maths in the Real World (MITRW)  is a unique collection of real-world contexts where the role of maths is explored. The collection has been created to engage with a wide range of learners and move away from the non-interactive textbook based maths lessons.  The resource supports a wide range of objectives of the national curriculum for maths for Key Stages 3, 4 and 5.

Each of these topics include guidance for teachers, aswell as differentiated levels of support. For example, The iPhone Challenge explores how a deeper understanding of probability could save you money when thinking of upgrading your phone, while the Stock Market Challenge offers a real world simulation of live stock market changes and how they can impact on the performance of shares and ultimately how much money can be won or lost. Search and Rescue explores unique life and death real world emergency situations and Viral Contagion dramatises a fictional but all too realistic real-world biological outbreak of a virus.

“The reasons these resources are effective is because most students want to know why they are learning something, not just learning it for the sake of it. You need to link the activity to something real and these resources do exactly that.” Grahame Smart (LGfL Maths Consultant)

The topics covered not only relate to the maths objectives of the National Curriculum but also links to other curriculum objectives – geography, technology and physical education linking to the national curriculum requirements that states that pupils should: also apply their mathematical knowledge in science, geography, computing and other subjects.

Teachers can search the resources in both through the topics listed above, or by national curriculum objectives, ensuring resource discovery is efficient. As well as a range of differentiated resources, MITRW is further enhanced in terms of accessibility with Widgit Point. The font of the resource can also be changed to Dyslexia font a unique font that enhances reading ability.

The resource also gives examples of how schools have used the modules and how to enhance the material further through the use of learning platforms. This helps to make use of online learning to further increase student engagement and quantify their achievements in a more dynamic and immediate way than via traditional textbook approaches.

UK Maritime Commander explains how, and why, the HM Coastguard Service got involved in providing a context for the Search and Rescue maths resources. The story behind the creation of Search and Rescue can be viewed via the video below:

The resource even allows pupils to understand how maths can sometimes be the difference between life and death, thanks to the involvement of HM Coastguard.

National Maritime Operations Commander Mark Rodaway OBE explained: “When it comes to our search and rescue operations, time is of the essence. Every day we use mathematical principles such as algebra, bearings, mechanics, vectors and probability in our life-saving work. Maths is vital to how we do things such as calculating a potential search area by working out where someone in trouble in the water or in a life raft is likely to be or working out the time it will take a lifeboat to evacuate an injured crewmen from a ship. If our collaboration with LGfL can inspire young people to use maths in a practical way then it has been really worthwhile and who knows – we may also be training the next generation of Coastguard Officers.”

Although the resource does not track progression and achievement, it was used in a Maths Boot Camp harnessing both the real world nature of the resource alongside cloud platforms. The cohort of thirty GCSE students targetted were all characterised by their school maths teachers as underachieving students (they had previously met or exceeded “expected standards” when at primary school ie the old Level 4 or 5).

“It is rare that you see genuine excitement in a maths setting. The live events and resources provided by LGfL have delivered genuine enthusiasm and engagement in the subject.” Headteacher, Bonus Pastor School.

As well as supporting existing teaching practice in schools, LGfL is committed to leading schools into the adoption of not only new technologies but new ways of delivering the curriculum that focusses on effectiveness of teachers and maximising learning outcomes for all leaners. The Maths in the Real world is a good example of the latter as Bob Usher LGfL Content Manager explains:

‘LGfL provide a wide range of learning resources that support the effective delivery of numeracy using approaches that are tried and trusted for the mainstream teaching audience, but we also offer range of resources that really push both the teachers and the learners into new approaches which offer the possibility of better outcomes for all. One of the patterns we have seen time and time again across our schools, and particularly in secondary schools, is too much reliance on textbook based maths teaching that has no direct connection with the students daily lived experience. Key Stage 3 and 4 students are expected to master a wide range of challenging  mathematical concepts and unless we can connect them with the reasons why they know (and care) we are going to lose too many along the way which means underachievement where we should be securing excellence through innovation.’

In February 2020 a new section called Maths Exams in the Real Worldwas added which provided expert guidance and insight into the previous year’s GCSE exam results and offers advice on how to help students learn from the mistakes of last year’s pupils. A different kind of maths in the real world but no less helpful to secure the best outcome for all young mathematicians on their GCSE exams in 2020 and beyond.

LGfL was recently shortlisted for a prestigious 2020 Bett Award for the Maths in the Real World resource and although it did not win, the shortlisting highlights the quality, relevance and innovation. But what next for the resource? LGfL Maths Consultant and Project Co-producer Grahame Smart explains:

‘In order to unlock the potential of all our students we are going to need to find ways of connecting their lived experience with the maths curriculum. We can do that by exploring everyday concepts that are packed full of maths, but they just don’t realise it. How many times has a footballer been sent off for a bad tackle or swearing at the ref in their career? Can you work out the worst-behaved footballers through analysing their yellow and red card record and exploring a range of statistics within the maths curriculum? These topics really make students sit up and listen and want to learn. We have been working with LGfL on the use of the ArcGIS geographical information system provided by esri Uk and I have been developing material that explore the spatial and mathematical distribution of … chicken takeaway shops! I also have been using the maths behind mobile phones to engage less able students. Resale value, battery life, data allowances, they are all familiar elements of their daily lives, but they don’t realise how maths underpins the services they use everyday’.

So what next for Bob and Grahame in their quest for engaging school mathematicians and driving up standards? ‘Oh we are never short of ideas, and love to see previously disaffected learners really engaged with complex mathematical concepts  when using this kind of material. It really makes all the effort to create these resources worthwhile.’ Bob Usher said.

If you are using Maths in the Real World with your students, we would love to see pictures and work, please share via our Twitter or Facebook pages #MITRW.


Pi Day 2020

What is a maths teacher’s favourite dessert? Pi of course! And what better day to have a large slice of Pi than on Pi day!

Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.

Each year on 3/14, teachers in classrooms across the world take a break from the normal routine to plan a special celebration in honour of pi, or the number 3.14. March 14 also happens to be the birthday of Albert Einstein which makes the day an extra special one for planning maths challenges and math fun!

Pi Day activities are meant to enrich and deepen students’ understanding of pi and mathematic concepts with real-life mathematical hands-on experiences.

Pi Day gives ample opportunity for creative math fun and offers students to study real-world maths problems. This amazing activity, for example, allows your students to play pi as a musical sequence! (You will need flash installed) Simply pick ten notes, which are then assigned to integers, and then listen to what pi sounds like! Try  Cutting Pi, a hands-on activity in which students measure cylindrical objects in the classroom with string, cut their measured string into three equal pieces, and then figure out how to measure the leftover piece. They’ll see for themselves how pi comes up every time! Learn how to make a circle from three points on a plane and have fun manipulating nested circles with this interactive tool that shows students that circles are awesome.

Maths in the Real World is a comprehensive maths resource for Key Stage 2 to 4 that seeks to bring engaging and relatable real-world contexts into everyday teaching.

The activities are clearly signposted through the curriculum search feature and include detailed differentiation to ensure there is something for all ability levels. It has been carefully designed in line with the National Curriculum and natural mathematical learning; this helps equip pupils for their continued Secondary studies, as well as honing the life skill of problem-solving!

For more real-world examples of mathematics Maths in the Real World offers activities based in the real world, the real-world topics covered in the resource are:

The real-world topics covered in the resource are:

  • Algorithms
  • Arena and Events
  • Nutrition
  • Round the World
  • Speed Camera Investigation
  • Sporting Decisions
  • Search and Rescue with HM Coast Guard
  • iPhone Challenge
  • Stock Market Challenge
  • Broadcast Engineering and Maths
  • Viral Contagion

The iPhone challenge explores how a deeper understanding of probability could save you money when thinking of upgrading your phone.

The Stock Market Challenge offers an exciting real-world simulation of livestock market changes and how they can impact on the performance of shares and ultimately how much money can be won or lost.

The updated version of this resource now includes related templates and activities created in the G Suite platform for schools. This helps to make use of to further increase student engagement and quantify their achievements in a more dynamic and immediate way than via traditional textbook approaches.

To plan a very timely maths event for Pi day why not use the Viral Contagion resource to inspire you to create a large-scale maths event or use the resource to recreate the event yourself. Viral Contagion explores the real-world maths that would occur as a result of a biological virus outbreak in an urban area and as you can imagine you can use the current real word events to place this unit into context.

Maths at home also offers a range of videos exploring the mathematical concepts involved with Pi, the resource is designed for busy parents but can also be used by teachers to explore and explain mathematical concepts from Early Years to Key Stage 1 and 2.

The Maths at home resource is designed to provide support for busy parents that wish to help their child with their mathematical development at home. A video has been made for every single National Curriculum descriptor for the whole of Key Stage 1 and 2, as well as an overview video for Early Years. This provides coverage for the entire Mathematics Primary curriculum. Each video is a snapshot of how many schools may teach the particular strand, and also provides examples of how parents could support their child at home. Where appropriate, video content is reinforced with a selection of downloadable resources.

Maths at home videos are designed to feel like they are taking place on a table at home, encouraging communication, conversation and lots of fun while working on them.

The video resources are designed to bring Maths to life, highlighting learning opportunities within cookery, play, decorating and gardening. Most importantly, they are designed to ignite conversations between children and parents and to make Maths a positive and enjoyable experience outside of school.

Maths raps offers an unforgettable rap about circles, Maths raps is a series of rap videos from BEAM on Numbers and Calculations, shape and space and solving problems covering the KS2 Numeracy as the raps say “Yeah, you’ve got it, don’t forget it, rap with confidence!”

Math Raps offers a series of rap videos from BEAM on Numbers and Calculations, Shape and Space, and Solving Problems covering basic rules for KS2 Numeracy.

Can you make your own Maths raps for Pi Day and upload them into j2e tool suite for share/blog it to share other Schools to view?

 For Younger Students, you can Introduce ideas such as size, shape, circumference and diameter, and fractions by making pizzas, Busy Things has a Pizza recipe to follow as well as an online pizza making activity or explore fractions by playing against the computer or against friends to correct by answering fraction-based questions.

Whatever you have planned for Pi Day please share via our  twitter or Facebook pages and remember the #piday hashtag