Passport to a C

– A more active approach in Maths

Passport to a C is a program of work developed in response to students’ requests to make maths revision lessons more active. There is no underestimating the importance of good exam preparation. Preparation is a key factor in success at GCSE. Traditionally revision lessons leading up to a maths exam contain a teacher input followed by exam questions.

Imagine a different type of lesson where students are given a set of cards and asked to sort them. Card sorts are used widely in most subject areas. However, I have seen little use of them in secondary mathematics’ classrooms. This approach is based on Malcolm Swan’s research ‘Towards more active approaches’.

Each revision lesson includes a sorting activity, some key words and a collection of images or numbers connected in a variety of different ways. Students are encouraged to discuss and search for links. In doing so, they display their current level of language and understanding of a given topic. This encourages students to apply pre-existing knowledge. It also allows teachers the chance to assess students and decide on the best way to develop the lesson. Student response to the approach is generally positive. Comments include I like to sort the cards my way. I can look for connections. I feel good when I can explain my ideas to someone else.

Having used this material with a variety of groups the level to which the students are able to sort the cards changes depending on the topic. Initially students make quite superficial connections then another student sees a different way of sorting. Thus a snowballing effect occurs as the students thinking gets HOTTER.

This resource is going to be launched to parents at the forthcoming parentinformation evenings. It is already available through the VLE. These resources used in conjunction with other revision materials such as Bitesize will provide the students at CCHS [Cramlington Community High School, CLV’s previous incarnation! –Ed.] with a very powerful revision programme and a passport to a C.

Michael Smith & Graham MacPhail



Frog Central (Issue 8, January 2011)

– News from the pad

I did spend far too much time trying to decide what this section of the Muse should be called. Graham’s Frog Pad, Ribbit, Frog corner? Frog Central hopefully has two meanings. A central place to bring together all VLE efforts and a rallying cry or at least a question. It has certainly become central to my working life.

Since July, we’ve launched a Rewards system for the Junior Learning Village and a Parental Portal. We’ve created databases for home learning, enrichment and staff contacts. We’ve twice trialled new Frog updates ahead of the rest of the country and are about to embark on a third trial. We’ve worked with companies like MyMaths, IRIS Connect and I Am Learning to offer single sign-on to their websites.

We are also investigating the best way for the VLE to help with home learning. Don’t get too excited but I think we’ve cracked it. Once we’re sure, we’ll then have to work out the best way to train everyone.

And talking of training, this allows me to segue nicely into my next point. In all the conversations I have with teachers, the theme of training is not too far away. “How to best train staff in using Frog” is something I suspect the VLE professional enquiry group may well concentrate on.

I encourage you to look at the notes below and join me in the Frog News section of Frog for in-depth tutorials, articles and the all-important suggestion box, where you get to shape our VLE.

Your Dashboard

Everyone has their own personalised area on the Frog home page. Unfortunately during last year everything got a bit screwed up on the dashboard front. All those problems are behind us now and there is a wealth of useful, easy-to use widgets ready for you, just by clicking on the edit page button.

For more information, check out the tutorial video on Frog Central, or alternatively speak to me or your department’s ICT Champion.


Information on all the extracurricular clubs are now housed in a database under the Enrichment link in Frog. Students and parents can view details on every club offered, and search by subject, day and year group. If you run an enrichment activity, please visit the page and make sure your club’s entry is up to date.

The admin staff have also mentioned to me it would be really useful if it also included closing times for the after school clubs. And remember, if you want a home page for your club, all you have to do is ask.

Staff Contacts

We’ve added in the ability to search for any student on the staff contacts page (should probably change the name actually). It’s under My Support and includes link to timetables, family contact information and their PLPs.

The system also includes photos of staff and students. If there is a student who’s photo doesn’t match their name, please either take their photo and email it to me or send them to our office and we’ll snap them.

Random Name Selector

Just a reminder, that our big hitter, the random name selector is available both as a Widget (CLV Widgets > MIS) and on the Learning Walls page (My Work > Learning Walls). This is tied into Facility so allows you to choose quickly from your classes.

The Future

FrogTrade have shown us the areas of the platform they intend to develop next and as soon as the new year, we should see much more flexibility in how we use the platform. There are other developments further down the pipeline which can be best described as “interesting”. Alright, very, very interesting, possibly school changing (in a good way).

Graham Quince