Teacher Talk: Numerous Uses for Numicon!

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Our primary specialist Vikz has introduced a fantastic new tool to Spark this year – Numicon. Already this amazing addition has had a profound affect on our lessons. Students, teachers and parents are finding that Numicon is a wonderful supporting tool in lesson time. But what is it really and how does it work?

Numicon: What is it?

 

The Oxford University Press describes Numicon as ‘a multi-sensory approach’ to maths. It is used both at home and at school. This means that using it at Spark has unlimited benefits for our students. Vikz teaches several of our Maths classes up until Year 7 and has found Numicon is a wonderful tool to use for all ages.

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These fabulous brightly pieces are useful for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. They can also be set out next to each other or piled on top of each other. Even more, you can use any of the different sized blocks together – it all depends on what types of numeracy you’re learning that day!

 

How does it actually work?

 

Numicon works by giving students a visual and physical representation of the sums they are doing. Have a look at this picture:

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If you are working on addition, the pieces let children see different ways of making the same number. Students can literally fill in the gaps to make 20!

If you were looking at subtraction, you’d simply use the pieces in reverse. Ask a student to answer 20-10 using two 10-pieces, and they are able to lift away a 10-piece to help them work out the answer. For students who struggle with numeracy, this tool can make a huge difference.

 

How are you using Numicon at Spark?

 

Have a look for yourself!

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Understanding the four times table can be as easy as reaching for a new 4-piece. First the students get to grips with their times tables using Numicon… Then their overall understanding is improved from a ground level up. Vikz often has students compete against themselves in ‘speed runs’; how many correct times table answers they can write down

at the beginning of the lesson versus at the end of the lesson. Unsurprisingly, a little work with these amazingly colourful pieces and the second ‘speed run’ is always an improvement!

 

Here you can see one of our Year 3 students working hard at his 3 times table. In addition to Vikz’s teaching, Eshaan finds Numicon a great benefit in his lessons.

 

 

Here at Spark we are always looking for new ways to teach. We are passionate about helping our students. You can see already, in only October, how helpful Numicon can be for our classes. Of course, it is our brilliant Vikz who has been able to use this educational tool to such great effect. You’re doing amazing work there, Vikz, keep it up!

 

The Spark: Successful SATs Support

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Welcome to this week’s edition of The Spark. Tuesday is News-day and this week’s article ‘Sublime SATs Support’ showcases one primary school’s gratitude to Spark Academy…

Sublime SATs Support

Spark Tuition aids ‘amazing results’ in SATs Scores

 

This week Spark Academy has received an email from a primary school close to their hearts. Sacred Heart Primary School in Leicester contacted founder Mital Thanki to thank her for tuition support provided to their Year 6 students in the last academic year.

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The multiplication dice game is popular with all of our students, giving them the power to create and solve their own sums!

 

Sacred Heart contacted Mital last year to organise intervention support for some of their struggling students. The school was determined to help students achieve in their SATs in May. Spark Academy was part of their plan to support students as well as improve their results.

 

Bespoke Support

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Brutus the Roman helped Nic teach students about roman numerals

 

Over a period of five weeks Nic Hey went to the school to offer bespoke support to ten students. Our tutors designed each lesson to target areas of concern for those pupils. This meant that the students received tuition that was truly tailored to their needs.

Nic was able to work with the students on the topics of roman numerals, percentages, angles, long multiplication and division to offer individualised support to aid student’s understanding. In addition to useful support, Nic provided continuously enjoyable lessons using resources created alongside Chris Nelson. Sacred Heart viewed the support provided as ‘amazing’.

 

Fantastic Results

 

These 10 students sat their SATs along with all other Year 6s in the country in May of this year. Both the school and Spark Academy eagerly awaited the student’s results. Everyone wanted to see what effect the extra support provided had on the results.

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Starters were a fun way to test students’ basic numeracy skills

Sacred Heart told Mital: ‘We achieved National Average in Maths – we’ve never done that before’.

The incredible results achieved by these students are due to several factors. These were the hard work of the students, the dedication of Sacred Heart’s teachers and the ‘tutoring Nicola delivered added’ to this success. As a result, Sacred Heart is hoping to involve Spark Academy in supporting its students again this year.

Mital and the Spark team are looking forward to supporting Sacred Heart students. They are also celebrating these amazing results and excited to building on their good relationship with Sacred Heart.

 

 

 

CSI Spark: Creative Science Investigations

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This week we have turned to our resident physicist and Head of Science, Nic, to learn all about CSI Spark. It might not be quite what you’re thinking – let’s dive in and see exactly what our Year 7s and 8s have been investigating.

What does CSI stand for?

 

Something exciting has been happening in the Science department here at Spark Academy.  Over the past 7 weeks, we have been doing science a little differently for Years 7 & 8.

As many of you may be familiar with, CSI – that is, Crime Scene Investigation – is a long-standing television show that shows us just how important science can be in fighting crime. CSI at Spark, however, stands for Creative Science Investigation. 

 

The Structure of the Earth

 

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In our first topic, students investigated how the Earth was formed, how earthquakes affect buildings, and how Earth has changed over time. Volcanic activities and tectonic plates have changed the very make up of the Earth, as well as its atmosphere. Students have modelled their own construction ideas by building structures from sweets and jelly. Their ‘buildings’ were tested to see if they could withstand earthquakes (simple shaking), which allowed our students to discuss the idea of stability and mobility of buildings in earthquake prone zones.

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Iceland’s volcanic eruption in 2010 at the Eyjafjallajökull volcano became the focus for two of our lessons. Students gathered information about the eruption, the issues it generated for the people of Iceland and the wider global impact on air travel and tourism. In true ‘Blue Peter’ style we made our very own model volcanoes – and erupted them. Students used a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar (along with colouring for effect). We discussed the premise of a preliminary investigation and the students investigated the quantities of substances to be used (to maximise effect) before erupting their own volcano.

When looking at the atmosphere students tried a simple electrolysis experiment. By passing a small potential difference and current through graphite pencils in a solution, they generated hydrogen and oxygen gas. We then used the gas test to see if the gases collected were indeed the ones we had suggested. Hydrogen gives a squeaky pop when a flame is held to it and oxygen will re-light a glowing splint.

 

What makes CSI different?

 

The students have really taken to the more practical element of their lessons and enjoy asking questions. They are always keen to find out what practical or investigation they may be doing next! Teaching theory hand in hand with practical demonstrations is making our CSI lessons both fun and educational.

 

Giving our students an edge…

 

The emphasis is on learning through the enjoyment of creativity and hands-on activities. The ability to write scientifically about any investigations they carry out is an essential part of the new Science GCSE. However, students will need the practical skills base to be able to write about their investigations successfully.

The UK is struggling to recruit the engineers of the future, and the wholly academic GCSEs may not provide important practical skills. We hope to build vital practical and investigative skills our students will need to give them to have a competitive edge in a highly skilled jobs market. CSI is science for the engineers, scientists and researchers of the future – and it all starts at Spark.

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Apprenticeship or A-levels? 10 Questions To Ask Yourself!

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Apprenticeship or A-levels? What subjects do you pick? How will it shape your future? It’s a tough job being a student! They are all incredibly important decisions you have to make in order to get on the right track in life.

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“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life!”
– Confucius

 

By the time you have completed your GCSE’s you would have developed a good sense of ‘yourself’. It is important by this stage you understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. A good way of finding out is by doing a ‘self-evaluation’. Try to answer the following questions/statements:

 

10 Questions To Ask Yourself:

1. What am I good at?

2. What am I not so good at?

3. I like..

4. I don’t like…

5. I am interested in…

6. I am bored by…

7. I am proud of…

8. I wish I was better at…

9. People think my best points/aspects are…

10. People think my worse points are…

 

These questions will really push you to start thinking about where you fit in this big world! Everyone has a place and everyone has key strengths that will allow one to flourish in the environment they are in. 

Always go with what you are good at – these are often things that you naturally excel in and answer positively to questions 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 above. For the remaining questions, you must use it to reflect and build upon your character and see it as a way of self-development. 

 

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“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is”
– Isaac Asimov

Reflecting upon your character and your strengths mean that you can succeed in what you truly believe in to be right. If you have a strong desire to peruse quantum physics (!) because you have a natural curiosity – then attain it. If becoming a photographer or owning your own business is something that you have often found dreaming of – then make it happen! Always try  and you will find that with persistence and determination, you can go far.

 

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“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always try one more time”
– Thomas A. Edison

 

You may not even decide to continue with education after 16 – in which case there are numerous options for you to take advantage of. Apprenticeships offer a whole new world of practicality  and a wonderful environment in which to keep on learning.

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We are blessed to live in a country where education is free for all. The foundations of what we become are in fact rooted in these early years – so make the most of it. Immerse yourself in the knowledge that is bestowed upon you and relish in your self-discovery! Have faith in your strengths and give it your all. Try to be the best you can be and keep learning…the world is your oyster.