Sunday, 25 April 2010

Hung parliament Venn diagram

Just like buses the numeracy election resources now seem to be coming along in clusters. There's a great Venn diagram in the centre of today's IoS entitled 'Your guide to a hung parliament'. It even provides a guidance box which explains how to interpret the overlapping areas - and stipulates that 'you don't need a maths degree to understand the circles, triangles and bar charts on these pages'.

Sadly it's not available electronically (unless you're prepared to pay a subscription to pressdisplay) but, just like the resource in today's earlier post, it has great possibilities for mixed ability groups. Anything really, from recognising various 2D shapes through to interpreting the bar charts and the Venn diagram itself. Not to mention the literacy aspects such as prompting discussion, scanning a text to locate information, or reading and responding to a text.

How little vote do you need to become a PM?

My earlier election-related posts focus on literacy resources. Ever since I have been on the look out for election resources that could be used in numeracy or functional maths lessons.

After much fruitless searching, and no time to make my own resources, I was about to give up until an email alert from the wonderful NCETM (National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics) community discussion board saved the day. A regular poster, Chris1974, has shared his presentation 'on how little vote do you need to become PM'. He goes on to say that 'It's really a maths modelling activity, but it throws up some interesting questions'.

It certainly does: I love it! Just wish I could try it out myself on some learners but I'm not teaching any Level 1-2 Maths at the moment. Actually, I think the presentation could be used at Entry level too. It's so clearly presented that Entry level learners could, for example, be given the task of counting the number of pink, green or orange votes on each of the ten constituency screens (perhaps designing and then using a suitable tally chart to do this) whilst higher level learners could focus on the modelling and percentage / fraction aspects of the presentation.
However you choose to use the presentation it is bound to create much discussion.

Chris1974 has shared his presentation through Google documents (I'm not sure how this is done but it's very generous of him). If you click on the menu button at the bottom of the embedded screen above and then follow the blue 'election2010proportion' link next to the orange arrow you can view the presentation from the original source (rather than embedded in this blog post). You will then be able to access an 'action' button which allows you to download the resource as either a PDF or a PPT.

I occasionally participate on several of the NCETM discussion boards and I highly recommend that you take a look. It's a great place for stimulating discussion and sharing ideas. You will have to register with NCETM if you want to participate but anyone can view the threads on open discussion boards such as the Secondary Forum (where Chris1974's original post appeared) or the Maths Cafe (which is a great place to start).

I'll finish this post with a similar comment to the one I made in my post of April 18th: this resource is surely ideal for Functional Maths - as what can be more functional than understanding and participating in an election?

If you use this resource in your classes please share your ideas or observations by leaving a comment (or you can email me via Likewise if you have created or discovered other maths election resources.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Polling station walk-through

Since yesterday's post I have discovered another useful resource from the Electoral Commission - on a sub-site called 'About my vote'.

This time it's an animated visit to a polling station. Every step of the voting process is clearly explained and it takes account of differences in Scotland (where, for example, polling stations are called polling places) and Northern Ireland (where you are asked to show ID when you vote). My only criticism is that, because it was written in 2008, a circled date - Thu May 1st - on a calendar in one of the screens might cause some confusion.

The walk-through is bound to prompt discussion and would make a great introduction to any lesson about the 2010 election. If you use this resource in your classes please share your ideas or observations by leaving a comment (or you can email me via

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Easy-read guide to voting

Many thanks to site contributor Kathy Crockford for drawing my attention to a really marvellous booklet available from The Electoral Commission. The 20 page 'simple guide to voting was designed specifically for people with disabilities or low literacy, but has proved very popular with many audiences'.

As Kathy says: 'It is really excellent – full of graphics, large print and simple language. Perfect – saves me having to re-invent the wheel!'

The booklet clearly explains how to vote, how to use postal and proxy votes, where you vote, and what happens afterwards. Three versions are available for England and Wales (available in English and Welsh), Northern Ireland, and Scotland.

In addition to the downloadable PDF, free hard copies can also be ordered. It really is a lovely document and I just wish I had time to come up with some specific ideas for using it in class. One thing's for sure: it makes a perfect text for Entry 2 and 3 Functional English. After all, what could be more functional than learning how to vote?
If you use this resource in your classes please share your teaching ideas by leaving a comment (or you can email me at

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Texting and spelling

An article on page 16 of yesterday's Independent caught my eye.

Richard Garner reported that a study by the British Academy found that children who texted regularly were better spellers and had higher scores in verbal reasoning tests.

I found this news strangely uplifting and not really surprising. Although I did note, when following up details of the research on the Coventry University site, that the study involved only 63 children between the ages of 4 and 7. The Coventry University page also includes an interesting list of 'textisms' (I'd never come across this term before) that breaks the different forms of text message abbreviations into ten distinct categories. Fascinating stuff!

Further details about the research carried out by Dr Clare Wood can be found at