The Perfect Maths Lesson

By: Ian Loynd


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Products specifications
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Size: 174 x 124mm
Pages : 128
ISBN : 9781781351376
Format: Hardback
Published: June 2014

The Perfect Maths Lesson is about much more than knowing the correct answers. Ian Loynd presents tried and tested strategies to maximise learning and to make maths enjoyable, engaging and comprehendible. In fact, as Ian Loynd demonstrates, if you are just learning the right answers, you are missing the beauty, challenge and real-world applications of the subject. Cultivate a classroom environment that establishes a culture of consistently deep, meaningful and reflective learning, chose from a range of tips and strategies to nurture key skills and mindsets in your learners, and you will deliver consistently outstanding maths lessons.

Picture for author Ian Loynd

Ian Loynd

Ian Loynd has a wealth of experience as a teacher, school leader, governor, author, educational consultant and trainer. He is currently assistant head teacher at a large comprehensive school in Cardiff. Prior to this, Ian worked in pastoral leadership as Director of Studies and as a secondary mathematics teacher. He works regularly alongside teachers, students, parents and community groups as a speaker and trainer.


  1. A very big title for a very small book, to be sure  - but it delivers in so many ways. At 107 pages in small format, this book takes only a couple of hours to read, but for many maths teachers, it will re-invigorate and re-inspire them to reflect on the most Important aspects of teaching maths. We are there not just to deliver a cur'­riculum, but to inspire students, to engage them, to pique their curiosity and thirst for wondering 'why' and above all, to help them become creative problem-solvers and out-of-the-box thinkers.

    In a nutshell, it is a very concise and excellent summary of eve'­rything that we were taught on our PGCE or BEd courses, regard'­ing best practice. It is not about becoming a better maths teacher, it is about developing strategies to build an environment in the class'­room which really helps students engage, and be excited about being curious.
    Much of this book is built around Ofsted recommendations, but it gives many useful examples about best practice for each particular point. I especially liked the examples and commentary pertaining to 'Why are we doing this?' and 'open-ended questioning', but for me the most interesting section was regarding praise for effort and not results, and how to encourage a 'growth' mindset not only for those who find the subject difficult, but for the high-flyers as well.
    Whilst this has been written primarily for secondary-school mathematics, the ideas and suggestions are neither age-specific, nor for most, subject-specific. If one focused on just a handful of ideas and strategies to implement, I have no doubt they would be extremely well-received by their students - whatever the subject.
  2. Crown House Publishing/Independent Thinking Press have been gradually building up their series on 'perfect' teaching, which began by looking at teaching in general before expanding to roles such as SENCOs and even School Governors. 'The Perfect Ofsted English Lesson' came out two years ago; now maths gets a look into and science will follow shortly.

    Ian Loynd's CV regarding teaching is certainly impressive and his enthusiasm for it and for maths comes across in abundance in this short but concise handbook, full of interesting pedagogy and practical ideas. A highlight is the tasks he suggests (something I enjoy the most when reading books like these), including an important section on trying to link maths to students' lives. For example, the task of giving a class different mobile tariffs to choose from and asking them which is best leads nicely into plotting graphs. This is so much more real than giving out a scaffolded sheet on functions and hoping pupils get to grips with the idea and simply accept that they need to be able to use this skill, something I have been guilty of in lessons this year. I particularly like the low access, high ceiling task of calculating the cost of repainting the classroom walls with two coats of paint. It reminds me of many of the excellent Nuffield AMP Practical Explorations.

    Of course such ideas are not new and Ian is the first to modestly say in his acknowledgements that the ideas are entirely those of his colleagues from over the years. I would have liked to have seen some indication however, that such ideas have been around a very long time. There are no references predating 2000 in the back and many of the links are to other Crown House publications. Other key areas covered include differentiation, relationships for learning, and independent learning; there are wise words spoken on each of these topics. Ofsted discussion also gets a big look into, though the mathematical learning that children undertake remains the focal point, as it should.

    Overall, the book is short and sweet and draws on big ideas from lots of other places. The main message is about learning and is summed up well by a quote in the book from a child, originally from an Ofsted report: -˜You need to understand and not just do it. You think you know how to do it but you get to an exam and you can't. You realize that nobody's told you why it works and why you do what you do, so you can't remember it.' All readers should close the back cover thinking about this and having taken away new ideas to help enable mathematical thinking.
  3. At a time when teachers are under increasing pressure to adapt to changes in the curriculum and assessment, it can be challenging to remember that teaching is the best job in the world. The Perfect Maths Lesson is the perfect little book which sets out clearly how to get the best from students. Full of practical ideas and tips, this book is a quick and easy read which should be part of every teacher's toolkit. Make the commitment to be the best maths teacher you can be and use this book to help you.
  4. With the increasing focus in schools and colleges in Wales and England on raising levels of performance and understanding in numeracy / mathematics, this is an excellent resource, particularly for the non-specialist maths teacher. Ian Loynd brings numeracy alive by promoting engagement, participation, and engagement through the challenge of solving “real world” issues. Teachers will gain confidence from using excellent ideas such as “open ended challenges”, “if this is the answer what is the question”, “diamond ranking”, “deliberately wrong answers” etc. The check lists at the end of each chapter are valuable to re-enforce learning and understanding. The links to demands of Ofsted on key issues such as engagement, promoting independent learning, assessment etc. are very helpful . A very well written text reflecting the author's personal enthusiasm, subject knowledge and practical experience of successful teaching of mathematics.
  5. One of the greatest gifts teaching maths is when your pupils -˜get it' and you can see their confidence grow as they confidently tackle questions using the method or skill they've acquired. Those -˜penny dropping' moments are priceless. Maths can be harsh though, as answers are right or wrong. Methods may be intricately performed, but a misplaced number can prove unforgiving with the result being that the confidence can be knocked and you're back at square one.

    Another issue with mathematics learning can be a negative self-fulfilling prophecies and messages which often come from parents and other adults in the lives of children. Many teachers have heard parents confess, “ooh, I'm rubbish at maths”, or “we didn't learn maths THAT way when I was young”, and so on. In primary education, many teachers won't teach upper junior pupils because of their own lack of mathematics knowledge and confidence.

    Mathematical teaching in secondary schools can be a completely different experience altogether. Usually taught by teachers who excelled in mathematics in their own schooling, this is their speciality -” something done all day, every day.

    One problem with the subject at all levels of schooling is that school measurements systems focus on how pupils progress in the subject by the end of primary or secondary phase, so ensuring you create a perfect series of mathematical lessons can be a challenge to many teachers. This is key for teacher/writer Ian Loynd who, in his Totally Practical Maths Lesson book, encourages teachers to provide practical lesson ideas that stimulate engagement and interest to pupils with ideas which can be taken straight from the book.

    Cardiff based Loynd asks that teachers think about the following questions when planning maths lessons:

    Does the pace of this lesson vary with each learning episode?
    Is there a short, snappy activity to set the scene and -˜hook' learners into the learning?
    Is there room for reflection and for asking questions? Will the lesson benefit from a gentler pace as the challenge increases?
    Are there long periods of static, stationary learning that need to be broken up with movement or a change in pace?
    How will I use time limits to keep learning focused?
    Are my resources prepared? How will they be deployed without sabotaging the pace of the lesson?
    Does this lesson involve me talking too much?

    OK, so many of those question pointers are not exclusive to mathematical teaching, but provide a good reminder for setting the cadence of a lesson, especially getting brains working as soon as pupils enter the lesson.

    With a great mix of practical classroom, assessment and advice, this is a useful book for secondary mathematics teachers who want to enhance some of the strategies they use in their classroom. For example, the focus on independent learning in maths lessons offers a great mix of activities where the responsibility is on the pupils learning and progress, rather than the teacher leading all of the time and using Assessment for Learning approaches to check progress rather than continued summative strategies.

    The book concludes with a useful checklist ensuring that you are able to deliver perfect maths lessons, which are relevant for teachers at all stages of education. It is quite a long checklist, but if revisited a couple of times each term should ensure that mathematical teaching and learning enhances across your school.
  6. A concise guide to teaching maths; full of interesting pedagogy and practical ideas. Whilst regularly referencing Ofsted, the mathematical learning that children undertake remains the focal point, as it should. Ian Loynd's enthusiasm for the subject, and for teaching, comes across in abundance and all readers should close the back cover having taken away new ideas to implement in the classroom.
  7. 'The Perfect Maths Lesson' will be a great addition to the 'Perfect Family' of books in our staff room library. This little book contains a wealth of good ideas, all of which can be modified and extended to use across the different age ranges. It is a good mix of practical ideas to try in lessons, and theory to improve teaching and learning. I found it really easy to read and it even made me smile in places. As always the checklists at the end of each chapter will help teachers to reflect on their classroom practice; this will definitely lead to a better experience for children in our school. I particularly enjoyed the cheesy mathematical themed jokes and will definitely be trying them out on my children! Thank you.
  8. This is my first experience of the 'Perfect Lesson' series from Jackie Beere and friends and to me the title has a lot to live up to! I needn't have worried. Straight from the start Ian gives compelling and motivating reasons for learning, not just learning maths, but any learning and, particularly importantly, how to deal with the ultimate question 'why are we learning this?'. He frames the learning and remaining content of the book within the context of the modern, 'flat' world, which every conscientious teacher is desperately trying to give their learners an advantage in. Now I'm hooked.

    I have to admit that I read the rest of the book with enthusiasm even though it is about maths! Ian delivers an excellent balance of theory and context with hundreds (well, it seemed like hundreds. I haven't actually counted them.) of practical examples that any teacher can take into a classroom tomorrow. From engaging and challenging learners, including some great ideas for using apparatus, through to chilli heat rated activities to increase independence, the wealth of thought provoking activities makes this book a must have in any staff room. There is a hugely important chapter on emotional connections with learners and the end of chapter checklists act as quick reminders and useful pointers.

    So will this book mean you deliver the perfect maths lesson? Personally I don't think any book, no matter how good, can but this one will provide you with a whole toolbox of strategies and ideas that cannot fail to improve the learning in your lessons. And here's the important bit; any learning could be improved by using this book. The underlying principles, with a bit of un-maths tweaking, will have a direct impact on your teaching and, although the book has a secondary 'flavour', these can be as equally applied to the primary phase.

    In sum-mary (I tried really hard to resist a number of maths puns!), if you're looking for easily accessible ideas and strategies to refresh your teaching, whether in maths or other curriculum areas, this book will be an excellent addition to your collection. It's a quick and easy read that you can dive into any point and pull out a gem...and who knows, maybe that will be the one that secures the 'outstanding' judgement - or better still, gives your learners the advantage in the real world!

    Now I'm off to look at the rest of the perfect lesson series...!
  9. As someone who struggled with maths growing up, I often asked/wailed, -˜Why are we learning this?' Ian understands the need to bring the real world into the classroom; to give maths value and engage learners, so they have a reason to show up. He provides pupils with stimulating real life contexts that will challenge and prepare them, not make believe contexts to simply practise strategies or pass a test. Therefore young people can adapt to our -˜compressed global community' whilst becoming better learners; they are learning to learn in maths to empower them for the future.

    So, why are we reading this? Like any good teacher, regardless of subject area, Ian knows you have to hook pupils in and challenge them from the off, but then maintain this pace and balance throughout the lesson: he summarises how to do this with top tips. I will be keeping the book to hand as a gentle reminder and to try out some of his practical ideas and activities (from starters to original and creative assessment opportunities) to -˜perplex, mystify and delightfully baffle' learners, which he succeeded in doing to this reader many times. He even includes mathematical jokes and inspirational sayings, as he knows that learning for children is emotional and they have to enjoy it.

    His handy checklists guide you through the whole process of: planning, delivery and the assessment of an outstanding lesson, with references to Ofsted's expectations, although the learners are the main concern, first and foremost. There are even novel ways of setting homework which promote real independent learning (not just working on your own) and the discipline for students to push themselves.

    Ian continually endorses challenge: -˜occupying a space at the edge of their ability' so young people embrace being stuck and see it as -˜an exciting gateway' to new knowledge or skills. Children's fear of failure is larger in maths so he illustrates how to encourage them to -˜fail better'. They will then feel more able to take risks in these real life/unknown situations, as the children's emotional wellbeing is at the heart of his drive to make maths fun and accessible for all.

    In my classroom, I will now be posing, pausing, pouncing and bouncing with my pupils to ensure they truly understand maths and are not merely -˜doing' it, so I am teaching with students not to them.

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