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Teaching mixed ability maths students in at secondary school is something I have rarely experienced. This year however, I do have the pleasure and I say pleasure because it really is.

When I first found out I’ll be teaching mixed ability throughout key stage three my first reaction was one of trepidation. I had taught mixed ability when I worked at a summer school in Africa but that was just for a month.

In planning the lessons my first thought was DIFFERENTIATION. Not by outcome or task but by learning aids, problem solving and greater use of assessment for learning strategies. Use of the place value table, student teamwork and mini-whiteboards are key to achieving differentiation.

I am particularly fortunate as we are developing a new whole school programme of study at key stage three which means I get to design the mathematics curriculum from scratch. The first module is on place value and basic number properties. At the end of the module students will create their own number system that is hopefully as functional as ours is today.

To achieve this I created a mixed ability toolkit for number that focuses on:

- Writing Numbers as words and digits
- Multiplying and Dividing by Powers of Ten
- Comparing the magnitude of numbers using inequality symbols
- Ordering decimals
- Column method of addition and subtraction

- Prime numbers
- Addition and subtraction
- Number patterns

- Recall of times tables
- Square Numbers
- Multiples / Lowest Common Multiple
- Factors / Highest Common Factor
- Short and long multiplication
- Short and long division

- Adding and subtracting with negative numbers
- Multiplying and dividing with negative numbers
- Ordering negative numbers
- Chunking

- Simplifying and equivalent fractions
- Adding and subtracting with fractions
- Equivalence between fractions, decimals and percentages

Each sheet is effectively a specialised mini-whiteboard. The print outs are laminated and placed in a plastic wallet which all students can access if they wish. More able students tend to use mental or written methods whereas the less able benefit from doing the working on the laminated sheets.

Three weeks in and I must admit I love it. I am frequently out of my comfort zone with challenging all kids at various levels, using questioning to maintain pace for all and setting homework which challenges everyone while consolidating and extending learning.

Download the Toolkit here.

January 29, 2019

When I teach rounding to a significant figure, I ask the class to discuss in pairs or small groups a definition for the word significant. It is a word that all the students have heard before but not all are able to define. After 2 or 3 minutes of conversation I ask the students to […]

January 13, 2019

When calculating instantaneous rates of change students need to visualise the properties of the gradient for a straight line graph. I use the starter activity to see if they can match four graphs with their corresponding equations. The only clue is the direction and steepness of the red lines in relation to the blue line […]

January 4, 2019

Fractions, decimals and percentages are ways of showing a proportion of something. Any fraction can be written as a decimal, and any decimal can be written as a percentage. In this blog I discuss how to use the place value table and equivalent fractions to illustrate how fractions, decimals and percentages are connected. You can […]

## Ania Maxwell says:

Thank you for sharing. Really interesting to read. It’s a while since you posted this so I wonder how you are finding it now a year plus on. I’d love to hear. I’m six months into mixed ability teaching now so interested to hear about others’ experiences. Many thanks.

## mrmath_admin says:

Hi Ania

The toolkit is now available for you to download. Thanks for reading.

## Stuart Black says:

I have used your resources for several years and although they were at a high standard at the beginning you have improved them each year and benefited my understanding of how to put it over to the students.