Teaching Magnification Using the Singapore Bar Model


He was particularly indignant against the almost universal use of the word idea in the sense of notion or opinion, when it is clear that idea can only signify something of which an image can be formed in the mind. We may have an idea or image of a mountain, a tree, a building; but we cannot surely have an idea or image of an argument or proposition.

— Boswell’s Life of Johnson

The Singapore Bar Model is a neat bit of maths pedagogy that has great potential in Science education. Ben Rogers wrote an excellent post about it here. Contrary to Samuel Johnson’s view, the Bar Model does attempt to present an argument or proposition as an image; and in my opinion, does so in a way that really advances students’ understanding.


The Bar Model was developed in Singapore in the 1980s and is the…

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Is there room for staff?

teaching personally

There was a thoughtful piece in The Guardian this week about the decline of the staffroom. One can easily see this issue as highly symbolic of the attitude of the education system to its key staff. I must admit I was not previously aware that legislation was enacted in England (only) in 2012 to remove the need for schools to provide any work or social space for teachers. One can only stand speechless at the utter short-sightedness such decisions.

The situation is more complex than it might seem. For example, the school where I passed the bulk of my career was very widely spread across its site: it had previously been two adjacent single-sex schools, which had merged in the early 1970s. It meant that facilities were relatively plentiful, but the distances involved made it difficult for the staff to congregate in one place regularly – particularly as the length…

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Focus on the Final Foot: Why I’m in Favour of Ready Made Resources | The Goldfish Bowl

Last week I read this article from John Blake: “The solution to the workload crisis? Stop teachers designing their own lessons.” I found myself agreeing with the sentiments, so I read the full…

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The 5th dimension: thoughts on the subject of children’s thoughts

The Quirky Teacher

If anyone is worrying that I’ve turned prog, DO NOT PANIC. This post is about children’s default modus operandi at various points of the school day and how we/I need to be clever about winning them over, not just in terms of what they’re doing, but also what they’re thinking in various situations. This is a natural continuation of a very popular post about the use of questioning and it’s a fascinating topic to consider; this topic is relatively unexplored territory (I think) due to the fact that schools’ decision makers up and down the country are (rightly) concentrating on putting together the (previously dismantled) pieces of knowledge-based education. To me, the subject of children’s MO feels like an elusive 5th dimension that, together with knowledge, co-opts everyone into an edu-universe. Just like the real (!) 5th dimension, as described by physicists, you can’t see it, but you know…

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The ‘Reading Gap’ between Primary and Secondary School – The Confident Teacher

A lot of attention is rightly devoted by schools to address primary to secondary ‘transition’. We know that as children move schools it can prove a difficult move emotionally. Therefore, …

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Clarifications, Throat Clearings, and Other Furthermores, Dept.

traditional math

In my last “smart and thoughtful post” (the parlance that edu-pundits use when they refer to each other’s writings), I talked about “understanding vs procedure”. The quote at the end from a teacher in New Zealand seemed to ruffle the feathers of some who took to Twitter to state that they believed otherwise.

In all these discussions of “understanding”, those who believe it is not taught and that students are doing math without knowing math rarely if ever explain what they mean by understanding in terms of how it translates or transfers to problem variations or new areas in math.  For example, a student who has learned the invert and multiply rule for fractional division may not be able to explain why the rule works, but may have an understanding of what fractional division represents.  The student then uses the latter to solve problems requiring fractional division.

Anna Stokke, a…

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Invisible differentiation


I heard a story of an Ofsted inspector taking two student books, one a lower attaining starter and one from a higher attaining starter. The inspector then proceeded to look at the same lesson in the books and try to find evidence of differentiation.

This really made me think. What would they see in my student books? And the answer is troubling; it’s ‘nothing’.

It’s troubling because if they were to make a judgement on just this I would ‘fail’. Yet I know there is a lot that I do to ensure that everyone achieves and can be extended.

It’s in my teaching along the way…

When I teach, I consider the variation of students in the room. My use of vocabulary ranges from ensuring the students with lower literacy understand key vocabulary to the use of more technical terms. Everyone in the room can access both but as minimum they…

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