It’s been a while

Well, it’s fair to say there have been quite a few issues with getting tablets up and running.

Things are beginning to move on again so I’m going to add some more to this blog in the near future.


How many multiplications are needed?

In year 7, we do a maths project called Diagonal Differences. It used to be a GCSE coursework piece before they got scrapped and involves picking a 2 by 2 box out of a 10 by 10 number grid. You multiply the opposite corners of your chosen box and find the difference between the two answers.

The main purposes behind the investigation are to get students to think mathematically, investigating an unknown situation. They are encouraged to make conjectures and generalise their findings. We want them to find patterns and consider describing them algebraically. We make use of an algebraic proof to show that a 2 by 2 box will always have a difference of 10. We want them to extend the project. It’s full of mathematical opportunities.

We also want them to show us they can multiply two digit numbers. And, here’s the problem.


This website ( can do all the calculations for you. You can tell it what size grid and box you want, drag the grid to the right place and it’ll do the sums for you.

If someone can multiply a two digit number by another one confidently, should they just use this site (or a calculator) to help them discover patterns more quickly?

The website won’t do the algebra for them. It does give a hint if you click the ‘show algebra’ button:


I think I feel like they should be allowed to use the site once they’ve convinced me they can do the multiplying. If they really can multiply efficiently, I don’t need them to keep doing it and I do want them to be able to look for patterns and describe them algebraically.

So, the question is, how many multiplications are needed to convince me? I don’t know the answer to that. I have some ideas but I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Some initial thoughts

The students are VERY excited. Naturally, they love having a tablet and I’m pleased to say there hasn’t been much grumbling from all the other students who don’t have a tablet. They’ve been really quite understanding about it.

There have been many teething issues, as expected. These include:

  • Not being able to access the app store in school. This is something to do with ports but that’s about as much as I understand.
  • Some students not being able to activate their microsoft account at home. We’re recommending they try creating a new one.
  • Some students not being able to access the app store at home. Again, try a new microsoft account.
  • Uncharged tablets. In the early days, we’re being a bit lenient with this. I will be expecting students to have charged them fully once we’re more on track.
  • Arbitrary differences between tablets. One student can access the app store in school. To tablets wouldn’t run, asking for flash to be installed. One I fixed easily by following the instructions, one I can’t tell what’s going on. One tablet not letting a student access for no obvious reason.

Again, it’s worth emphasising how excited the students are and they are demonstrating great resilience and flexibility in their approach to the tablets.

I’ve asked them to install the following apps to see how I can use them:

  • FlashQuiz
  • Record Voice and Pen
  • QR reader

More details to follow.

And so it begins….

We’ll, the start of term didn’t get off to a brilliant start with delays in both delivery of tablets and in the key part of the wifi nodes.
Having held off until as much as possible was in place and with students chomping at the bit, the major of the trial class were given their tablets yesterday.

Parents had to come in to school to collect them from the deputy head teacher in charge of the project so now the majority of them are out with just a few left to sort out.

You can expect more updates from now on!

Practical point one: we’re encouraging them to put a distinctive sticker on the back of the case that includes their name. They’ll have to lock them in the PE office during those lessons so we want an easy way of giving them back out.

Why Windows 8?

(This post was originally on reflectivemaths.)

Image credit


This seems to be the most common first question and, there isn’t an easy answer to that.

Android was ruled out fairly early on and while I’m not sure of the exact reasons why, I think it had a lot to do with being too much of an unknown beast. That left iOS or Win8.

Obviously, there’s a lot of appeal to iOS and iPads. They are lovely in many ways. Our main blocks/issues are:

  • Lack of ability to control them via a network,
  • Incompatibility with flash based websites,
  • Difficulties with accessing legacy files in Office suite.

We have no doubt that there are issues and problems with Windows 8 too but we feel that we will be better placed to deal with those as they arise.

In all honesty, there is an element of wanting to take a bit of lead on something. How many schools do you know of heading down the Windows 8 route?

Windows 8



(This post was originally on reflectivemaths blog.)


My school has made the decision to embark on a 1:1 tablet initiative and after much thought and deliberation (and I do mean much deliberation and considerable thought/research) have chosen the Windows 8 route. Clearly there are pros and cons to choosing Win8 over iOS or Android but some of the deciding factors involve Flash and the access to Microsoft’s office suite. That means I have been trialing a few different Windows 8 based tablets recently. We are close to making a decision and in the next few days, the final choice will be made.

So, having made the Windows 8 decision, the next step is to buy 60 tablets and pick one class. That class will each be given their own tablet and each of the teachers that teaches that group will also get the same tablet.

This class will keep the tablet for the whole academic year and so begins our trial….

I hope to blog about my findings as we go along [Edit: In fact, that’s exactly what this whole blog is for!]

Today was the first chance for the relevant teachers to get together in small groups, have a go with a Win8 tablet and meet Stuart Ball (@innovativeteach). He’s a Microsoft education partner and is helping us through the first steps and was really helpful in being both pragmatic, inspiring and, crucially focused on what can be done with regards to teaching and learning. There were lots of questions asked by the various teachers and I’ll collate those into another blog post soon.

In short, there’s lots of excitement, plenty of caution and questions but certainly a desire to get hands on a device and have a go.