How many of us repeatedly say to our pupils ‘Look around, Maths is everywhere…’? I do, very often.

What is the ratio of red tulips to the other tulips?

Can you estimate the number of pebbles in the picture? On the beach?

What is the sum of the squad numbers visible?

I am a keen photographer, and my favourite area of Maths is shape, space and measure. So during my PGCE year I started using photos as a way to get pupils talking about Maths, and thinking about it as a part of everyday life, rather than just something they do at school. In my case, I often use my own photos (I go out and look for something mathematical), but you could use images you find online, or you can ask for a photo from each member of your department.

Once you have some photos that you wish to use, they can be used in a variety of ways:

1) Give groups of pupils a different photo and a short period of time to look at the photo and write down a different question about the 4 areas of Maths; number, algebra, handling data and shape, space and measure. The questions may be extremely varied (and should be). They can be as simple as ‘How many people are in the picture?’ or quite difficult ‘At what angle does the striker hit the ball?’.

2) Use one photo and ask the class to discuss the Maths in the photo. What can they see? Some could see shapes, some parallel and perpendicular lines and others reflections and so on. When I use this format, I tend to pick a picture that involves something about the learning objective for the lesson.

3) Use a photo as a background and cover with a 3 x 3 table containing questions. Pupils then answer a question to reveal the photo. A bit like catchphrase. As with above the photo will contain something that relates to the learning objective.

As well as demonstrating maths in the real world, using photos gives the pupils an insight into what I am like (or the department) but also opens up lots of discussions. There are no right or wrong answers.

My word of warning would be not to get too enthusiastic about it like me and spend far too long discussing the photos. It’s only meant to be a starter and I once spent a quarter of my lesson talking about photography!

If you are unsure about what photos to use, have a look at mine and feel free to use them in your lessons, just let me know how it goes…

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