Teach hexadecimals to 8 year olds, but don’t have a cow man!

Numeracy week. Every primary school in our catchment has a numeracy week. Of course, they look to the local high school for maths teachers as experts. We are somehow perceived as more capable of sharing the numeracy story than our primary colleagues.

I just like escaping the building during the day. It is like truancy whilst getting paid. Stolen fresh air is always sweeter somehow.

Last year I had a lifetime supply of spaghetti and jelly babies. That is well blogged, it seems, replicated. That is a fantastic element of pedagoo. Share the love. The love of the job.

There is always a challenge to keep it fresh. How can I go along to a new year with a new yet fresh idea? Time for think and a chat with colleagues. What would my exciting yet easy to deliver lesson be? To make it more complex for me, and as I don’t hold a drivers licence whilst the fracture heals, I will have to work with a partner. Eep.

It occurred to me when I was completing a sociology CPD (watching the Simpson!) it struck me. “Imagine what the numbers world would have been like if we only had 8 fingers?”

The lesson then started to write itself. The pupils had completed a topic on place value. Units, tens and hundreds.

We visualised the units with one hand of ten fingers replacing the tens column and ten sets of hands for the hundreds column.

Next we produced a set of paper gloves. Four fingered hands. (I was given strange looks when I casually said that I was off to photocopy my hands)

We replaced the pictures with one set of 8 fingers and the. 8 sets of 8 fingers.

So now, 4+2 is still 6 (use your 8 fingered gloves)
But 5+4 = 11 (1 set of eight and 1 left over)
I gave a differentiation sheet for pupils who were struggling. I also created a few tarsia puzzles if pupils found it too easy.

The Simpson world of Numbers was a hit. In fact, not one child needed the sheet. (We renamed units as “Maggies” Eights as “Lisas” and 8×8 as “Barts”

Many pupils answered 5+4 as “1 Lisa and 1 Maggie”

It seemed a real challenge with a class of 24 pupils aged 8 but then, just to crank it up to eleven, we cracked open our Qwizdom devices we had brought to the school and invited them to try a few questions. Almost every child was getting right answers.

The exciting lesson for these kids resulted in a unanimous decision to have their lunch time delayed to allow more time to play with the handsets. That was rewarding in itself.

We didn’t have time to scare them by calling it the hexadecimal system. We didn’t have time to extend to binary systems or link to computational science.

What it did do though was open their minds to new ideas. They were also less afraid of high school teachers. They have teachers who are keen to take this forward themselves.

So, if I had been asked to successfully teach hexadecimal number systems to 8 year olds (happy co-incidence there!) then I would have laughed at you.

Pedagoo is about sharing ideas and concepts. Please share this and please add to it. What can I improve? What would you do differently?
Do you have an idea of a great lesson? Please share it. Even if it is just a little different, or just a little bit of you said, “hey, that was quite nice!” Please share it. We all need your help. Collegiality is more than a corporate buzz word.

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