Calculator Skills (Years 7-9)

A collection of resources to help pupils use a calculator correctly, and to explore when it is important to use a calculator. These resources are aimed at early Key Stage 3, for approximatley 3 lessons.

Lesson 1      Use the "Calculator Buttons" resource to start pupils off. Give out calculators in pairs and give them 30 seconds to figure out an answer to the problem on screen. Pick a pupil at random to encourage them, as opposed to just one or two pupils giving answers. Discussion can be held as the site brings in things like square roots etc.

Once done, use pages 8-10 from "Calculator Games" to allow pupils to explore how a calculator, as well as numbers in general, work. The resource also talks about different questions you could pose children at the end of the activity in order to provide an effective discussion.

Finally, have pupils work in groups of 4 and make their own version of the main activity. Each pupil should try to include a type of question that they have discovered in the main part of the lesson.

Lesson 2   Start with either "Broken Calculator" or "Ain't One", or both.

Then move onto using "Calculator Activities". This resource includes many different games for pupils to play in pairs or groups. Choose the most appropriate for your class. Pupils should then move onto making their own versions of these activities, challenging each other to complete them.

For a plenary, pupils are to comment on which pupil's game they enjoyed, and which one they thought needed more work; suggesting how this could be improved. Alternatively, you could have them write one good thing and one thing for improvement about their partners game.

Lesson 3   Although no resources are included, an idea I have found works well is as follows;

Groups of pupils are given a particular button or function on the calculator to master. Then groups are mixed up and pupils are to teach each other about their given function.

A treasure hunt around the room then follows, with questions on the bottom and answers on the top of A4 sheets. If they answer a question, the answer will be at the top of another sheet, and they then answer that question beneath it. They carry on until they reach the sheet they originally started on, creating a loop. Pupils know they are correct if they get back to the beginning having gone past all parts of the hunt. If they get stuck, you do not have to help them yourself, but rather call on one of the 'experts' before you offer any advice.