Fractions: A day in the life of a Curriculum Development Lead

Blog: Sahar Shillabeer,, Secondary Development Lead

Fractions: A day in the life of a Curriculum Development Lead

Posted: 11/11/14

Mathematics Mastery provides teachers with a wealth of tasks and activities that can be used to inspire lesson planning or directly in the classroom. As a Secondary Development Lead, a lot of my time is spent planning, preparing and creating these activities.

At the training sessions we run, teachers often ask “but how do you come up with all these ideas?” (Not to mention, “you have the best job in the world!” – which it is!).  So here’s a little insight into what we do behind the scenes…

Recently I spent a few days writing some materials for a unit of work on fractions and I started the way I do for every unit, by mapping out all the key concepts and objectives I needed to cover.

If I already have tasks or ideas I’ve used before, I’ll pencil these in as possibilities. Then I spent a bit of time looking through maths education research journals to read more about the most recent research on key pedagogical issues.  With a topic like fractions, there’s a lot of research to look through so I focused on teaching strategies and misconceptions as they often inform much of what I’ll go on to write.  For example, this task was designed to test some of these misconceptions:

CDL flags

Some incorrect answers may be: ½ of the Netherlands flag is blue (since 1 part is blue and 2 are not) or a third of the Colombia flag is yellow because it’s one colour out of three.





Then it’s time to plan and by now I usually have quite a few ideas. I think about creating tasks that are accessible to all and which can be scaffolded or made more challenging.  Mathematics Mastery tasks aren’t about repetitive practice or worksheets, the idea is to develop rich tasks that encourage exploration and investigation: tasks which will encourage discussion and debate amongst the students.

One of the key elements of the Mathematics Mastery approach is developing students’ conceptual understanding so rather than learning rules and relying on memorising methods we try to develop tasks that give students insight into the mathematics and help them to develop strategies to approach problems.

CDL fractions

This problem looks at addition informally but the idea of using common denominators will develop as students come up with more and more combinations. Challenging students to avoid repeating fractions or to work with tenths or twelfths will help to consolidate the ideas they’ve met.


So that’s a brief look at how we plan and create resources here at Mathematics Mastery. Next up – we are delighted to be venturing into Key Stage 4 and 5, though the concept maps are starting to look a bit more complicated…

CDL quadratics