Advice for Teachers

This page is designed to help teachers run the competition successfully at their schools and answer frequently asked questions. If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback, please get in touch with either Jennifer (jennifer@puzzleoftheweek.com) or Andrew (andrew@puzzleoftheweek.com). The page makes reference to the Resources for Teachers page which contains a lot of useful documents that you can use.


How do I get students engaged with the competition?

As ever, feedback and celebration of success are the two key ways to get students engaged. Below are a few methods that have proved successful in schools around the world.
  • Publicise the competition well at the outset
    • Announcing the competition in a newsletter/bulletin/email to parents can be very productive. Many of the questions we are asked (and much of the feedback we receive) come from parents who are doing puzzles with their children rather than school staff. Parents and staff can even enter the competition themselves.
    • You can find an exemplar announcement to put in a newsletter/bulletin/email on the Resources for Teachers page.
  • Put up a display board with the puzzles and leaderboards
    • Something in the corridor that students can check each week is great in helping raise awareness of the competition.
    • Your School Analysis Sheet provides a top 10 leaderboard which can be printed off each week as well as the current puzzle and the previous week's solution.
    • You can find links to some basic but colourful printable sheets to help get your display board set up on the Resources for Teachers page.
  • Check the online leaderboards and share them
    • If you get enough entries you can make it onto the weekly school leaderboards on the website, and your students can appear on the student leaderboards.
    • All answers help your school, whether they are right or wrong and there's nothing like success to help drive participation.
    • If you are a small school or a primary school then make sure to check the leaderboards by age group because you may appear on them without being able to make it onto the main leaderboards. 
  • Encourage students to look at their User Record Sheets
    • Students can monitor their progress through the competition using their User Record Sheets. These show students what their answers were and after a puzzle's deadline has passed will let them know if they were correct, provide a link to the puzzle solution. It will also show them where they currently sit on world and school leaderboards.
    • Just remind students that their Record Sheet exists so that they can see how well they are doing themselves!
  • Give prizes to Random Weekly Winners
    • On your School Analysis Sheet is a tab which you can use to choose a weekly winner chosen randomly from all the students who submitted a correct answer to the previous puzzle. It can also select one winner from each age groups each week.
    • This has been used successfully by many schools around the world to encourage participation from students.
      • If, like many maths departments, you do not want to put aside budget for prizes then you can do as Garden International School in Malaysia do and give away house points/merits each week.
      • One of the most exciting prizes we have seen is given by JESS Dubai in the UAE who give away one cinema ticket each week to their random winner!
  • Have an annual trophy
    • Some schools give an annual trophy or shield to the top performing student in their school. Mearns Castle High School in Scotland managed to secure some funding from the Edinburgh Maths Society to buy their trophy for them!
  • Use Social Media
    • If you're allowed to, then sharing success on social media can be great for students. We mostly use Twitter (@puzzleoftheweek) but can also be found on Instagram (@puzzleoftheweek).
    • Below are a few snapshots of tweets in which we have been tagged by schools all over the world.