17 February 2017

Working Well: C1 and C2

I'm feeling pretty positive about my A level teaching this year. I thought it might be worth sharing the things that I've been doing a bit differently. If you teach A level, please comment below or tweet me to tell me what changes you've made to your approach over the years that have had a positive impact on your students.

I teach at a boys' comprehensive school, having moved there from a girls' grammar school in 2015. This year I have my largest ever Year 12 class, with 27 students. A quarter of the students in my class got a B at GCSE, and I also have a few strong mathematicians who got an A* at GCSE and a distinction in Certificate of Further Maths. So the class is a very mixed group with varying levels of prior knowledge. Their target grades range from an A to a D. When I first started teaching this class they were very chatty. Because of the size of the class it felt more like Year 11 than Year 12. In October I introduced a seating plan - the first time I have had to do so for sixth form - and things improved immediately. The class has matured a lot since then and they are now focused and hard working. I'm hopeful for plenty of As this summer. The size of the class is not as much of a problem as I thought it would be - the main impact is on my marking workload.

Here are some of the things I have changed this year...

1. Modelling good work
In the first few weeks of Year 12 I made a big fuss about the presentation of work. I clarified my expectations by taking photos of good work and displaying these photos on the board when I returned homeworks. Students were visibly proud when I showed their work on the board.
The rest of the class then knew exactly what I was looking for. I gave detailed written feedback on the first couple of homeworks and it wasn't long before I was getting a good standard of presentation from all students, with well laid out workings and clear mathematical notation.

I recently marked a coordinate geometry homework and was pleased by how many students had made use of clear diagrams to solve problems - this was far better than in previous years. I think this improvement is a direct result of my continued modelling of best practice and making my expectations crystal clear.
2. Vertical binomial
This is a minor thing but I really think it made a difference... A couple of years ago I read a blog post which suggested a vertical layout for binomial expansions:
I taught it this way for the first time this year. I think students were better able to follow what I was doing on the board. Every students' expansions were set out vertically in their mid-C2 assessment, resulting in clear, systematic workings and accurate answers. I will definitely use the vertical layout again next year.
3. Formulae
In September I handed a 'test me' card to every student and told them to ask their parents, friends or siblings to test them on the quadratic formula at home.
The next lesson I had them line up outside the classroom and asked each student to recite the formula to me at the door! Good fun. 25 out of 27 got it right first time. I will use this approach again in future.

4. Grid method
I first wrote about alternatives to algebraic long division here, but I didn't teach the grid method properly until this year. I practised it extensively and decided that it is both more conceptually clear and more efficient than long division, but I was still nervous about teaching a method that is not widely taught. I took the plunge and was so pleased that I did! Even the weakest students picked it up immediately. I'm sure I'm seeing less silly mistakes than I used to with long division.
5. Logs
I introduced logs using the 'power' approach explained in this guide from James Tanton. It's a great introduction to the topic!

5. Independent study
I've always set an assessed homework for each chapter at A level. I give feedback and a grade for every piece of assessed work, which means I have a pile of sixth form marking to get through once or twice a fortnight. I don't do anywhere near this level of marking at Key Stage 3 or 4, but I think that regular feedback is vital at A level. My students are really good at doing their assessed homeworks independently and submitting them on time.

However, the big challenge is getting them to do independent practice (ie work that I don't mark) at home and during their private study periods. This year I issued a course booklet to my students which makes suggestions for how they should use these periods. I refer back to it regularly. At the end of every lesson I set a specific 'independent study' task and remind them that there should never be a time that they say they have no maths homework. In previous years I wasn't so specific about the exercises they should be doing but I've realised that more guidance is necessary for those who are less motivated. This is an ongoing struggle though - I still have some students who do very little independent practice, and it really shows.

6. Exam preparation
I was quite shocked last year when I discovered that one of my Year 13s hadn't done a single past paper in Year 12. Seriously, not even one. This is a huge contrast to my previous school where all of my students would have done every paper available.

This year I made a big thing about the importance of papers at Year 12 Parents Evening and gave my students a checklist of all C1 papers. I will make a similar list for C2 at Easter. If I had the budget I'd print packs of papers for my students to complete rather than get them to print their own.

After half term I will be available for weekly 'paper support sessions' after school where my students can drop-in for help with any questions they've found difficult.
I won't have much time for C1 and C2 revision this year but I do have a good bank of A level revision resources - I have posts about this here and here.

Still improving... 
I haven't yet worked out what to do with the students who are likely to get a U this summer. They attend weekly intervention after school but unfortunately it's not enough - there are significant gaps in their underlying knowledge. Ideas gratefully received! At my previous school I taught a girl who worked at a U all year and then ended up with a C, so I know it's possible for a student to turn it around.

The time pressure to get through all the content before the summer exams means teaching sixth form always feels like a race against the clock. I really enjoy teaching A level though. It's a shame that this is the last time we'll be teaching C1 and C2. I will miss these modules! It has been such a pleasure to teach them.

15 February 2017

5 Maths Gems #69

Welcome to my 69th update from the world of Maths EduTwitter. This is where I share some of the latest ideas and resources for teaching maths.

1. New Diagnostic Questions Collections 
I use diagnosticquestions.com every week to create multiple choice quizzes for my classes. I particularly like the questions provided by AQA, OCR and Edexcel. Recently I've also been making use of the new questions provided by White Rose Maths Hub. These are designed for primary students but have worked well with my Year 7s.
I'm pleased to see that new themed collections from the UK Mathematics Trust will available soon. These will be helpful for both stretch and challenge in lessons and for UKMT maths challenge preparation.
2. Don's Blogs
I've written about Don Steward's resources many times. He is one of my favourite maths resource authors. His main blog donsteward.blogspot.co.uk is packed full of wonderful rich tasks for a wide range of topics. Don has a few other blogs that are also well worth exploring:
  • Median magic squares - I'm a big fan of using magic squares in maths lessons! This blog has magic squares for numerous topics ranging from straightforward to complex. They work well for both fluency development (eg fraction addition and negative numbers) and stretch and challenge.
Don also has a blog 'core pure 3 notes' with lovely clear slides and questions for A level and 'MEDIAN + ICT choices' where he shares lots of excellent websites and technologies.

Follow @Team_Maths1 on Twitter for regular updates of Don Steward's latest resources (this is just me on another account!).

3. Arrays
Ed Southall (@solvemymaths) made another video! This one is on multiplication arrays.

If you missed Ed's excellent polygons video, check out Gems 67.

4. Breaking Down the Big Questions
Thanks to Mr Chadburn (@mrchadburn) for sharing an interesting new resource idea. Some of the bigger GCSE questions require a number of different strands of knowledge and skill. He breaks these big questions down into these strands and has students practise each strand separately before bringing it all together to address the bigger problem. Mr Chadburn has blogged about this and shared two resources here.
There are lots of GCSE questions that would work well with this approach - this challenging question from a Churchill Maths paper is a good example.
I think this idea might work well at A level too.

5. crashMATHS
Website crashmaths.com shares GCSE and A level practice papers which are well worth a look. Through their Twitter account (@crashMATHS_CM) they will be sharing daily questions in the run up to GCSE exams.
It's been a busy few weeks. I've been doing some work for TES, helping to build topic-specific pages of recommended free resources - I will share these pages when they are published. Whilst doing this work I discovered that the new GCSE topic 'area under a graph' was rather under-resourced, so I created a couple of new resources: area under a graph and exam questions. They're nothing special but hopefully fill a gap.

I've also been busy adding lots of excellent new resource links to my resource libraries.

Did you catch my latest post? I wrote an article for teachwire.net about maths clubs for both primary and secondary schools.

My school is advertising two roles for a September 2017 start: Maths Teacher and Lead Practitioner. It's a great school and the members of the maths faculty are really lovely so if you live in Surrey or South London and you fancy trying something new, do get in touch. I'm happy to answer any questions if you're unsure about applying - email me at resourceaholic@gmail.com.

I hope to see lots of you at #mathsconf9 in Bristol next month. There are some fantastic workshops lined up. Most people are staying at the Travel Lodge - there will be a free shuttle bus from the hotel to the conference on the Saturday morning. If you're staying over, join us for drinks on the Friday night! Details to follow.

I'll leave you with this lovely map of mathematics by @DominicWalliman - thank you to @Mathematical_A for sharing this.

1 February 2017

Maths Clubs

I've written an article for teachwire.net about mathematical extra-curricular clubs at both primary and secondary school:
"Turn Pupils Into Mathemagicians With These Creative Ideas For Maths Clubs"
Thank you to everyone on Twitter who contributed ideas for this article. It was lovely to hear about all the fantastic clubs that teachers run.

If you're looking for more enrichment ideas, I have two posts that may also be of interest to you: one is about in-school enrichment and the other is about school trips.

27 January 2017

5 Maths Gems #68

Welcome to my 68th update from the world of Maths EduTwitter. This is where I share some of the latest ideas and resources for teaching maths.

1. Fractions Challenges
Whilst searching online for an extension activity for my fractions lesson, I found this Extension Activities Workbook. There's some great fractions stuff in here plus some nice tasks for other topics. I particularly like 'Trail Blazers' on Page 28.
2. What's in the Middle?
Mr Taylor (@taylorda01) has created an activity called 'What's in the Middle'. These questions could generate great class discussion.

3. Alternative Methods
I'm really interested in alternative mathematical methods, in fact I ran an entire SCITT training day on it this week. With my trainees I explored different methods for finding a highest common factor, factorising harder quadratics, solving quadratic inequalities, and various other topics. Exploring new methods always sparks debate. Two interesting methods were shared on Twitter this week.

This alternative method for subtracting was shared by Chris Smith (@aap03102) in his weekly newsletter. You can subscribe to his lovely newsletter by emailing aap03102@gmail.com.
This alternative method for dividing fractions was shared by Ed Southall (@solvemymaths):

Ed's new book 'Yes, but why? Teaching for understanding in mathematics' comes out in March.

4. Number Properties Challenge
I like this activity from Stephen Bodman (@stephenbodman). Give students three or four random digits and they have to generate numbers with specific properties.

5. Misconceptions 
Thanks to Nisha de Alwis (@nishadealwis) for sharing this 'Misconceptions and Errors' document. This list of misconceptions might be useful when you're planning to teach a new topic. For example in the fractions section it includes a number of misconceptions that I have recently identified in my Year 7 class.
I've added this link to my Misconceptions Page.

Did you catch my latest blog posts?

I've had a busy week. I travelled to St Helens on Monday to present on new GCSE topics at North West 3 Maths Hub. On Wednesday I delivered a full day of training to my SCITT trainees. I showed them the video below which features two teachers with different (but equally effective) styles teaching the same lesson on factorising quadratics:

One of the things I like about this video is that it shows that it doesn't matter whether you have a reserved manner or you're more exuberant - good teaching doesn't depend on personality.

It's not long now until #mathsconf9 in Bristol - it looks like there are some great workshops at this one. I hope to see you there.

I'll leave you with this excellent 'Eight Disks' puzzle from Duane Habecker (@dhabecker). Enjoy!

18 January 2017

New GCSE: Functions

Last week I taught the new GCSE functions content to my Year 11s. What a lovely topic, full of delicious algebra. As much as I complain about the unreasonably large number of new topics that have been added to the GCSE syllabus, I have to admit that this topic is very welcome. Like Sets and Venns, it's a pleasure to teach. It's both accessible and stretching, and fits well with other topics.

When you teach functions your students get to revisit some key algebraic skills including solving linear and quadratic equations, simplifying and rearranging formulae, and substitution. Given that the new higher GCSE is 30% algebra, revisiting these core skills is definitely worthwhile at this point in the course.

In the legacy GCSE the only use of function notation was in graph transformations. It always felt a bit wrong to talk about f(2x), f(x + 3) etc when the notation f(x) was previously unknown and wasn't used elsewhere. The GCSE course flows much better now we are able to cover functions followed by graph transformations (which has now been reduced to only translations and reflections).

For Higher GCSE 9 - 1 we have three main areas to teach in this topic:
  • Inputs and outputs
  • Composite functions
  • Inverse functions
I did this over four lessons with my top set.

This is similar to the current functions content at A level, though A level also includes domain and range. This functions content will remain in A level maths under the new linear specifications. Meeting this topic at GCSE will certainly benefit students who go on to take A level maths.

This post aims to support GCSE teachers who are teaching this topic for the first time.

At both Foundation and Higher tier, students are required to "interpret simple expressions as functions with inputs and outputs". At Foundation the main focus is on function machines. At Higher, there's more: "interpret the reverse process as the ‘inverse function’; interpret the succession of two functions as a ‘composite function’". In AQA's Teaching Guidance, we are told that Higher tier students should be able to:
  • understand that a function is a relationship between two sets of values
  • understand and use function notation, for example f(x)
  • substitute values into a function, knowing that, for example f(2) is the value of the function when x = 2
  • solve equations that use function notation
  • understand, interpret and use composite function fg(x)
  • understand, interpret and use inverse function f-1(x)

Edexcel's Content Exemplification FAQs state that "candidates could be asked to produce the graph of a function or an inverse function. It is possible that this could then be linked into a geometrical interpretation".

OCR's specification differs slightly, saying 'knowledge of function notation will not be required'.

When teaching inverse functions I first showed my students how to work backwards through a function machine. I then showed them the procedural 'changing the subject method' that I teach at A level (similar to the method explained by Edexcel below).
My students have mock GCSE results ranging from Grade 4 to Grade 8. Although they had no problem finding the inverse of simple functions, some struggled to find the inverse of this function:
They were taught how to change the subject when the subject appears twice (ie when you have to factorise) in Year 10, but many couldn't remember it. This was a good opportunity to teach it again.

I set them a fairly challenging homework with questions extracted from Edexcel's excellent new content resources. Many struggled with the second part of this question:

The function f is such that f(x) = 2x - 3
Find (i) ff(2)   (ii)  Solve the equation ff(a) = a

The use of the letter a confused them.

Composite functions are definitely the most challenging part of this topic. When I taught my composite functions lesson I was convinced that they'd all understood the 'right to left' order, but when I gave them their weekly quiz the two composite functions questions were answered incorrectly by a number of students. They got the order wrong.
Most of my class also got this question wrong:
I included this partly to test their recollection of negative and fractional indices but it actually showed a misconception relating to the order of operations. Even some of my strongest students incorrectly selected answer B because they'd done the multiplication before the index.

Questions for my weekly quizzes (which I wrote about here) are always taken from diagnosticquestions.com.

Exam Questions
Mel's collection of exam questions by topic from the sample and specimen papers continues to be very useful. There are some lovely exam questions on functions - here's an example:
Source: AQA, via JustMaths

These exam questions collated by mathsgenie.co.uk are also helpful (solutions here).

I used three sources of questions in my functions lessons:
Extract from C3 Functions Solomon Worksheet A

AQA has a good Bridging Unit Resource Pocket on functions. OCR has a Language of  Functions topic check-in which is really good for function machines.

Writing Algebra is a nice function machine activity from missbrookesmaths.com.
See my algebra resource library for more resources.

If you're looking for illustrations to use in your lesson then this website is helpful. I like what they've done here for composite functions:

It's worth mentioning that the function notation we use at school may differ to that used by universities - read this thread for more on this.

I hope that you found this post useful and that you enjoy teaching functions as much as I did!

14 January 2017

World Cup of Maths

I taught composite and inverse functions to Year 11 for the first time last week. I loved it! For a minute I thought it might even be my new favourite topic... But there are loads of other topics I love teaching just as much, including Pythagoras, surds, indices, simultaneous equations, circle theorems, and angles in parallel lines. It's impossible to choose just one favourite!

I wondered if other teachers share my preferences. I turned to Twitter to find out. Inspired by Richard Osman's Twitter competitions (including the World Cup of Crisps), I ran a World Cup of Maths. I started with 32 GCSE topics. Topics were eliminated over the course of five days using Twitter polls. 864 maths teachers voted in the grand final, crowning quadratics as the most popular topic to teach at GCSE. Trigonometry was a worthy runner-up.

If you're wondering how your favourite topic got on, check out the full results below.

Are you happy with the winner? Please comment on this post to let me know what your favourite topic is and why.

Teachers get wonderfully enthusiastic when talking about their favourite topics. It was lovely to see so much discussion on Twitter about the joys and trials of teaching maths. I've shared some of my favourite tweets from the tournament below.

Thanks to everyone who voted, shared their opinions and made me chuckle with their tweets. At least there's one thing we all agree on - we love maths!

1 January 2017

Favourite Posts of 2016

A couple of days ago I published my ten most viewed posts of 2016. Today I've written a different list. These are my personal favourites from 2016 - the posts that I most enjoyed writing, or am most proud of, even if they didn't get many views.

1. Trigonometry Questions and Pythagoras Questions
In these two posts I featured some of my favourite new GCSE questions for Pythagoras and Trigonometry. There are some awesome questions here which I really enjoyed using in my lessons.

2. The Folder Experiment
I was surprised by how many people had a view on using ring binders instead of exercise books with Year 11!

3. New GCSE: Capture-Recapture
My school doesn't use Edexcel for GCSE so I don't need to teach this topic, but I had fun finding out about it. It's a lovely bit of proportional reasoning. If you teach Edexcel GCSE, you might find this post helpful.

4. Multiplying Negatives
I wish my blog was 100% subject knowledge posts. I'll try to do more of them in 2017. Here I talked about various approaches to explaining why a negative times a negative is a positive.

5. Maths School Trips
When Legoland invited me to visit, I was conflicted. I have strict rules about not advertising on my blog. But I really wanted to go to Legoland, and the opportunity to take my family there for free (on my daughter's birthday no less!) was one I couldn't refuse. Thankfully their Mindstorms workshop was amazing, so I had no qualms about giving it a positive write-up (alongside other destinations for maths school trips). I'm fond of this post because it reminds me of my daughter's 2nd birthday.

6. Useful GCSE Questions from Linked Pair Papers
I was a bit grumpy about having to teach Linked Pair GCSE last year but it turned out to be a useful experience. Linked Pair GCSE questions were often excellent and I featured some of my favourites in this post.

7. Gem Awards 2016
Two and a half years ago I joined Twitter whilst on maternity leave. I was overwhelmed by the quantity of teaching ideas and resources so I started writing a weekly gems post to keep track of it all. When I returned to work I couldn't maintain the frequency of the posts, but I still write one or two gems posts each month. I regularly refer back to them when planning lessons. In my annual Gems Awards post I featured some of my favourite gems from the previous year.

8. A Level Reforms: First Thoughts
I wish there were more maths teachers blogging about A level. With the new specifications launching in September, it's going to be important to collaborate with other A level maths teachers during 2017. I hope to play a part in facilitating discussions and sharing resources and ideas. 

One of the best things about writing this post was the tweet from the air traffic controller...

10. ♫ You say zero, I say nought ♫
Perhaps no one else is interested in whether people say zero or nought, but I thought it was fascinating!

11. Worries
The shortage of maths teachers is causing problems in so many schools. It continues to have a detrimental effect on children all over the country. I wrote this post when I was feeling particularly anxious about the whole situation, and found that many of my readers shared my concerns. Later in the year I wrote 'GCSE reform - will it work?' in which I shared more concerns about the big issues in maths education. Nothing has changed since then - my concerns still stand.

12. The Joy of Planning
Naveen wrote a TES article about how great it is not to plan her own lessons because it gives her time to develop her subject knowledge. I certainly understand Naveen's point - we could all do with more time for subject knowledge development. When the article was published, some prominent bloggers jumped on the idea of scripted lessons. On Twitter, the idea quickly developed into one where all lessons are standardised. I watched with sadness as tweeters enthusiastically discussed taking away my favourite part of the job. I tweeted my concern - that teachers wouldn't enjoy delivering scripted lessons - and I was accused of selfishly putting my own happiness before children's learning. This may well be true, but it upset me. Rather than argue, I decided to publish a positive post, 'The Joy of Planning', about how much pleasure I get out of the process of planning and delivering lessons. I received lots of lovely comments on Twitter from teachers who also really enjoy planning lessons. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

So that's it - my favourite blog posts of 2016. I thoroughly enjoyed writing these posts and hope that I can continue to share my experiences and ideas in 2017.

30 December 2016

Most Viewed Posts of 2016

I wrote 78 blog posts in 2016. That's an average of 1.5 per week. Here's a list of the ten posts that had the most views.

I wrote this post back in January to encourage people to take part in a Twitter chat about classroom displays, equipment and layout. I asked people to share photos of their classrooms because most of us like to have a peek at what's happening in other schools.

2. Divisibility Rules
My popular posts are normally about resources, but it makes me happiest when people read a subject knowledge post. In this post I talked about divisibility rules. These aren't taught as much as they should be. 

3. Classic Resources 
I was surprised to see a maths teacher on Twitter say they'd never heard of the Standards Unit. This prompted me to write a post about all the resources that I was taught about on my PGCE. It's really important that new teachers entering the profession know about these timeless classics.

4. GCSE 9 - 1 Revision Resources
In November I realised that teachers were struggling to help their students prepare for their mock exams because they felt that there was a lack of revision resources for the new GCSE. In this post I collated all the new revision resources that I was aware of - I will continue to add to this post over the coming six months.

5. A Level Revision Resources
Another popular post about revision - this one brings together exam preparation resources for A level students. It's a shame that it has a limited shelf life - most of the resources featured are designed specifically for the modular specifications, which are now coming to an end.

6. 5 Websites You Should Know... #1
My 'five websites you should know' series was well received. It was based on a presentation I did at a TeachMeet. I've written four out of the five posts so far, covering Corbett Maths, MrCarterMaths, MathsBot and MathsPad. 

7. Revision Clocks Galore
The revision clock idea originated from a geography teacher and was adapted by teachers in numerous subjects, including maths. This activity became very popular in the summer term. To help keep track of the huge number of maths revision clocks produced, I collected them all in one post.

8. Common Errors Made by Maths Teachers
A controversial post! After noticing a few misconceptions from trainee maths teachers at work, I wrote a post to discuss the fact that maths teachers sometimes get things wrong. We are all human after all! I was planning to crowd source a list of common errors and create a reference document for trainee teachers and NQTs. People are really sensitive about subject knowledge though, and after being accused of writing 'pedantic nonsense' I lost my enthusiasm for the idea. The post, and the extensive comments, are worth a read.

9. Five things you might not know about the new GCSE content #2 
10. Five things you might not know about the new GCSE content #1
My two most viewed posts of 2016 were about the new GCSE. The inspiration for these posts came from a tweet by Ben Ward. He spotted that graph stretches are no longer included in the GCSE 9 - 1 specifications, so I decided to find out if there were any other content changes that teachers might not know about. Across the two posts I featured ten bits of information that hopefully made teachers' lives a little bit easier. The popularity of the first post, which has currently had over 8,000 views, was probably due to the fact that Graham Cumming linked to it in one of his Edexcel Emporium emails.

I hope you found these posts helpful. They are my most viewed posts of 2016, though not necessarily the posts that I am most proud of - I will blog about those shortly!

28 December 2016

5 Maths Gems #67

Welcome to my 67th gems post. This is where I share the latest ideas and resources I've seen on Twitter. I used to write one of these posts every week but I now struggle to find the time, so this is my first gems post since November. I have some crackers for you today though!

1. Polygons
Ed Southall's (@solvemymaths) first video is well worth a watch. It explores the terminology, etymology and structure of naming polygons. I'm now eagerly looking ahead to when I next teach geometry so I can share this with my students!

2. My Favourite No
I first watched this video years ago but I've never put it in a gems post before. Thanks to Stephen Godwin (@stevejodwin) for reminding me about it after it appeared in Doug Lemov's recent blog post 'My Favorite No: Mistaking Knowledge Problems for Skill Problems'. Do watch the video below - it features a brilliant activity for exploring misconceptions.

3.  Primitives
I shared the lovely Furbles in Gems 21, but hadn't spotted the 'Primitives application' on the same website. This has been around for many years, but thanks to John G (@mathhombre) for recently sharing it on Twitter. This lovely interactive factorisation tool is really good for exploring numbers.
Primitives posters and teaching ideas are available from the ATM.

4. Euler's Number
Numberphile published a new video about e last week. I really enjoyed this video and plan to show it to my Year 13s next term.

5. Notepad Calculator
Colin Beveridge (@icecolbeveridge) tweeted about this excellent NotePad Calculator. I'm not sure whether I'll find it useful in the classroom but I love it anyway so thought it was worth sharing.

I've published six blog posts since Gems 66. They're listed here in case you missed them:

Do check out Don Steward's blog too - he's published a lot of new resources lately.

You might also be interested in Dr Frost's revision advice for A level students and Colin Beveridge's exam technique tips for the new GCSE.

I'll leave you with this animation of the surface area of a sphere, shared by Damian Ainscough (@damianainscough).

27 December 2016

Highlights of 2016

2016 has been truly awful... The best way to cope with so many terrible things happening in one year is to focus on the positives. In the world of maths education, there's been loads of fantastic stuff going on. Although we continue to face challenges relating to workload, behaviour, curriculum change and recruitment, there's still plenty to celebrate. In this post I share some of my favourite moments of 2016.

The Conferences
La Salle's conferences are always brilliant. I was gutted to miss their Leeds conference in June but I really enjoyed the Peterborough conference in March and the Kettering conference in October. La Salle are hosting even more conferences in 2017 (check out their dates and locations here) so if you haven't been before, do join us.
Pre-conference drinks in Peterborough in March

Teachers enjoying #mathsconf6 in Peterborough

Cake from Julia Smith at #mathsconf6
to celebrate my 50th gems post
Pre-conference drinks in Kettering
- we made Enigma machines!  
Rob Smith's tuck shop at #mathsconf8 in Kettering

The first researchED Maths and Science was held in Oxford in June 2016. It was excellent. I really hope to see this event return in 2017.
A wonderful venue for researchED Maths and Science

Maths teachers meet for lunch at researchED Maths and Science

In 2016 I attended a number of conferences as a presenter, including Edexcel's Warwick conference, the FMSP's London KS5 Network Day, and Coast2Coast TSA's maths conference.
Peter Mattock and I presenting at
Coast2Coast TSA's maths conference
Meeting my maths hero Hannah Fry at
Edexcel's Warwick conference
The Social Events
I really enjoy meeting up with maths teachers who I've chatted to on Twitter. A highlight this year was our trip to Bletchley Park in the summer holidays. We were so lucky to be treated to a tour of the grounds and a private demonstration of an Enigma machine.
Summer day out at Bletchey Park with fellow tweeters

Some of #teambletchley

La Salle organised their second summer meet up for maths teachers - Pie and Maths.
Summer drinks at #pieandmaths

I had a lovely time at one of Old Andrew's blogger curries.
Out for drinks with edubloggers, organised by
blogging legend Andrew Old

In December I hosted #christmaths16. 110 teachers got together for festive mathsy fun at the Science Museum followed by a night out at a Kensington pub.
Post-museum drinks at #christmaths16

Maths teachers enjoying #christmaths16
The Grassroots Events
This year I've attended a number of events at local schools. I presented at Maths in the Sticks which was an A level day run by Stuart Price, and I presented at Paul Collins' MathsMeet at Oakwood School. I also travelled up to Oldham to present at Lindsey Bennett's LIME event. I hosted my own event too - MathsMeet Glyn took place on a Saturday morning in March and starred one of my maths heroes, Don Steward.
Paul Collins at Oakwood School's MathsMeet
Ben Sparks presenting at Stuart Price's 'Maths in the Sticks' Event
With colleagues at lunch after #mathsmeetglyn

With Don Steward
at #mathsmeetglyn

The Websites and Resources
During 2016 the world of maths resources went from strength to strength.

Clarissa Grandi's artfulmaths.com is a beautiful new website, providing inspiration and resources for both classroom displays and creative maths lessons.

New website mrcartermaths.com is highly valued for its ease of use. Excellent websites such as mrbartonmaths.com, corbettmaths.com and mathsbot.com have continued to develop new content.

For A level teachers, undergroundmathematics.org arrived on the scene, providing high quality rich tasks from the team at the University of Cambridge. We also discovered the IYGB papers on madasmaths.com, providing a large bank of challenging exam style papers for A level students.

The prime game from Christian Lawson-Perfect provided hours of entertainment - and fierce competition - amongst maths teachers.

Throughout 2016 maths hubs all over the country supported teachers in both primary and secondary schools. The White Rose Maths Hub shared excellent schemes of work and assessment resources for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3.

Craig Barton's podcasts were a wonderful feature of 2016 - if you've not discovered these yet, they are well worth a listen. Look out for more of Craig's podcasts in 2017.
The Networks
Since joining Twitter in 2014, my career has been transformed. Its incredible network of teachers continues to provide an endless supply of support, advice, resources, ideas and encouragement. During 2016 I was fortunate to become involved with both the AQA Maths Expert Panel and the TES Maths Panel too.
Some of the AQA Maths Expert Panel members
sporting Christmas jumpers at our December meeting

I can't talk about my 2016 maths education highlights without mentioning my wonderful school and my awesome colleagues. They're a real pleasure to work with.
Lizzie and I with Year 13 maths students on their
last day at Glyn. They don't normally look so scruffy!

Celebrating results on the first day of the new
school year with colleagues Harry and Farah

With trainee teacher Sarah
at Glyn's staff Christmas party
With colleague Rachel at Glyn's
 staff Christmas dinner
Joint Heads of Maths Christina
and Catherine, with NQT Amelia 
Looking Ahead
2017 brings the first sitting of maths GCSE 9 - 1. The successful delivery of this new qualification will be something for maths teachers to celebrate. I worry about how the media and public will react to low grade boundaries and falling 'pass rates' though. I also worry about our poor 'guinea pig' year groups who won't be funded to resit if they get a Grade 4, even though it's likely they'll need a Grade 5 for future career opportunities.

2017 also brings the start of the new linear maths A level. Some of the specifications are not yet accredited, and it's with trepidation that I look ahead to the summer term. I expect that there will be a last minute rush to organise schemes of work, teacher CPD, resources and textbooks.

The Smith Report on post-16 education is due to be published any day now and I (nervously) look forward to seeing the recommendations.

There are many wonderful events planned for maths teachers in 2017 - see my event listings for details. I look forward to La Salle's next conference (11th March in Bristol) and I really hope I'll be able to attend the very exciting JustMaths conference at Alton Towers in June.

I'm positive that the many maths teacher networks, including our wonderful Twitter community, will continue to thrive in 2017.

We have a lot to look forward to.

Happy New Year, maths teachers!