24 July 2016

5 Maths Gems #60

Welcome to my 60th update from the world of Maths EduTwitter. Here I summarise some of the latest ideas and resources for teaching maths.

1. Perpendicular Gradient
I love this gif demonstrating the relationship between gradients of perpendicular lines, shared by Simon Pampena (@mathemaniac).

Geogebra fans will be pleased to see that Tim Brzezinski ‏(@dynamic_math) made 'Slope Triangle Rotation' to explore this further.

2. Metric Units
Next time I teach a lesson on units I'm going to show this five minute video on the history of the metric system. I think it's really interesting.

I discovered this on YouTube after watching The mathematical secrets of Pascal’s triangle which was shared by Cliff Pickover (@pickover).

3. Calculus Puzzles
A level teachers will like this Chalkdust post 'Puzzles about calculus' by Matthew Scroggs (@mscroggs).
4. Displays
Twitter continues to be a great place to share classroom display ideas. I saw two ideas last week that I particularly like. First, check out Sarah Carter's (@mathequalslove) fantastic mathematical welcome sign
Second, Claire Mazurkiewicz (‏@MrsMazzy) put an A level twist on Mel's (@Just_Maths) popular maths periodic table display. I rarely see displays designed for A level classrooms - read about it and download the file here.
5. Shadow Shapes
The image below has been going round the internet for years (original source unknown). I wrote about it last February in Gems 23. I now use it whenever I teach plans and elevations.
Phil Bruce (@pbrucemaths) was inspired by this image to make a PowerPoint of five more examples. You can download it from his blog here, under "shadow shapes".
My last day of term was on Friday (hurrah!)... I know some of you are still at school for a couple more days (nearly there!).

In case you missed any of my recent posts, here they are:

I've used VideoScribe to make a welcome video for Year 7 and an expectations video for Year 11 (you can watch both here) - I did something similar for my first lessons last year and it worked quite well.

If you didn't make it to researchED Maths and Science back in June then you might like to watch some videos of the presentations here.

Please follow @Team_Maths1 if you haven't already - I use this account to tweet maths resources, and my partner in crime Lucy tweets articles and maths jokes. We also offer a resource clinic - ask us for help and we will do what we can to find a suitable maths resource for your lesson.

Do check out the hashtag #DonADay too.

I'll probably blog a bit less frequently than usual over the summer holidays (I've got lots of school work to do... I also hope to make a start on organising #christmaths16... and I want to spend lots of time with my daughters). But I will be using the hashtag #summerblogread to tweet links to posts that you might have missed over the years.

It looks like La Salle are organising another Pie and Maths (see Gems 37 for my write up of the last one) so - depending on the date - I might be there for some summer socialising.

I'll leave you with this question from brilliant.org. There are various approaches (it's pretty straightforward if you can do basic trigonometry) but the solution is interesting. Check out the replies to my tweet here to follow the discussion.

17 July 2016

Looking Ahead

So how was your 2015/16? Careers have their ups and downs. This was the best year of my teaching career so far, thanks to a wonderful set of colleagues.

I got my new timetable on Friday which means I can now start thinking about what I need to do over summer to prepare for September. My school has increased the time allocated to maths for most year groups, so this is where we now stand in terms of the number of one hour lessons per fortnight:
I think this will work well. It differs from allocations at other schools - discussions on Twitter this year have shown that there is little consistency in maths timetabling across the country. 

The changed allocations at my school mean that most maths teachers will be teaching fewer classes next year, but seeing their classes more often. This has clear advantages in terms of relationship building and teacher workload (eg a reduction in test marking, parents evenings and so on). However it has come at a cost - our class sizes are now very large (from what I've gathered on Twitter, we have larger 'bottom sets' than most other schools) - this worries me.

Teaching Year 7 (my only Key Stage 3 class) will be my big challenge next year. We're moving to a quasi-mastery curriculum and, without any proper training or guidance, I think we'll all find this difficult. Half a term of fractions, eek! 

My other classes are Year 11, Year 12 and Year 13. It's funny to think that this will be the last year that we will teach C1 and C2. Just when I was starting to get the hang of it...

I'll be taking my top set Year 10 through to Year 11 next year. I intend to continue with regular low stakes quizzes (as discussed here).

I still have a lot of GCSE content to get through and fear that there will be very little (if any) time for revision and exam preparation in lessons after Easter. This means I need to think carefully about how to use lessons and homeworks effectively throughout the year.

I intend to trial using ring binders instead of exercise books with this class next year. It might be a disaster, but I use so many worksheets that I'm no longer convinced that it makes sense to use exercise books. I'll report back on how it goes...

I recently delivered some training on the new GCSE which I'll blog about next week.

My school now leads a SCITT, which means (with my Lead Practitioner hat on) I'll be much more involved in teacher training. Next year I will be a 'Lead Subject Mentor', meaning I'm in charge of maths-specific training and assessment for our cohort of maths trainees. I'm excited about this - it's exactly what I want to focus on. It's a good career development opportunity for me.

We have five new teachers (of which three are NQTs) joining my department next year, plus at least one trainee. That will keep us all busy! I'll be mentoring one of our NQTs and assessing an NQT in another subject.

Numeracy Initiative
I've been put in charge of whole school numeracy next year. To get an idea of where I stand on numeracy, read Dani Quinn's excellent post Headaches Across the Curriculum: what’s the point in whole-school numeracy?.

The way I see it, the best thing I can do for my students is increase their fluency when working with numbers - from that flows the all-important confidence. So I'm going to use my numeracy budget to start a big push on times tables for Year 7. We will subscribe to Times Tables Rockstars and promote it through a launch assembly, an after school 'Rock Gods' club, competitions and prizes, and dedicated time in maths lessons and afternoon registrations. If all goes well we'll have a large proportion of our Year 7s loving numbers by the end of the year! 

I look forward to spending some quality time with my family this summer. My eldest daughter Maddie starts primary school in September.

I'm a Year 12 form tutor so will have 32 personal statements to review and 32 references to write over summer (my tutor group is unusually big for Sixth Form). I've not done this before and I have a feeling it will take me ages, so I definitely don't want to leave it all until September.

Over summer I'll also be starting to plan my one-day subject knowledge enhancement sessions for the SCITT, and I've signed up for some paid proofreading work for an A level textbook (just to make ends meet). I'm not yet sure if I'll have my own classroom to tidy and decorate but if so then I'll do that when I go into school on GCSE results day - thanks to Twitter I'm never short of display ideas!

Lots to look forward to! Do let me know how your year went and what you've got planned for next year. I know that some of you have already broken up but for those of us still going - enjoy the final days of the school year! Nearly time for a well-earned rest.

13 July 2016

Mathsy Gifts: The Sequel

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about mathsy gifts for teachers. Today's post is a sequel - it features a small selection from the vast range of cool, beautiful and quirky mathsy gifts available from Etsy. Be warned, if you're based in the UK and you actually want to buy any of this, much of it ships from the US.

1. Shot glasses from 'Designer Science Gifts' Etsy seller CognitiveSurplus

2. Pi bow tie from 'Fun Fandom Bows' Etsy seller dexlarprice

3. Cookie cutters from 'Literary, Anatomical & Custom cookie cutters' Etsy seller BoeTech (some of their cookie cutters are bizarre).

4. Math dress for children from Etsy seller Hunter and Fox
5. Triangle Club Poster for a maths classroom from quirky Etsy seller cakeswithfaces

6. Graph Paper Towel (a tea towel!) from Etsy seller of 'Mindful and Playful Home Goods' dirtsastudio. Check out their full range of products - they have lovely stuff for English teachers too.
7. Maths Rocks Tank Top from Etsy seller TheGunsofBrixton1979

8. Pi Poster - one of many beautiful posters from Etsy seller QuantumPrints

9. A Guide to Regular Polygons from Etsy seller JamesBrownPrints.

10. Maths Teacher Shoes - are you brave enough to wear these?! From Etsy seller ibleedheART

Isn't the internet wonderful?

12 July 2016

5 Maths Gems #59

Welcome to my 59th update from the world of Maths EduTwitter. Here I summarise some of the latest ideas and resources for teaching maths.

First I want to say thank you! Today I reached a milestone - resourceaholic.com has had over one million views since my first blog post, which I wrote when I was heavily pregnant back in April 2014. Since then I've been busy, publishing 196 blog posts and 33 pages of resources and listings, delivering workshops, organising events, and doing an awful lot of tweeting (over 20,000 tweets in two years ... oops, I got a bit carried away!). If you've not visited my blog before then you might find my guide to resourceaholic.com helpful. Thank you to all my readers and contributors, and to those who regularly use and recommend my resource libraries. I really appreciate the support.
On with the gems...

1. Increasingly Difficult Questions
I like @taylorda01's new set of 'increasingly difficult questions'. In lessons I often ask my students to try some practice questions from the board so I can check their understanding, before moving on to a lengthier task. This growing bank of questions will be useful.
2. Arithmetic Vocabulary 
I love these graphics shared by @mathemaniac. They might make good displays for a maths classroom.
3. More Displays
I also like these Command Word Posters from Christine Norledge (@MissNorledge). She first published these last year but somehow I missed them at the time.
This lovely formula bunting from Mel (@Just_Maths) is new this week. It features the formulae that students have to learn for the new GCSE.
4. Isometric Drawing
This question from @brilliantorg is interesting.
When I teach this topic I don't do enough to make the link to surface area.

Recently I gave my Year 10s this question from an AQA topic test:

Most of my students calculated the surface area incorrectly, not realising that their plans and elevations were the key to answering this. It can be tricky to count the squares on a complex 3D representation but it's really easy to count squares on plans and elevations.

5. Topical Maths
If you like maths that's related to what's going on in the news then check out @polymathletic's resources on TES. Recent resources include activities relating to the Tour de France, Wimbledon and the dreaded referendum.
Stephen Bodman (@stephenbodman) has also produced a set of Tour de France maths resources - download them here.

Did you catch my latest posts?
  • Join #TeamMaths in which I talked about my latest Twitter project
  • Warwick 2016 in which I reviewed Edexcel's Warwick conference and shared materials from my workshop 'The Wonderful World of Maths Resources'
  • Scheme of Work Development in which I shared some thoughts and experiences of GCSE Schemes of Work

I also presented a workshop called 'Perfect Polynomials' at the FMSP's London KS5 Network Day last Friday - you can download the materials here.

I was interested to see that Boolean Maths Hub is running a two day summer school for around 75 students to help bridge the gap between GCSE and A level. If this goes well I wonder if more hubs will follow their lead next summer. I'm also impressed by the work done by the White Rose Maths Hub lately in developing schemes of work and resources - including lots of support for primary teachers. 

Did you see that MEI has released a sequel to their awesome Sumaze App?  Check out Sumaze! 2.

If you're looking for resources for end of term lessons (when you only have a half a class or half a lesson so can't teach new topics), check out my post End of Term Resources. Also, don't forget Chris Smith's Summer Holiday Relay Race

Open Evening
I wrote a post about ideas for Open Evening a couple of years ago. Some of you won't have Open Evening until September but we had ours last week, so here's a quick update on some new things we tried this year...

In one classroom we played Memory Maths from flashmaths.co.uk. This game has been around for years but I've not used it before. It was really fun! We gathered together groups of competitors (visiting children, their parents, Year 7 and Year 12 tour guides, passing teachers...), and gave them each a mini-whiteboard. Questions flashed up on the board and players had to write down the answers if and when they could. It worked well - I love activities that engage every age group.

In another room we had a table set up with lots of Numeracy Ninjas sheets. Visiting children and our student tour guides sat down and completed as much as they could, and when their time was up we marked what they'd done and gave them a corresponding ninja sticker. We've been using Numeracy Ninjas at Key Stage 3 for the last few months and it's been going really well so it was good to give prospective students a taste of something they will actually do in maths lessons. Us teachers all had a go too and enjoyed wearing our stickers afterwards (we're a competitive department!).

That's it from me. I'll leave you with a lovely question from AQA that really stumped my Year 10s. It's a double bounds question, in reverse, with discrete data. It takes some thinking!

6 July 2016

Join #TeamMaths

This is just a quick post to draw your attention to a new project that I'm working on with Lucy (@honeypisquared).

Inspired by @Team_English1, we've set up the Twitter account @Team_Maths1. We intend to regularly tweet maths resources, articles, jokes, blog posts, news, developments, and teaching ideas.

Tweets come from both me and Lucy - in the space of one week we've attracted over 1,300 followers so I think it's going well.

We have all sorts of exciting plans including TeachMeets and competitions.

One of my favourite features is #DonADay where I tweet at least one Don Steward task a day. I'm enjoying browsing his website to pick out resources!

We also have a 'resource helpline' feature. If you tweet us a request for a resource then we'll do our best to find something suitable. It's a bit like #mathsTLP which was a great success. Tweet requests at any time and Lucy or I will respond as soon as we can.

If you're on Twitter please follow @Team_Maths1! We hope you find it both helpful and entertaining.


3 July 2016

Warwick 2016

After school on Friday I hopped on a train to Coventry to attend Edexcel's conference 'Excellence in Mathematics: Into the Future' at the University of Warwick. It was a fantastic event, reminding me of the high quality residential training courses I used to attend in my previous career.
Shortly after arriving I attended a publishers exhibition at which I picked up a sample chapter from a new A level textbook. The content is very similar in format to the existing Pearson A level books. The 'P1' here refers to one of the new linear exams (for Edexcel, A level Maths students will have three exams at the end of Year 13 - P1 (Pure 1), P2 (Pure 2) and SM (Statistics and Mechanics)). 
Before dinner we had an update on the new A level specifications that are currently awaiting accreditation. Having followed developments closely I was familiar with most of this, but I was interested in the Further Maths options outlined on the slide below. I love pure maths so if I were a student choosing Further Maths options I'd go for FP3 and FP4, meaning my Further Maths A level would have no applied element at all.
The presentation also outlined upcoming changes to Statistics GCSE. Looks pretty tough.
There was a bingo game during the A level update, won by Sharon of Longley Park. The prize was this awesome clock! I love it that (for example) Pi is just after three and e is just before three.
Dinner was lovely. Bizarrely I met a maths teacher who lived in Botswana in the late 80s, when I was at primary school there - I've never met anyone who has lived in Botswana before so this was rather exciting. 
TES Maths Team of the Year members Chris and Mel get the red carpet treatment!

After dinner the Exam Wizard made an appearance at the bar! All good fun, and nice to catch up with some Twitter friends.

The next morning we were treated to Hannah Fry's keynote presentation, which was absolutely fantastic. I've been a big fan of Hannah Fry since I saw her speak at a Maths in Action event a few years ago. Hannah is a lecturer in the Mathematics of Cities at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at my favourite university - UCL (I'm a UCL alumna!). I really enjoyed her recent TV series City in the Sky. She is a highly engaging speaker and I encourage you to see her if you get the chance.
After Hannah's keynote I spent the day delivering my 'Wonderful World of Maths Resources' workshop.

Here are the materials for this workshop:

Near the start of my workshop I asked delegates to write down the resource websites they often use - here's what they came up with! Aren't we lucky to have so many fantastic resource providers?

On the way home I enjoyed reading Hannah Fry's book, The Mathematics of Love. All delegates received a copy in their goody bag. It's a very funny book.
I had a fantastic time at Warwick 2016. Thanks to Mel (@Just_Maths) and the maths team at Edexcel for getting me involved. What a great event.

I'll leave you with two things mentioned in Hannah Fry's talk when she was speaking about modelling traffic shockwaves and pedestrian dynamics. First, craziness at Meskel Square, which looks terrifying but somehow seems to work out ok...

Second, the spinning block of doom! This is hilarious.

28 June 2016

Scheme of Work Development

In March the Independent Teacher Workload Review Group recommended that "a fully resourced, collaboratively produced scheme-of-work should be put in place for all teachers for the start of each term". This is meant to reduce workload, though of course we all know that creating and maintaining a decent scheme of work is an enormous task.

Anyone who has worked at more than one school knows that schemes of work vary hugely in format and content. A good scheme of work, when followed by all teachers, ensures consistent topic coverage across teaching groups. I'm not saying that teachers shouldn't be allowed to go off on a tangent, but it's helpful for an incoming Year 11 teacher to refer to a GCSE scheme of work to see what topics their students studied in Year 10. And if teaching groups change year-on-year then it makes life easier if all students studied the same topics in Year 10.

I'm working on my school's GCSE scheme of work at the moment and I thought it might be useful to share my thoughts and experiences.

My previous school's GCSE scheme of work was created in Word, and looked like this:
It wasn't perfect, but it worked well and had been in place for a number of years. The sequence of topics was sensible, the timings worked and the format was fairly user-friendly. Importantly, teachers could quickly access useful resources, saving them time in lesson planning.

I moved school last June and found that my new school used a timeline which was created in Excel. Having picked up some ideas from Twitter (mainly @missradders - thank you!) I set about turning their timeline into a fully resourced PowerPoint-based scheme of work.

The PowerPoint I've created opens with a timeline showing the order of teaching, as shown below. Each topic is hyperlinked to a slide which contains more details about exactly what to teach.

At seven lessons a fortnight we've been fairly tight on time this year but this allocation is increasing next year. I hope to finish teaching new topics to Year 11 by Easter but I've cautiously indicated on the scheme of work that we may run into the summer term, leaving very little time for revision.

Clicking on a topic leads to a slide that sets out the specification (using extracts from AQA's Teaching Guidance) and provides links to resources. Here's an example:

I've edited this format slightly for the Year 11 pages I've been working on lately, increasing clarity for Foundation teachers.

I find these pages very useful when I'm planning lessons - I can see exactly what I'm meant to teach and what resources are available for each topic. I think it's working well.

So what's next for my scheme of work? Well the order of topics didn't work brilliantly this year so we need a reshuffle for our next cohort of Year 10s. For example, linear graphs was taught prior to solving equations and rearranging formulae, which doesn't make sense. In general the order seemed a bit haphazard, so I'll work on grouping and ordering topics in an attempt to make it flow better.

I'd love to see your GCSE scheme of work if you're willing to share it. I know that Craig Barton has recently launched a new GCSE scheme of work here - given the quality of Craig's work, I'm sure this will be worth exploring.