19 November 2017

5 Maths Gems #80

Welcome to my 80th gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

1. Times Tables Tool
La Salle Education have made a free version of their Times Tables app available to everyone. It includes multiple representation of multiplication and division facts. I look forward to using this with my daughter when she starts learning about multiplication.
2. Twinkl Taster Pack
I blogged about Twinkl's new secondary maths resources back in Gems 65. They've now shared a free taster pack which includes a set of revision mats suitable for Foundation GCSE students.
3. Quadratics Resources
Thanks to @TeacherBowTie for sharing some lovely quadratics resources including an A3 quadratics consolidation activity which would work well for revision and a problem solving activity for practising factorising.

I've added both resources to my algebra resource library.
4. Times Table Facts
This times tables resource from Anthony Clohesy is well worth a look - it shows the only 28 times table facts students need to learn, arranged in order from important (at the bottom) to difficult (at the top). While you're there, check out the rest of his website thechalkface.net.
5. Universcale
Thanks to my lovely colleague Jane Zimmermann for telling me about Nikon's 'Universcale' tool. This is great for exploring magnitude and measure. It reminds me of the popular 'The Scale of the Universe' that I shared in Gems 12, way back in 2014.

In case you missed it, my post 'The Top 5 Christmas Gifts for Maths Teachers This Year' was published by TeachWire. While you're thinking about your wish list, have a look at Craig Barton's new book 'How I Wish I'd Taught Maths' which is now available to pre-order. I've been very lucky to have a sneak preview of this book - it's fantastic. Look out for my blog post about it soon.

Did you catch my post about MathsJam? If you're a maths enthusiast then do try and get involved in your local MathsJam or come along to the annual gathering next year.

In September I took part in a researchED debate called 'When the maths hits the fan: what do the GCSE results really mean?'. The recording of that session has now been published online - if you have a spare 40 minutes, do have a listen.

If you intend to come to BCME (the hugely exciting maths conference taking place at Easter that I wrote about here) please remember that you only have a couple of weeks left to apply for a bursary. I've applied!

You also only have a couple of weeks left to share your view about the proposed subject association amalgamation - please add comments here.

Mock GCSE season is now upon us - look out for my upcoming blog post about the best revision resources and tools to support students in their exam preparation.

I'll leave you with this great question from Mark Chubb‏ (@MarkChubb3). Do these two have the same area? Same perimeter? Will this always be true no matter how they are put together?

13 November 2017

MathsJem at MathsJam

It was with some trepidation that I travelled up to Staffordshire on Saturday morning to attend my first ever MathsJam annual gathering. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I'm a regular attendee of maths education events, but this was different... I feared that I was in way over my head.

If you're not familiar with MathsJam, it's actually a monthly event which is run all over the world. On the second-to-last Tuesday of every month, maths enthusiasts get together (often in a pub) to play games, do puzzles, that kind of thing. Do check out the website to find your nearest MathsJam - there are loads in the UK. Once a year, MathsJammers get together for an annual gathering which, as I have now discovered, is utterly brilliant.

For most of the weekend, all 175ish attendees are based in one room, listening to a series of five minute talks about anything and everything. I reckon I understood around two thirds of the maths in the talks (ok, maybe more like a half...) but it was fine that some of the talks were a tad too advanced for me. They were still really interesting. I can't list all my favourites here but they included Zoe Griffiths ('A discourse on e'), Matthew Scroggs ('Big Ben Strikes Again'), Adam Townsend ('Stop! (or, using maths to pass your driving test)'), Alison Clarke ('Stupid Units'), Dave Gale ('Catchphrase and Coffee') and Katie Steckles ('Sheeran Numbers').
Around the edge of the room there were all sorts of geeky awesome things going on, including a Rubik's Cube solving robot, loads of maths games and puzzles, a table full of competitions, and an incredible selection of maths cakes. There were so many competitions (designed by attendees) that there was a competition competition (a competition to find the best competition). Bonkers, but delightful.

I absolutely loved the evening entertainment. I enjoyed drinks at the bar with my friends Mariana, Tim and Ed, and it was nice to catch up with the FMSP team. After dinner (the food was excellent!) we had the opportunity to get involved in an amazing selection of games and activities, all brought along by attendees. The evening also featured the MathsJam Jam which was my favourite part of the whole weekend! We basically just sat round singing maths songs... it was bloody brilliant. The lyrics were genius. I absolutely loved it and can't wait to do it again next year. Check out the songbooks here, and a couple of extracts below...

The next morning we had more talks, and by then I felt totally at home. The diversity of attendees was amazing, ranging from teenage maths enthusiasts to retired professors. The atmosphere was incredibly friendly and inclusive. I absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoys maths. I can see why people come from so far away to attend the MathsJam annual gathering, and why they come back year after year.

I must say a huge thank you to the wonderful Colin Wright (@ColinTheMathmo), who does a superb job of organising the event, and to everyone else who was involved in running it. It was lovely to meet so many new people and to catch up with a few familiar faces. I can't wait to go again next year.

5 November 2017

5 Maths Gems #79

Welcome to my 79th gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

1. Percentages
Miss Konstantine (@GiftedBA) wrote a blog post about how she teaches percentages of amounts. In it she shared a lovely activity where the original amount isn't given but a different percentage is.
Don Steward liked this idea so much that he made a very similar activity, which is now linked in my resource library.

2. TES Freebies
I've never bought a resource from TES before but last week I found one that is going to save me a huge amount of time and printing budget... For my Papers Society I have to print a lot of GCSE papers, which is really expensive given that GCSE papers are usually around 20 - 30 pages long. Thankfully I found that a teacher (tpayne89) has put a lot of effort into cutting a selection of GCSE papers down to short A5 booklets - the resource is here

I know that some of you are so annoyed that TES now sells resources that you'd never contemplate buying one, but the rest of you might benefit from the fact that TES are offering a £5 voucher for first timer buyers to purchase a resource during November (use the code NOVEMBERNEWBIE).

3. Prime on a Lime
Inspired by 'Elf on a Shelf', Chris Smith (@aap03102) shared this picture on Twitter...
We had fun guessing the rhyming phrase for this picture and others shared by Chris... and then other people joined in and made their own. Julia Smith (@tessmaths) collected them together in a padlet - see if you can guess them all!

4. Key Stage 3 Support
Thanks to Lisa Pollard (@booleanmathshub) for sharing the NCETM's recent publication 'Teaching for Mastery: Questions, tasks and activities to support assessment in Key Stage 3'. It contains lots of useful question prompts that schools could incorporate into their Key Stage 3 Schemes of Work - here are two examples:

5. Mental Arithmetic
This is something that maths teachers will enjoy! Thanks to Paul Godding (@7puzzle) for sharing arithmetic.zetamac.com. This game is highly addictive! It's fun trying to beat your personal best.
In case you missed them, my recent posts were 'Success Stories: Core Maths' (thank you to everyone who commented on this!) and 'The Wonderful World of Maths Resources'.

If you're an A level teacher, do have a read of the post 'Blind spots in the new A Level Maths' from MarkIt. And if you work with trainees, check out Ed Southall's post 'Helping trainee teachers'.

Last weekend I had lunch with Lucy Rycroft-Smith and David Miles for a meeting of the MA Publicity and Media Committee. We have lots of exciting things planned for the year ahead.
The MA Publicity and Media Committee

If you're not a member of the MA then maybe you could put it on your Christmas list...  Gift memberships are now available to purchase (Primary £46; Secondary £62). If you're not sure whether it's worth joining, do have a read of my post 'Strength in Numbers'.

The MA is currently in talks with the other maths subject associations about amalgamation. I think that the creation of a single maths subject association would be a very important step forward for our profession. I encourage you to add your opinion here, whether you're a member of the MA or not. Thank you to everyone who has already done so.

If you're looking to change school this year (or for next September) and you live in Surrey or South London then please do drop me an email - my lovely school has vacancies. We have opportunities for trainees, NQTs and experienced teachers. We're happy to consider requests to work part time.

I'm off to my first ever MathsJam Annual Gathering next weekend! Exciting stuff. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of you there.

I'll leave you with this lovely puzzle, shared by Chris Smith (@aap03102) in his most recent newsletter. If you've not signed up, email Chris to subscribe.

29 October 2017

Success Stories: Core Maths

There is a case for making maths compulsory until age 18. I find it hard to get on board with this. One of my brightest Year 11 students is currently choosing his A level subjects - he wants to be a barrister so English and History are top of his list. He enjoys maths and he's very good at it, but I certainly don't want to force him to continue to study maths.

However, I am very much in agreement with the principle that everyone should have the opportunity to study mathematics until age 18. Currently almost three quarters of students with a good pass in GCSE mathematics do not continue to study maths after their GCSE exams. This may be because there is no suitable pathway available to them. England is unusual in this respect - we have very low rates of post-16 participation.

In most schools in England, the choice our students face at age 16 is A level maths or no maths at all. Although the Core Maths qualification has now been put in place to cater for those students who pass their GCSE but are unable to take A level, uptake is relatively low. As of June 2017, there were around seven hundred post-16 providers offering Core Maths, which is approaching 30% of the sector. So why isn't every school offering it? Clearly there are funding concerns and staffing pressures at play here. In addition, some schools simply aren't on board with the idea of universal mathematics education post-16.

My school has a relatively healthy uptake of maths at A level. Last year we had 99 students doing AS maths in Year 12, of which 17 got a B at GCSE. Of those students with a B at GCSE, all but one ended up with a D, E or U at AS level (the majority got a U). It was heartbreaking seeing them open their results in August. If only I had been more honest and realistic upfront. The fact is, a student with a B at GCSE is very unlikely to have the underlying knowledge required to succeed at A level. Given lots of time this could be fixed, but we don't have lots of time. Jemma Sherwood explains this very well in her latest post. In light of this, I recently decided that we should raise our entry requirement for A level maths to a Grade 7. I really agonised over this decision, but I feel it is the right thing to do for the students. Part of my justification was that anyone with a Grade 4, 5 or 6 in their maths GCSE would be able to study Core Maths, so at least we wouldn't be excluding them from mathematics. After all, mathematics education should be available to all. This opportunity is particularly important for students who want to study subjects like economics and science, where strong mathematical skills are vital.

Although my request to raise our A level entry requirement to a Grade 7 was accepted, unfortunately my school's leadership team rejected my request to continue to offer Core Maths. They don't see the value in it. I think this is probably a commonly held view. We've run Core Maths for a couple of years with very low uptake (only a couple of students per class) so it's hard to see it as a success. But having gathered inspiration and ideas from Twitter, we were planning to promote it better this year. I do hope that we will get this opportunity in the future.

To support all those teachers who are hoping to implement Core Maths but are facing resistance from leadership, here are three case studies where schools have made Core Maths work well.
1. Maria (@MrsMLL) works at one of the colleges in the North West that piloted the Core Maths Qualification in 2014. Initially the course was highly recommended to students not studying A level maths but studying any A level in science, business, economics, psychology, sport science, computer science and accounting. In 2014 they had 44 students in their Core Maths groups. From 2017, Core Maths is now compulsory for A level science students not studying A level maths. They currently have 55 Core Maths students in Year 12, divided into three groups. Students are told that the main purpose of Core Maths is to support their science studies, and it is increasingly valued by students.
2. Miriam's (@mathsonthebrain) school decided to offer Core Maths because the Sixth Form Leadership Team were looking to provide more alternative pathways for less academic students. When A levels aren't suitable then courses like Core Maths and BTEC Science are recommended. Core Maths is a popular choice, and that popularity partly stems from the fact that maths is well liked in the school. There are lots of students whose favourite subject is maths but they aren't strong enough to do A level, so Core Maths is perfect for them. Miriam's school runs it as a one year course which means they get additional uptake in Year 13 from students who have had to swap courses at the end of Year 12.
3. Chris (@cjshore) works at a large 14-19 comprehensive. With the backing of the college leadership team, in September 2015 they started teaching Core Maths as a qualification to fill the gap between the students who took A level maths and those who retook their GCSE. In the first year 35 students started the course. It was highly recommended to students on mathematically rich courses such as the sciences, geography, economics and psychology. Whilst most students enjoyed the course and reported it helped them with their other studies, there was a high drop out rate during Year 13. Of the 35 students who started the course, only 21 took the final exams. The students who dropped it were those who were struggling with their other A levels or felt that studying Core Maths was not needed for their University offer. Numbers taking up the course at the start of Year 12 remain strong though, with 57 students choosing to take it this year.

I am very grateful to these teachers for their contributions. I have shortened these case studies to keep this blog post to a reasonable length, but I'm sure that each of these teachers would be happy for you to get in touch if you have questions regarding implementation and delivery. There are more case studies here, and of course the Smith Review is full of evidence and recommendations.

To make Core Maths work well, it's vital that school leadership is on board with the idea that all students should have the opportunity to continue to study maths post-16. In addition, it seems that Core Maths has to be actively promoted (or indeed, made compulsory) to students choosing certain courses.

Although we have seen some positive moves from universities in terms of endorsing Core Maths, the Department for Education has a lot of work to do here. To get buy in from schools, and from students themselves, we need the Government to do more, both in terms of funding provision and in terms of promoting the Core Maths qualification at a national level. In the meantime, it's great to hear some success stories. Please add a comment below if you've managed to make Core Maths work well.

21 October 2017

The Wonderful World of Maths Resources

Last week I spoke at the #powerofsix conference. This event was hosted by the six London Maths Hubs. Unfortunately my session was cut short so I didn't get time to finish my presentation. I promised the teachers in my session that I'd share my slides, so here they are:

Slides: The Wonderful World of Maths Resources

Do have a look through my slides and feel free to borrow them if you want to run a session for your department on maths resources. Although it's not ideal looking through these slides without my commentary, most are self-explanatory.

My session comes with a few caveats:

1. I certainly don't think that resources are the most important thing a maths teacher needs to know about. Subject knowledge (including knowledge of common misconceptions and how to explain concepts clearly) should always be our first priority. But I do think that knowing how to quickly access high quality maths resources is beneficial, not only because it saves time in lesson planning but also because it can enhance both our experience of teaching maths and our students' experience of learning maths. I really enjoy finding suitable maths resources for my lessons - in fact I think it's one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job. If I find a great resource for a lesson then I'm even more excited about teaching that lesson, and I think my enthusiasm shows.

2. There are many types of resources that I didn't talk about in my session - manipulatives, card sorts, videos and so on. Because time was limited my session had to have a narrow focus - I couldn't cover everything. Hence there are many many omissions from my slides. My main objective was to share websites that some teachers may not have seen before and talk about the ways in which I have successfully used particular resources with my own students. I have a much longer version of this talk that I wrote for SCITT trainees in which I also share all the classics too.

3. For the first time, I talked about the pros and cons of textbooks. I was quoted in an article about textbooks in The Times recently and I think I came across as anti-textbook. I'm not anti-textbook, I just think that some topics (eg shape transformations) lend themselves better to write-on sheets, and that being made to use a textbook in every single lesson would suck all the fun out of my lesson planning! There are certainly numerous advantages to using textbooks, as summarised below.
It's all irrelevant as we can't afford textbooks anyway. Until we get decent budgets in maths departments, there's no point in discussing it further.

In my session I asked delegates to share the websites that they currently use when planning lessons. Their responses are shown here:
TES is mentioned a lot here. There's been some anti-TES sentiment on Twitter recently which I think is a real shame. If you're not using TES then you're missing out on the amazing resources of Dan Walker and Susan Whitehouse! And without TES, new teachers wouldn't have the opportunity to share their own resources. I'll never forget how good it felt when as an NQT I loaded my first ever resource to TES and it got a good review. It was the first time I felt part of a wider community, and the first time in teaching that I felt that my work might actually be valued. I have a lot to say on this so I'll save it for a separate blog post...

My own resource libraries list hundreds of hand picked recommendations for every secondary topic. Please do check them out if you haven't already.

Thanks to everyone who came to my session. And sorry again for rushing!

15 October 2017

5 Maths Gems #78

Welcome to my 78th gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

1. Access Maths
I first blogged about @AccessMaths' resources in Gems 47. Last week he started sharing a new set of resources for GCSE teachers. One thing that caught my eye was his 100 'Crossover Style' questions revision mat. I have to set cover for my Year 11s on Friday and they'll be getting this activity, printed on A3.
There are loads of new resources on Grant's 9 - 1 GCSE page, many of which I have now added to my resource libraries. Do check them out.

2. Puzz Grid
Dave Taylor (@taylorda01) tweeted about an addictive website called Puzz Grid where you can easily set up your own grids or play other people's grids. It's a timed game where you have to select groups of four squares that are linked together. Dave shared one of his own creations here.
This website works just as well for maths as it does for other subjects. It's really fun - have a go and you'll see what I mean.

Parallel Line Mazes (again!)
In my angles in parallel lines presentation at #mathsconf13, I shared one of my all-time favourite resources, which was created by Daniel Schneider (@MathyMcMatherso). I first blogged about this back in Gems 26 and I have used it in lessons many times since then.

I had forgotten that there were similar and equally awesome activities in the geometry section of Daniels's blog until he mentioned it after #mathsconf13. So I decided to feature this resource again - the second time it's been in a gems post - because I love it.

4. Add 'Em Up
I spotted an activity that I've not seen before in this tweet by Jae Ess (@jaegetsreal)

The idea is that each group of four students is given a card. Each student solves one of the four problems. Once they've all solved their problems they add up their answers and the sum should equal the number in the middle. If it doesn't then the group has to look at the four solutions and figure out which one is wrong. Sara Van Der Werf (@saravdwerf) blogged about it here.

5. TickTock Maths 
Richard Tock (@TickTockMaths) wrote a post about #mathsconf13 in which he said that he was going to start sharing his resources for free. It's worth having a look at Richard's resources and blog posts because there's some great stuff there. I enjoyed his recent post 'Interesting Questions' where he wrote about task design.
I had a quick browse through Richard's resources and liked the uncluttered layout of his slides, and his clear explanations.
He uses nice activities in lessons - check out his factorising linear expressions slides for some examples.
In case you missed it, I recently wrote a post about saving the FMSP, and I blogged about BCME 9.

Colin Foster (@colinfoster77) shared a great article that he wrote for the MA journal Mathematics in School. It's about different methods for finding the nth term of a sequence. If you're teaching quadratic sequences this year, give it a read. This is the kind of subject knowledge development that teachers need more of!

If you teach mixed attainment or you're an FE teacher teaching GCSE resit then note that two conference dates have been announced and added to my conferences page. The next Mixed Attainment Maths Conference is in London on 27th January. The GCSE Maths Resit Conference is on 17th March in Sheffield.

I'm speaking about resources at the Power of Six Conference in London this Thursday. Do say hello if you're there (though I have to leave at 11am to get back to school for a 1pm lesson, so sorry if I have to rush off!). 

Finally, my maths teacher friends and I had a great time at the Festival of the Spoken Nerd show in Redhill on Thursday. It's not too late to get tickets for the tour - I highly recommend it!

11 October 2017

Save the FMSP!

A level teachers love The Further Maths Support Programme, and it's clear to see why. It has actively supported us for many years, having a direct impact in our classrooms. Just look at the uptake of maths and further maths A level in England - an incredible success story that can be partly attributed to the effectiveness of the work of the FMSP.
Taken from MEI's Annual Review 2016 - 17

The FMSP makes A level maths and further maths accessible to students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to take it. Imagine a society in which our most talented mathematicians stop studying maths aged 16 because they live in the wrong area or go to the wrong school. It's clear to anyone with even a shred of social conscience that the work of the FMSP is incredibly important.

What's changing?
In response to the Smith review, the Department for Education announced a new Level 3 Maths Support Programme (L3MSP), with £16 million of funding from April 2018. Although we were led to believe that this was exciting 'new money', my understanding is that it will replace the previous level three support. Hence the Core Maths Support Programme and the much loved Underground Mathematics have already gone, and the FMSP (in its current form) will go too.

In MEI's recent newsletter it said that the FMSP will continue to provide A level maths and further maths support for schools and colleges until the new L3MSP is in place.

So the FMSP, which has been running since 2005, will be superseded by the L3MSP next April.

The new L3MSP will support Core Maths and A level mathematics and further mathematics, but will focus on the DfE's twelve 'Opportunity Areas' (these were selected from areas identified by the Social Mobility Commission as having particularly poor social mobility). So I think this means that those of us who work in schools outside of those Opportunity Areas will see our level three support withdrawn, or at least reduced.

This suggests that most of us will no longer have access to the FMSP's affordable high quality training courses on how to deliver A level topics. This comes at a time when we are teaching a brand new A level curriculum (which, particularly for the further maths specification, requires a great deal of subject knowledge development) and we have dwindling numbers of specialist maths teachers. This also comes at a time when A level uptake may have dropped significantly due to the impact of the new GCSE. We won't know official numbers for a while, but at my school we were surprised that our A level maths uptake fell by 32% this year - I certainly hope that this is not representative of the national picture. Either way, given the current situation, the timing of these changes couldn't be worse.

What can we do?
We're too late to save Underground Maths and the Core Maths Support Programme, but perhaps we're not too late to save the FMSP. We need to make our voices heard! We need to make sure that the Department for Education knows where we stand on this.

If level three support will end in all but the Opportunity Areas from April 2018 then the Department for Education need to be transparent in their communication about this. Maths teachers need to know that this is happening.

I'm hoping that we can do something about this. If I have to organise an actual protest outside the DfE then I will! Just watch me.

I'm just a teacher - I blog independently without income or affiliation - but I think this is worth fighting for.


4 October 2017


Tickets went on sale for BCME today. This is exciting news! BCME (the British Congress of Mathematics Education) brings together the members of the Joint Mathematical Council of the United Kingdom (JMC) for one big mega-maths-conference. It takes place in Warwick over four days in the Easter holidays... and it will be huge! The number of speakers is staggering.

These events have been running since 1991. BCME 8 took place in Nottingham in 2014. Given that I'm still a relative newbie to the maths conference scene, this will be my first ever BCME. And I am very much looking forward to it.

I go to a lot of conferences these days, but BCME is very different to the conferences I usually attend. For the last three years I've gone to a La Salle conference every term - I absolutely adore these events. I can't recommend them enough. BCME is a totally different kind of event. I see it as an extra bonus conference to attend next year, on top of my usual La Salle conferences.

Unbelievably, there are over 350 sessions to choose from at BCME! I can't even begin to imagine how hard it will be to choose! This does mean that there will be plenty to appeal to everyone though, from EYFS through to university. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of speakers who I haven't seen before.

If you attend all four days of BCME then you can go to ten different sessions, plus there's loads of other stuff going on including a number of plenary speakers and social events. Hannah Fry (I love her!) is speaking after dinner on the Thursday night. On the Friday there is a special event to celebrate the life of Malcolm Swan.

Of course you don't have to attend all four days - there are various different ticket options. If, like me, you're worried about the cost of this event, then you'll be pleased to hear that bursaries may be available from the LMS and UKMT.

Below I've listed some examples of sessions, just to give you a flavour of what's going on. All 350+ sessions look amazing! Do check out the session booklet to see the whole lot.

A6 - Variation: beyond the definitions - Anne Watson
This session will be a workshop of mathematics tasks and discussion to open up a range of meanings and roles for 'variation' in mathematics teaching. Some of the jargon around this word is taken as prescriptive, when it is merely descriptive - there is more to describe. 

A10 - Mathematics from East to West - Andra Ghencea 
The aim of the session is to look at the differences and similarities between the approach in the teaching and learning of mathematics in Eastern versus Western Europe. The opportunity to explore both worlds in depth, through personal education and work in the educational sector, has given me a clear image of what leads to mastery in the subject.

B10 - The Black Heroes of Mathematics - Nira Chamberlain 
The 2017 released film, Hidden Figures, is based on the true story of a group of black female mathematicians that served as the brains behind calculating the momentous launch of the NASA astronaut John Glenn into orbit. However, these mathematicians of colour are not the only 'Hidden Figures'. In this this talk, The Black Heroes of Mathematics, we will discuss other inspirational men and women who overcame obstacles to prove that 'mathematics is truly for everybody'! 

B11 - Making Resits Work - Emma Bell and Anna Bellamy 
Compulsory mathematics GCSE resits are a thorn in the side for students and practitioners alike. In this session - run jointly by two teachers, for teachers - research and practice come together to examine how we can best help those students. Anna Bellamy's research focusses on Student Voice and the effects the forced resits have on those students while Emma Bell specialises in motivation, ensuring that students have belief and confidence in their mathematical abilities. How can we make mathematics resits work for all of our students?

 B17 - Teaching multiplication with deep conceptual understanding - Katie Crozier
This workshop will explore how deep conceptual understanding and visualisation of multiplication can be developed through exposing structure and making connections. Part of the workshop will explore the use of the Numberlink Board, developed through action research in the Y4 classroom, to teach multiplication facts with understanding. 

D17 - Pop-Up Maths - David Sharp 
In this creative and active session, you'll make pop-up 3D shapes, including cubes, tetrahedrons and dodecahedrons. You'll also make flexagons, including tri-tetra-flexagons and tri-hexi-flexagons. We'll look at how these can be used in the classroom.

G14 - Ideas that transformed my teaching - Jo Morgan
In 2014, Jo joined the mathematics teaching community on Twitter. Within months it had transformed her teaching. Immersed in resources, debate and advice, Jo felt empowered to try new ideas in the classroom. Inspired by best practice, she started to refine her teaching routines and approaches. In this session Jo will share some of the most effective changes she's made over recent years.  

G4 - Many Mischievous Mathematical Misconceptions - Craig Barton 
Using data from the tens of millions of answers to questions on my Diagnostic Questions website, together with the actual written explanations given by students, I will unearth some of the most surprising, interesting and deadly mathematical misconceptions that our students hold. How do these misconceptions vary by age group? What are the most important misconceptions to resolve early in order to prevent problems further down the line? And is attempting to resolve misconceptions more trouble than it is worth? Expect a bit of controversy, as well as a fresh round of everyone's favourite quiz: Guess the Misconception. 

Doesn't it look awesome? Bookings are open now.

27 September 2017

5 Maths Gems #77

Welcome to my 77th gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

1. Interactive Manipulatives
Jonathan Hall (@StudyMaths) is the creator of the excellent website mathsbot.com. I blogged about the features of MathsBot last year. Jonathan has recently added lots of new content to MathsBot, including a set of virtual manipulatives which are well worth exploring. They are very helpful for demonstrating things on the board before students have a go with actual manipulatives, such as algebra tiles and Dienes Blocks.

2. Revision Maze
A quadratics worksheet from CrashMaths caught my eye on Twitter so I explored some of their other resources. I discovered this lovely GCSE revision maze for the higher tier. You can download it from their website with solutions. I have added this to my collection of GCSE 9 - 1 revision resources.

3. AQA A Level Resources
AQA has launched its A level maths e-library. I put a lot of work into this project so I really hope it's useful. It's a great place to search for resources when teaching the new A level. AQA has also published a new set of topic tests for A level.
Links to these topic tests and other new A level resources can be found on my New A Level Support page.

4. Stickers
Have you seen these amazing stickers from Maths Gear? Take a minute to read through them. I love maths jokes! 
If you're ever buying a present for a maths teacher, I recommend two brilliant websites for mathsy gifts: mathsgear.co.uk and presentindicative.com.
5. Rolling Numbers
Naveen Rizvi (@naveenfrizvi) shared a blog post about introducing rolling numbers at her new school. It's worth reading about how she motivated reluctant students. Rolling numbers is a fantastic way of improving students' fluency in times tables. You can download the lyrics from Bruno Reddy's blog.

Here's Naveen in action. Impressive!

Also check out this video of @tkendalluk rolling numbers at Michaela Community School. This was shared by Jo Facer on Twitter.

I've taken on two new jobs at school and have had lots going on every weekend in September, so I've really struggled with workload this month. Hopefully things will start to calm down a bit now.

I was very pleased to be co-opted as Chair of the MA's Publicity and Media Committee and am looking forward to getting stuck into the role during October. It's a really exciting position and I am honoured to have been appointed.

A few months ago I blogged about the importance of joining the MA. Recent rumours that our profession might lose the FMSP - one of our most highly valued organisations - means it is now more important than ever to join the MA. We need to come together as a profession to make our voices heard. Please join if you haven't already.

I'm looking forward to seeing lots of maths teachers at #mathsconf13 in Sheffield this Saturday, and at the pre-conference drinks on Friday night. I will be presenting on angles in parallel lines, as part of the project I described here. There are only a few spaces left in my workshop so if you want to come along and haven't chosen your workshops yet, please do.

In case you missed them, here are my recent posts:

I also updated my new A level resources page and my Topics in Depth page, and I've added a few new Pret homeworks (thanks to continuing generous contributions!).

In October I will be presenting on resources at the Power of Six Conference in London. Do check this one out - tickets are now only £50 and there are some excellent speakers lined up to present.

Finally, don't forget to book tickets for the Festival of the Spoken Nerd Tour! I'll be at the Redhill performance on 12th October. Can't wait!

20 September 2017

Challenges and Competitions

I thought it might be helpful to pull together a list of national maths challenges and competitions. Please let me know what I've missed!

Key Stage 2
The Primary Maths Challenge
This lovely maths challenge from the Mathematical Association is aimed at pupils in Years 5 and 6 in England and Wales, P6 and P7 in Scotland, and Years 6 and 7 in Northern Ireland. 63,000 children took part in 2016. In November, children sit a 45 minute individual maths paper at their school and are awarded a certificate for achievement or participation. High scoring pupils are invited to take part in a bonus round the following February. Example papers (for both the November challenge and the February bonus round) can be downloaded here. It costs £11 for a pack of 10 papers.
Examples of questions from the Primary Maths Challenge

The National Young Mathematicians' Awards
This team maths competition, now in its eighth year, is run in conjunction with NRICH and is designed to inspire and challenge talented mathematicians from across the UK. Schools can enter a team of four children from Year 6 or below. The first round is a regional knock out undertaken at an Explore Learning centre in early November. Winners go through to the Semi-Final at the end of November, and the Grand Final takes place at the University of Cambridge in December.

Primary Team Challenge
The UKMT provides a set of free resources for schools to run their own team maths challenges. These may be helpful for: 
  • a primary school running their own maths event for Key Stage 2 pupils
  • a secondary school running a maths event for children from feeder primaries
  • a maths hub, multi academy trust, local authority or other organisation running a regional maths event for primary children

Key Stage 3
Junior Mathematical Challenge
The Junior Mathematical Challenge is a multiple-choice competition for students up to Year 8 in England and Wales, Year S2 in Scotland or Year 9 in Northern Ireland. It is run by the UKMT in April each year. Over 300,000 students participated in 2017.

The cost is £13 per pack of 10 papers. Like the other individual challenges listed here, students complete their paper at school in test conditions on the designated date. To recognise the highest performers, the top scoring 40% of participants are awarded bronze, silver and gold certificates in the ratio 3:2:1. Around 1,200 of the very highest performers are invited to take part in the Junior Mathematical Olympiad and around 5,000 to take part in the Junior Kangaroo.

It's worth checking out the UKMT Problems on Diagnostic Questions and the UKMT Problems on DrFrostMaths for interactive practice.
Example question from the 2017 JMC
Team Challenge
The Team Maths Challenge is a UKMT competition which gives pupils the opportunity to tackle a variety of engaging mathematical activities while developing teamwork and communication skills. It is open to students in Year 8 and 9, and equivalent year groups in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Each school is invited to enter a team of four pupils to a Regional Final. Regional Finals run at over 65 centres across the United Kingdom from February to April. Entry costs £35. The winning team at each Regional Final will receive an invitation to the National Final which takes place in June.

National Cipher Challenge
The National Cipher Challenge runs from October to January. It is a free competition offered by the University of Southampton. It has been running since 2002, and regularly attracts entries from teams at over 700 UK schools and colleges. Students of any age can take part, so schools often promote this competition to teams from all year groups. Entrants are set a series of eight codebreaking challenges online, with points awarded for speed and accuracy.

The Alan Turing Cryptography Competition
Now in its sixth year, the Alan Turing Cryptography Competition is aimed at secondary school children at Key Stages 3 and 4. This free competition is organised by the University of Manchester and runs from January to April. Like the National Cipher Challenge, entrants are set codebreaking challenges online. In May there is an Alan Turing Cryptography Day in Manchester which includes a prize ceremony.

Key Stage 4
Intermediate Maths Challenge
The Intermediate Mathematical Challenge is a UKMT multiple-choice challenge for students up to Year 11 in England and Wales, Year S4 in Scotland or Year 12 in Northern Ireland. It takes place at schools in February and costs £13 per pack of 10 papers. High scorers are invited to compete in the Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad or Kangaroo.

Year 10 Maths Feast
The Maths Feast is a team competition run by the FMSP for Year 10 students. It promotes problem solving and communication skills and takes place in the spring term. Around 70 events take place each year across the country attracting entries from over 750 schools. Materials from previous competitions are available which schools can use as enrichment activities to develop problem solving skills.
Example question from the FMSP's Maths Feast
Key Stage 5
Senior Maths Challenge
The Senior Mathematical Challenge is a multiple-choice challenge for students up to Year 13 in England and Wales, Year S6 in Scotland, Year 14 in Northern Ireland. Organised by the UKMT and run in schools in November, it is £13 for a pack of 10 entries and top performers are invited to take part in the British Mathematical Olympiad Round 1 or the Senior Kangaroo.

Example question from the Senior Maths Challenge 
Senior Team Challenge
The Senior Team Mathematics Challenge is organised by the FMSP in partnership with the UKMT. This annual competition takes place in November and attracts entries from over 1,000 schools throughout the UK. Winners of the regional heats are invited to the national final in London in February.

I have only included UK-wide challenges here, but there are a large number of regional competitions too. For example, Rock Wrangles are wonderful events in which Year 6 and Year 7 students compete on Times Tables Rockstars. In 2017 Rock Wrangles took place in five cities in the summer term.

The Scottish Mathematical Council has been running an annual Mathematical Challenge since 1976 which is split into Primary, Junior, Middle, and Senior Divisions.

I hope this list is helpful! Please do let me know of any national annual competitions that I've missed. If you're interested in international maths competitions, check out the list on Wikipedia.

If you're looking for other enrichment ideas, have a look at my posts on in-school speakers, maths clubs and maths trips.