13 December 2014

5 Maths Gems #18

Most of my readers probably already subscribe to Chris Smith's lovely maths newsletter. Full of teaching ideas, puzzles, jokes and mathematical trivia, it's a joy to receive every week. Chris has been producing the newsletter since 2007 when he was a wee NQT. Amongst other things, the newsletter is a fantastic mechanism for sharing good practice.

Chris now has over 900 newsletter subscribers. This week he published his 303rd issue. I've only been subscribing for a couple of months but Chris was kind enough to share his entire back catalogue with me, which I've really enjoyed reading. The ideas in my weekly gems posts are normally sourced from Twitter, but today I feature my five favourite ideas from the first 100 issues of Chris's newsletters. Huge thanks to Chris for allowing me to do this!

1. Factorising
Here's a lovely idea for introducing factorising.
2. Connecting numbers
This is a really nice starter activity to develop ideas relating to number properties.
3. Learning by Rope
This is great for exploring polygons.
4. Finding a Route
Another nice starter activity.
5. Revision notes
In Issue 27, Chris featured an idea from TES which is designed to encourage students to revise for tests.

“I gave each pupil an A4 sheet of paper with their name and my signature on it and told them they had a test coming up and they were allowed to bring the blank page in with them. It was up to them what they did with the page. If they wrote on it, fine, if they didn't, fine. Immediately one of the more troublesome pupils shouted out, “Great! I'm going to copy down all the examples from my book.” Objective one achieved. They were going to revise.

At the end of the test, I collected their sheets to look at them in more detail. It was very rewarding when pupils pretty much demanded that they got them back. Objective two achieved. My pupils now value all of their revision notes."

Each of Chris's newsletters features a puzzle - here's two that I particularly liked (answers are at the bottom of this post):
And finally, two bits of trivia:

That's it from Chris's newsletters for now, but I will bring you some more newsletter gems after I've read the next 100 issues. Don't forget to follow Chris on Twitter and email him if you'd like to receive his weekly newsletters.
What I've been up to
I've had a busy and emotional week. My maternity leave is coming to an end and I'm keen to start planning lessons. I don't have my timetable yet, so am eagerly awaiting news of what classes I'll be teaching in three weeks. On Tuesday I hosted #mathscpdchat which was all about common mathematical misconceptions - you can read a summary here. On Wednesday I had a job interview in which I taught a lesson on indices to a Year 8 class - it was fun to be back in the classroom and I'm pleased to say I got the job, so will be moving schools in May to become an Aspiring Lead Practitioner. I was also very proud to have an article published in Academies Week about the new maths GCSE and the associated problems with recruitment. Feedback and comments are very welcome.

Puzzle answers: 1. r = 29  2. Pi/2

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