23 March 2015

5 Maths Gems #27

Hello and welcome to my 27th gems post. This is where I share five of the best teaching ideas I've seen on Twitter recently. I'll be brief today because I feel like I'm drowning in marking, reports and lesson planning at the moment! Thankfully it's only one week until the Easter holidays, so there's light at the end of the tunnel.

1. Which One Doesn't Belong?
This website is pure genius from @MaryBourassa. 'Which One Doesn't Belong?' is 'a website dedicated to providing thought-provoking puzzles for math teachers and students alike. There are no answers provided as there are many different, correct ways of choosing which one doesn't belong'.  Here's a couple of examples:
Ask students to find a reason why each one doesn't belong. What a fantastic tool for generating interesting class discussion. Mary welcomes contributions to the website - details and templates are available hereThis post gives some background on where the idea for the website came from.

2. C4 Integration
Some people find it easier to remember facts than others so bear with me on this one.

In a discussion about C4 integration on Twitter, @DrAliMaths told me how his students remember the integrals of sinx and cosx.
Seems silly, right? The very next day, I overheard my Year 13s getting in a muddle over signs when integrating sinx and cosx. I showed them the sic and cis mnemonic and they loved it! Instant recall of basic facts is very helpful when tackling complex integration problems. I even find myself using this mnemonic now. If I have to integrate sinx, I immediately think '(sic) sine integrates to cos - negative'. Previously I would have paused for a second to think about it, now it's automatic so I can get on with the trickier stuff.
And here's another tip for your A level students from @DrAliMaths:

Remember: 'D'ifferentiation 'D'ecreases the power.
'I'ntegration 'I'ncreases the power.

While I'm on the subject of integration, I must share this lovely idea from @sxpmaths. When his Year 13s do integration, they fold a piece of paper into 12 (see picture below) and fill it in as they learn more and more techniques.

3. Hint Tokens
I read a nice post from @MrsOClee this week about a successful Pythagoras Lesson. In this lesson Pythagoras problems were put around the room and students worked in pairs to solve the problems - they had to present their teacher with as many correct answers as they could in an hour. They had 3 ‘hint’ tokens that they could trade in for help at any point. I like this idea - I have a habit of offering too much help, which can be counterproductive. The limited supply of hint tokens will encourage perseverance in students - they'll only ask for help when they really need it.
 Spiderbox from illustrativemathematics.org
4. Surds
Two lovely surd resources were shared on Twitter this week. First up was @aap03102's excellent surds magic square.
Followed by another set of examples:

5. Sticky Maths
John Smith (@HoDteacher) shared his post Sticky Maths which is full of fantastic ideas. Read it now! He's encouraging teachers to tweet their 'tricks of the trade' with the hashtag #stickymaths. An example is this clever way of setting out binomial expansions:
Binomial expansions can sometimes get a bit 'busy' and as a result mistakes can be made when simplifying. Setting out the workings vertically is a brilliant idea! It's so much tidier.

In this week's #mathsTLP, @El_Timbre suggested another vertical idea for introducing expansion at Key Stage 3.

For example 3(2x+1) is 3 lots of (2x + 1) ie:

(2x + 1)
(2x + 1)
(2x + 1)

This makes the concept clear and simplification easy. And, as @mrallanmaths pointed out, when you move onto 20(2x + 1), students will be motivated to spot the pattern so they don't have to write out 20 terms!

I love these vertical stacking ideas and I look forward to all the #stickymaths ideas still to come.

What I've been up to
Did you read my post about methods for finding a Highest Common Factor? It's the first in a series of posts summarising the content of my recent conference workshop. The rest will follow over the next couple of weeks.
Ed Southall (@solvemymaths) and I have been running #mathsTLP on Sunday nights for three weeks now and it's going really well. We've been inundated with teachers asking for lesson ideas and thankfully there's been a fantastic response on Twitter, with loads of inspiring ideas and resources being shared. Join in on Sundays at 7pm to see for yourself!

 Bonnie Attaway (aka Jo Morgan), Rock Legend
Today I trialled Times Tables Rockstars for the first time with my Year 7s. It was great fun. All students were totally engaged throughout the lesson - I played rock music while they excitedly competed against each other. I reminded them of the importance of instant recall of times tables for topics they will encounter over the next few years (like factorising quadratics). I'm really looking forward to using Times Tables Rockstars more in my new job - it's fantastic.

Speaking of fantastic resources, tomorrow I'll be using Chris Smith's Easter relay with my Year 8s. If you're looking for a nice Easter maths lesson then you can find it here. Enjoy!