5 May 2015

5 Maths Gems #29

Hello and welcome to my 29th Maths Gems. This is where I share five teaching ideas and resources I've seen on Twitter.

1. Nix the Tricks Videos
I've long been a fan of the book Nix the Tricks - I think it should be compulsory reading for all trainee maths teachers. I'm excited to see that Owen Tabbert (@OTmath) is making a series of Nix the Tricks videos for teachers. I think these videos are going to be incredibly useful - not only for non-specialists and anyone preparing to teach maths for the first time, but also for experienced teachers reflecting on how they explain mathematical concepts. There's only two videos so far, but more to come. This video about the concept of 'borrowing' in subtraction is excellent:

2. #AlmostMondayMaths
I like @OxfordEdMaths' new tweeting initiative. Every Sunday at 7.15pm they tweet a maths question for teachers to use in the week ahead, using the hashtag #AlmostMondayMaths. Here's a couple of examples of what they've shared so far:
#AlmostMondayMaths - rounding
#AlmostMondayMaths - algebra
3. Radians and Quadrants
Thanks to Meg Craig (@mathymeg07) for writing 'If you teach trig, you need this post'. In it she shares the post 'Unit Circle and Radians' from Math Teacher Mambo (@MTMambo) which is about teaching radians using cut-out pieces representing various angles (π/4, π/3, π/6 etc).
When I teach Year 12 students to use a quadrant when solving trigonometric equations, they (just about!) understand where to draw angles in degrees but find it really hard to work in radians. I've previously written about helping students to understand radians, but I've not seen this lovely template approach before.

4. Problems from MathsPad
MathsPad is one of my favourite resource websites. I'm really pleased that James (@MathsPadJames) and Nicola (@MathsPadNicola) from MathsPad are now on Twitter because they're full of good ideas. Do check out the problems and blog posts that James tweets, like this cuboid problem:

The website MathsPad has lots of free resources and the rest are available for a small subscription charge. All of their resources are excellent.

5. Grange Maths Camp
I'm very impressed by the dedication of Chris Smith (@aap03102) and his colleagues who gave up a weekend to run a maths camp for their Sixth Form students. I'm also impressed that so many students attended - I can't even get my students to attend a 30 minute lunchtime revision session! If you haven't yet read Chris' report of the experience then do have a look - it's inspiring stuff. It sounds like Chris' students will be very well prepared for their upcoming exams. 

I have one more week with my Year 11s and 12s before they start Study Leave. In my last Year 11 maths lesson this Friday I plan to use this brilliant 'big mistake' activity from MathsBox and a reduced version of the exam tips slides I wrote about last year
I'm a Year 11 form tutor so there's a lot going on this week (including plenty of cake eating!). Next week I'll be making sure that the members of my tutor group get to their GCSE exams on time. After half term I start my new job at Glyn School in Epsom (only three weeks to go - it's been a long wait since I was offered the job in December!).

If you teach GCSE classes then I recommend you read 'This much I know about…what REALLY WORKS when preparing students for their examinations!' by @johntomsett. It features two videos from a maths lesson - one of a teacher going through a model GCSE answer using a visualiser and another of a student doing the same. Students copy down the answers verbatim. I must get a visualiser! The post is well worth a read.

If you missed #mathschat on Wednesday then do check out the summary. It was about jokes, pictures and videos that we can use in maths lessons. I liked Stacy Brookes' (@Stacy_Maths) idea to introduce vectors with the character Vector from Despicable Me ('committing crimes with both direction and magnitude').

The next National Maths Teacher Conference is on 20th June in London - I hope to see lots of you there. 

Later that week, at 6pm on Thursday 25th June, Glyn School in Epsom (my new school) is holding a TeachMeet at which I'm speaking. If you live in the South London/Surrey area then do come along. Details to follow.

Two days later, on Saturday 27th June, I'm presenting at the MEI Conference in Bath. My session will be similar to the workshop I presented at #mathsconf2015 in Birmingham. 

Although I've been adding lots of new resources to my libraries, I've not written many new blog posts lately. That's because I've been really busy both at school and at home. It was my youngest daughter's Christening on Sunday so I had to do a lot of organising. Now that's done I'll have time to write some posts - do let me know if there's any specific topics you'd like me to write about. Last time I asked for post suggestions, I ended up writing three challenging posts - algebra, fractions and calculus. I'm ready for another challenge!


  1. In a similar vein to the #almostmondaymaths problems, @OCR_Maths tweet a maths puzzle every Friday lunchtime #OCRMathsPuzzle.

    1. Fantastic, thank you. I wasn't aware of that one. I'll look out for it.