18 August 2015

5 Maths Gems #37

Hello and welcome to my 37th gems post. This is where I share some of the best maths teaching ideas I've seen on Twitter. If you enjoy reading these posts then you might like to explore my new hashtag #mathsgems to see highlights from previous posts.

Last week I attended #pieandmaths - this was an event organised by La Salle Education in which a group of maths teachers got together to discuss issues in maths education. It was a great day and I've included a short write-up at the end of this post.

I have a surplus of gems this week so here's the first five, with five more to follow later this week.

1. Brilliant Indices Question
I first wrote about Brilliant.org in Gems 21. I 'like' Brilliant's Facebook page which means I get regular maths problems in my Facebook feed. Since I joined Twitter I haven't used Facebook much, but I've been on there quite a bit this week working on my new Facebook page. Luckily that means that I spotted this awesome question from Brilliant:
My Year 12s will be treated to this in September! 

2. 1001 Math Problems
Thanks to Denise Gaskins (@letsplaymath) for sharing the website 1001 Math Problems. This American website was created as a source of problem-solving activities for elementary and middle school children. The problems are accessible and engaging. Solutions are included.

Here's a lovely example, taken from the selection of puzzles that explore factors/divisibility:
The problems are mainly suitable for Key Stage 2 and 3. I love 'The Spilled Juice Problem'.

3. Simulations
Last August I wrote a post Animations and Simulations, and since then I've occasionally featured animations in my gems posts, like this lovely demonstration of the area of a circle from Gems 12.
One of my favourite simulation websites is PhET Interactive Simulations which I'm told is particularly useful for teaching Mechanics at A level. Some of the simulations on PhET are suitable for Key Stage 3 and 4, such as this estimation activity. Do have a play with this activity, it's great.
Thanks to a tweet from @ChristinaGawlik I've also discovered the recently revamped website www.explorelearning.com. This is the 'world's largest library of math and science simulations'. These simulations (called Gizmos) are really good. Unfortunately unless you pay a subscription, you can only access each Gizmo for 5 minutes. Worth a look though.

4. VideoScribe
Chris Smith (@aap03102) shared an impressive promotional video for his newsletters. He said it only took him 15 minutes to make this video and I didn't believe him! I set up a trial of VideoScribe and found out he was right - it's very quick to make a video using this software. Here's my attempt - a fun (but pointless!) promo video for resourceaholic.com:

I was wondering if there were any opportunities to use this software in the classroom when I coincidentally stumbled across this Classroom Expectations video from Cathy Yenca (@mathycathy):

Since starting at a new school and having to do 'proper' behaviour management for the first time, I've realised the importance of setting expectations for students. I think this approach might make those expectations more memorable (and even if it doesn't, it's fun to make the video!). Cathy says, "I plan to show this brief video I created using a free 7-day trial of VideoScribe and give students a hard copy of classroom expectations to fill in a few blanks as they watch. I may show this several times during the first few weeks of school, post it on my website, and generate a QR code to link to it when someone needs a reminder".

I spotted Cathy's video in her excellent post First Days Favorites which lists some lovely activities for first lessons. It's well worth a read.

5. Challenges
I get email updates from Steve Lyon (@SteveJLyon) of National STEM Centre. Through this I spotted these Mathematical Education on Merseyside Challenges. Mathematical Education on Merseyside (MEM) is an organisation providing enrichment activities such as masterclasses and challenges. The challenges, which date back to 1980, were originally presented as take-home competitions for use during February half-terms. These are really nice sets of questions which could be used for competitions or lunchtime maths clubs, or perhaps for stretch and challenge in lessons.

This question is taken from the 2005 Senior Challenge (aimed at Year 9 and 10):

Starting at A, a fixed point on a circle with centre O, I move anticlockwise one quarter of the way round the circle to a point W, then hop across to X, the opposite end of the diameter through W, then travel one fifth of the way round the circle clockwise to the point Y, before hopping across to Z, the point at the opposite end of the diameter through Y. How big is the angle <AOZ?

And these questions are from the 2006 Challenge (aimed at Year 7 and 8):

Recommended Reads
If you teach maths at Key Stage 3 then I strongly recommend that you read Michael Tidd's (@MichaelT1979) post "10 things you might not have realised about the new Primary Maths curriculum".

Thanks also to Colleen Young (@ColleenYoung) for her post about World Maths Day. It's on 14th October 2015 and now open for pre-registration.

I've made quite a few updates to my website this week. In response to lots of queries about primary school maths resources, I added a Primary Maths page which links to blogs and resources. I updated my Conferences page, my New GCSE page and my About Me page. I also wrote a post about tangents and areas based on the new GCSE specification.

Pie and Maths
La Salle Education is a company dedicated to improving mathematics education. I love La Salle's conferences and will be presenting at their next conference in Sheffield in September. Last week La Salle hosted an event called Pie and Maths which was attended by some of my Twitter buddies, so it was a good chance to catch up with people and talk about maths.

The event started with a demonstration of Complete Mathematics. This is a really impressive system and if you've not seen it before then it's worth exploring - La Salle can come to your school to demonstrate it. I really support the underlying principles of Complete Mathematics - it has the potential to be the ultimate collaboration tool for maths teachers. The content and functionality have developed well since I first saw it last summer. The interface is really user-friendly, allowing teachers to efficiently plan lessons with access to well-written objectives, pedagogical notes, resources and assessment tools. Complete Mathematics currently covers Key Stage 1 through to GCSE. New content is being developed for Core Maths, providing much needed structure and resources for this new post-16 qualification.
Can you name the Twitter handles?
We enjoyed a lovely lunch and then went to the pub for a debate, led by Mark McCourt (@EmathsUK). We discussed a number of issues including behaviour, parenting, teaching methods, teacher training and research.

Afterwards we had lots of time to chat and play maths games - I ended up tied to Bruno Reddy (@MrReddyMaths). This video shows how we got out of it (well done Bruno, I had no idea!).
Thanks to La Salle and Mark McCourt for organising a really enjoyable event. I loved catching up with Twitter friends and meeting new people - here's the list of attendees (sorry if I've missed anyone!): @getdiagnostics, @nishadealwis, @mrdrapermaths, @naveenfrizvi, @MissBsResources, @MissBaileyMaths, @kris_boulton, @DrTrapezio, @craigos87, @EJmaths, @tessmaths, @ColinTheTrainer, @MrMattock, @dannytybrown, @RJS2212, @mrreddymaths, @mathsatschool, @MrBenWard, @xanbritt, @CubbonSue and @mathsjem.

That's it for today's post. Good luck with GCSE results everyone! I'll leave you with this cute Nonagon video shared by @solvemymaths.

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