25 November 2015

5 Maths Gems #44

Hello and welcome to my 44th gems post. This is where I share maths teaching ideas I've seen on Twitter.

1. Problems by Topic
I've often featured links to problem solving resources in my posts but these are rarely organised by topic. This means we have to trawl through mixed packs of problems to find something suitable for our lessons. Bravo to Leanne Shaw (@LeanneShawAHS) for creating a very helpful new website of problem solving activities grouped by topic. This growing collection includes both full lessons and shorter tasks. The picture below shows the resources listed under 3D Shapes so you get an idea how this website works. It's well worth exploring.
2. Concept Maps
Thanks to Greg Coleman (@MrK5Math) for sharing his Concept Maps which are designed to help students develop their understanding of mathematical vocabulary. Have a read of Greg's post for more on this, including templates.
Concept maps by Greg Coleman

3. Exam Skills
Thanks to @thefeelosopher for sharing the interesting resource pictured below. This is used to analyse the skills that contribute to students' success in maths GCSE exams. I've not seen anything like this before and thought my readers might be interested as it raises some discussion points.

I wonder whether a similar analysis might be helpful in Year 7 - for example at the end of the first term students could be given feedback against criteria such as:
  • Do they know their times tables? 
  • Is their handwriting legible? 
  • Do they ask for help when stuck? 
  • Do they make good notes in class? 
  • Do they do sufficient practice in class? 

This would help teachers and parents identify potential barriers to progress. Do let me know if your school does something like this.

4. Puzzles 
I love the excellent puzzles that Emma Bell (@El_Timbre) has been sharing. Check out her blog to see the collection.
5. Lost Questions
Back in Gems 18 I featured a lovely idea for teaching factorisation - this was taken from Chris Smith's (@aap03102) newsletter. He puts something like this on the board:
When the class arrives he demands to know who rubbed the questions off the board. When no-one confesses he asks his students to figure out what the questions were.

Last week Michael Allan (@mrallanmaths) tried this activity and found it worked well - he shared a picture of his board on Twitter. 

This prompted Keith Morrison (@MrKMorrison) to try the same idea for division and multiplication.

During #mathsTLP on Sunday there was a discussion about other topics that this might work for. There were some really good ideas - I particularly like the suggestion that this could be used when introducing integration in C1.

I wrote a review of some resources for new GCSE topics - if you teach Year 10 and you missed it then do have a look.

I also updated my mathsy gifts page in time for Christmas.

I attended the Debating Education event at Michaela on Saturday. It was an interesting day and all the debates were thought-provoking. The Andrew Old vs Bruno Reddy debate on mixed ability was particularly relevant to maths and is something I do intend to blog about at some point.

Tickets for the CPD element of my Christmaths Party have sold out. You still have a few days left to buy tickets for the evening party - join us for a fun night of mathsy merriment.
School is going well, though very busy - I'm incredibly lucky to have two Inset days coming up, the second of which is a 'Christmas shopping' day off (to make up for an extra Inset that was added at the start of term). It's perfect timing for a break.

I'm really enjoying teaching Year 10 - we had a good go at all the new sequences GCSE content. I ended the topic with these two puzzles from @jase_wanner which worked very well. In the first activity students have to fill in the gaps and in the second activity students are looking for the odd one out.
Year 11 is my big challenge because they're doing Linked Pair GCSE which has a lot more content than normal GCSE. This content (Flow Charts, AER, Linear Programming etc) is new to me. I only see my Year 11 class three times a week which doesn't give me enough time to teach all the content in sufficient depth. I really am feeling the time pressure and have never taught topics so quickly before. Tight time constraints don't allow for effective teaching so I'm very pleased that my school is looking to increase the allocation of maths on the timetable next year. As a result I think we'll probably be looking to recruit new maths teachers so if you fancy coming to work with me (based in Epsom, Surrey) then do get in touch.

And finally...
Prompted by some recommendations I read on Twitter, I'm very much enjoying playing the excellent Sumaze puzzle app on my phone at the moment. I'm also really looking forward to going to Just for Graphs this weekend, and am very grateful to my husband for offering to come with me.

I passed half a million views of my blog last week - thanks very much for reading!

I'll leave you with this lovely visualisation of prime factorisation which was shared on @edfromo's brilliant Google Plus.

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