15 May 2022

5 Maths Gems #158

Welcome to my 158th gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers. 

1. Revision Resources
Back in 2018 I created three sets of 'breakfast revision' resources for both Foundation and Higher GCSE (note: they don't have to be used at breakfast!). Jess Prior (@FortyNineCubed) has edited these for the Edexcel Advanced Information 2022. Thanks Jess!

Check out the Twitter feed of @1stclassmaths for excellent revision resources in a similar format for both AQA and Edexcel Foundation and Higher.

@1stclassmaths has also started to share a series of topic booklets for AQA Certificate of Further Maths. Their first one is on matrix multiplication.

Thank you also to @DrBennison for sharing an AQA A Level Maths Practice Paper 1 based on the 2022 Advanced Information.

2. ExamQ
Thanks to a comment on my GCSE revision blog post, I discovered the new website ExamQ from @ExamQbyMrWatts. This is a very well designed website where you can find exam questions that match each of the topics listed in the Advance Information. It covers GCSE, AS and A level. The website has a beautiful layout - it's user-friendly and it's free!

3. Maths Universe
@JakeGMaths has created a really smart teaching tool. mathsuniverse.com/whiteboard has lots of cool features. For example, say you're circulating round the classroom and you spot something interesting in a student's book that you want to share with the class. You can take a photo of it on your phone or tablet and it just pops up on the board instantly. No need for special software, equipment or logins. Then you can write on it, either from your phone or at the board. The user interface is lovely.

Another nice feature is instant replays. You can use this tool to model solutions on the board and replay your modelling in one click. It's so easy to use.

I also like the way you can easily display a PowerPoint that's on your PC and then use all the functionality - pens, timer, instant replay etc - over your slides.

While you're checking out mathsuniverse.com, have a look at the skills grid creator too. Again, a really clever interface - you can quickly create a series of linked starters and it automatically generates smart printable versions and worked solutions.

4. Ratio Tables
@alcmaths has gone through the entire White Rose Key Stage 3 and 4 curriculum and produced a brilliant guide to where and how ratio tables can be used.

5. Interwoven Maths
Some great new tasks have been added to @nathanday314's website interwovenmaths.com

@karenshancock wrote one on circle theorems that draws on simultaneous equations, ratio, and Pythagoras' Theorem. 

@karenshancock also wrote a series of tasks on areas of trapeziums which feature fractions, decimals, compound shapes and solving equations. 

Both tasks have been added to my resource libraries.

I've been swamped at work lately so I haven't got much to report!

If you teach Year 11, good luck over the coming weeks! Exciting times.

I'll leave you with this incredible article "An Interactive Introduction to Fourier Transforms" from @jezzamonn. I have never seen a complex concept explained so clearly. It worth reading for two reasons: 1. to see how to construct a good written explanation and 2. to learn about Fourier transforms.

8 May 2022

Gem Awards 2022

Last week it was resourceaholic.com's eighth birthday! It's become a tradition for me to mark the anniversary of my blog by publishing an annual 'Gem Awards' post. Here I look back at all the ideas I've shared in my gems posts over the last year and choose some of my favourites.

1. Mathematics Award
The beautiful website Mathigon won Best Website in my first ever Gems Awards back in in 2015. This time I'm giving it an award in my Mathematics Category, which has previously been won by Nicholas Rougeux for his stunning interactive recreation of Byrne's 1847 edition of Euclid's Elements

The website Mathigon has gone from strength to strength. It features an incredible online textbook, a brilliant interactive tool PolyPad, and a collection of lesson plans and activities that are well worth exploring. 

The two features that make it worthy of my Mathematics Award are its Timeline of Mathematics and its Almanac of Interesting Numbers. There's even a timeline scavenger hunt - a really well-designed activity where students can explore the history of maths. This kind of thing is perfect for extra-curricular maths clubs. It's also great for teachers looking to expand their subject knowledge.

Highly commended in this category are:

The History of Mathematics Project from Momath and Wolfram, which is like an online maths museum. I featured this in Gems 151.

And the mathematician profile cards and accompanying activity from Amplify that I featured in Gems 155.

2. Most Useful Resource Award
Never has a resource saved me so much time as @gcse_math's collated GCSE questions. I featured this resource in Gems 155. The key difference between this and similar resources is that it includes questions from three awarding bodies, meaning there's an abundance of exam questions for each topic. They're really well organised, meaning it takes seconds to find what I'm looking for. I'm finding this resource incredibly helpful when planning my GCSE lessons, and when making end of unit tests. I'll also make use of it when planning CPD sessions. Thank you to @gcse_math for taking the time to make this resource and for so generously sharing it. I should also thank the awarding bodies for writing the questions - there are often brilliant questions in GCSE exams!

Highly commended in this category are the NCETM Checkpoints, and the DfE's Key Stage 3 Maths Guidance. Both resources are very high quality, which is not surprising when you look at the team of experts behind them. The Key Stage 3 Guidance provides valuable CPD for Key Stage 3 maths teachers, with plenty of prompts for department discussion. 

Checkpoints are diagnostic activities designed for Year 7 children. Do check them out if you haven't already. 

3. Hidden Gem Award
Richard Tock has shared some fantastic resources this year through his blog and TES account. I love the clutter-free style of his resources and the carefully thought-out examples and tasks. I'm giving him the 'Hidden Gem' award because I think his lovely resources are relatively unknown and more teachers should check them out.

In Estimating the mean from a grouped frequency table, his lesson starts with some work on finding midpoints. 

and leads onto to a well scaffolded task on finding the mean.

Half or two? was designed as a starter task in response to a misconception Richard identified in his class. 

In Venn Diagrams and Simultaneous Equations, Richard shares a nice idea for a task that students might do by trial and error, before learning a method to work out the coordinates.

Have a look through Richard's blog for lots more great ideas for lessons and tasks.

Highly commended in this category is Segar Rogers (@SegarRogers), a maths teacher and talented task designer who shares his tasks on startingpointsmaths.com. Examples of his recent work include this task on the mean which utilises Pointon and Sangwin’s Taxonomy. 

It's also worth checking out his recent work on speedorders of operations, fractions of fractions, cuboid volumes and vectors.

4. Best Blog Award
This year's Best Blog Award goes to Dan Draper (@MrDraperMaths) for his excellent blog 'Opinions Nobody Asked For'. Dan regularly posts witty and insightful pieces about his experiences in the classroom. He thinks deeply about topics and freely shares the excellent resources he has developed.

Here are a few examples of tasks - first, an exercise from his excellent post about the order of operations:

And from the post x=a, y=b: When?, a task where pupils practise filtering information on a diagram.

And finally, from his post Interleaving Circle Theorems 1, an example of a circle theorems question that brings together loads of previously taught content including trigonometry and area.

Highly commended in this category is Paul Rowlandson's (@Mr_Rowlandson) blog 'Pondering Planning in Mathematics' which won my 'Best New Blog' award in the 2019 Gem Awards. I always enjoy reading Paul's ideas - his blog posts have a lot of influence on what I do in my classroom. His recent post 'Using Numbers to Highlight Connections' got me thinking about connections between topics that I'd not really considered before. 

5. Teacher Website Award
The award for Best Teacher Website goes to Amanda Austin (@draustinmaths) for her brilliant website draustinmaths.com. When Amanda makes a resource for her own students, she publishes it on her website so we can all benefit from it for free. This is a really kind thing to do, and is much appreciated by teachers like me who make a lot of use of her resources. I particularly like all her 'Fill in the blanks activities' which feature both scaffolding and challenge.

A number of other websites deserve a special mention in this category, including:

Running (and regularly adding to) a high-quality website whilst teaching full time is no mean feat.

6. Best Game Award
I absolutely love Nerdle. This quick daily maths puzzle has become part of my morning routine. The format isn't really new (I used to play the mastermind board game in the 80s which based on a similar logic) but the online games of this ilk that sprung up at the start of 2022 have become hugely popular and there are now loads to choose from: Wordle, Nerdle, Heardle, Movidle etc. 

This award goes to Numble, an app made by Olivia Gibson and shared by her teacher @mathsDJ. This game is impressive for a number of reasons, including:
  • it's easy to play
  • it helps students learn divisibility rules
  • it's fun
  • it was created by a sixth form student.

Highly commended in this category is MathsPad for their Times Table Sequences Game which is a really fun way to practise both times tables and sequences, and is great for both primary and secondary children. I enjoy playing this with my Year 5 daughter.

Also Highly Commended in this category is the excellent No More Primes from Nathan Day. 

7. Best CPD Award
The Best CPD Award goes to the book If I Could Tell You One Thing which was published by The MA and edited by Ed Southall. What I love about this book is that is features a wide range of advice from experienced maths teachers and experts on lots of different topics. There's something for everyone here, and because it's a collection of short chapters, it's easy for a busy maths teacher to dip into it.

Highly Commended in this category is the new podcast from Craig Barton 'Tips for Teachers'. This fantastic new initiative brings us snippets of sensible advice from expert teachers, available in either podcast or video format. 

Can I give myself a special mention for a gem award? Maybe that's not cool, but I was really pleased with how many teachers made use of my CPD video "Key Stage 2 Maths Curriculum Summary for Secondary Teachers". 

I should also say that all the CPD providers I mentioned in last year's Gem Awards are still awesome.

8. Best Resources Award
James and Nicola from MathsPad are the winners of the Best Resources Award this year for their fantastic collection of resources, particularly their new range of curriculum booklets. Their booklets are available for Year 7, 8 and 9 (so far) and are packed full of brilliant tasks for each topic, featuring lots of depth and challenge. Here are some examples of their activities:

What a fantastic collection of resources.


Well done to all the winners of the Gem Awards 2022! And thank you to all the maths teachers who share their ideas and resources. There are many people who I've not mentioned here who have helped to fill my gems posts over the last year. We are lucky to have such a strong and supportive community.

If you're new to my blog and you enjoyed this post then visit my Gems Archive you'll find an index of 157 gems posts - they are all full of great ideas and resources. For the 'best of the gems', you might also want to check out the Gem Awards 2021Gem Awards 2019, Gem Awards 2018, Gem Awards 2017, Gem Awards 2016 and Gem Awards 2015 to see who has won awards previously. 

Happy 8th birthday resourceaholic.com. Thank you to my readers for all your support!

1 May 2022

5 Maths Gems #157

Welcome to my 157th gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers. 

1. A Level Resources
I very much enjoyed the A level workshop run by @mrsouthernmaths at the MA Conference. During this workshop we used A3 whiteboards to work on A level questions. Each task had interesting approaches to explore and discuss. Rob has a blog full of A level lessons, notes and activities. A nice example is his coordinate geometry exercise.

And here's an extract from one of his tasks on parabolas.

2. Would You Rather
@robertkaplinsky shared wouldyourathermath.com from John Stevens which features lots of great "Would you rather..." scenarios that require maths discussions. 

3. Graph Intersections
This classic Susan Wall 'Find the Coordinates' task has long been one of my favourites. You can check out more Susan Wall tasks on STEM Centre.

Andy Lutwyche (@andylutwyche) recently spotted this task on Twitter and created some similar Graphs Intersections activities which are great. Thanks Andy!

4. Formula Sheet
A formula sheet used to be provided at GCSE but was removed in 2017, meaning our Year 11 students won't have used one before. But this year we have the temporary introduction of the much criticised 'exam aids', so @taylorda01 has made a helpful resource 'Assessment Aid Tests 2022' where students can practise making use of a formula sheet.

5. Venn Paint
I haven't taught Venn Diagrams in five years and next week I happen to be teaching this topic to both Year 9 and Year 10. I've been looking at Venn resources, and I discovered this beauty from Transum which I have now added to my resource library. Venn Paint is not new, and it turns out that lots of teachers already use it at both Key Stage 4 and 5, but I know many of my readers won't have seen it before. There are three different levels in this interactive task, and the final level is pretty challenging.

In other Venn news, I used some of the excellent tasks from Craig Barton's mathsvenns.com when I was teaching sequences to Year 8 last week. They are such good tasks for prompting rich mathematical discussion. See my Twitter thread for more on this.

I had a rubbish start to the summer term. My whole family had a sickness bug, and at the same time I had Covid. Thankfully we're all better now. I've had some lovely deliveries in the post to cheer me up, including Ben Orlin's (huge) new book Math Games with Bad Drawings which is a brilliant and entertaining guide to maths games.

I also received my Maths Mr Men pin badges from Ed Southall. The Ramanujan character has always been my favourite and I was very pleased when I wore the pin to school and a student asked me who it was, giving me the opportunity to excitedly tell her all about Ramanujan.

I also received a set of MathsPad's textbooks which contain their excellent curriculum booklets. I enjoyed looking through these and discovered a number of activities that I'd not seen before.

Here are a few things you might have missed:

Meanwhile, my blog had its 8th birthday which means it's time for another one of my annual Gem Awards posts. I've been working on this for a couple of weeks and hope to publish it soon!

I had a fantastic time at the MA Conference over Easter and learnt a lot of things that will be useful when I start my new Head of Maths role in September. I attended loads of great workshops and was particularly pleased to get the chance to see Chris Smith's plenary. He is a brilliant speaker - highly entertaining. 

Shout out to the crowd who were out the night before the conference - what a funny night!

I'm really looking forward to the two summer term conferences I'm attending.

The first one is #mathsconf29 which is taking place in Kettering (the home of mathsconf!) on Saturday 25th June. I've already written my workshop - I can't wait to present this one. 

I am also delighted that my school have agreed to let me go to the MEI Conference which is on Thursday 30th June and Friday 1st July at the University of Keele. I'm speaking on the second day. I normally pay for all my own conference-going but I was brave and requested that my school give me the time off and pay for the first day, and they said yes! I bloody love the MEI Conference, and am particularly excited to see poet Harry Baker at the conference dinner. 

So two conferences in one week in June. This makes me happy. I hope to see lots of you there.

I'll leave you with this question from Sudeep (@boss_maths) - circle theorems with a twist!