13 September 2014

5 Maths Gems #6

Hello and welcome to my 6th weekly maths gems. I've been busy doing lots of other bloggy things this week. In case you missed them, I wrote a post about introducing calculus, a post about starters and teaching inequalities and a calendar of maths education conferences. I've also added new bits and pieces to my resource libraries and homeworks page. I've still found time for Twitter - here's this week's highlights.

1. Geogebra
For those of us who are too busy or not techy enough to do clever things with Geogebra, there are very helpful people who do it for us. I've mentioned Mathimation before. Here’s a few more interactive teaching tools that have been shared on Twitter recently:

2. Two Superb Resources
I see a hell of a lot of good maths resources in my resource-addled life, but every now and then I see one that is absolutely superb. This week was great because I discovered two such resources.

Ben Tanner (@tannermaths) shared his Higher GCSE revision cards. These will be helpful for upcoming mock revision. A foundation version is also available. They are really well designed. When I did something similar for A level, my students found them very useful for testing each other both in class and at home.

Extract from GCSE revision cards - tannermaths.co.uk

Chris Smith (@aap03102) produces a brilliant weekly newsletter full of fantastic maths teaching ideas - if you don't already subscribe then email him now to get on the mailing list. This week he tweeted about his relay races because they passed 100,000 downloads on TES. I can't believe that I, the resourceaholic, have never seen these before.

I've used revision relays with my classes before and they've always worked very well, so I'll definitely be using these number puzzle races. There are 10 relays here including one for Halloween, one for Christmas and one for Easter. That's end of term sorted then.

Extract from Halloween Relay Race - Chris Smith on TES

The 100,000 downloads got me thinking about how many maths teachers there are in the UK. First I started thinking about how many schools there are and how many maths teachers per school, but then I thought it might be easier to start from how many teenagers there are in the UK. This reminded me of a job interview I once had. Now here's a story for your students if they ever ask when they'll need maths.

During my final year at university I had an interview for a graduate job as a management consultant at PwC. I'd already done a summer internship at KPMG so was feeling fairly confident. The selection day started with a maths test much like this one. After the test I had lunch in a conference room with the other candidates. An administrator came in after lunch to announce who had failed the maths test (the unsuccessful candidates had to leave at that point - an awkward moment for all). I survived the cut and proceeded to a bizarre job interview.

The interviewer asked me how many planes were in the sky at that moment. He wanted an actual number, not just a method. Once I'd had a go (starting point: how many airports in the world) he then asked me to answer again using a different method, so I did (starting point: world's population). He then asked for another method. We went through the same process for 'how many babies were born in the UK yesterday?'. I think I did a reasonably good job of answering these questions - us mathematicians are good at lateral thinking. The final question in the interview was about how I would measure the height of a building using just a barometer. I gave a few sensible answers but he kept asking for more. He stopped when I gave an utterly ridiculous answer which I won't admit to here (if you're coming the conference in two weeks, ask me then). Moral of the story - maths and problem solving skills get you far. You never know what you'll be asked in a job interview. And don't be the person sent home at lunch.

3. Two Superb Websites
@dazmck shared the website 'That Quiz' which allows you to set free online tests and homeworks in a wide range of topics from Key Stage 3 to A level. It only takes a minute to make a test and email the URL to your students. They get instant feedback on their answers (either throughout the quiz or at the end). They also get an opportunity to correct their mistakes. There are a number of settings but it's ridiculously easy to use.

thatquiz.org menu

If you register (which takes around five seconds) you can also collect your students' scores online. Here's an example of a box plot test question:

Example question from thatquiz.org

This website is so incredibly helpful and easy to use, it reminds me of another great website - Form Time Ideas. This is by far the best tutor time resource I've seen. It's beautifully designed and easy to use. The content is spot on and it changes every day. Websites that save time are a god-send for busy teachers.


4. Words to Avoid
Twitter had me in stitches this week. @taylorda1 tweeted about something he'd said in a lesson that his students had found amusing. Most teachers have made slips like this - they can cause a lot of disruption!

The conversation that followed this tweet was very funny. For the sake of new or trainee teachers, here's a list of things to avoid saying in maths lessons:
  • In probability, don't toss a coin and get a head. In a room full of teenagers, far better to flip a coin and get a tail.
  • Avoid examples involving 'balls in a bag'. 'Discs in a bag' can be just as problematic if not said clearly. Try counters instead.
  • Also in probability, be careful how you say 'the or rule'.
  • When writing on the board do not shorten the word cumulative. Cum freq is likely to cause a stir.
  • Don't make c proportional to k (c∝k).
  • Careful what you say (and how you gesture) when talking about enlargements, top heavy fractions and going down the number line.
  • Be prepared for giggles if an answer is 69.
  • Avoid having refer to 'the d' or saying 4q ('4q too!').
  • We can't avoid f(x) but be prepared for 'f off' silliness. Avoid f(u).
  • When writing page numbers on the board, beware of p155.
  • Don't say cos. Say cosine. Cos Omac is an insult and certainly not suitable for a maths lesson if any of your students speak Arabic!
Thanks to all the tweeters who contributed to this list.

It works both ways. I had to stifle my immature giggles when I attended a Year 13's talk on the dangers of fracking.

There's more 'dirty mathematics' here.

5. Calligrams
@edsouthall tweeted some of these Minimal Math Concepts.

I love these and was very pleased to discover that you can buy them as a canvas or framed print - another thing for my christmas list! I've added this to my mathsy gifts page.

@tessmaths shared her lovely idea for a class activity on Maths Calligrams. A calligram is a phrase or word in which the text is arranged in a way that creates a visual image. The image created by the words expresses visually what the word says. This could be incorporated into a primary or secondary maths lesson - give students a list of maths vocabulary and ask them to create pictures to aid understanding and recall.
Maths Calligram by @JonTrebyAAN

I hope you've found some of these ideas helpful. I'm taking requests for future resource posts so if there's a particular topic you'd like me to feature, please email or tweet me.

No comments:

Post a Comment