9 February 2015

5 Maths Gems #24

Hello and welcome to my 24th gems post - this is where I share 5 teaching ideas I've seen on Twitter. I'm going to be short and sweet today... I'm meant to be marking!

1. Angles in Parallel Lines
I'm always on the look out for good questions that I can use in class so I was pleased when Cliff Pickover (@pickover) tweeted the problem below. This will do nicely for my Year 7s when they come to revise angles. I don't think they've seen the 'hatch mark' used for equal angles before (only equal sides) so it's a good exercise in interpreting notation too. Answers are on page 6 of this document. By the way, if you're not already following Cliff, I highly recommend his tweets.
2. Algebra Countdown
I was browsing @stephenbodman's lovely resources on his website secondarymaths.wikispaces.com when I spotted Algebra Countdown. This is an activity based on the TV programme Countdown, but instead of numbers students are given algebraic terms. Set up the Countdown Clock and run the activity in Excel on your Interactive Whiteboard. It's a really nice activity for practising simplifying algebraic expressions.
3. Isometric Fractions
I was looking at the cool pads of sticky-backed graph paper on www.instagraphs.com (only available in USA and Canada) and spotted an interesting approach to teaching fraction addition and equivalency using isometric grids (see picture below). The grid just helps students to draw and combine equal sized parts, but anything that helps students understand the concept of a common denominator is worth considering.

4. Circle Theorems Badges
Cameron Fehr (@MrFehr_SVC) shared this picture of the circle theorem badges he uses to reward his students.
Cameron made these himself using a badge maker. His students can earn them by (for example) correctly reciting the quadratic formula. Cameron very helpfully shared his files here (where there's lots more award-related things to explore).
5. Artistic Mathematics
@MrMathsTeacher shared fantastic pictures of Piet Mondrian-inspired graphs of horizontal and vertical lines. I love this idea.

6. Imperial Measures
A bonus gem this week, especially for my American readers. We don't use cups and quarts in the UK but if we did, I'd find a use for this fantastic diagram. It helps us visualise the relative sizes of each unit and answer questions like 'how many teaspoons are in a gallon?'.
I want to recommend three posts this week... Craig Barton (@tesMaths) updated his 'Links to the Best Maths Websites in the World' - it's well worth a read, as is his extensive list of maths resources - Essential Freebies.

Lucy Crehan (@lucy_crehan) shared this lovely post from the 'I am Malala' website. It features pictures of classrooms all over the world - I really enjoyed reading it.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading. I'm utterly exhausted! My baby is 8 months old now - will she ever sleep? Roll on half-term! :)


  1. Maybe when she's 4yo? Not sleeping is brilliant once they're older - just keep telling yourself that!

    Wrt to diagrams (fractions & quarts etc): there is a (very?) small minority of kids (my son is one, & I'm tutoring another) who can juggle with numbers, but have issues with visualising, so diagrams like the ones you show make the subject harder rather than easier. (I do appreciate they work for maybe 90+% of kids.)

    1. I agree, I think I'm more comfortable with numbers than visualisations myself, so the same must apply to children. A lot has been said lately about concrete-pictorial-abstract - some of it looks confusing but I suppose the penny will drop at different stages for each child.