23 May 2015

5 Maths Gems #31

Hello and welcome to my 31st gems post. This is where I share some of the best teaching ideas I've seen on Twitter.

1. Ratio tables
The new GCSE is going to have an increased focus on proportional reasoning. I enjoyed @MissNorledge's post about using ratio tables for non-calculator conversions. It's a logical way to structure thinking.
Miss Norledge helpfully provides a 'Master the Basics' worksheet on ratio tables. She has also written excellent posts about using ratio tables for percentage calculations and proportional reasoning.

This approach can be used for any kind of conversion. I despair when I overhear my Year 12s desperately trying to remember the 'formula' for converting between radians and degrees. "Do I multiply by 180 then divide by pi...? Or is it the other way round?". It's far easier to memorise π radians = 180o then make proportional adjustments. Simple.
2. Trigonometric Graph Transformations
Jon Orr (@MrOrr_geek) has written a series of Trigonometric Function Transformation Challenges in Desmos. These look great for teaching trig graph transformation - in each challenge, students have to work out the equation of the transformed function - an example is shown below.
3. Diagnostic Assessment
I really like the look of Alexander Cameron's (@AlexandeCameron) diagnostic assessments. Here's an example:
For more information about Alexander's assessments see his TeachMeet presentation.

4. Number Properties
I also like this excellent activity shared by @DJUdall.

5. Lowest Common Multiple Hot Dogs
I've never thought to use this video from Father of the Bride in a lesson on Lowest Common Multiple.

Thank you to @MrPontinMaths for sharing this and an associated worksheet - 'The Hot Dog Buns Dilemma'.

If you haven't seen my Pret homework website then do have a look. Lots of teachers tell me that they use Pret homeworks very successfully. I love seeing examples of students' work - these impressive examples of Pret homeworks were shared by @missradders
Did you see the Venn Diagram Subject Knowledge Check I produced ? This is designed for teachers who haven't taught Venn Diagrams before so they can prepare for the new GCSE. I plan to make these for every new GCSE topic.

Speaking of GCSE, presumably you saw the Ofqual announcement this week about the difficulty of the new maths GCSE. Expect more Sample Assessment Materials by the end of June. If you missed the announcement, there's a short video summary below (what's with the weird change in camera angle?!). This extract from the Ofqual study is really interesting - it ranks the GCSE questions in order of difficulty.

If you missed this post from mathwithbaddrawings.com about UK vs US mathematical terminology then do have a read, it's very entertaining. I'm pleased to say I've never called an index an indice!

Finally, if you haven't seen the updated speaker list for the upcoming National Mathematics Teacher Conference then do have a look. Less than one month to go now - hope to see you there.

I'll leave you with this mathematical limerick, shared by @MrBenWard.


  1. Love what you're showing with the tables. From watching my own kids, seems to be that tables are generally introduced as a cumbersome tool for plotting endless sets of points without much regard for the patterns they illuminate. By the time students get further up in math there's all this negative baggage attached to making tables. Wish they could grasp, right from the beginning, that tables are a great tool for illuminating patterns.
    Paula K

    1. Thanks for your comment, totally agree!

  2. I think I would be excellent to collate some great examples of students work the PRET homework's. This would give us some excellent models of the sort of responses students should be aiming for,

    1. Thank you, what a good idea. I'll ask for examples on Twitter.