3 July 2015

5 Maths Gems #33

Hello and welcome to my 33rd gems post. This is where I share five teaching ideas I've seen on Twitter.

Well it's been fun teaching in this week's heatwave hasn't it?! I long for an air-conditioned classroom. Still, all this lovely sunshine serves as a nice reminder that the summer holidays are just around the corner.

1. Pythagoras Pile Up
We've all seen the fantastic Trigonometry Pile Up 1 and Trigonometry Pile Up 2 from greatmathsteachingideas.com. Now, thanks to a joint effort by @mrallanmaths and @missradders, we have an awesome Pythagoras Pile Up. Nice to see some Twitter-based collaborative resource-making in action.
2. Fraction Art
In the speed dating session at #mathsconf4 I was fortunate to hear a fantastic idea for teaching Fractions, Decimals and Percentages from @mathszest. Nikki has now written a blog post about her idea so do read that for the full details and lots of lovely resources. I particularly like her Mosaic Fractions Sheet which involves students creating a colourful pattern on a grid and then calculating the proportion of squares of each colour, expressing their answer as a fraction, decimal and percentage. Nikki said that the step of converting the fraction's denominator to 100 in order to find the percentage really stuck with her students after they completed this activity.

3. Calculators
I've not done much explicit teaching of calculator skills before. When I was teaching Pythagoras to Year 8 recently I noticed them typing 5 x 5 into their calculator instead of 52. I clearly need to do something about this. However, if I'm going to teach calculator skills then I have a problem - I've just moved from a school where around 95% of my students brought their calculator to every maths lesson to a school where that figure is closer to 10%. This is getting in the way of my teaching and I have a plan for how to deal with this (harshly!) from September.

When (if?!) I've got my students bringing calculators to lessons, I'll try some of the lovely calculator skills activities listed on my Number Resources page.

This week @solvemymaths shared a really nice idea for teaching calculator skills which comes from @Ms_Kmp's website mathssandpit.co.uk. Have a look at her post 'Calculators: The New Hope' to download the resource. And thanks to @solvemymaths for his new '7 Days of Maths' series, which is well worth following.

4. Maths Videos
Thanks to @mhorley for sharing a link to the BBC's Kick Sum Maths videos - I've not seen these before. They might come in handy to support the teaching of a number of Key Stage 2/3 topics.

5. Self-Descriptive Numbers
Thanks to @LearningMaths for sharing this lovely activity 'Self-descriptive numbers'.
If you look through the set of resources from which this activity comes then you'll see that there's plenty of other great stuff in there too.
If you like these resources then you'll love cleavebooks.co.uk/trol which is full of excellent activities. For example I've long been a fan of the Vocabulary Exercises which would work well in an IT Room or with iPads.

Recommended Reading
Here's some links to check out:
  • Bruno Reddy (@MrReddyMaths) recently hosted a Twitter chat with Ofsted. Questions were submitted by maths teachers. The chat summary is available here.
  • The exam boards published their latest GCSE sample assessment materials this week. Andrew Paget (@ApApaget) has very helpfully put them all in one place here.
  • Did you see my recent posts? In the last two weeks I've written about the MEI Conference, Pret homework, #mathsconf4 and Favourite Problems. My last gems post - Gems 32 - was one of my most popular posts ever.

Finally, I want to share a Don Steward activity that I found particularly effective this week. I was running an A level induction session and decided to use the question below as a starter to make a point about algebra skills. The algebra here should be straightforward for students who about to embark on A level, but some students struggled to identify the answer. I made the point that if you want to do A level Maths then this sort of algebra should come very naturally. Strong algebra skills - ie the ability to do this activity effortlessly - should be embedded by GCSE and are essential to every A level mathematician.