22 July 2015

5 Maths Gems #34

Hello and welcome to my 34th gems post. This is where I share five teaching ideas I've seen on Twitter. The summer holidays are finally here! Let's be honest though - although it's lovely to have the opportunity to rest and play, the majority of us do a fair amount of school work over summer - creating resources, organising and tidying, preparing for September, catching up on reading... Have you read all 34 of my gems posts? Now's a good time to start!

1. Magnitude
Standard Form is all about really big numbers and really small numbers. It's nice to put the topic into context - I've written a few times about The Scale of the Universe which is wonderful. If you're looking for a way for your students to interact with this then check out the post 'The beauty of the very very big and the very very small – Standard form' by @mhorley. Thanks also to the lovely @MissBLilley who shared this video which puts size into context - she used it to introduce Standard Form and her students were amazed!

2. Prime Time
@MathedUp shared a nice activity on prime factor decomposition. I really like this because it makes it so clear that every number is either prime or composed of primes.
I love this prime clock from the brilliant Minimal Math Concepts. A few tweeters were unhappy to see the number one on it though!
Whilst on the subject of primes, check out this excellent primes and factors puzzle from @LearningMaths:
@LearningMaths always produces excellent resources. Here's another couple of examples:
Fractions starter by @LearningMaths
Number machines by @LearningMaths

3. Alphabet Lesson
In a Twitter discussion about first lessons of the year, the ever creative @missradders shared an idea for a Maths Alphabet lesson. In this lesson, students come up with the best word they can for each letter. They need to be able to tell you what it means - for example for the letter A they might define add, angle, area, average, acute or adjacent... As Hannah says, "this is a good gauge of prior knowledge/ability ... and gives you time to chat to them". What a lovely idea for a first lesson with Year 7.

If you want to take this idea further, your class could design and produce a maths alphabet poster like the examples shown below. 
Source: http://www.vernalpool.org/treefrog/pop/09F-MPS-MATH.htm
Source: http://www.vernalpool.org/treefrog/pop/04R-B-M.htm

Last year I wrote a post 'Your First Maths Lesson with Year 7' which has lots more ideas for September.

4. A Level Prompts
@dannytybrown has been busy developing a series of pre-teaching prompts for A level topics. These are designed to be given to students a few days before a topic is taught. They are intended to prompt class discussion and potentially reduce the variation in prior knowledge amongst students. A few examples are shown below. Do keep an eye on Danny's blog squeaktime.com for more on this.
 5. Maths with Pizzazz
Thank you to @japleen_kaur1 for sharing a set of resources I've never seen before - Maths with Pizzazz worksheets. Hundreds of topics are covered. Many of the activities involve practising skills and using answers to work out riddles and jokes. Here's a couple of extracts:
Extract from Page 211 - Algebra with Pizzazz!
Extract from Page 159 - Pre-Algebra with Pizzazz!
I could spend days looking through these resources! Thankfully there's an index. What I really need to do is split the PDFs into separate worksheets, labelled and grouped by topic. But that would take weeks. Any volunteers?!

Recommended Reading
This summer @DrBennison and @MissNorledge are undertaking an impressive #summerblogchallenge. They intend to write a post every day, so keep an eye on their blogs this summer - blog.ifem.co.uk and storeroom.norledgemaths.com.

Here's a few recent posts that I recommend:
I have a long list of things I want to add to resourceaholic.com this summer, but in the last couple of weeks I've been preoccupied. I'll be running a workshop on A level resources at #mathsconf5 in Sheffield in September - I've been doing a lot of research in preparation for this. Along the way I've added lots of excellent new resources to my A level resource libraries. My presentation is nearly finished and I'm really pleased with it - if you teach A level and you're coming to the conference then do come to my workshop to see what I've discovered.

My two most recent blog posts both feature in my five most popular posts ever - one was about resources for end of term lessons, the other shared advice for teaching low attaining students.

My youngest daughter Hettie and I had the pleasure of meeting Rob Smith (@RJS2212) yesterday. Rob has spent the first week of the summer holidays travelling the length of the country to visit as many tweeting maths teachers as he can - check out #48hourmathstour to see what he's been up to.

Finally, look what I've got - Mathematical Mr Men stickers! If you've not seen the 50 Mathematical Mr Men before then do check out them out on solvemymaths.com. They're awesome.


  1. Your blog is always inspiring and interesting, thank you, Jo!

  2. I've just spent a few hours going through all your gem posts as you suggested at the start of this post. I love the ideas you include but more often than not I am not doing those topics at that time then when those topics come round I have forgotten about your suggestions. So, I have been through them all and saved all the ideas I like (and there were a lot of them!!) onto my Pearltrees. If you are not familiar with Pearltrees it allows you to save websites or images in collections that you have named so that in future I can go to my "angles" collection for example and all the websites/suggestions will be there. The site is free but for a small cost you can have a button on your desktop which you can click on when you are on a particular webpage and it adds it automatically - this saves so much copying and pasting. Feel free to view it at http://www.pearltrees.com/kerrydunton It will get a bit of a tidy up over the summer but I would definitely recommend it to other teachers as a way to save links to resources so they can be found easily in the future. Thank you for your great blog and inspiration!!

    1. Thanks Kerry, this is really interesting. I've never seen Pearltrees before, looks like a really efficient way of collating information.