1 August 2015

5 Maths Gems #35

Hi there. Welcome to my 35th gems post. This is where I share five teaching ideas I've seen on Twitter. The summer holidays are now in full swing so Twitter has been quiet this week. I expect it will get busier in August - results days will give us lots to talk about, and then we'll all start making preparations for September. I'm off on a family holiday next week (including an exciting day out at Peppa Pig World!) so someone will have to fill me in on what I miss! I tweeted my 10,000th tweet yesterday. I only joined Twitter last May so I think that officially makes me a chatterbox.

1. Angle Chase 
I featured angle chases in Gems 24, Gems 26 and Gems 32 . I find this type of activity really enjoyable. @MathedUp shared a whole load of angle chases here. I love these - they're a great resource both for classwork and for revision.
@mathninja3 suggested putting a permanent angle chase on the classroom wall. This reminded me of the display by @ExplainingMaths pictured below. I think it would be great to put a large angle chase up, perhaps by sticking tape on a large whiteboard or a wall painted with whiteboard paint. If anyone has done this in their classroom, I'd love to see a photo.

2. Presentation Standards
I've written before about setting expectations for the presentation of classwork and homework. The start of a new school year is the time to decide how to approach this. @Just_Maths wrote an excellent post about this that's well worth a read.

This week Nikki (@mathszest) tweeted a picture of her fantastic presentation guide, which she has recently updated with target codes (inspired by @letsgetmathing's conference presentation about marking).
3. Graph of the Week
Thanks to @mathequalslove and @abel_jennifer for sharing Graph of the Week. These resources aim to teach students how to read, understand and analyse real world data. Students are asked to look at a graph and write a reflection on what they think the graph is communicating. They are given a series of writing prompts and questions to consider.
In general people (not just young people) aren't very good at understanding the graphs they see in the media.

I'm not sure whether this should sit in maths or somewhere else, but I think these activities are valuable.

4. Types of Error
I always enjoy Sarah Hagan's (@mathequalslove) posts and her latest post about Analysing Errors is no exception. From September I plan to start setting regular low-stakes tests. For my Year 10s, I'm thinking of a short weekly quiz (perhaps multiple choice, marked with Quick Key). As suggested by Sarah, I plan to grade these quizzes A, B or Not Yet, with anyone scoring a Not Yet having to take another test. In Sarah's post she suggests that before retaking a quiz, students are required to analyse their first attempt. She's going to give them an error analysis sheet that does these things:
  • Require students to work out each problem correctly
  • Ask students to identify what they did wrong when they first attempted the problem
  • Direct students to reflect on how they will avoid making this same error in the future
  • Get students thinking about what types of errors they are making
Sarah has produced a fantastic poster to describe different types of errors. Read her post for more about this and to download the poster.
Types of Errors by @mathequalslove
5. The Famous Five
I love this post from @mccreaemma. It's about an approach called 'The Famous 5' that Emma uses in every lesson. When students enter the room they are immediately presented with a task. The names of five students that begin/finish/engage well with the task are written on the whiteboard. Their reward is to leave the classroom first at the end of the lesson. Emma says that her students love it (I think this would work really well for my students too) and it reduces wasted time at the start of lessons. Her post is well worth a read.

I'm continuing to work on resourceaholic.com behind the scenes when I get a chance. I've added some resources to my libraries and made updates to my New GCSE Support page. If you've got some time over summer to make resources, here's a list of topics that we need more resources for:
Huge thanks to @dooranran for providing a collection of fantastic resources. I particularly like his activities for error intervals and expanding cubics - both of these topics are on the new GCSE specification. If you're wondering what error intervals are all about then do check out @Just_Maths excellent post which explains the topic very clearly.
Error Intervals by @dooranran
This week I wrote a post about the additional sequences content on the new GCSE. It features examples of exam questions and resources. I was pleased to learn a new method for finding the nth term of a quadratic sequence.

I'm enjoying spending lots of time with my daughters this summer. It's all going too quickly for my liking though! It's August already, which means I'm back to school one month today. #mathsconf5 is next month too. Have you got your ticket yet?

Finally, I love this homework for the summer holidays that's been going round Twitter. What a lovely idea.
Holiday homework by Tom Christy


  1. LOVE the graph of the week idea. I'm thinking about asking the Science and Social Studies teachers to get involved. Maybe I can find a graph that goes along with what they are learning in other content areas to help students see connections. Excited to try this!