22 August 2015

5 Maths Gems #38

Hello and welcome to my 38th gems post. This is where I share five teaching ideas I've seen on Twitter. As teachers start making plans and preparing resources for September, there's been a flurry of inspiring ideas on Twitter - I can barely keep up!

1. Tessellation
It's quite rare that there's exciting news in the world of mathematics, but we've recently seen the discovery of a new type of tessellating pentagon.
Source: @NPRskunkbear
I like teaching tessellation - it follows nicely from polygon angles. The new GCSE specification doesn't mention tessellation (what a shame it's been removed), nor does the Key Stage 3 curriculum, but still I think it deserves a place on our schemes of work. It's good for enrichment and also allows students to apply their knowledge of polygon angles, for example in the Surrounding a Point activity from Don Steward pictured below. Mathigon has a lovely tessellation section featuring nice pictures and an online tool.
I've never seen tessellation animations before so thanks to @MathsMastery for sharing these, I'll use them the next time I teach tessellation.
2. Displays
There's been lots of tweets and posts about displays this week. I like these lovely vinyl corridor displays from @cOmplexnumber.
I also like this growth mindset display from English teacher Rebecca Foster (@TLPMrsF) which is similar to the mindset display that I first wrote about in Gems 3, but would fit on a smaller noticeboard. 
One of my favourite classroom display ideas is the sentence stems display from @ExplainingMaths which featured in Gems 26. It's good to have displays that are of real use to students throughout the year.
It's worth reading Paul Collins' (@mrprcollins) excellent post about the new displays he's put up in his classroom and corridors.

3. History of Maths
I don't know very much about the history of maths and that's a great shame. It's a priority for me to improve my subject knowledge in this area. I intend to start by attending @Kris_Boulton's workshop at the next maths conference.

Kris' post A History of Maths features a timeline showing people and societies of key influence in mathematics. It also shows key publications and ideas. The picture below is only a very small extract - have a look through the full timeline. It's fascinating to see the order of things. Perhaps display this in your classroom and tell your students about the origins of the topics they're studying.
4. Challenge Questions for Year 12
Stuart Price ‏(@sxpmaths) has collated some AS stretch and challenge questions for core topics. They can be accessed here. Thanks Stuart for this helpful resource.
If you teach A level and are coming to the maths conference in Sheffield on 26th September, do come along to my workshop about A level resources.

5. Exit Tickets
Many maths teachers use exit tickets in every lesson. The idea is that you set a single question or short set of questions at the end of the lesson and analyse the results. Typically students would hand their exit ticket to you as they leave the classroom. It's important to keep the questions simple – if students get them wrong you need to know why. It's an effective way of identifying misconceptions and deciding whether students are ready to move on. 

Lesley Hall (@lhmaths) created a great set of exit tickets that can be found here. And thanks to Em (@EJMaths) for recently sharing her set of exit tickets here. These incorporate RAG123.
I've published four blog posts in the last week and I have another four posts in draft - I really need to stop all the blogging and spend some time preparing my first lessons! Here's what I've been up to since my last gems post:
  • I was chuffed that my blog appeared on Vuelio's Top 10 UK Education Blogs list. I tried not to be disappointed by this post by @TeacherTooklit about the list being rubbish...! 
  • I had some hilarious new comments on my Words to Avoid page - these are definitely worth a read.
  • I was very pleased that @oldandrewuk and @Just_Maths set up an Echo Chamber specifically for UK maths education blogs. Follow @MathsEcho to keep up-to-date with all the latest posts.
  • I popped into school and, borrowing a lovely idea from Danielle Bartram (@MissBsResources), put Maths Mr Men stickers from @solvemymaths on my new calculators so I can keep track of them.

Finally, four reminders:
  • If you haven't already done so, you can 'like' my new Facebook page for updates.
  • #mathstlp will return at 7pm on Sunday 30th August for lesson planning advice.
  • My new GCSE page is packed full of useful resources and links. My recent post on tangents and areas is worth reading if you're teaching GCSE next year.
  • Check out my hashtag #mathsgems for inspiring ideas from previous gems posts.

That's it from me. I'll leave you with this nice puzzle from the ATM (@ATMMathematics).


  1. I'm devastated that the History of Maths timeline link doesn't work anymore.

    1. The one in the TES article? Good point. I'll have to ask Kris for a working link to his resource.