12 September 2015

5 Maths Gems #40

Hello and welcome to my 40th gems post. This is where I share five maths teaching ideas I've seen on Twitter.

I've been teaching long enough to know how busy September is, but again the overwhelming workload has come as a shock! New classes, new tutor group, new systems, new policies... I'm sure it will all calm down soon (well, perhaps next July!). However, so far so good - my new school is awesome and I'm enjoying getting stuck into teaching again.

1. Play With Your Math
Thanks to Craig Jeavons (@Craigos87) for sharing a website I'd not seen before -playwithyourmath.com. Maths problems are posted every fortnight - they can be downloaded as posters and worksheets. Here's a couple of examples:

2. Estimating Percentages
In #mathsTLP on Sunday @jeff2869 shared a nice estimation tool - Estimate the Percentage. It's a straightforward activity for the Interactive Whiteboard that will be useful for assessing understanding of percentages.
3. Ordering Numbers
I like activities involving ordering numbers, and I particularly like the choice of numbers in these two activities from Chris Stapel (@StapelMathClass).

4. Number Starters
Back in Gems 34 I mentioned @christianp's article about the wonderfully addictive 30 Second Challenge from the Daily Mail.
Many thanks to Theresa Young (@treezyoung) who has published similar challenges in a nice classroom-friendly format on Graham Andre's (‏@grahamandre) website www.mathematicshed.com. These are great warm-up tasks for practising arithmetic.
5. Marking Stickers
I've seen some lovely examples of marking stickers this week. Anthony Biggs (@MathsDirectory) made these for presentation and exam tips:
Miss Bowkett (@MissBowkett) shared her yellow marking stickers which include feedback on presentation, 'what went well' and next steps.
I've enjoyed meeting all my new classes over the last two weeks. I've already used loads of wonderful Don Steward activities - this makes me happy!
3.142 variations
This week I used Find the Factors puzzles for the first time. I used a Level 4 puzzle in my first lesson with Year 10 and a Level 1 puzzle in my first lesson with Year 7. These puzzles are great for practising times tables and using logic. Students in both classes said they wanted to try more challenging Find the Factors puzzles so I'll definitely use these again.
Another success this week was my first Memory King tournament - I had a Year 11 student recite the first ten prime numbers in 2.45 seconds!

I've got three new A level classes and am finding that they're all very quiet and hardworking. When they're doing a practice exercise you could hear a pin drop. They never ask for help or work together. At my previous school, sixth form students were much chattier during lessons - although they were less focused, they did ask each other for help a lot, so it was a mixed blessing. Hannah (‏@LorHRL) made a helpful suggestion on Twitter this week - she said that playing music during lessons helps because then students don't have to break the silence to speak. I took her advice and played quiet classical music during two Year 13 lessons - it worked well. The atmosphere in the room was calm and relaxed - students continued to focus but were more willing to ask for help from me or their peers.

Recent Posts
Last week I wrote a post about High Expectations. I discussed the importance of pitching lessons right but not dumbing down the content. Do have a look if you missed it.

My school's annual Open Evening is next week. If you have one coming up too, you might find my post about Open Evening helpful - it has lots of ideas for the Maths Department.

I was going to write a post about literacy but I've been too busy to give it my full attention this week. I decided to summarise five golden rules instead - see below. I see many resources that contain spelling mistakes, grammatical errors (particularly missing question marks and errant apostrophes) or incorrect terminology. Please don't use them! It's not fair on your students.
Coming Soon
I'm hosting #mathscpdchat at 7pm on Tuesday 15th September. The topic is 'What expectations are you communicating to your Year 10 students as they start on the revised GCSE course?'. I hope you can join in.

I also hope you're planning to come to #mathsconf5 in Sheffield on 26th September (it's not too late to register). Do come and say hello. I'll be around for pre-conference drinks on the Friday night too. I'm rather upset (actually, make that devastated!) that I'm missing the one workshop that I desperately wanted to go to - unfortunately it clashes with my workshop. I would very very much appreciate it if someone who attends Kris Bolton's session 'The Stories of Maths' writes a detailed post about literally everything he says. Or - even better - could you film his workshop on your tablet? I'd be hugely grateful.

I'll leave you with these discussion points from my school's first maths faculty meeting of the year (sorry, I don't know the original source). What action would you take in each case? Answers on a postcard please!


  1. I really love the yellow marking stickers that Miss Bowkett shared via twitter - any chance that there may be a link to accessing these??

    1. I was wondering the same thing! They look brilliant!

    2. Hi both - just waiting for the link, as soon as I have it I will share!