18 November 2015

Resources for New GCSE Topics

If you follow my blog then you'll know that over summer I spent a lot of time setting up a new GCSE support page. In doing so I found that there are some topics (such as Error Intervals and Frequency Trees) which currently have very few teaching resources.

Free vs Subscription Resources
The resources I recommend in my libraries are all available for free. The teachers behind free websites like m4ths.com and Corbett Maths are adding new GCSE content all the time. The exam boards are also being very helpful - I've already made use of both AQA and OCR's excellent new resources.

There's also a number of high quality resource providers who charge a small subscription fee. These include MathsPad, MathsBox, Teachit Maths and Just Maths. These subscriptions are well worth considering. The picture below shows an extract from a MathsPad activity that I used yesterday with my top set Year 10 - it's a great activity but it's only available with a subscription (£3 per month).

Of course it should be your school that pays for any subscriptions, not you. I know school budgets are tight, but if your department doesn't have any new GCSE maths textbooks then it does need to ensure that teaching resources are available.

Last week I discovered a company called Toticity. My eyes lit up when I saw that they're selling a 'Mind the Gap Maths Toolbox' which is full of resources for new GCSE topics. I was particularly pleased to see that one of their free samples is on Iteration - this a topic for which resources are few and far between.

In this post I provide a review of the Toolbox, which is available to your school for a one-off payment of £95 + VAT.

I've just finished teaching the new sequences content - it was very enjoyable. There's some great sequences resources listed in my algebra library, but when I taught triangular numbers and 'Fibonacci-type sequences' I couldn't find any resources at all. It's a shame I didn't have the Toticity Toolbox last week because there's a lovely Fibonacci worksheet in there, plus some nice activities for triangular numbers.
Fibonacci-type sequence questions
from the Mind the Gap Maths Toolbox

Under-resourced topics
Under-resourced topics such as Frequency Trees, Error Intervals and Invariant Points are all covered in the Mind the Gap Maths Toolbox - extracts from these worksheets are shown below. What a relief to finally have some resources for these topics!

Compound Measures
Compound measure worksheets are presented as a series of proportionality puzzles. Students start with puzzles like the example shown below - here students are told that the horizontal functions must be the same and the vertical functions must be the same.

This leads onto speed problems, such as the example shown below.

We are also given both density and pressure problems, which follow the same format.
I like this logical approach to proportional thinking, it reminds me of ratio tables.

Area under a Graph
In August I wrote a post about finding the area under a graph. In my post I talked about using the Trapezium Rule to find the area under a curve, but I didn't mention graphs like the example pictured below.
This doesn't require the Trapezium Rule but does require that students either know how to calculate the area of a trapezium or realise that they can split the area into a rectangle and a triangle. The Mind the Gap Maths Toolbox provides a preliminary worksheet to help students develop the necessary skills - an extract is shown below. They use shapes before they move onto graphs. I like this.

Diagrams and Scaffolding
The worksheets in the Mind the Gap Toolbox contain a lot of algorithmic diagrams. Workings have to follow a defined structure. For example the format below is used for all the questions on finding the midpoint of a line.
Another example is shown below - this is taken from a rounding worksheet. I've not seen this approach before. In order to use this worksheet in a lesson on rounding I'd probably have to use this representation throughout my teaching of the topic. Instead I use a straightforward number line and I'm not sure I want to change that.

Have a look at Page 2 of this free sample resource on perpendicular lines to see what I mean about the use of lots of algorithmic diagrams. These approaches are interesting but I'm not sure they will appeal to everyone.

I like the design of all the worksheets in the Mind the Gap Maths Toobox - they are user-friendly and well formatted. Answers are provided. There's little in the way of problem solving or stretch and challenge - these worksheets are very much designed for fluency practice. I'll use these worksheets in addition to (but not instead of) rich tasks that develop problem solving skills.

The diagrams and flowcharts used throughout most of the worksheets provide a lot of scaffolding. This makes some of the challenging new content more accessible, for example through the use of grids for expanding triple brackets. The approaches used (the very distinctive methodologies) might not appeal to everyone but are worth a look.

I'm very pleased that I have a new set of practice worksheets and am really looking forward to getting stuck in with all the new GCSE topics. Even iteration! Do have a look at toticity.co.uk for free samples, a list of new topics and an order form.


  1. Janet Annetts @mathsjanet19 November 2015 at 14:18

    Developing proportional reasoning is also covered by a rather useful resource from the National STEM centre http://www.nationalstemcentre.org.uk/elibrary/resource/1963/developing-proportional-reasoning-n6
    I have used this successfully with both GCSE and L1/L2 functional skills students

    1. Oh yes, that's a similar approach. I've not seen that one before, thank you! Standards Unit resources are excellent.

  2. I'm loving your blogs and the links to the free resources have gone in my favourites thanks!