27 February 2016

5 Maths Gems #50

Hello and welcome to my 50th gems post. This is where I share five maths teaching ideas.

1. Fractions and Percentages from Don Steward
I was incredibly happy to receive a memory stick in the post at the start of term - it was sent to me by Don Steward and it contains all of his PowerPoints for Key Stage 3, 4 and 5. I'm very grateful to have access to such fantastic resources. Much of what he sent me is on his blog, but amongst his slides I've also found a few things that I've never seen before. This Fractions to Percentages activity is brilliant. I used it as a starter for my Year 10s this week. This is one of those wonderful 'works well with any age group' activities.
2. Statistics
I found a lovely website - Stats The Way I Like It - which was created by Allison Horst of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.  Most of the content is only relevant to university level statistics, but the clear explanations of hypothesis testing and probability density functions might be useful for teachers of S2. This lovely graphic showing the difference between discrete, continuous and qualitative data (from: What Type of Data Do I Have?) may be useful at Key Stage 3 too:

3. Enrichment 
This week I presented an enrichment lecture at school based on ideas from Simon Singh's book 'The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets'. I adapted the slides that Simon provides for teachers - if you'd like to borrow my presentation then you can download it here. It covers Fermat's Last Theorem, Mersenne primes, perfect numbers, narcissistic numbers, binary numbers and rock-paper-scissors. The slides include footage from The Simpsons, Futurama and The Big Bang Theory.
To promote my lecture I put up posters in the Maths Department showing the puzzle pictured above. I was pleased to see students gathered around the posters trying to solve it. This puzzle works well for any age group - I've seen teachers utterly confused by it and I've seen a 12 year old solve it in seconds! I gave it to a group of Year 4 students in a primary enrichment session this week - they took a while to work it out but once they solved it, they all wanted to take a copy home for their parents to try.

4. Starter Packs
Thanks to Ed Southall (@solvemymaths) for sharing his starter packs. These can be printed as A5 booklets so each student has their own starter pack. As well as tasks for 'the basics', the packs include a lovely assortment of puzzles. Ed helpfully provides the answers too.

5. Leap Year Maths
It's 29th February on Monday - what a great opportunity for some enrichment in your maths lessons. I'm planning to show my Year 10s Matt Parker's (@standupmaths) excellent video Leap Years: We Can Do Better.
Source: harjotbal.com
I'm looking forward to #mathsconf6 next weekend. I'll be in Peterborough all day on Friday - if you're staying at the Park Inn then you can meet me in the lobby at 7.30pm if you want to join me for the pre-conference drinks.

On Saturday I'll be running a competition at the Tweet Up - do come along and join in.


  1. Thanks Jo - I really look forward to your posts - so much to plunder! From the other side of the world in NZ

    1. Thank you! So lovely to have a comment from New Zealand!