27 April 2018

Gem Awards 2018

This week it's resourceaholic.com's fourth birthday! It's become a tradition for me to mark the anniversary of my blog by publishing an annual 'Gem Awards' post. Here I look back at all the ideas I've shared in my gems posts over the last year and choose some of my favourites.


1. Best New GCSE Resources
The award for best new GCSE resources goes to David Morse for his collection of 'Maths4Everyone' resources for GCSE topics. I've been using these a lot in my Year 11 revision lessons over the last couple of weeks.
I like the clear format and well written questions. Check out his set of exam-style quadratic 'show that' questions to see the kind of excellent resource David shares.

2. Best New A Level Support
I'm very grateful to everyone who has shared resources to support the teaching of the new A level. The award in this category goes to MarkIt, a website that I first featured in my gems posts and later wrote about in my BCME 9 Reflections. I love this website for its well written A level questions (which are freely available), its high quality functionality for setting A level homeworks, and its helpful blog about teaching A level. I look forward to seeing how this website develops.
Honorable mentions in this category go to Dr Frost (who has produced slides for every topic in A level maths, plus useful resources for the ClassWiz calculator and large data set), Dr Madas (who has created new IYGB papers), and to CrashMaths (who have shared excellent new A level practice papers).

3. Best New Primary Support 
This award goes to John Corbett for his new primary 5-a-day tasks. 5-a-day is already widely used in secondary schools and it's great to see the collection expanding further. John has also started to share new primary worksheets.
Honorable mention to Nikki Martin, who attended one of my workshops last year and was inspired to make a set of 'Topics in Depth' packs to support primary school teachers. These packs cover approaches, methods, tools and resources for all the topics taught in Year 6 and Year 2. Nikki has kindly shared the whole collection for free here.

4. Best New Book
This award goes to Craig Barton for his book 'How I Wish I'd Taught Maths'. A thoroughly enjoyable read, it brings us honest reflections and research-based recommendations on how to teach maths more effectively. The book been incredibly popular and seems to have encouraged a large number of teachers to try new things. Do read it if you haven't already done so. It's fantastic.
5. Best New Puzzles
This award goes to 'consecutive number puzzles'. The first example I saw was shared by Chris Smith in his weekly maths newsletter.
Similar activities include Jonathan Hall's interactive activity 'Consecutive Number Types' and MathsPad's free worksheet 'Consecutive Chains'. These are lovely, accessible activities for Key Stage 2, 3 or 4 - they're great for exploring number properties.
6. Best New Revision Resources
This award goes to the website Access Maths. Grant has shared a large collection of GCSE revision activities including an A3 grid of 100 questions which worked perfectly as a cover lesson for my Year 11s in the run up to their December mocks.
Honorable mention to Mel at JustMaths for her excellent 'Preparing for your exam' slides.

During exam season, don't forget to check out my collections of GCSE revision resources and A level revision resources.

7. Best New Online Tool
This award goes to MathsPad for their interactive tool for transformations. The tracing paper overlays work really well here, enabling the teacher to demonstrate transformations while pupils complete the matching questions.
MathsPad's free constructions tool and graphing tool are also worth exploring.

8. Best Display
Recent research suggests that displays in the classroom may lead to cognitive overload. Whilst minimising distractions makes total sense, I've taught in dingy, display-free classrooms before and I think we have to get the right balance here... Dozens of facts and formulae stuck around the whiteboard at the front of a classroom may well be problematic, but I certainly don't think that we should totally strip our departments of the wonderful displays that get students talking about mathematics. Displays in the maths corridor and at the back of the classroom can really enrich students' maths education. I often see students gathered around posters outside my classroom, deep in conversation about the maths on display.

So, though some of you may have become a bit anti-display in recent months, I'm still a fan. The winner of this year's best display award is the lovely Maths Word of the Week posters by @missradders.
And honorable mention to @jaegetsreal for her First 1000 Digits of Pi Posters and her post about the wonderful conversations this display has sparked between students.
I have a large collection of lovely display resources on my displays page. If only I had time to put them up!

9. Generosity
The generosity award goes to Rob Smith, a maths teacher from Leicester who works tirelessly to support the maths education community. Amongst other things, Rob runs branch events for the ATM and MA, masterclasses for students, and a charity tuck shop at conferences (which I love!). Whenever I see him at MA Council meetings he is full of kind words and encouragement. Rob is incredibly thoughtful and is always going above and beyond to make people happy. Thank you Rob!
10. Lifetime Achievement
This year my lifetime achievement award goes to Jonathan Hall, creator of awesome websites including MathsBot.com and formtimeideas.com. I've blogged about MathsBot extensively before, but since then tonnes of new features have been added including a library of virtual manipulatives, an interactive number line and a place value tool. His most recent addition is a great Recall and Recap Quiz which might work well in form time in the run up to GCSE exams.
Considering the rate at which Jonathan produces new material, and how incredibly responsive he is to teacher requests, he must work around the clock. Barely a week goes by where Jonathan doesn't share something new. He is creative, smart and generous, and on behalf of all maths teachers I'd like to thank Jonathan for everything he does.


That's it for the 2018 Gem Awards! Thank you to everyone who tweets about what they've tried in their classroom. It's so inspirational. Congratulations to all winners. Apologies that I can't afford to send you actual prizes. I'd really love to hold a glitzy award ceremony one day!
I know I've failed to mention a great many awesome people and resources in this post. If you visit my Gems Archive you'll find an index of 87 gems posts - they are all full of great ideas and resources. Also bear in mind that I've been careful not to give an award for the same thing twice so it's worth checking out the Gem Awards 2017, Gem Awards 2016 and Gem Awards 2015 to see who has won awards previously.
Happy 4th birthday resourceaholic.com. Thank you to my readers for all your support!

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