24 November 2018

5 Maths Gems #99

Welcome to my 99th gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

1. Non-Examples Quizzes
I blogged about the new website nonexamples.com from Jonathan Hall (@StudyMaths) back in Gems 95. There are now some great new features on the website including Frayer Model templates and Multiple Choice Quizzes.
The multiple choice quizzes come with a QLA allowing instant identification of misconceptions.

On Twitter Bernie Westacott (@berniewestacott) described how he used the multiple choice quizzes with an intervention group:

2. Sum Fun
I had an email from a maths teacher looking for books by the author of this A level resource:
It turned out the original books are out of print but Twitter came to the rescue and thanks to Hans Stroeve (@stroevey) we now have the full collection of books scanned in and available to download here. They remind me of Maths with Pizzazz resources and I know they won't appeal to everyone! They include resources for topics from Key Stage 3 right up to matrices and polar coordinates! Warning: always check that the joke is appropriate before using these resources with students.

3. A Level Questions by Topic
Thank you to Chris Ansette (@mransette) who has collated old Exexcel exam questions for Pure and Mechanics and organised them for the new A level. You can download them here. These well formatted collections of exam questions with answers are really helpful for A level maths teachers.
4. Calculator Poster
In Gems 97 I featured a link to a poster of an A level calculator. Casio Maths (@CasioMaths) have also shared a set of high resolution posters of the fx-83GT Plus, which is commonly used at GCSE. You can download the posters from the Casio website.
On the subject of calculators, read this thread from @literallyjustq for some calculator tips.

5. Times Table of the Week
I see a lot of Year 7s really struggling in lessons (on topics like multiplication, division and fractions) because they don't know their times tables. I have long been a big fan of Times Tables Rock Stars to help fix this. I like @DynamicDeps's idea for a times table fact of the week. The suggestion is to use the Times Table Rock Stars heat maps to identify a multiplication fact that students struggle with, and to put up a poster of that fact everywhere in the maths department, and in fact all over the school.
Bruno Reddy has now made a set of 'Times Tables of the Week' posters for all multiplication facts which you can download here.
Perhaps maths teachers and form tutors could regularly quiz individual students on the weekly multiplication fact. Given that there are only 21 facts to memorise (assuming students already know their 1, 2 and 5 times tables), you can easily get through the whole lot in a school year if you do one a week.
The 21 Facts from Kangaroo Maths
I had an absolutely wonderful time at the MathsJam Annual Gathering last weekend. Thank you to the organiser Colin Wright and to everyone else involved. I absolutely love everything about the weekend and would really like to run a maths education event with the exact same format. Maybe next year!
Me, Mariana, Ed, Tim and Joe at the MathsJam Annual Gathering 2018

If you like the idea of social puzzling, do check out the monthly MathsJam events, and also Puzzled Pint's monthly social puzzle event in pubs all over the world. You can download Puzzled Pint's awesome puzzles for school maths clubs too.

I had another article published in Teach Secondary this month. It's about order of operations, and opportunities to interleave this topic with fractions, decimals and algebra. It comes with a free algebraic order of operations resource!
I also presented on order of operations to Harris Heads of Maths this week. The idea was to show that 30 minute CPD sessions on specific topics that are coming up on the scheme of work are a good use of maths department meeting time.
Hannah Fry has agreed to become the 2020 President of The Mathematical Association, which is very exciting news for all MA members.

Next month I will publish my 100th gems post (I have some cracking gems lined up!) and will record a celebratory podcast with Craig Barton. Craig will be asking listeners to get in touch with him in advance to share their favourite gems from over the years. So if there's something you use in your teaching that you found out about through a gems post then do let Craig know! Check out my gems index to see the whole collection!

I'm not normally one for motivational posters, but here's a quote that I'd have up by my desk if I had a desk. Often attributed to CS Lewis, this is a great message for a Year 11 class getting mock papers back. Thanks to Jen McMillan at Harris Greenwich for this!


  1. Hi Sarah,
    I have a question about Resource #5. In the United States, we have our students, as an example, consider 4 x 2 as 4 groups of 2 and 2 x 4 as 2 groups of 4. Bruno Reddy has put into his slides the opposite. Is this not what you all do in the UK??
    Karen Gartland
    K-8 Math Supervisor

    1. Hi. I don't think it's widely agreed in the UK which is 'correct'. It was mentioned in the original thread https://twitter.com/rachstebbs/status/1064077485061615617 .

      I've always said that 4 x 2 is four lots of two (because I learnt by chanting 'four twos are eight'), but I think I'm increasingly in the minority here.

    2. Thanks for the quick response! I didn't see the original post so I read it and sounds like it's a good point of conversation in the UK. We have a similar debate here in the US but it is leaning much more toward 6 x 2 is 6 "lots" (to use UK language) of 2!
      Good luck with the debate!