1 January 2019

5 Maths Gems #101

Happy New Year! Welcome to my 101st gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

1. Euclid's Elements 
Nicholas Rougeux (@rougeux) has made something incredible. He has recreated Byrne's 1847 edition of Euclid's Elements including interactive diagrams, cross references, and a new poster of all the original illustrations.
You can read an in-depth blog post on how it was made here. It's absolutely wonderful.
2. Retrieval Facts
Jonathan Hall (@StudyMaths) added a retrieval facts section to mathsbot.com. It's primarily designed for printing but can be projected onto the board too. I can see this being a helpful revision tool for Year 11.
If you think that regular quizzing is a good way for students to learn facts and formulae, then look out for an exciting new book which will be available for students to buy in 2019. Listen to the end of my recent podcast with Craig Barton if you want to know more about this.

3. Surds Bricks
Thanks to @pwdrysdale for sharing this surds activity. Each brick is the sum of the two beneath it.
4. A Level
Whilst preparing some CPD on Large Data Set for A level I discovered this cute video explaining how oktas work. If you teach Edexcel A level then you might find this helpful. The Examiner Report suggests that most students taking their A level exam in June 2018 were clueless on oktas.

While we're on the subject of A level, do check out this letter from a cat food company. @mathematicsprof wrote to them about how they could minimise material if each can’s height equals its diameter. They wrote back to explain that it's way more complicated than maths problems suggest. Next time I teach optimisation I will be showing my students this letter!
A level teachers might also like this Integration a Day Advent Calendar. Designed by Tom Bennison (@DrBennison) for Christmas, this would work well at any time of year - an integration question every lesson is a very good idea!
5 . Puzzling App
Henk Reuling (@HenkReuling) has created a free puzzle app which involves adding and multiplying integers. It's great fun for teachers, and it might be useful for students learning to work with negatives too.
It's really fun so do have a go.

In case you missed them, I wrote two posts over the Christmas holidays:

Check out @literallyjustq's latest thread about calculator functions which includes a calculator 'cheat' for finding the nth term of a quadratic sequence. 

Thank you to Jamie Frost (@DrFrostMaths) for hosting drinks for maths teachers at his house again last week - I had a great evening.

I'll leave you with @Blogdemaths' lovely 'How to Draw a Regular Pentagon, IKEA Version' (inspired by the work of @ideainstruction).

All the best for 2019.


  1. Happy New Year! Thank you for these GEMs. They are inspiring.

  2. Thank you as always for your great ideas. Going back to work seems much more exciting with new resources to play with. I wondered if you would be willing to share some of your plans for the CPD on the large data set? Even just a few things you felt it worth covering would be really helpful. Love the video!

    1. I'm running the CPD for a Maths Hub on 17th January. I will share it after that. For some reason very little Maths Hub stuff gets widely shared and I am determined to change that.

  3. Thanks Jo for adding OKTA to my vernacular! A perfectly sensible way of enumerating cloud cover in eighths, and I love the use of 9 for fog!

  4. But in the Edexcel large data set the max value in oktas is 8, so cloud cover can be 0 to 8 inclusive. ie thre are nine values.

  5. Hi. I was wondering if you had a blog post of "difficult" rearranging the subject of a formula? I seem to think you may have posted old style difficult GCSE ones somewhere but cannot find them! Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi. Nothing specific for changing the subject, sorry - other than the 'Easy Literal Equations' resource in my algebra resource library.