17 March 2019

5 Maths Gems #106

Welcome to my 106th gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

1. Maths4Everyone
I have written about David Morse's (@Maths4Everyone) resources a number of times before. I use them a lot in lessons, particularly his packs of GCSE questions by topic. Up until now I have always accessed them through TES, but now David has updated his website so his free primary and secondary resources are easily accessible without a login.

One clever feature of the website is the 'click-to-zoom' functionality where you can zoom in on a particular question or solution when you go through answers with the class.
I also like the way his new codebreakers give an anagram - this stops pupils from giving up on the maths as soon as they've worked out the sentence which is a common problem in codebreakers!

2. Facts and Basics
Thanks to Adam Smith (@Adam_SmithMaths) who has shared 'Facts and Basics' resources for A level and GCSE. These quizzes include facts, formulae and short procedural questions to help pupils practise the basics.
3. Notation and Symbols
Thanks to Karen Campe (@KarenCampe) for sharing a link to the article "Learning Mathematical Symbolism: Challenges and Instructional Strategies" by Rheta N. Rubenstein and Denisse R. Thompson. There's lots to think about here.

In the table below, the last example is particularly worth discussing. At Amy How's Rekenrek workshop at #mathsconf18 she mentioned that she would never say 'zero point six' - she'd always say sixth tenths instead. I've heard other people say this too, and I wonder why I still continue to say decimals in such an unhelpful way. When I say 0.42 out loud to pupils, perhaps I should consistently say '42 hundredths' instead of 'zero point four two'. I have a feeling we (ie many teachers in this country - I know I'm generalising) might be a bit behind other countries with this.
The article includes teaching strategies:
"Students may also be instructed to record symbols in their own personal symbol table or card file, in which they write the symbol, record in English how to say it, and give examples of its use". 
Other ideas include asking pupils to invent 'graffiti' for mathematical symbols (examples below - these are similar to the calligrams I have featured in previous gems posts) and asking pupils to make their own examples and non-examples.

4. Mathigon
I first blogged about the amazing website Mathigon in 2014, and it was a winner in the 2015 Gem Awards. The content goes from strength to strength. The writer Philipp Legner has recently published a brand new free course 'Circles and Pi' that contains countless interactive explanations on circles, spheres, and conic sections. It is such a cool website - have a play with the animations and you'll see what I mean. Here's a trailer for the new content:

5. AQA Additional Maths Pilot Questions
A few years ago I wrote about using old Linked Pair Pilot questions with GCSE classes and shared some examples of good questions. I can also recommend old AQA Additional Maths Pilot papers too. To explain why I've been using these: twice a week I run morning intervention with a Year 11 top set at a school in Croydon. It's taken a while for the pupils to warm up to me, but we're getting there now. We spend an hour doing challenging GCSE-level questions together. It works well when I sit and work out the solutions alongside them. The problem is, because I'm not their teacher I have to be careful not to give them questions that their teacher might have already used. So I search for suitable questions elsewhere. Here two questions we enjoyed last week:

If you're preparing students for their GCSE exams then don't forget I have a large collection of revision resources here.

I've been super busy this year with various projects, hence the lack of blog posts. I do update things behind the scenes all the time though, even when I seem quiet! This week, thanks to lovely contributors, I added some new primary topics in depth packs and some new Pret homeworks.
My books, and the science books in the same series, have been selling well to schools. I'm now starting to look for authors for other subjects and key stages to further extend the series. I really hope they help Year 11s to do some revision over Easter. Just to clarify a few key points: 1) They are for students, not teachers. There's really no point in a teacher having a single copy, unless they tutor. 2) They are specifically aimed at the students who need support to get started with independent study. 3) They are literally just for memorising facts and formulae, nothing else. I explained the idea in this post last month.

Last week I went to a great event at Amazon with loads of cool maths people like Alex Bellos, Conrad Wolfram and Colin Hegarty. The Head of Amazon UK is a mathematician and he wants to support maths education. No doubt I will update my readers on this initiative over the coming months.

If you were at my Humble Pi book launch then do check out the superpermuatations video that was filmed at the event.

Humble Pi is currently the UK's number one bestselling book which is really exciting.

Last weekend was #mathsconf18 in Birmingham. As usual I had a lovely time, met lots of awesome teachers and attended great workshops. Thank you to David Faram for helping me run the MA bookstand and Rob Smith for driving the MA bookstand all the way from Leicester.

I presented on Unit Conversions - my slides can be downloaded from my Topics in Depth page.

Next weekend I'm speaking at the Habs Girls conference and the following weekend I'm speaking at Educating Northants which is going to be absolutely huge - check out the programme! Look out for a Conference Takeaways podcast from me and Craig Barton afterwards.

Next month it will be the fifth anniversary of resourceaholic.com (so time for my fifth annual Gem Awards!) and coincidentally in the same month I expect to pass 5,000,000 views.

I'll leave you with a problem from Daniel Griller (@puzzlecritic) that he shared in his workshop at #mathsconf18. Enjoy!

The numbers 1, 2 and x are written on the board. Their mean is equal to the product of their median and range. Find all possible values of x.


  1. Thanks Jo. Do you have resources for teaching Further Maths GCSE? I use the AQA textbook mainly but need something else for matrices especially.

    1. I don't I'm afraid. If you tweet about it and tag me I'll RT it for you and I'm sure we'll find some.