5 May 2019

Gem Awards 2019

Last week it was resourceaholic.com's fifth 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. Each category has a winner and a special mention.

1. Best GCSE Support
This award goes to the website BossMaths which I first blogged about in last May in Gems 89. This free site made by maths teachers has over 200 lessons matched to the GCSE specification, each with examples, practice exercises, misconceptions, and exam-style problems. I blogged about it again in Gems 103 when I discovered that a number of lessons contain examples and non-examples.

I love this website because it ridiculously easy to use (no login is required and you can navigate in seconds using the search tool) and covers the entire secondary maths curriculum. I use this website quite often - I borrow bits and pieces from lessons to include in mine.
Special mention to David Morse who won the 'Best New GCSE Resources' Gem Award last year. He continues to produce high quality resources and has recently re-launched his website, as featured in Gems 106.

2. Best New Blog
This award goes to maths teacher Mr Rowlandson (@Mr_Rowlandson) who has been writing his blog "Pondering Planning in Mathematics" since December 2017. He has organised his blog posts into series - so far we have 'Interconnected Maths', 'Lessons Learned From Shanghai' and 'Planning Thought'. He writes very well and always gives me lots to think about. He shares lesson ideas, reflections and related research. I absolutely loved his two most recent posts: Thinking About Corresponding Angles and Thinking About Calculating Areas of Circles. These are well worth a read if you are interested in task design in general, and also very helpful if you are planning lessons on either of these two topics (they come with helpful PowerPoints to download). In fact I think that these PowerPoints would be good for department meeting CPD.
Special mention to Chris McGrane (@ChrisMcGrane84) for his blog 'Get Out of My Swamp' where he shares thoughts and reflections on learning episodes, and his website Starting Points where he shares tasks and ideas.

3. Best App 
This award goes to MEI for their brilliant Sumaze series. These apps are such good fun for everyone, including maths teachers. If you've never played Sumaze! and Sumaze! 2 then do have a go (warning - they're addictive). Sumaze! is a problem-solving puzzle game suitable for A level mathematicians and above, and its sequel Sumaze! 2 is suitable for GCSE mathematicians and above. I was delighted when MEI launched Sumaze! Primary which is perfect for my seven year old daughter. We had loads of fun playing it.
Special mention to the Key Cards GCSE Maths Revision App from Simply Effective Education. Last month I downloaded a load of GCSE maths revision apps to check (so I'd know which apps to recommend to my students). This one stood out as particularly high quality.

4. Best CPD
This award goes to Teresa Robinson (@teresaarob1) for her brilliant Joint Maths/Science CPD.

Schools often want the maths department to support other subjects, but it can be hard to figure out the best way to do it. I was very pleased when Mel (@Just_Maths) wrote a blog post sharing Teresa's excellent CPD that maths teachers can do alongside science teachers.
Teresa followed this up with a second post: maths CPD to support business studies teachers. Again, it's really high quality.

In the 'Best CPD' category, special mention also to Craig Barton's podcast. It won the CPD Award two years ago and is still going strong. Craig has continued to interview a wide range of brilliant guests from the world of education. This CPD is really accessible for busy teachers (I listen on the way to work), and is always full of great advice, ideas and reflections.

5. Best Time Saving Tool for Teachers
This award goes to Hannah (@missradders) for her Planning Padlet. She made this for the teachers in her department but shared it publicly so other teachers can benefit. It's a good idea to make this your homepage on your work computer. It provides instant access to a large number of quality websites that teachers can use when planning lessons. It's very well organised, regularly updated and easy to use.
Special mention to Jonathan Hall (@StudyMaths) for his GCSE Grade Boundaries page and his GCSE Countdown page on MathsBot.com. I blog about MathsBot all the time - it's full of great tools for teachers. I teach a lot of Year 11 this year and I've lost count of the number of times I've used the exam countdown and grade boundaries pages. It's so helpful to know I can access that information instantly when I need it - a great time saver.

6. Best Animations
I don't like to give an award to the same person twice, but this one is going to have to go to MathsPad again! Since they got the 2018 Gem Award for Best New Online Tool, they've added more interactive resources to help teachers with their explanations. Recent additions include tools and slides for plans and elevationscontainer filling, pie charts and 3D Pythagoras. I find these really helpful. As I've said many times before, if you have the budget then MathsPad is well worth subscribing to.
Special mention to BossMaths (@boss_maths) for the ready-to-use Geogebra resources which are built into a number of their lessons. When I tweeted about numberless protractors, Sudeep from BossMaths replied straight away with a handy numberless protractor applet that he made using Geogebra.

7. Best New Website
This award goes to Jonathan Hall for the website nonexamples.com that I first blogged about in Gems 95. There are four sections on this website: Compare, Odd One Out, Frayer Model and Multiple Choice Quiz.
Like Jonathan's other websites, it's very easy to use. For example when I was explaining exterior angles to my students, I showed them this:
Special mention to Craig Barton's website variationtheory.com. This is one of a set of websites hosted by Craig where teachers can submit their own resources to share with other teachers (see also SSDDs, Venns and Diagnostic Questions). Variationtheory.com hosts a large number of useful tasks - for example the exercise on deciding whether to add or subtract simultaneous equations made me realise that part of my explanation needed to be improved. I particularly like the 'Fill in the Gaps' resources that have recently been added to the site.
8. Best Puzzles
This award goes to teacher Catriona Shearer (@Cshearer41) for the excellent hand drawn geometric puzzles she shares on Twitter on a regular basis.
These beautiful puzzles are really fun for maths teachers and would provide a good challenge for students too. It was wonderful to see them featured in Alex Bellos's Monday Puzzle column in The Guardian in January.

The 'special mention' for this award category goes to this puzzle which I featured in Gems 104:
This was shared by a colleague of Tom Bennison (@DrBennison) and prettified by puzzle master Ed Southall (@solvemymaths). Given it's a square, find the marked angle. I really like this - it doesn't require any knowledge beyond primary school angle facts but it's really satisfying to solve. 

9. Mathematics Award
This award goes to Nicholas Rougeux's (@rougeux) stunning interactive recreation of Byrne's 1847 edition of Euclid's Elements. I love this - it's wonderful. Check out Gems 101 for more on this.
Special mention to Mathigon, which won my 2015 Gem Award for Best Website. The new content on this site is brilliant, including the interactive history of maths timeline. Check out Gems 106 for more on Mathigon.

10. Lifetime Achievement Award
My previous lifetime achievement awards have gone to Don Steward, John Corbett and Jonathan Hall. This year my lifetime achievement award goes to the wonderfully talented Chris Smith (@aap03102).

Chris teaches maths at Grange Academy in Kilmarnock and contributes absolutely tonnes to the global maths teaching community. His weekly maths newsletter goes to around 3000 subscribers and is guaranteed to cheer up my Fridays. His resources are brilliant and his jokes are terrible. Chris won Scottish Teacher of the Year 2018 which was very well deserved. Chris has a pivotal role Maths Week Scotland, runs an annual maths camp for his students, does crazy things on Pi Day, and lots more.

If you haven't listened to Chris being interviewed by Craig Barton on the podcast then you must - he is so incredibly positive and passionate, it really makes you remember and appreciate the joy of maths teaching. Chris is also an inspirational public speaker and I very much hope to see him speak in both Scotland and England in the near future.
As well as being full of brilliant ideas, Chris is a wonderfully kind and generous person. He is an inspirational teacher and he makes a massive contribution to the maths community. No doubt he will continue to do so for years to come. On behalf of all maths teachers I'd like to thank Chris for everything he does. What a superstar. 


There are many people who I've not mentioned here who have helped to fill my gems posts with resources and ideas over the past year. Thank you to all of them for their ongoing contribution to maths education. I really appreciate the lengths people go to share their work as widely as possible so that we all benefit. I've been on Twitter for five years now and continue to feel privileged to be part of such a welcoming and generous community. Thank you also to the people who have encouraged and supported me over the last year - it's been really tough at times, but there's been lots of highlights (LateMaths, Humble Pi and Big MathsJam to name but a few).

If you're new to my blog and you enjoyed this post then visit my Gems Archive you'll find an index of 109 gems posts - they are all full of great ideas and resources. Also listen to my Gems podcast with Craig Barton where we discuss some hidden gems. You might also want to check out the Gem Awards 2018Gem Awards 2017, Gem Awards 2016 and Gem Awards 2015 to see who has won awards previously.

Happy 5th birthday resourceaholic.com. Thank you to my readers for all the support!


  1. Jo, you are a true inspiration, both to me personally and to maths teachers everywhere. I feel really blessed to know you. Thank you so much for everything you do for the maths community.

    1. Thank you Andrew, what a lovely thing to say! Very much appreciated. x

  2. Hi Joe,
    You mentioned above about your 7 year old daughter. I too have a 7 year old daughter. I would be interested in knowing what all sites, blogs, app's have you introduced to her. Not just math related, but everything in general. Thank you.

    1. Sorry for the slow reply. I don't know many good apps for kids but I am researching it now so I will report back soon. Try Box Island!

  3. Just noticed that my rekenreks made an appearance in your collage of pics! Yay! Thanks so much!

  4. Hi Jo,

    Wonderful site and resources!

    Would you, any of your colleagues or your daughter be interested in having a play with Emile ?

    Thanks for all your hard work


  5. Belated congratulations on your sixth anniversary! What apps do you recommend for a nearly 4 year old boy and girl who are new to maths? How do you teach small kids about numbers etc?
    I recently started teaching my two kids who are very little how to count up fo five and ten and colors and shapes too. They are only three years old at the moment. I use easy floor puzzles and card games to develop their basic number and shape recognition skills as well. I have also bought a couple of workbooks for later on. I have also tried drawing pictures of shapes and colouring them in.
    Any other tips are gratefully appreciated.