28 August 2019

5 Maths Gems #115

Welcome to my 115th gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

1. Distributive Law
Miss Konstantine (@GiftedBA) shared a set of questions on the distributive law. Visit her blog to download the PowerPoint.

2. Frayer Models
@MrMattock@JoLocke1, @MisterRapley, @timdolan and @StudyMaths have created the website frayer-model.co.uk. Here you can download editable Frayer Models for a large number of maths topics (there are currently over sixty on there). 

3. Area Mazes
I know I've featured Area Mazes in my gems posts before but here are a few more...  While on holiday I played some of the Area Quiz app on my phone. Most of the problems in this app require a bit (or a lot) of reasoning. They are suitable for people of any age as long as they know how to work out area. A lot of these problems would work well at school to deepen pupils' understanding of area.

4.  Photo Signs
I'm not crafty enough to make one of these myself! Howie Hua @howie_hua‬⁩ made this sign for his pupils to hold up for photos. If you check out ⁦‪his Twitter timeline you'll see his pupils proudly sharing photos of themselves meeting their new maths teacher and embracing the idea of being a 'math person'.
Inspired by this, other teachers have made signs for their maths classrooms. Here's an example from Alice Aspinall (@aliceaspinall).

5. Starter Questions
Thanks to Mary Atherton from Carmel College in Darlington for emailing me about the pack of Starter Quizzes she intends to use with Year 10 this year. She tried a similar daily activity with other year groups last year and found that pupils responded well to the routine. Ahead of each lesson Mary will put one sheet of questions into each pupil's document wallet (her form will help her do this) and then every pupil will get started as soon as they arrive at the lesson. They get 10 minutes to answer the questions in any order - when the buzzer goes off Mary calls out the answers and the students mark their own work, recording their marks out of 10 on the record sheet that's glued to the front of their document wallet. Thanks to Mary for sharing her quizzes.

I've had very little time for blogging over summer. As well enjoying a lovely (if slightly rainy) family holiday in Jersey, I've been busy trying to write my book 'A Compendium of Mathematical Methods'. It's really hard work! I hope people like it. I've only got one chapter left to write. If all goes well it will be out in December or January. I've learnt a huge amount of new maths through researching interesting, unusual and antiquated methods. I can't wait to share what I've found.

In other news, thanks to Jamie Frost for hosting another lovely evening for maths teachers at his house and local pub.
And thanks to TES for hosting a great TES Maths Panel meeting in Sheffield with a delicious lunch in the sunshine.
Another thing I've done recently that I highly recommend is visit the MA library at the University of Leicester. All MA members are allowed to visit the library. I went with friends Ed Southall and Tom Bennison. MA librarian Mike Price very kindly showed us round and gave us access to the amazing books in the Special Collection. It was incredible!
If you plan to go to any events in the next academic year then do check out my updated conferences page. In September I'll be at #mathsconf20 in Edinburgh where I'm presenting on methods and adfected quadratics, and in October I'll be at #mathsconf21 in Peterborough where I'm presenting on the 'Calculator Crisis'.

If you want to attend the one day training course 'Marvellous Maths Teaching' with Craig Barton and me then it would be a good idea to get your request in at school soon before it sells out. 

I pulled together the MA's August 2019 eNews which came out yesterday, sharing news, puzzles and resources for maths teachers. Do check it out, and subscribe to receive future issues here.

I visited my brand new school building last week with my daughters.

Here's my five year old being a teacher in my new classroom.
I've planned first lessons for a couple of my classes but I am fortunate to have four Inset days before my pupils start so I'm leaving most of my work for then rather than do it in the holidays. I can't wait to get started with lessons! I'm really excited about meeting my new classes. Though of course I'm a bit sad about summer coming to an end.

If you're not back at school yet and you're planning first lessons for September then you might find some of my posts from previous years helpful, such as Year 7 Maths Activities. Also, check out my large collection of maths displays.

If you're back to school soon, good luck with the start of term.

I'll leave you with this puzzle that your pupils might enjoy - it was shared on Twitter by @theexperttutor after she spotted it in a magazine. There are lots more like this here - thanks to @Caminomig for the link.


  1. You are an inspiration and a great help to fellow teachers; there is always something new that I learn from your posts. Good luck with the new start.