21 March 2020

5 Maths Gems #123

Welcome to my 123rd gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

A note to parents

I'd like to say a big hello to parents who are visiting my blog looking for maths resources to use at home. Although there are plenty of resources here, really they are designed for teachers to use in lessons at school and many won't really be suitable for distance learning. 

Thankfully maths is very well equipped for learning at home - far better than most other subjects. Many schools will have already provided students with access to excellent online systems (such as Hegarty Maths, and many others). Using these systems, students are able to learn maths from videos and complete tasks online. For students without access to the internet or computers, most schools will have already provided some paper resources or textbooks. The best place to get advice on what your child should be doing at home is from your child's own school. I don't think it would be responsible of me to dish out generic advice here to children I have never met. Their teacher knows best.

If you are looking for maths resources in addition to those provided by your child's school then please visit sites like this Padlet (collated by @mrspeasemaths) for links to useful websites. I have decided not to duplicate this work here. I am very wary of overwhelming parents and children with too many website and resources. 

Finally, please see this document (collated by @MrACrampton) for links to maths documentaries that students may enjoy watching at home. Also, downloading the Sumaze apps from MEI (suitable for ages four through to adult) would be an excellent use of time.

Stay safe, and thank you for continuing to support teachers during this difficult time.

A note to teachers

I've decided to write a normal gems post as I hope it will be a welcome distraction for many of you. Plus, we will all be teaching again one day and I want to continue to make a library of all these resources and ideas so we don't forget about them.

Like you, I have had the weirdest week of my life. Next week - and for the foreseeable future - I will be in school two days a week looking after key worker and vulnerable children. The rest of the time I will be working from home (setting work for my own students, and leading on technical support, parent communications, and other bits and pieces). At the same time I will be homeschooling my five year old and eight year old. Both of their parents are key workers (my husband is frontline NHS) but we will make it work.

I work in a new school with just Year 7 and 8 students so I haven't had to handle the situation with Year 11 and 13 this week. I can not imagine how traumatic this has been for all involved, and I know that this will continue to be a very difficult time for those teachers over the coming weeks. After the immense sadness of what happened, to then be on the receiving end of threatening emails from parents and students who are not happy with their predicted grades is very distressing and my heart goes out to all of you affected.

I cannot believe how quickly life has turned upside down. Every single teacher and leader I know has acted admirably. I have never before been so proud to be a teacher.


1. Don Steward
Don Steward has shared another batch of excellent resources.

Bearings is one of my favourite topics so I'm pleased to see a set of fabulous bearings tasks. There are also new resources for fractions, rotations and directed numbers.

2. Stand-Up Maths Activities
This isn't new, but I wasn't aware of it until recently. Matt Parker regularly shares mathematical videos on his Stand-Up Maths YouTube channel. Some videos have teacher resources to accompany them - this growing collection of resources can be accessed here. It includes an explanation of one of my favourite calculator tricks...

3.      Literacy Mat
Ben Farrar (@mrfarrarmusic) made a maths literacy mat for Key Stage 3 and 4 with key terms and symbols. It folds three-way like a menu to be stuck in the front of books.  
4. Volume
Here’s a nice activity from JoAnn Sandford (@joann_sandford). To help check that her students understood volume she gave them some formulae and asked them to draw an object to match.
As a follow-up she asked them to identify the imposter from a set of sketches:

5.  Resources Made Free
Some websites have made their content free or released new content to help during this challenging time. Here are some of those websites:

  • Access to Twinkl has been made free for a month using the code UKTWINKLHELPS. It's been a while since I've looked at the secondary maths content on Twinkl and it seems to have grown considerably. In fact I used it last week when I unexpectedly found myself teaching Sets and Venns to mixed ability Year 7 and 8s. The resources I used were great. Thank you Twinkl!
  • Teachit Maths, along with all the Teachit sites, is offering free, unlimited access to all of their resources. No codes are required.
  • Sandra from MathsBox has added all of her Quick Cover resources to TES for free. These might be useful for home learning because they include both examples and tasks.
  • For puzzles and CPD, the MA is adding back copies of Symmetry Plus and Mathematical Pie to their website for use by teachers, parents or students. They'll add more issues every couple of days. 
  • MEI has made all of Integral’s AS/A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics resources freely available. More details about this, and the other ways in which MEI is supporting teachers and students at home, are available on their website.

I think that after a while, once we've all settled into our routines of supporting students at home, this change in circumstances might be an opportunity for maths teacher CPD... If so, do check out the Topics in Depth videos made by me and Craig (more coming very soon!) plus Craig's podcast, and (if you can get one delivered...) my book A Compendium of Mathematical Methods.

Finally, if you're not on Twitter then join us! Particularly if you feel isolated, lonely or out of touch. We are a community of friendly maths teachers who will keep each other strong during these tough times. We always welcome new members. If you join, tweet me to say hello...  (but please don't protect your account because then I won't see your tweet!).

I'll leave you with this video in case you haven't seen it before - it really made me laugh. I know we face a very serious situation, but I hope you see the funny side of this...

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