7 May 2020

5 Maths Gems #127

Welcome to my 127th gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

1. Maths Challenge Pick 'n' Mixes
Thanks to @Ayliean who has made a couple of absolutely brilliant Maths Challenge Pick 'n' Mixes. There are two versions: one is to encourage pupils who are really struggling to do anything at home right now - you can download it here.
The other version is for pupils who just can't get enough maths. You can download it here for the clickable links.

2. Websites
Jim Hardy is a maths teacher from Nottingham who has created the website mrhardymaths.co.uk. Each year he still finds himself scrolling through papers in search of exam questions to work through with students when they get to the end of a chapter, so he created this website to save himself time. The website contains exam questions for GCSE, Certificate of Further Maths, A level Maths and A level Further Maths. I like the uncluttered interface of this website.
Another website that I hadn't seen before is nagwa.com. This was shared by @SarahGarry9. It has content for Years 1 to 13. For each year group there are videos by topic and multiple choice quizzes.
Whilst on the subject of A level - another new resource that teachers might find useful is these 1-stop-shop PDFs containing exam questions and mark schemes for A Level Maths and Further Maths. These were created by @BicenMaths. The PDFs are easy to navigate, and hyperlinked when downloaded. They work well on students' phones or tablets. 
3. Code Breakers
Miss Konstantine (@giftedHKO) shared a set of 'break the code' activities that are working well for her students at home. Check out her post where she has shared these tasks for a number of topics.

4. Bridging the Gap
Thanks to @nicole_cozens for sharing the AMSP's new package for Year 11s to prepare for A Level maths. A MOOC will be coming later, but this package provides some help for Year 11 teachers and students.
5. Further RISPS
Jonny Griffiths (@therispguy) has now shared his 'Further Risps' PDF ebook for free. It contains forty investigative tasks for Further Maths A Level students.
It was the sixth anniversary of my blog last Monday and that means I should have published my annual Gem Awards, like I do every year at the end of April. The problem is, it takes ages for me to write a post like that, and I just haven't had time to do it yet. I'm normally great at multi-tasking, but managing my current school workload while being at home with my children all day is proving a bit much for me some days. I've been trying to help my daughters complete their school work while simultaneously answering a constant flow of messages from students and colleagues, and to be honest I'm finding it tough! So I missed the Gem Awards, but I will do it over half-term. Watch this space.

Here are a few things you might have missed since my last gems post:
  • The Topics in Depth CPD on angles that I recorded with Craig Barton in February has been published by TES. This free online CPD is suitable for teachers of Key Stage 2 to 4.
  • The Mathematical Association's April eNews, which I collate, was published last week.
  • A Seneca course for my book A Compendium of Mathematical Methods has been launched. This is free online CPD. It is bizarre to see things I've written translated into a training course. It covers the book's introduction plus two topics. I think Seneca have done a really good job of this! If you enjoy it, please consider buying my book.

Finally, I'm sure you've already seen the news that Don Steward passed away. I am shocked and incredibly sad, and so angry at this horrific virus. I blogged about my memories of Don on Wednesday, and have been comforted by so many teachers sharing his wonderful tasks on Twitter using the hashtag #donsteward. The responses on Twitter to the news of his death have been incredible - he touched the lives of maths teachers all over the world.

I'll leave you with one of the many Don Steward tasks that I have enjoyed over the years. Find the area of this triangle without a calculator. I just did this question, just to make sure I can remember how to do maths (it's been a while!), and did a little happy dance when the answer fell out so elegantly.
Stay safe, maths teachers. x


  1. Thank you Jo, as always very insightfull and useful. The A level resources you mentioned are new to me, so I am off to explore those :) I have been following you for years and am always in owe of your work - how do you manage to do all this + teach + family.

    All the best,

  2. Please could someone offer a solution to the Don Steward triangle task? I'm stumped

  3. It is five yes, but I cannot do it without a calculator, so would love to know what I am missing there

  4. Got it now (with help from colleague). Lovely problem :)

  5. Use the cosine rule to find cos of one angle. Then find the opposite side length in a right angled triangle for sin of the same angle. Then use A = 1/2 a b sin C .

  6. Hi all. Someone on Twitter suggested a wonderfully elegant solution that I hadn't considered. Looking at the numbers, I suspect it's what Don had in mind. Read this thread) and look at the Pythagoras solution.