Early on in my tweeting career (on 6th August 2014 to be precise), I spotted the classic 'Fibonacci - miles km conversion' thing, which I had never seen before. This delighted me. It turned out that lots of people on Twitter already knew about it and had discussed it a year earlier, long before I'd joined. Suddenly, I started wondering what else I'd missed. I had a serious case of FOMO.

I quickly realised that I didn't want all this cool maths stuff to be limited to an exclusive group of Twitter teachers. I wanted

*all*maths teachers to have the chance to see it, even if they weren't on Twitter. This is why I started writing gems posts, to share all the best stuff I saw on Twitter more widely.But what my gems posts don't capture are the 'FAQs'. These are the questions that are asked all the time on Maths EduTwitter. They come up again and again. And each time these questions are asked, dozens of people reply, and the thread rumbles on for a few days. It often ends up being almost identical to the same thread from a few weeks, months or years earlier.

I thought it would be helpful to pull some of these FAQs together. I came up with fifteen, but have narrowed it down to ten for this post. My thinking is, based on the frequency with which these questions are asked on Maths EduTwitter, there must be lots of non-Twitter teachers wondering the same things. In each case I provide a link to recent threads, plus recommended books, blog posts and podcasts.

**1. What can I do about numeracy across the curriculum?**

I once visited a school where students were told to report when they'd spotted 'numeracy' in other subjects - they submitted bits of paper saying 'my English teacher wrote down the date' and things like that, and got rewarded for it. I'm really not sure it's a good use of time to reward students for spotting a date on the board, and I'm not convinced that this should labelled 'numeracy'.

Well-intentioned SLT (normally with Ofsted on their mind) often appoint a numeracy lead to introduce initiatives to ‘support numeracy across the curriculum’. When I was asked to do that by SLT in a previous school - and even given a budget to spend - I argued that it is often students’

*confidence*in working with numbers that has a cross-school impact. And I believe that this confidence largely stems from their fluency in times tables. So I used my numeracy budget to launch Times Tables Rockstars. My advice to anyone in the same position is: avoid distracting gimmicks, be honest with SLT about what might actually have an impact, and don’t burden teachers in other subjects with unnecessary workload. If you can, focus your effort on supporting maths teachers to ensure that maths teaching is consistently high quality.

Here are some links you might find helpful:

By the way – don’t confuse ‘numeracy across the curriculum’ with ‘maths in other subjects’. The former usually involves whole-school initiatives which are meant to increase students’ confidence in working with numbers, but often just highlight to students that 'numbers are everywhere' (which they probably already knew). The latter is where maths comes up in other subjects – this is where the maths department can and should support colleagues across the school. There’s mathematical content in many subjects including science, geography, DT, economics, business studies, PE and psychology. It's worth working with those departments to ensure consistency of approach and sensible scheme of work ordering. Check out the CPD for science and business studies written by Maths Lead Teresa Robinson to support the teaching of maths content in other subjects across her MAT.

- Dani Quinn’s blog post 'Headaches across the curriculum'
- Dr Stone's blog post on times tables
- Ms H’s Numeracy website for activities and resources
- Formtimeideas.com – time saving website for tutor time (includes numeracy section)
- Times Tables Rock Stars
- Numeracy Ninjas (and impact report by William Emeny)
- Numeracy resources from @piximaths
- This thread in response to a question from @MrGMathsCCG about Year 7 numeracy catch-up

**2. What method should I teach for factorising non-monic quadratics?**

This must be one of the most frequently asked questions on Maths EduTwitter! I understand why it comes up so often. When I was an NQT I asked the same question. I was taught to factorise non-monics (i.e. quadratics with leading coefficient greater than 1) by inspection but my students demanded a more procedural approach. Until that point I had no idea alternatives even existed.

Here are some links you might find helpful:

- My book 'A Compendium of Mathematical Methods' (which has a whole chapter on this)
- My post 'Factorising Trickier Quadratics' which gives some background on the grouping method
- My post 'Factorising by Inspection' about a great time saving technique
- This excellent blog post from @geomathsblog where he summarises a maths department discussion on methods for factorising non-monic quadratics
- Responses to Naveen's first thread and second thread asking about methods

There are lots more Twitter threads on this - I can't list them all here, but they can be found using Twitter's search function.

**3. How do I teach mixed attainment maths?**

This is not a question I am able to answer. I haven't been trained to teach students in mixed attainment groups and I have very little experience of doing so. In this country (more so than others), the range in 'maths attainment' for secondary students is vast. In a typical comprehensive school we have Year 7s who are struggling with Key Stage 1 content, and others who are flying ahead with Key Stage 4 content. Whenever I've found myself temporarily teaching a mixed attainment Year 7 class, I've found it impossible to properly support the students who struggle the most with maths. Saying that, I'm sure there are plenty of teachers who are making mixed attainment teaching work well for all students.

Here are some links you might find helpful:

- ResourceFULL #8 - Tom Manners interviews Helen Hindle and Tom Francome about Mixed Attainment Maths
- Craig Barton's podcast with Helen Hindle
- Helen Hindle's website mixedattainmentmaths.com
- Tweets on the hashtag #mixedattainmentmaths
- White Rose Maths resources and schemes of learning
- EEF: Best Practice in Mixed Attainment Grouping
- Mark McCourt's blog post 'Some Thoughts on Mixed Ability vs Setting'
- Chris McGrane's blog post on 'Mastery, Setting & Mixed Attainment'
- Cambridge Maths Espresso: Attainment grouping in mathematics learning
- ATM Book: Planning for Teaching GCSE Mathematics with Mixed Attainment Groups

**4. Is a cylinder a prism?**

This (along with 'is a square root positive?', 'what's the difference between an equation and a formula?' and 'can the significand be negative in standard form?') ranks high in the subject knowledge questions that maths teachers frequently ask. This kind of thing normally comes up when a teacher is planning a lesson and thinking about the definitions they will use.

I asked the cylinder question myself back in 2015. It probably wasn't the first time a maths teacher asked this on Twitter, and it certainly wasn't the last. This is one of those questions where teachers are always 100% convinced that their answer is correct and get annoyed when anyone disagrees with them.

It turns out some that definitions in mathematics are not as clear cut and universal as many of us thought.

@DrPMaths recently tweeted this:

While I agree with Jonathan to some extent (perhaps definitions don't matter as much as we think they matter), I think it's great that Twitter has become a forum where maths teachers can develop their subject knowledge and seek clarification when they're not sure about something. And I think it's absolutely imperative that teachers can ask maths questions without fear of ridicule or judgement.

Here are some links you might find helpful:

- Twitter discussion following my tweet in June 2015
- Twitter discussion following a tweet by @fractionfanatic in October 2018 (includes a poll in the replies!)
- Twitter discussion following tweets by @piximaths and @iainbmaths in June 2020
- Tom Bennison's post 'The Great Prism Debate'

**5. What should I buy with my maths department budget?**

New Heads of Department often ask this question. Responses normally fall into seven categories:

- stationery
- textbooks
- subscriptions (e.g. MathsPad, Hegarty Maths and many others)
- competitions (e.g. UKMT maths challenge)
- CPD (including books)
- manipulatives
- visualisers

Here are some links you might find helpful:

**6. W**

**here can I find knowledge organisers?**

It's worth knowing a bit of background here. First we had Joe Kirby's post from 2015 describing what knowledge organisers are and how to use them. Joe was teaching at Michaela at the time. In March 2018, at #mathsconf14, Dani Quinn and Hinal Bhudia presented a workshop on 'memorable learning' in which they explained what makes a good maths knowledge organiser. One of the key features should be the ability to 'cover up' the bit that students need to remember, so it can be used for self-quizzing (as shown in the extract below).

Around this time, a few schools started fully embedding the use of knowledge organisers across all subjects (for example, I spoke to a teacher who never had to set cover work because students always self-quizzed from their knowledge organisers if a teacher was absent).

My colleague Andy visited Micheala to learn more about knowledge organisers and then implemented them with his classes as a trial. The knowledge organisers he made are here.

Kris Boulton then wrote the post 'When shouldn’t I use knowledge organisers?' where he suggested that they aren't helpful in maths because in maths there aren't many facts to learn. After that, some people started using Kris's post to shut down anyone who tried to ask about knowledge organisers on Maths EduTwitter. So for a while it all went quiet on the knowledge organiser front.

I don't fully agree with what Kris said. I have seen numerous GCSE students go into their exams not knowing some of the basic facts and formulae that they need to know. I published a set of self-quizzing books for maths and found that although we have considerably less 'knowledge' than other subjects, there was still plenty to include.

Anyway, fast forward a couple of years and there are still lots of schools trying to roll out knowledge organisers, but the idea has become a bit confused, as explained very clearly in this post.

I have seen knowledge organisers used brilliantly in other subjects but I don't have personal experience of using them so I can't comment on their effectiveness in maths (if your school has embedded the use of knowledge organisers in maths and has evidence of their effectiveness, please write a blog post about it!).

There have been lots of beautiful resources created this year that have been labelled as knowledge organisers. Most of them would probably once have been labelled 'topic summary sheets' and used for revision. I feel like the line between knowledge organisers and topic summary sheets has become blurred, and I'm not sure I know what a knowledge organiser is anymore! Whatever these recent resources are, they are very useful - so thank you to the wonderful teachers who have been creating and sharing these.

Here are some links you might find helpful:

- Joe Kirby's article about Knowledge Organisers from March 2015
- Dani Quinn and Hinal Bhudia's #mathsconf14 presentation 'memorable learning'
- Kris Boulton's post 'When shouldn’t I use knowledge organisers? from 2018
- @s_hall_teach's blog post 'Knowledge Organisers – A Failed Revolution' from July 2020
- @s_hall_teach's thread on Knowledge Organisers from September 2020
- Maths knowledge organisers designed for self-quizzing by Andy Coleman
- Colleen Young's post about knowledge organisers in maths, which includes links to reseearch, posts and resources

**7. Where can I get classroom displays?**

Every summer there's a flurry of teachers asking for ideas for displays in their classroom and corridors. Because most of us won't be teaching in our own classrooms in September, very few teachers have asked that this year! But I'm sure the question will return next summer.

I have a page of display resources here. Although it doesn't include every single maths display available, there's plenty to choose from.

It's worth noting that since Craig Barton wrote about the dangers of displays in his book, there's been a fair bit of anti-display sentiment going around Twitter. These days when a teacher asks for display ideas you're almost guaranteed to get a response along the lines of 'well

*of course*you shouldn't have any displays, it obviously distracts students'.As far as I know, the idea that displays could be distracting was based on limited research in primary settings. It invoked a pretty extreme reaction, with some teachers immediately stripping their classroom walls bare. I'm not saying the conclusions of the research are wrong - I can totally see the logic in the argument. If you want students to focus on maths but the board is surrounded by clutter, then it probably is distracting. But there's something to be said for warm and colourful working environments over stark white walls, and there's also something to be said for teaching students to cope with distractions (after all, the world is full of them!) rather than removing them.

I don't feel strongly about this (I've never enjoyed putting up displays!), but sometimes I would like to see a more balanced argument.

Here are some links you might find helpful:

- Craig's article 'Why we should ban all displays in the classroom!'
- A tweet by @c0mplexnumber about a recent study that suggested a 'classroom display sweet spot'
- Two blog posts from Peter Gates: Should Teachers Ditch Classroom Display? and No, don’t ditch your display….yet.
- My list of display resources (use them in the corridor if you don't want them in your classroom!)
- My post 'Classroom Photos' in 2016 where I encouraged people to share photos of their classroom for a Twitter chat.

And - before anyone says it - yes, we would all love whiteboard walls, but we are not all lucky enough to have the opportunity!

**8. What will I be asked in my job interview?**

When preparing for a job interview it's very sensible to make a list of possible questions and think about how you'd respond to each one. Every school has different recruitment process, but there are certainly common questions that come up in interviews for maths teaching jobs.

Here are some links you might find helpful:

- @missradder's post on Head of Maths Interviews from 2015
- Thread in response to @Teacher94B's question about what to ask an NQT at interview
- Thread in response to @NickyAnscombe's question about preparing for a data task
- Thread in response to @MissWillisMaths's question about interview questions to ask maths teachers

**9. How can I incorporate literacy into my teaching?**

In 2015 I made this list of 'golden rules' for literacy in maths lessons.

I should clarify that on the last point I don't mean 'mark all work', I just mean that if you happen to spot a spelling mistake you shouldn't just ignore it.

Maths teachers are often asked what they are doing in their lessons with regard to literacy. I think there's a lot we can do on technical vocabulary (i.e. ensuring that our students understand mathematical terms and can use them confidently) - there are lots of tools and resources available to support this.

- CPD Video: Speak like a mathematician: The importance of the words we use by Tom Manners
- Dani Quinn’s blog post 'Headaches across the curriculum'
- @MorgsEd's post 'The Literacy of Numeracy Part 1: KS2 Maths SATs Language Analysis'
- Mr Barton Podcast - Alex Quigley: Closing the vocabulary gap
- TES Article: Weak readers struggle more in maths than in English lit
- Cambridge Maths Espresso: EAL students in mathematics classrooms
- CPD video: From abacus to zero - The etymology of the words of mathematics by Ed Southall
- Frayer-Model.co.uk
- @mrfarrarmusic's maths literacy mat
- BossMaths amazing vocabulary collection
- Word trees in Gems 85
- Book: The Problem with Math is English by Concepcion Molina

**10. Who should I follow on Twitter?**

- Search 'maths teacher' and click on the 'people' category. This shows everyone who has the word 'maths teacher' in their bio. Follow them.
- Search 'mathschat' and click on 'latest'. You'll see the people tweeting on this hashtag. Follow them.
- Read my gems posts to see which accounts I mention - these are tweeters who are blogging, sharing ideas or producing resources. Follow them.
- Find the Twitter accounts of the subject associations and other organisations supporting maths teachers (such as the MA, the ATM, MEI, the NCETM and so on). Follow them.

When teachers join Twitter and ask who to follow, people start listing their favourite accounts. I hate this! It feels crappy when you try really hard to be helpful on Twitter and you don't make it onto people's 'must follow' lists.

I admit that I have made lists in the past (I wrote the posts 'Jo's #TwitteratiChallenge' and 'Five to Follow' in 2015), but since #listgate (when @tessmaths upset some people by leaving them off a list!) I've tried to avoid making follow lists.

************

**A note on Twitter for maths teachers**

Twitter transformed my teaching, no doubt about it. I went through the 'five stages' incredibly quickly!

I've spent the last six years devoted to making Maths EduTwitter a supportive and helpful place for maths teachers. I've worked really hard on it. For a while I felt like we were doing a good job, particularly back in the #mathsTLP glory days. When I first joined Twitter it was really fun - looking back at my tweets from 2014, I see lots of light-hearted friendly banter. Twitter teachers reflected on their lessons, shared resources and puzzles, and helped each other get ready for the introduction of a new GCSE. And if you saw a resource you didn't like, you just didn't use it. They were simpler times!

There are a lot more maths teachers on Twitter now (this is a good thing). Plus, the Twitter algorithms have changed notably, manipulating what we see in our timeline (this is a bad thing).

These days, share an interesting misconception and someone will criticise your teaching; solve a puzzle and someone will boast that they have a better approach; joke about something funny that a student said and someone will tell you off; ask a question about a method and someone will question your values. I am regularly saddened by the way some tweeters are so judgmental, so belittling, so arrogant and so unkind.

Don't get me wrong - it's not all bad, and the negativity and judgement can largely be ignored. For the most part, conversations are still encouraging, kind, friendly and supportive. But I feel that things used to be considerably more chilled. I'm not sure I'd call Twitter 'fun' anymore, but I still learn a lot from it, and I'd strongly recommend it to teachers. There are still countless ideas, resources and mathematical gems to discover. And if you have a question, please ask! All questions are welcome, even if they've been asked many times before, and as a community we will do our best to support

*all*teachers who seek advice.
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