27 September 2020

5 Maths Gems #135

Welcome to my 135th gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

I think we have a winner for the most intense September of all time! I can’t believe I complained about how busy I was during lockdown - September 2020 has been a whole new level of exhaustion! I’m sure many of you are in the same boat. I haven’t had time to blog, or even tweet, because I've been working until I go to bed every evening. But it’s ok, because I know September is always a killer, and I know it’s doubly difficult this year because of a global pandemic which is outside my control, and I know it will get easier. 

Anyway, on with the gems… I have ten for you again today.

1. Booklets
Thank you to Ben Sinclair (@mathsacharya) for starting to share the GCSE and A Level knowledge booklets that he uses in his teaching. These are high quality, and it's really interesting to see a booklet approach in action. Ben has borrowed lots of excellent tasks for these booklets, including plenty of Don Steward.

2. Ultimate Scheme of Work
Craig Barton (@mrbartonmaths) has launched the Eedi Ultimate Scheme of Work for Years 6 to 11. It's free to use. I've just had a play with it by selecting the White Rose Year 7 Scheme of Work. The Scheme of Work comes up in a calendar format, and I can then click into each topic to see the associated multiple choice quizzes. These quizzes can projected on the board for use during lessons, or set as quizzes for students to complete online.

I love the new feature where each quiz question displays previous results and explains a common misconception. 

3. Corbett Maths Books
If your school uses Corbett Maths 5-a-day exercises on a daily basis, it will save you a lot of time and effort if you buy the new Corbett Maths 5-a-day books instead of doing all the printing yourself. These books are available to buy here, and John Corbett explains how they work in a video here. These are great for both exam revision and for ongoing retrieval practice.

4. The Maths Masterclass Tutorials
Simon Singh is offering free weekly online maths masterclasses to increase the diversity and number of excellent mathematicians. Parents and teachers at non-selective state schools can nominate children from Year 8 to 11 to be part of this. The deadline is 9th October and there is more information here.


5. Backwards Fading
Chris McGrane (@ChrisMcGrane84) has shared a task on trigonometric equations that would be suitable for A level students. This is a great example of a task which uses a backwards fading approach, with self-explanation prompts.

6. Key Stage 3 Resources
Richard Tock (@ticktockmaths) shared a great lesson on adding and subtracting fractions. It features this fractions function machine task which I thought was rather nice.

Another useful task was shared by Siobhan McKenna (@ShivMcKenna55). Often students claim that 'division is much more difficult than multiplication' - this task aims to help students make sense of the connections. 
7. Indices
George Stone (@DrStoneMaths) used this task in his first A level maths lesson with his new Year 12 class. The questions are taken from variationtheory.com.

George says that highlights of the lesson included students noticing that Question 1 (a), (b) and (c) are the same and the base doesn't matter, and students getting stuck on Question 2 (e) until they noticed that 1 = (1/20)0. He also said that the challenge question blew their mind. What an engaging set of questions. I like the way that George includes an answer box on his slides - this is a really helpful technique, allowing students to check their understanding when working independently.

Another task shared by George is this set of inequalities questions for developing fluency. Students often find it quite challenging to say these statements out loud. 

8. NCETM Resources
Thanks to Debbie Morgan (@ThinkingMaths) for tweeting about the Key Stage 1 and 2 video lessons which were created by Maths Hubs and published by the NCETM during lockdown. The PowerPoints have now been shared on the NCETM website so other teachers can borrow and adapt the lessons. Thank you to the teachers who have shared these resources.

Something else worth checking out on the new NCETM website is a one hour CPD session which secondary school maths departments can use in a department meeting. This CPD encourages schools to review their Year 7 provision in the light of new DfE primary maths guidance which I blogged about in Gems 132

The new NCETM website is considerably better than the previous one! The content is now available without a login.

9. Exam Preparation
Thanks to Mr Strachan (@MrStrachanMaths) for sharing this video from Eddie Woo (@misterwootube) which models what exam preparation looks like in maths:


Eddie then shared a blank copy of the sheet he gives to students to support this process. I particularly like the exam review page which encourages students to consider the reasons why they lost marks.

10. Perimeter Task
Miss Konstantine (@giftedHKO) continues to share great tasks on Twitter. A recent example was this task that she used with Year 10 to help them remember to find the perimeter and not just the arc of sectors and semi circles.
I have two online presentations coming up this week. The first is after school on Thursday, when I'm doing a short talk on "Maths Teaching in 2020: Challenges and Opportunities" for the North-East Hants and Surrey Maths Hub. 

On Saturday I will be speaking about my experience of teaching Key Stage 3 at #mathsconf24. If you haven't booked yet, tickets are available here. I'm also looking forward to recording a conference podcast with Craig Barton at the end of the day.

Congratulations to the team at Just Maths and Kangaroo Maths for launching their new crossover GCSE revision book. Check out justaroo.co.uk for more information and to order.

Finally, congratulations to Jamie Frost for his nomination for the Global Teacher Prize, which has received a lot of publicity this week. I first featured drfrostmaths.com in Gems 41, back in October 2015. It won one of my Gem Awards in 2016. I have blogged about this website numerous times, but it no longer needs any introduction from me. It is incredibly popular among teachers and students, and it's great to see Jamie get the recognition he deserves for his tireless efforts. 

I'll leave you with this wonderful video from @Ayliean. If you're having a tough time at work, watch this. It will cheer you up.

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