18 April 2021

Gem Awards 2021

Next week it's resourceaholic.com's seventh birthday! It's become a tradition for me to mark the anniversary of my blog by publishing an annual 'Gem Awards' post. Here I look back at all the ideas I've shared in my gems posts and choose some of my favourites. 

1. Subject Knowledge Award
I love nothing more than finding opportunities to develop my subject knowledge. This doesn't mean being 'better at maths'. It means having a greater depth of knowledge about the content I'm teaching, from a pedagogical perspective.

The last time I handed out a Subject Knowledge Award was in 2017 - it went to Ed Southall for his book 'Yes, But Why?'. Although there have always been books about maths education, Ed's excellent book was the first one I knew of which focused on pedagogical subject knowledge. Since then a few more subject knowledge books have been published, including my own book about methods. Ed's book remains an essential read for maths teachers, and it's great to see that there's a forthcoming second edition.

This year the Subject Knowledge Award goes to Sudeep Gokarakonda of Boss Maths for the brilliant vocabulary resource I featured in Gems 121. The idea of learning more about the technical language we use in the classroom was relatively new to me when I first started blogging back in 2014. It's now something that I regularly incorporate into my lessons. Sudeep's vocabulary resource is ideal for extending my subject knowledge. Every single page is fascinating! It's perfect for use both in lessons and in maths department meetings.

Highly commended in this category is Nathan Day for his classroom displays featuring famous mathematicians of the world and mathematical quotations. The content of these lovely displays is valuable for both teachers and students seeking to expand their knowledge of the field.

Also highly commended in this category is James Tanton for his fabulous video 'The Story of the Vinculum'.

2. Bright Idea Award
This award goes to Miss H for her induction booklet idea that I shared in Gems 129. Last year our incoming Year 6 students were unable to join us for their usual induction days so she came up with the idea of an induction booklet. The version she shared included loads of activities for her new joiners to do over summer, plus an introduction to the maths teachers in her department. Inspired by this, I created my own version - I used loads of Miss H's ideas, so she saved me a lot of time, and I know countless other teachers did the same. This is why sharing ideas on Twitter is so valuable. 
Highly commended in this category are the teachers who collaborated to produce the fantastic set of Guided Reading Activities I featured in Gems 137. I love the idea of maths comprehension exercises - it's not something I'd considered before. The design and content of the resources in this collection are perfect. Using a template shared by @MrHand__, these exercises have been created by Katie Pollard, Andrew Baxter, Nicola WhistonVandana Sethuraman and Nix. Katie and Andrew's guided reading sheets can now be downloaded from TES.

3. CPD Award
This award goes to the team at La Salle Education for the incredible conferences they have run since the start of the pandemic. They quickly adapted when the world moved online, developing a highly impressive conference platform with an outstanding user interface. This has resulted in a consistently high quality experience for both delegates and speakers. 

In addition to their regular conferences, La Salle's CPD offering is extensive. It includes their Teacher CPD College which offers over 120 courses for a cost of £7 per month.

Highly commended in this category are:
  • Loughborough University Mathematics Education Network (LUMEN) for their provision of incredibly high quality professional development videos which are freely available to maths teachers.
  • Teacher Tom Manners who during lockdown shared numerous free maths CPD videos for secondary and primary teachers on his website. This includes his #ResourceFULL series in which he interviews guests about maths resources. 
  • Rhiannon Rainbow and Dave Tushingham for #GLTBookClub. The format of this CPD is highly engaging and effective. In the expertly run book club meetings, teachers have the opportunity to participate in incredibly rich discussions. They reflect on the ideas presented in the books they've read, and discuss the application of those ideas in the classroom. 
  • Craig Barton for the many things he does to support maths teachers including his fabulous podcast and his excellent online CPD courses. I already gave him a Gem Award in 2017 for his podcast so I can't give him another one, but it's still by far the best education podcast there is.

4. Pedagogy Award
This award is for the big thinkers. It's for the teachers whose insights and ideas encourage us all to reflect on our practice in the classroom. 

This year the award goes to Chris McGrane for his ongoing work on curriculum and task design. In addition to the publication of his brilliant book Mathematical Tasks, he regularly shares his thoughts on Twitter and through his website startingpointsmaths.com. On his website he publishes tasks that he has written himself, such as this FDP task which is designed is to help students reinforce connections between division and multiplicative representations in decimals, percentages and fractions. 

Chris also publishes numerous tasks contributed by other authors, such as this excellent powers task from Kyle Gilles:

Highly commended in this category are:

5. A Level Award
This award goes to Devina Jethwa. I featured her new A level website jethwamaths.com in Gems 133. This website features lots of useful new content for A level teachers - resources include worksheets, practice papers, topic tests and calculator tutorials.
Highly commended in this category is Seb Bicen. On his excellent YouTube channel he has videos and accompanying resources for Edexcel A level Maths and Further Maths. What makes the videos unique is that they are recorded live with his classes, so they have an authentic classroom dynamic. His explanations are very clear, so these videos aren't just useful for sharing directly with students, they could also be useful CPD for inexperienced A level teachers who are preparing to teach their own lessons.

Also highly commended in this category is Jack Brown. He has been running his excellent website TLMaths.com for eight years now. He has shared over 4200 videos and had over 16 million views, and continues to make new content to support students and teachers with their A level studies. Jack is also active on Twitter, supporting and advising A level teachers. 

6. Task Design Award
This award goes to Miss Konstantine for the incredible collection of tasks she has published over the last few years. She is constantly producing wonderfully creative tasks and sharing them for free on her blog mathshko.com. Her tasks are always a delight. She thoughtfully listens to feedback from teachers as well as reflecting on her own experiences of using her tasks in the classroom.

In the bar model task shown below, she has clearly reflected on the underlying skills that students need in order to work fluently with bar modelling techniques. I haven't seen many other tasks that specifically address these skills.

Here's another example of her tasks: this one aims to get students thinking about negative numbers. In the blog post that accompanies it, she explains her rationale for creating the task. I'm sure many of us have encountered students who find it difficult to see that 7 – 2x is the same as – 2x + 7.

I could share dozens of Miss Konstantine's tasks, but here's just one more example to give an idea of the variation in her style and approach. Here's a lovely pattern colouring activity for number properties.

Highly commended in this category is Ashton Coward who creates really cleverly designed tasks and shares them through his website. One example is his gap fill task for significant figure rounding.

7. Interactive Tool Award
I don't like to give an award to the same people three times, but this award is going to have to go to MathsPad yet again! Well done to James and Nicola for creating the brilliant Place Value interactive tool that I featured in Gems 143. Freely available to all, this tool gives teachers the opportunity to fully explore place value with students to really deepen their understanding. It's very cleverly designed. Do check it out, along with all their other outstanding interactive tools.

Highly commended in this category is the author of sineofthetimes.org Daniel Scher for his Zoomable number line activity. I loved this so much when I did it with my Year 7s this year, I immediately wrote a blog post about how brilliant it is.

Also highly commended in this category is Mathigon's Multiplication by Heart tool. These virtual flash cards use spaced repetition to teach multiplication facts. The tool is free to use, and is just as high quality and beautiful as all the other wonderful treasures on Mathigon.

8. TES Author Award
This award goes to Andy Lutwyche who continually publishes excellent resources on TES. It feels like he's been doing it forever! His generosity is incredible, with over 2000 resources uploaded to TES including popular collections such as 'Erica's Errors', 'Spiders', and codebreakers with terrible punchlines. An example of one of his many resources is his Non-Examples Reasoning Tasks in which students are asked to identify examples and non-examples and explain their thinking. I featured this resource in Gems 118.

Another example is this excellent resource for the quadratic formula which I featured in Gems 130.

Highly commended in this category is TES author cparkinson3 who I wrote about in Gems 110Gems 116 and Gems 117. His collection of free resources features bundles of high quality slides and activities for numerous topics. Pictured below is a vectors task from his shape transformations collection.

9. Teacher's Website Award
This award is designed to celebrate classroom teachers who dedicate their spare time to producing or collating resources for others. By doing so they save many teachers a significant amount of time in planning lessons. I try to showcase some of the less well-known websites in this category. 

This award went to Dr Frost back in the Gem Awards 2016 when his website was relatively unknown (compared to now!). 

This year the award goes to GoTeachMaths.co.uk which has over 4000 free resources for Key Stages 2, 3 and 4. I first featured this website in Gems 109. A number of teachers have since contacted me to recommend it, telling me that the vast collection of well-organised resources saves them lots of time. Shown below is a short extract from their measuring angles PowerPoint.
This the is the sort of website that seems to have an activity for practising every skill you can think of! For example, here's an extract from a worksheet on ratio and angles.

Highly commended in this category are the following:
  • Mrs Jagger for her website jaggersmaths.co.uk which features lessons, teaching resources, enrichment activities, tutor time tasks, revision materials and much more. She has generously shared her full five year scheme of work too.

  • Amanda Austin for her website draustinmaths.com which features a collection of KS3 and KS4 IGCSE and GCSE Maths resources, as well as resources for AQA Level 2 Further Mathematics.
  • mathsteacherhub.com which features an extensive bank of differentiated resources. There are starters, exercises and homeworks at multiple levels of difficulty for Key Stage 3 and 4.

Apologies if I've missed anyone's favourite website here! There are many more I could have included. 

There are a number of new websites that have been launched over the past year - keep an eye on my gems posts for updates on these sites as they develop.

10. Lifetime Achievement Award
The 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award goes to The Mathematical Association. This year they celebrate 150 years since they were first established in 1871 to challenge the way geometry was taught.

150 years is a really long time in education. For a subject association established in Victorian times to still be actively supporting maths teachers today is quite remarkable. I love their origin story, and I love what they do, which includes (among many other things):

  • running a brilliant Twitter account which keeps maths teachers updated on all the important stuff happening in maths education
  • running the Primary Maths Challenge and First Mathematics Challenge, getting children excited about maths from a young age
  • representing members in important consultations regarding developments in maths education
  • running brilliant conferences and CPD events, including those run through its many branches around the country
  • publishing numerous excellent teaching journals and books
  • owning (and making available to view) a library comprising nearly 11000 books and 700 runs of periodicals from many different countries, plus over 1100 older or rarer items going back to the sixteenth century. The MA's library is a unique primary source for the history of the mathematics curriculum in the UK. It's incredible!

The members of the MA's Council and committees are volunteers. Many have spent their entire working lives (and beyond!) working hard to ensure that the MA continues to support maths teachers. They are very worthy winners of one of my Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Congratulations to all the winners of the Gem Awards 2021!

And thank you to every single member of the maths teaching community who shares ideas, collaborates, produces resources, gives advice and supports other maths teachers. There are many people who I've not mentioned here who have helped to fill my gems posts with resources and ideas. I've been on Twitter for seven years now and continue to feel privileged to be part of such a supportive and generous community. Good work, Team Maths.

If I'm still blogging in 2024 (the ten year anniversary of my blog!) then I hope I will be able to host an in-person glitzy awards ceremony. We can all get dressed up and drink champagne and I can hand out proper awards to say thank you.

If you're new to my blog and you enjoyed this post then visit my Gems Archive you'll find an index of 143 gems posts - they are all full of great ideas and resources. You might also want to check out the Gem Awards 2019Gem Awards 2018, Gem Awards 2017, Gem Awards 2016 and Gem Awards 2015 to see who has won awards previously. 

Happy 7th birthday resourceaholic.com. Thank you to my readers for all the support!

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