27 December 2023

A Level Resources #3

I'm teaching A level again this year after a five year break.

If you're interested, here's a bit of background on how this came to be... I taught A level right from the start of my teaching career, including during my PGCE and NQT year. I thought it was common practice to teach A level when training, but I now realise I was lucky to get this opportunity - many maths teachers go their entire career without teaching any A level (either because they don't want to, or because they work in schools without Sixth Forms). I like teaching A level - it adds variety to my day, and it's nice to not have to worry about behaviour management. Six years ago the vast majority of my timetable was A level, but then I made a career move that took me away from A level teaching - I did a brief stint as a consultant, then I moved to a brand new school which only had Year 7 when I joined. It was a difficult career move for me to step away from A level teaching, but I knew that helping to set up a new school was an opportunity not to be missed. Anyway, fast forward four years and we finally had our first GCSE results (did I mention that our maths P8 was top 1% in the country...?😀) and then our Sixth Form opened. Our Sixth Form is different to what I'm used to, and is still very much in an embryonic stage. On my timetable this year I have Year 9 and Year 11, plus three A level classes (one of which is Further Maths). As Head of Maths I think it's important to teach all Key Stages, so this is the perfect balance for me.

Teaching the new Further Maths specification for the first time brings challenges for me in terms of both curriculum design and subject knowledge (I'm re-teaching myself a lot of the content as I go) but also so much joy. I think my happiest moments of the term have come from my Further Maths lessons. I have a student who asks me challenging questions that I have to go off and think about. Being 'intellectually challenged' at work has always been important to me, and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy it. 

My A level lessons now look quite different to my A level lessons from five years ago. My style and structure has evolved - I think that teaching so much Key Stage 3 has made me a better teacher.

Back in 2015 I wrote two blog posts about A level resources:
A Level Resources #2

Most of the resources in those posts are still a big part of my teaching. I snip questions out of Solomon Worksheets all the time, to use as examples or for retrieval practice. I also use resources from Integral, particularly in my Further Maths teaching. And I make use of Susan Whitehouse's tasks, a long-standing favourite of mine. 

Note that in my first post about A level resources I talked about CMEP, which was later renamed Underground Mathematics.

In this post I want to add a few more things to the list, in case you're new to teaching A level and you're not aware of these resources:

1. MadAsMaths
I first discovered madasmaths.com back in 2016 and blogged about it in Gems 53. These resources are now well known by A level teachers. The website is full of extremely high quality questions with a good level of challenge, and the amusing use of IYGB ('if you've got balls' apparently) makes me smile. The writer of this amazing website Dr Trifon Madas sadly passed away in 2021, and his family have kindly kept his website going so that teachers and students can continue to benefit from Dr Madas' wisdom and generosity. As well as practice papers, there are booklets of questions by topic. I find these really helpful in Further Maths - for example, I used a lot of questions from these booklets when teaching matrices, series and proof by induction. 

2.  Marta Hidegkuti
I love Marta's resources on teaching.martahidegkuti.com. They are aligned with American courses so I have to hunt around a bit, but I often find useful sets of questions on her site. For example, check out her sheets on logs, trigonometry, indices, vectors, graphing and calculus. 

3. MathsHelper
I use mathshelper.co.uk for challenge at Key Stage 3 and 4. It also has an A level section, and a Further Maths section for OCR. Both contain sets of worksheets, plus a worksheet generator. 

4. Mr Southern Maths
Rob Southern's excellent blog is helpful for A level teachers - it contains Schemes of Work, rich tasks and lessons for both Maths and Further Maths.

5. Topic Tests and Questions by Topic
There are so many places to get past paper questions and topic tests, it can feel overwhelming at times. Here are some sources - there are probably many more:
  • Awarding bodies have plenty of resources on their websites, including topic tests (e.g. for Edexcel check out the Emporium and for AQA look on All About Maths). 
  • The topic assessments from Oxford University Press are designed for the old specification but still very useful: C1 & C2, C3 & C4.
  • Zig Zag make great topic tests for the new specifications of Maths and Further Maths - these can be purchased from Zig Zag.
  • Jethwa Maths has worksheets and tests for every topic. 
  • StudyWell also has questions by topic, as does NaikerMathsMathsaurus, MathsGenie and MathsandPhysicsTutor. And MrHardyMaths has a question generator. 
  • I like Chris Ansette's collection of questions by topic here and the collection by Bicen Maths here.

More Resources...
Here are a few more resources or websites that I've featured in gems posts over the years:

Apologies to those I've missed - please use the comments below to make suggestions!

Resource Library Update
Teachers often contact me about broken links in my resource libraries. I'm very grateful for these emails and incredibly sorry that there are so many broken links! I blame TES for suspending inactive accounts. It turns out that maintaining resource libraries for almost a decade is a lot more work than it should be! I'm determined to fix them all, and return my blog to its former state. My plan is to fix and update my A level resource libraries over the coming weeks, and then work through other pages over the course of 2024. Thank you for your patience with this, and in the meantime I hope you continue to find resourceaholic helpful when planning your lessons.

1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic Jo, thank you. I've seen most of them but always refreshing to find extra A-Level resources!