23 September 2023

Essential CPD for Maths Teachers

Marvellous Maths 3 takes place in October and we're delighted that so many teachers are going to join us.

If you've not attended a day of maths CPD before, I think you'll be surprised by just how inspiring these events can be. You'll leave this course excited to get back to your classroom and buzzing with ideas to share with your team.

You'll learn a lot from just being in a room full of maths teachers all day. It's a great opportunity to share ideas, hear about the challenges facing other schools, and extend your network (this is very useful when looking for new teaching jobs or trying to find candidates for your vacancies!).

It's not just about the networking - we also have top quality content in our workshops. If you've previously seen me speak about challenge, methods or resources then don't worry - I have lots of fabulous new things to share with you! And if you've not seen Craig Barton present before, then you're in for a treat. Craig is an amazing speaker. His workshops are always ridiculously enjoyable and packed full of brilliant ideas.

We don't only have six great workshops for you, we also have representatives from both AQA and OUP, sharing loads of information and resources.

Lots of people have booked to attend with colleagues, but plenty of others are coming by themselves and will share ideas when they return to school.

If you've not put in a CPD request at your school before, now's the time. School do have CPD budgets. Developing maths teachers should be one of their top priorities, particularly given it's so difficult to recruit. And if you're worried about setting cover, if it's the week before your half-term break then it's good timing for an end of unit assessment, which is very easy cover work to set.

Visit mathscpd.weebly.com for more information, and do get in touch if you have any questions. Tickets are selling fast so book now. And... I don't want to make it a competition between regions but... The South is definitely winning at the moment!

We can't wait to see you all there!

10 September 2023

5 Maths Gems #174

Welcome to my 174th gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

1. Menu Maths
I saw a tweet about #menumath last week. These lovely tasks have been around for years but I realised that I've never featured them in a gems post.

This idea from @NatBanting is designed to generate 'low floor, high ceiling' challenges. Visit natbanting.com/menu-math to see the collection of tasks from various authors. In these tasks, students are given a 'menu' (a collection of constraints) and they have to create an object (e.g. an equation, a number or a shape) that satisfies these constraints. 

Teachers can make this task accessible by asking students to design objects that satisfy only one or two constraints, but can easily add challenge by asking students to satisfy more constraints. Students can also be asked to analyse which constraints pair well together and which cannot pair together.

Here are a couple of examples:

2. Rehearsal Strips
Thanks to @mrmorleymaths for sharing a new collection of tasks inspired by Dr Austin's practice strips. These Rehearsal Strips are designed to encourage rehearsal of taught content, but also allow students the opportunity to reason and explain, and test their understanding of the topic by applying it to another area of maths.

3. Eedi
@mrbartonmaths has launched a brand new collection of resources for every topic in maths. This free collection includes diagnostic questions, videos, fluency practice, intelligent practice and problem-solving questions. To access these materials, login at eedi.com (DQ logins will work here) and visit the Curriculum Mapping page.  Click 'View the collection', find a topic you are teaching soon and click on the Eedi link. 

Diagnostic Questions have always been brilliant for identifying and understanding misconceptions, so it's fantastic to see them supplemented with all these extra teaching resources.

4. A Level Knowledge Organisers
Thanks to @mrsd_maths for sharing an excellent collection of A level knowledge organisers. They can be downloaded from TES. I think these will be really helpful for revision. 

5. Fraction Bar
MathsPad has shared a free Interactive Fraction Bar Tool for finding fractions of an amount. The tool enables you to switch fraction families with the same amount, so for example, if you have already found a third of the amount, you can demonstrate how to use this to find a sixth. You can also start with different fractions, use different units (money and metric units) and extend the bar to show fractions greater than one whole.

Marvellous Maths 3
Tickets are selling fast for Marvellous Maths 3 - a full day of top quality maths CPD, presented by Craig Barton and myself. We are going on tour with this course: on 18th October we'll be at my lovely school in Sutton, South London. Then on 19th October we'll be at Worcester Racecourse, and on 20th October we'll be in Craig's hometown of Bolton at the Science and Technology Centre. It will be wonderful to be in a room full of maths teachers three days in a row! Book now at mathscpd.weebly.com.

AQA Webinar
I'm looking forward to taking part in AQA's free webinar at 4pm on 21st September. I'll be speaking about Level 2 Further Maths and Andrew Taylor will be speaking about the Summer '23 exam series.  There will be a live Q&A. You can sign up here

Speaking of Further Maths, @westiesworkshop has gone through the whole of AQA's L2 Further Maths course and grouped questions by topic. The whole PowerPoint is available on TES and it's also broken down a bit more on his website.

There's a lot of negativity about Casio's new calculator model, but we do need to learn how to use it now that the old model has been discontinued. Thank you to my colleague Morgan for providing me with an excellent poster for my classroom wall.

Check out Casio's upcoming calculator webinars, and recent blog posts on calculators from @cclay8.

Here are some things you might have missed:
  • @MissNorledge has created a searchable database of all Edexcel GCSE maths past paper questions (June 2017+). It's very quick and easy access to GCSE questions by topic, including mark schemes. Just type in a topic name and it takes you straight to the relevant page!
  • Festival of the Spoken Nerd are performing An Evening of Unnecessary Detail in London in October and November, with the events being live streamed for those unable to attend in person. I've seen a couple of Festival of the Spoken Nerd performances in the past and hugely recommend them to maths teachers! 
  • Chris Smith's excellent weekly maths newsletter is back - if you want to subscribe, email Chris at aap03102@gmail.com.
  • In time for the new school year, the creators of my favourite game Nerdle (which I have played for 545 days in a row!) have launched 'Super Nerdle'. This allows teachers to customise Nerdle games for their students.
  • The annual Big MathsJam takes place on 11 - 12 November. It’s a weekend of recreational mathematics, with cool people and interesting maths! 
  • I thought some teachers might like to see my updated posters which I made on Canva. I blogged about these initiatives last year. The main difference this year is that we've changed the name 'Maths Clinic' to 'Maths Extra' in response to an idea from a local Head of Maths who suggested that students might not respond well to the term clinic. 

Finally, thank you to James Greenland for sending me a lovely book of Additional Mathematics O Level Papers from 1968 - 1971. I've shared an example below. I like it that students had some choice over which questions they answered. Here I've just shared the pure sections: there were mechanics and statistics sections in the exam too.

10 August 2023

5 Maths Gems #173

Welcome to my 173rd gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

1. Graphics
@boss_maths has started to share a series of editable graphics for use in maths teaching. These lovely visual aids can be adapted and used as you see fit. Here's an example from Sudeep's pressure PowerPoint.

Check out Sudeep's hashtag #WednesdayVisual for more in this series.

2. Maths Advance
I spotted some challenging questions from Maths Advance on TES and this led me to the website mathsadvance.co.uk. This website is packed full of challenge questions for loads of GCSE topics. It's well worth a look. To access the solutions you'll need to subscribe.

3. Dr Austin
@draustinmaths has continued to produce new resources over the holidays, including tasks for negative numbers, decimals and factors and multiples. Thanks Amanda! I'll add these to my resource libraries. 

4. MathsPad
MathsPad have continued to publish more of their high quality curriculum booklets, the most recent additions being Year 10 Higher Chapters on Primes, Bounds & Calculator Methods and Formulae, Simultaneous Equations & Sequences, and a Year 10 Foundation Chapter on Indices and Standard Form. These are all available to subscribers - this is the subscription I recommend the most to maths teachers! I use MathsPad resources literally every day... Below you can see some examples of tasks from the new booklets.

5. Escape Room
@emmaemma53 made a Team Challenge for her Trust-wide maths enrichment competition, which had an “Escape Room” theme. You can find the resources she used here. Thanks for sharing Emma! 

Marvellous Maths 3
The biggest event for maths teachers this year is of course Marvellous Maths 3 - a full day of top quality maths CPD, presented by Craig Barton and myself. We now have three confirmed venues. The first course is on 18th October and it takes place at my lovely school in Sutton, South London (those of you who attended Marvellous Maths 1 in 2019 will remember the excellent lunch!). Then on 19th October we'll be at the very fancy Worcester Racecourse which is brilliantly located right in the middle of Worcester - it's near the station plus there's plenty of parking. On 20th October we'll be in Craig's hometown of Bolton at the Science and Technology Centre. 

For information and booking see mathscpd.weebly.com. We're excited to welcome our fabulous sponsors on board - AQA and OUP. It's shaping up to be a really exciting event, not to be missed. We've already sold lots of tickets but don't worry - we do have space on all three courses (we know most people will be putting in CPD requests at school in September). I recommend getting the ball rolling as soon as possible though - when we ran Marvellous Maths 1 in 2019 it did sell out quickly. For our Early Bird ticket, with 20% discount, you'll need to book by 8th September. Why not bring the whole department along? 

Resource Libraries
If you're new to teaching then you might not know about my resource libraries which contain listings of resources for Key Stages 3 to 5, organised by topic. I use these libraries every day when planning lessons as they provide a quick way to browse quality free resources. The easiest way to access my resource libraries when you're planning lessons is using the menu across the top of my blog.

I try to keep my Key Stage 3 and 4 libraries updated on an ongoing basis, and this year (now I'm teaching A level again, after a five year break), I will start to sort out the broken links in my Key Stage 5 libraries. I'll also add any great new resources that I discover. 

I know lots of you will have been having a break from thinking about teaching over summer. Here are some things you may have missed, for when you're ready to get back into school mode:

If you want to start preparing for September, you might find these resources helpful:
  • My Year 7 Maths Activities post which features ideas for first lessons with Year 7
  • My Displays page which contains loads of fantastic maths displays for corridors and classrooms

Over the last few days I've been planning my first department meeting of the year, and my first A level lessons. I've also started to prepare some CPD for my team on the new model of Casio. For this I'll be using @cclay8's cards

Apart from that, I've been having a lovely relaxing summer so far. I enjoyed drinks with my wonderful maths department on the last day of term...

I met up with Paul, Megan and David to say goodbye to the absolute legend Paul Rodrigo - he's off to teach maths in Sweden.

And I even managed to brush up on my history of maths whilst lounging by the pool in Gran Canaria! Fermat's Last Theorem by Simon Singh is absolutely brilliant - I can't recommend it enough.

Good luck to to everyone with A level and GCSE Results Days coming up. Enjoy the rest of the summer holidays!

16 July 2023

Challenge in Year 7 Assessments

Last year I blogged about the principles behind the design of our Key Stage 3 assessments and shared some examples of challenging questions for Year 8 and Year 9. I wrote new assessments this year (to avoid the sharing of exam papers with younger siblings!). I'll share some of the more challenging Year 7 questions in this post.

This year we took a lot of our assessment questions from AQA's Key Stage 3 Assessments on All About Maths. I don't know why I've never used these before. They're excellent.

Here's the last question on our Year 7 non-calculator assessment:

This question tests reasoning skills, and fluency in substitution (i.e. understanding the notation 2p and 3q) and working with directed number (because the least possible value is a negative number). It's a precursor to working with bound calculations (the idea of 'small minus big equals small'). It's an accessible question that everyone can attempt, but few students got full marks. I expected to see long lists of trial and error attempts, but actually most students just answered -11, where they'd assumed they should use 11 for both p and q.

Here's another question that challenged Year 7:

This requires reasoning (working backwards from the mean) and knowledge of prime numbers. Many students struggled with working backwards from the mean - teaching time is so tight at Key Stage 3, we just didn't have as much time as we'd have liked to develop reasoning skills through averages puzzles.

Here's another reasoning question that some Year 7 students found tricky.

I'm confident that the vast majority of our students can add one fifth and one sixth, but many didn't get the mark for the first step because they didn't attempt it. This question requires fraction skills, proportional reasoning and the interpretation of a worded problem.

Here's an angles problem that they found more difficult than I expected them to. We'd practised similar questions from MathsPad and Don Steward in class. I'm confident that they know their angle facts, so it's the reasoning rather than the underlying knowledge that got in the way here.

Our students had a lot more success with the question below - a skill we had dedicated some time to in lessons. Forming equations to solve geometry problems is such an important problem solving skill, we do a lot of practice of this in Year 7 and 8. It also helps that it's not a wordy question.

With this next question, it was interpretation of the information given (the perimeter of the large triangle) and then understanding of what the question was asking (for the perimeter of the whole shape - which doesn't include any of the interior lines) which caused difficulty.

Finally, the last question on the calculator paper was designed to challenge our highest attainers. Many students picked up marks on the first two parts, but only two students in the whole year group showed a correct approach to the final part. This tested their knowledge of calculating a mean from a table and solving equations. I adapted this question from a Hong Kong exam paper (see Gems 168).

My Key Stage 3 assessments are here if you'd like to see the papers for Years 7 - 9. Note that I didn't write the questions myself - they are from various sources. Many of the questions are from the AQA Key Stage 3 assessments. There's lots of challenge in these assessments, but we don't accelerate beyond the topics on our schemes of work. No one got 100% in Year 8 and 9, but we did have one Year 7 student get full marks. Impressive!

10 July 2023

Marvellous Maths 3

Marvellous Maths is back, bigger and better than ever! 

Following the success of our previous Marvellous Maths courses, Craig Barton and I are back with more in-person CPD for maths teachers this October. Packed full of inspirational resources, ideas and strategies that will improve teaching and learning, Marvellous Maths 3 will be invaluable for teachers of upper Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4. And we're throwing in full access to online CPD afterwards, so your whole department will benefit. 

The price is £150 (+VAT) per person, but if you book by 8th September you'll get a 20% discount, so you'll only pay £120. This ticket price includes:
  • Six fantastic live workshops (see programme below)
  • Lovely food and refreshments
  • Free entry to a prize draw with a chance to win lots of amazing prizes
  • AND… access to an online version of the day, with videos of the sessions and links to resources and research, which you can use with your department to sort out your CPD needs for the whole year. 

Dates, venues and tickets:


Wednesday 18th October
Harris Academy Sutton
2 Chiltern Rd, Sutton SM2 5QP
Buy a ticket directly here.

Thursday 19th October
Worcester Racecourse
Grand Stand Road, Worcester WR1 3EJ
Buy a ticket directly here.

Friday 20th October
Bolton Science & Technology Centre
Minerva Rd, Farnworth, Bolton BL4 0HA
Buy a ticket directly here.

You can also purchase a ticket by sending an invoice to mrbartonmaths@gmail.com including the name of the delegate, the school name and address and any dietary or accessibility requirements.

We're really looking forward to seeing you there! 

If you have any questions, check out mathscpd.weebly.com and feel free to get in touch with me directly at resourceaholic@gmail.com.

8 July 2023

5 Maths Gems #172

Welcome to my 172nd gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

1. Snakes
I love this collection of 'Snakes' tasks from @nathanday314. These are brilliant. Accessible but packed full of depth and challenge, I think this is a really engaging task design. Find them on interwovenmaths.com.

2. Speak Like a Scholar
Thank you to @hannahlsmithe for sharing her growing collection of excellent 'Speak Like a Scholar' resources. 

3. Casio Tips
Thank you to @cclay8 for sharing a series of calculator tips for the new Casio 83GTCW. Now that the 83GTX has been discontinued, we'll start seeing a lot more of the new classwiz models in our classrooms next year. It's vital that teachers know how to use them. I recently bought a new calculator for everyone on my team and will be running some CPD on this in September.
I love this tip about getting a decimal answer without having to use the format menu:

Clare continues to make these cards and videos and is uploading them here. What a star.

4. Tasks
There's been loads of great tasks shared on Twitter recently, including this sectors task from @MiddletonMaths...

and this mean task from @aap03102...

And @draustinmaths continues to share new resources on her website including some recent tasks on Distance Time Graphs.

5. Circle Theorems
I loved teaching Certificate in Further Maths this year and both final exam papers were excellent - well done AQA! There was a brilliant Circle Theorems question on Paper 2. I don't think it was the most difficult question on the paper (I thought Question 17 was trickier) but it certainly got them all thinking. @MrSMaths11 has created a similar circle theorems question here:

Thank you to everyone who made GCSE and A level resources to support teachers and students during the exam period. It's all over now and we're eagerly awaiting results.

I had a great time at #mathsconf32 a couple of weeks ago. It was lovely to catch up with loads of teachers I haven't seen in ages, and I met lots of lovely new people too. My presentation was on 'Challenge without Acceleration' with a focus on indices. The PowerPoint has been sent out to conference delegates.

A few days later I spent a day at the MEI Conference where I delivered a workshop on task design. The MEI Conference never fails to impress me. It was excellent.

This summer I'll spend some time planning the course that I'll be running in the Autumn term with Craig Barton. We're just working on venue arrangements and programmes, but it looks like it will 18th October in the South, 19th October in the Midlands and 20th October in the North. Watch this space for more information!

Finally, I'll leave you with this image shared by @fakehistoryhunt. I don't know the original source. It might be handy in a lesson on extrapolation.