14 February 2024

5 Maths Gems #177

Welcome to my 177th gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

1. MathsLinks
I discovered the website MathsLinks through TES. It's run by maths teacher Kenneth Stafford. He has collated lots of resources in one place. For example, on his GCSE Questions by Topics page he has included links to websites such as Corbett Maths and Maths Genie for every topic.

He has produced numerous other resources including Grade 1 GCSE Maths Questions where he has combined the first two pages of Foundation GCSE maths papers, and a set of questions on Reverse Mean

Check out Kenneth's TES page and website for more.

2. Oak National Academy
It's good to see the collection of maths resources at Oak National Academy has grown since I last blogged about them in Gems 175. Here are a few extracts.

3. OAT Maths
Thanks to @jemmaths for sharing some new algebra units published by OAT Maths: The Cartesian Grid, Introduction to Sequences and Linear Inequalities. Check out the carefully sequenced slides and booklets.

4. Etymology Update
One of my favourite resources of all time is @boss_maths' amazing vocabulary resource. It aims to relate mathematical terms to key words from other subjects that share the same etymology. It has recently had an update.

5. Tasks
Here are a few nice resources I've spotted on Twitter recently.

A prime puzzle from Sarah Farrell, suitable for Key Stage 2 or 3:

An area task from @brynspiration in which students have to find the area of the polygons, where no perpendicular lengths have been given:

@ChrisMcGrane84 shared a really nice logs task:

I've not posted much on my blog recently but I've very been busy in the background. Thanks to maths teacher Alastair Mundy, who kindly offered to help out and has been an absolute legend, I've finally got my Key Stage 3/4 resource libraries in order. I've fixed broken links and added some new resources - everything is now in much better shape. I still have work to do: my next step is to fix my A level pages.

I also published a post on GCSE revision resources and one on A level resources

The start of 2024 saw a very well-deserved MBE for my brilliant friend Chris Smith (congratulations Chris!).

I'm looking forward to conference season. I will be at #mathsconf34 in Yate (near Bristol) on 16th March presenting on 'Ten Strategies for Good GCSE Results'.

Over the Easter holidays I'll be at the Joint Conference of the Mathematics Subject Associations in Stratford-Upon-Avon. I'm running a nice long session in Pythagoras so we'll have time to get stuck into some fun maths.

I have a couple of vacancies on my team, so if you're looking for a change of school in September then do come and join us. We're based in South London. Here's my fabulous team at the Christmas party:

One of our two vacancies is for a mechanics teacher. We currently have a thriving Year 12 cohort (we are by far the most popular subject in the school, with three A Level Maths classes and one A Level Further Maths class). Most of the A level teaching is done by me (statistics specialist) and my colleague (mechanics specialist). Sadly my colleague is relocating in September so I need to replace her, preferably with an experienced A level teacher. For the right candidate we'll be able offer a timetable where the vast majority of classes are A level (Year 12 and 13 Maths and Further Maths). The Year 13 Further Maths module they'll be teaching is Further Pure 1. I think this is a really appealing job - my school is lovely, and teaching A level is a delight. If you have any questions about the role, or you want to visit prior to interview, feel free to contact me (resourceaholic@gmail.com). The closing date for applications is 26th February 2024.

I'll leave you with these lovely magic squares from Chris Smith. Did you know that Don Steward had an entire blog of magic square activities? Check it out at medianmagicsquares.blogspot.com.

21 January 2024

GCSE Revision

I've blogged about GCSE revision resources numerous times before, but with many schools running mock exams in February I thought it might be a good time to revisit some of the highlights. For advice on how to structure and deliver GCSE revision, see my CPD video Exam Countdown.

There are two main types of revision activity: topic focused and mixed topic. In the summer term I might spend the first few weeks doing topic-focused revision (i.e. I select topics where there are gaps and do a mini re-teach of those specific topics) and in the final couple of weeks before exams start I switch to mixed-topic revision and exam technique. Similarly, in the week before mock exams I might do two topic-specific lessons and two mixed-topic revision lessons.

There are a vast number of revision resources in both categories. Here I have picked out my top five from each. For a more comprehensive list of GCSE revision resources, see my GCSE Revision page.

Topic Focused Revision

1. 1st Class Maths
The resources from 1st Class Maths are consistently very high quality, so it's wonderful to see the development of an extensive GCSE revision collection this year. 

These fantastic resources contain totally original questions which are perfect for revision - they're not just collections of past exam questions that you might have already used in your teaching. 

The questions are very well written and are styled in the format of both AQA and Edexcel.

There's also a brilliant 'Ultimate Revision Booklet' which contains one question from each topic. We might print this off for our students to take home over Easter this year.

2. Maths4Everyone
Maths4Everyone is another great source of good quality resources by topic. There are topic grids like the Pythagoras one shown below, as well as sets of practice exam questions.

3. AQA Topic Tests
My exam board at GCSE is AQA, and I love their Topic Tests from allaboutmaths.aqa.org.uk. The other awarding bodies have similar resources available. 

4. Dr Austin
Last year Dr Austin added a collection of revision resources to her excellent website. There are themed revision grids (for example, six algebra revision grids of increasing difficulty level) as well as topic-specific grids.

5. GCSEMathsQuestions
GCSEMathsQuestions.co.uk contains PowerPoints in which GCSE questions from OCR, Edexcel and AQA have been collated by topic in one place. I find these resources incredibly helpful - it's great to be able to draw on a wide range of exam questions on each topic. I'm happy to use questions and resources from any awarding body in my teaching.

Mixed Topic Revision

1. Exam Papers
It goes without saying that students benefit from completing a large number of exam papers in the run up to their final exams. There are plenty of past papers available - both for the current GCSE specification but also for previous specifications (I still use questions from Linked Pair!). Awarding bodies also provide numerous practice papers, and there are papers available to purchase (for example Churchill and Zig Zag). When parents or students say they want extra practice papers to do at home, I normally suggest the CGP papers - these are handy for students as they arrive printed, and the mark schemes are student friendly. 

At this time of year (September to February) we encourage all students to independently complete and mark a minimum of one GCSE paper each week. We support this by running Papers Society after school every Tuesday (attendance is currently around 130 students, which is over half of Year 11). 

2. MathsGenie
There are loads of resources on Maths Genie and it's very user friendly for students. Last year I made good use of their excellent Mini Target Tests for both homework and revision.

3. Corbett Maths 
Corbett Maths is awesome for topic-specific practice (and here's a tip if you're teaching a top set Year 11 - check out the Further Maths section for some great extra questions on topics like surds, functions, circle theorems and algebraic fractions).

It's also excellent for mixed topic practice in the form of both practice papers and 5-a-days. Throughout Year 11 I use Corbett Maths 5-a-days for daily retrieval practice. They come in five different levels - I currently use the 'Foundation Plus' level with my Higher Year 11 class as they're working at Grades 4 to 6. The 5-a-day resources can also be used for mixed-topic revision in the run up to exams.

4. MathsBox
Subscribers to MathsBox have access to a large collection of revision resources including Skills Checks, Focus Tasks and 9 - 1 Assessments. There's lots to explore here!

5. Revision Mats 
Revision mats are available from various sources, for example Third Space Learning. I have made some myself, which are available on TES:

Calculator revision mats Set 1
Calculator revision mats Set 2
Calculator revision mats Set 3
Calculator revision mats Set 4 

These don't have to be printed on A3, but students like it if you do!

I will be using these mats with my students, but will probably save them for the final weeks of revision before the GCSE exams this summer. I also have a set of popular breakfast revision mats that I always use on the day of their exams.

I hope this post of my top ten recommendations has been helpful. Don't forget to check out my GCSE Revision page for more excellent revision resources for maths GCSE.

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.

25 November 2023

5 Maths Gems #176

Welcome to my 176th gems post. This is where I share some of the latest news, ideas and resources for maths teachers.

1. 1st Class Maths
1stclassmaths.com has always been full of incredibly high quality resources, and the recent additions are no exception. The GCSE revision resources (designed for both Edexcel and AQA) contain original GCSE-style questions which are very well written.

I also love the question frequency data on the Topic Appearance page. There's so much interesting analysis here!

2. MathsBot Games
I'm enjoying @StudyMaths' revival of old Flash Maths games. For example Find the Primes is really fun and easy to use. I enjoy playing this with my Year 7 daughter! It's a bit more accessible for her age than IsThisPrime? which is also awesome. 

Also check out Beat the Clock for times tables fun.

I was always a big fan of Flash Maths back in the day. My favourites were Shape Shoot and Memory Maths, which visitors used to play on Open Evenings at my last school. 

3. Tasks
Here are some great tasks I've seen on Twitter over the last few weeks:

An angle chase with bearings from @mrwatkinsmaths:

Scaffolded resources on loci and constructions from @draustinmaths:

I really recommend this excellent blog post about task design: 'Task Writing – Unintended Consequences' from Dan Draper.

4. Dr Frost
It's great to see lots of newly improved resources being published by Dr Frost's team. For example @nathanday314 has created excellent slides and exercises for angles in parallel lines

Follow @DrFrostResource for updates on all the new resources being released. 

5. Function Machines
PolyPad from @mathigon has a brilliant new function machine tool. It's very easy to use and a fantastic way to illustrate composite and inverse functions. Have a play with it. For me it's perfectly timed as I'll be teaching this topic to Year 11 next week.

Maths Week
We ran a Maths Week at my school last week (not in the same week as Maths Week England, because that clashes with Anti-Bullying Week). It was a very successful event with loads of engagement from students across all year groups. We designed it to be high impact without an excessive workload, with lots of opportunities for all students to earn House Points (not just the best mathematicians).

  • We ran a Teacher Treasure Hunt using the fantastic resources created by @missradders. We had over 170 entries and it was wonderful to see the level of enthusiasm amongst students. They loved it! We will definitely make this an annual event.
  • We ran a daily puzzle, which we displayed around school and in tutor time notices. We were delighted by the level of engagement. It was such a joy to see students crowded around puzzles in corridors discussing their ideas and solutions. There's an example below (many students and teachers struggled with the third sequence, though it's wonderfully simple when you spot it - I got it from a Complete Maths conference!).
  • We had a Sparx XP competition and we were shocked by how much Sparx usage increased as a result!
  • Our wonderful librarian set up a special display of maths books in the library and promoted them throughout the week.
  • I delivered an assembly to each year group on 'How I Fell in Love With Maths', the idea being that one day they'll find something that they are so passionate about that they want to talk about it all the time. My assembly centred around Fermat's Last Theorem, which I think is a story everyone should be told. I also wore a different maths dress for each assembly!

  • If you didn't see the news about this - GCSE teachers should be aware that Year 11 might get the formula sheet in their exams this summer. This comes as a surprise, but a good one - even though I think the design of the formula sheet is poor, I'm in favour of formulae being provided with exams (every year, not just in 'covid years'). The consultation closes on 30th November.
  • Sunday 26th November is your last chance to submit a proposal to speak at the Joint Conference of Mathematical Subject Associations 2024 which takes place in the Easter holidays. 

Finally, as Christmas is coming I thought it might be a good time to mention that my book A Compendium of Mathematical Methods makes an excellent present for a maths teacher. 

Have a great week everyone!