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Core Maths Christmas Activity

Here’s a really nice Christmas themed activity from Matt, Katie and Zoe at Think Maths.

It takes the idea of the 12 days of Christmas and thinks about the true cost of Christmas with a price index based on buying all of those goods. Their (very comprehensive) set of notes and resources borrows from an idea of the PNC which really does its best to work out the cost of buying all the 12 gifts and has done for the past 36 years! You can see their work on this here.

In my class, I’ll use the Think Maths basic spreadsheet and get students to try and find the prices for each of the items. Then, we’ll use XPI (Christmas Price Index) as a way into the financial math we’re going to look at in January..

I think it’s going to be fun!

It’s worth checking out the other Think Maths Christmas resources too!

Wrapping Presents

Snowflake or Snow-fake? – I’m doing this with my year 12 A level class

A Histogram resource

I still find the graphical aspects of Core Maths difficult to teach well – mainly because I can’t think of good uses for thing like histograms. I can’t say that I’ve cracked it but I think there’s some interest in the ages of prime ministers when they were appointed.

Here’s the data set: Prime Minister data for histograms

Here’s another resource (not mine) which I like.

If you have anything good for histograms, I’d like to hear from you please!

Advice for writing resources on the TES (and elsewhere)

As a member of the TES maths panel, I regularly review resources. I also have some experience writing resources for the Integral website.

Here are some pointers that would help if you are thinking about uploading your own resources. Some of them may be a little obvious but maybe there’s something you’d not thought of here.

  • Give your resource a clear title
  • Give your files clear names (instead of “worksheet” put “worksheet pythagoras finding the hypotenuse”)
  • Try to include file types that can be opened by anyone. If you’re going to use flipchart or notebook, try converting to a pdf as well and upload that too
  • Be very cautious when referencing a grade. “This is B grade” may well be a little wrong but it’s also just not really necessary. Calling something Higher or Foundation is usually ok
  • Don’t over-animate your power point slides
  • With worksheets, be mindful that everyone looking at it is going to question whether they should print it. So, does it waste space? Also, does it cram too much in to one page making it super hard to read?
  • Also with worksheets, if at all possible, try to include an answer page. Preferably, this should be in a separate document to avoid accidentally printing out a class set with the worksheet
  • If you are using images from the web, you should credit them. You may also need to check out if you have the copyright to use them
  • If you’re borrowing from someone else’s idea, give them credit somewhere in the resource
  • When uploading your resource, tag it well but don’t over tag it. If it genuinely is algebraic and geometric then go for those tags. If there’s only really one question out of 20 that has any algebra then maybe that shouldn’t be a tag.

Hopefully that’s of some use!


Some useful educational tools

When I’m planning resources and lessons, I often find myself wanting to do something technical on the computer. Recently I’ve noticed myself using a few tool more than others so I thought I’d share them with you in case they’re of any use.

Flashcard maker

Dead easy to use and gives you a few options to modify things. Great for this set of keywords I made for my year 11s to help prepare for their mocks.

GCSE foundation keywords (print back to back)

Power Point (or Google Slides) templates

Freely downloadable templates to make things a bit more interesting. These might not be something you want to use day to day with classes but if you have an assembly or presentation to give then you should consider these.

Flow chart / tree diagram / other type of diagram maker

Intuitive to use and handy for some of the tricky diagrams you might have to make sometimes. I used it to help make tree diagram templates for students to use. You can export in a number of file formats too.

PDF tools

You could probably find these yourself but if you haven’t paid for a full pdf editing software, these are handy. Good when a pdf worksheet has answers attached and you want to send just the questions in an email or if you have multiple pdfs you want to combine into a file.



I hope some of these are of use!

Core Maths – layout

One thing I’ve realised I need to work on more is how to help students lay their work out.

Here’s an example:

img 9180

This is, obviously, very hard to follow.

I had tried to impress upon them a structure along these lines:

  • What are your assumptions/simplifications?
  • What do you need to know?
  • What are your estimates for those things?
  • What calculations are you going to do with them?

It can be a useful guide to an estimation question but it doesn’t really get to the nitty-gritty of how to lay your work out.

Something to work on then…

Wrong, but Useful – Episode 72

You can find the podcast here or on itunes.

In this episode, Colin and I talk with Cat van Saarloos (@CoreMathsCat) and there are loads of good discussions, including:

Maths Week England is from November 11th to 16th and Cat has written some resources which includes a competition and you can find it all here.

We talk about different names and this is a great link to play around with and you can get graphs like this:

Baby names

The top line is David and the lower one is Malcolm (my dad’s name).

There’s also a discussion about what rounding means and, in particular how do we round -3.5? We don’t actually come to a conclusion on that but Adam Atkinson has mentioned the ideas of rounding away from zero and rounding to even. I’m going to try and ask Rob Eastaway (whose book we’re all excited about) how Zequals would deal with it.

We talk about the Pink Tax and how some things cost more, just because they’re aimed at women (and therefore, obviously, pink). Here’s the video we mention:

Shout outs to various people we mention, including:


1 November, 2019 16:07

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