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WHTW – Pythagoras, Trigonometry, Staff Welfare and Illness

January 30, 2018

I was unwell on Friday and the weekend, hence the delay in this post.


Year 8s are continuing the tilted squares investigation but, the investigation has pretty much run its course so I’ve been looking for other pythagoras tasks to do. As ever, Nrich has the answer with a great selection of challenging problems, including ones about which bits of wood would fit through certain doorways.

Some of the year 8s have shown that they are still unsure about finding areas of triangles. Given that this is the second project that’s involved them this is surprising and frustrating. When individually asked and prompted, they are able to say how to find the area of a triangle so I’m not sure why some aren’t managing it in the short test. I am going to try increasing the pressure and pointing out that it is their job to make sure they know and can recall the topics we’ve done in class and I think that some might need a prompt by contacting home.


Year 12 are moving on to more complex aspects of trig. We’ve looked at how the calculator will only give you one solution and how the graphs can help you find the others. Our KS5 coordinator is strongly opposed to using CAST diagrams (I’m no fan either) but it’s surprising that they seem to be everywhere with many websites and textbooks using it. I’m not yet sure if I might introduce the CAST diagram during revision, once I’m sure the principles have sunk in and I can offer it as a quicker route for those that really ‘get’ how the graphs work.

Even more interestingly, I’ve set up a shared folder where I and the other two trig teachers can pool resources. I really want us to collaborate more effectively and also reduce workload in the long run. I think I’ll have year 12 again next year and want to the same resources I used this year but with improvements and suggestions from my teaching and the other teachers’ suggestions. Sounds easy and obvious but not something I/we are particularly good at (yet).

Number puzzles

Year 9 have been looking at factors and multiples as well as some calculation refreshers and I’ve been using this number puzzle with them. It’s interesting how quickly students want to talk to others, share ideas and work together. It’s been an actual battle and I’ve had to tell them to ignore the Brain, Book, Buddy, Boss poster in the room I’m in with them and to think of it more like a Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain poster. They need to experience being stuck and deciding what to do for themselves otherwise they’ll never practice getting unstuck!

Staff welfare

I’m part of my school’s staff welfare working group and we had our first meeting last week. The focus was on communication and emails. If you have ideas for how you or your school has reduced emails I’d like to hear them!


  1. We used to receive a lot of emails that weren’t relevant to us but they were sent to “all staff”. Now “all staff” email requests have to go through one person who filters them and only sends ones that we actually all need. Others are just sent to relevant people. This has reduced the amount we get quite a lot.

    • We are part way to that and can’t send ‘all staff’ ourself.
      I’m not sure if they’re filtered though – good point!

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