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TES resources 5*

As a member of the TES maths panel, I review resources periodically. Here are the highlights from this batch, all of which I awarded 5 stars to: (for reference, I look through about 50 resources so you can tell these ones are good!)

Dividing by Decimals by amurra8827

This is a very good resource. It has a lot of questions to do with decimal division and explores it in a sensible, understandable way.

Year 7 Place Value by mathshub

An exceptionally well planned power point with a clear level of deep understanding and thinking involved.

C1 and C2 revision cards by mrsmorgan1*

Absolutely excellent for revision. I can’t really believe I haven’t seen something like this before!

*I had credited this resource to someone else but they appear to have simply taken Jo’s resource and uploaded it as their own. I’ve removed my review for them and reported the resource.

They also inspired me to write and upload two new resources of my own:

Quiz for GCSE Maths Formulae to memorise

Frequency trees – exploration and explanation

And here are the ones I rated as 4 stars:

4 Times Table Mastery Check

A formula for Cubic Equations

Angles Rules in Regular Polygons (Exterior, Interior, Central, parallel lines)

AQA Further Maths – Unit 2 Algebra II – Rearranging Formulae.

Confidence Intervals demonstration on Excel

Exploring the equations of circles

Halloween Equations

Maths Grid Game

OCR Maths: Foundation GCSE – Check In Test 8.04 Properties of polygons

Order of Operations

Shadow Shapes



Christmaths Fancy Dress

It’s tradition for sixth form students and tutors to wear fancy dress on the last day of the winter term. Strangely, there isn’t much of a range of maths related fancy dress which means I have to make one. In the past, I’ve been a ruler and pair of compasses so, continuing the theme, this year I’m going to be a protractor.


Yes, that’s a custom made t-shirt:


The idea was mine and the design and printing was by Extra Mile Printing.

And the back….


As it happens, my daughter had to design and make a Christmas hat for her last day so I helped with the star:

Hope you like the costume and have a  great Christmas break.

TES Maths Panel – Top Resources – Oct 2016

Every so often, as part of the maths panel with the TES, I review a batch of resources. Here are my top ones this time.

***** 5 Star resources *****

Between the lines (UndergroundMathematics)

A challenging puzzle that will really push your KS5 and top end KS4 to think hard about their understanding of straight line graphs. Well structured with hints and prompts throughout.

GCSE Maths 10 minute assessments (manisha2011)

This is pretty self explanatory really. I liked the simplicity of this resource and the range of topics covered.

**** 4 Star resources ****

Commenting on Election Data – Core Maths (ecrae)

This is a resource aimed at the Core Maths (level 3) qualification but there’s nothing stopping you slipping it into the gcse course.. It’s a good resource as it makes students interrogate the data given and draw valid conclusions. I like the way it could be used to make students think hard about newspaper headlines.

GCSE Revision/End of term maths pub quiz (chris_cooper_25)

There are a lot of maths rounds covering a spread of topics. These are interspersed with some non maths rounds as well. It would probably have 5 stars except that you’ll need to update the general knowledge round and work out your own music round (or just abandon those ones).

Edexcel S1 Revision clock (Japleen Kaur)

Based on the recent wave of revision clock resources, this is set up for the edexcel S1 course. It’s a great idea and because A level questions are longer, it adapts the format to allow longer questions extra time by having two or more sections of the clock.

I hope you’ll check these out and maybe give them your own reviews too.

Nice starter – memory maths

Here’s a great starter called memory maths. (click on the one called memory maths)

A simple 4×4 grid.

Each one has a calculation to be done (choose from arithmetic or negatives).

Only two are shown at a time for 1 sec at a time.memory-maths

There are other starters to try out too. Thanks to Vic for sharing this.

Wrong, but Useful episode 37

Long term readers of this blog may know that I have a podcast with Colin Beveridge. This post is just to highlight it to a wider audience and pick up on a few aspects that we discussed.

Link to Wrong, but Useful episode 37. Or you can subscribe on iTunes.

I make no secrets about not being a fan of the mechanics aspects of mathematics. I love statistics and decision maths while I’m beginning to like pure maths more. I do think that non-mathematicians don’t really understand how different the various areas of maths are and I was wondering how similar/different this is to the sciences. I don’t think many people would expect someone with a biology degree to be very comfortable teaching A level physics or chemistry and I think there is a parallel within the maths areas. While I do think that some of the skills are transferable (as I suspect they are in the sciences), simply being good at teaching mechanics would not automatically make you good at teaching statistics. They definitely are not ‘just all maths’. With the changes to A level maths, I may well have to try and pick up some aspects of mechanics but I maintain it would be better to have people who are specialists in the areas they’re teaching.

I’ve emailed to ask about the raffle tickets. I’ll write a blog post about it when/if they reply.

The mathsjam annual conference is coming soon (12th and 13th November) and I am now booked to go. Hurrah.

Here is a link to a post where I give a little more detail about the maths books I bought.

I think that’ll do for now. Perhaps you should go and listen to it.


5 Top Tips for Success at A level Maths and Wider Reading

My school has a Specialist Tutor Program in the sixth form which is a weekly timetabled slot to broaden students’ experiences. It’s a fantastic idea and, as a sixth form tutor, I run one of the sessions each week. The one I ran last week was titled 5 Top Tips for Success at A level Maths and was, partly, based on a survey I carried out via twitter recently. (Just to give you a flavour of the broadness, my one this week was about passing your driving theory test.)

I’ve collated and refined the results from the survey along with the experiences of my faculty into a structured powerpoint presentation. It was used in an hour session with mostly year 12 students. I consciously included some interactive bits and tasks to do and a couple of different presentation style so it’s not all just listening to me talk. Here’s a link to the ppt and you’re welcome to use/adapt it as you wish. Thanks to all the people that answered the survey and I know a lot of you will be interested in seeing the results.


If you take a look, you’ll notice that the last part is a wider reading list, aimed at anyone that wants to broaden their maths understanding or general interest, perhaps with a view to mentioning it in UCAS personal statements. It is obviously non-exhaustive but here’s the list for ease of reference:



On the internet

As I was buying a book for my son (Number Quest – more on this another time) I stumbled across an eBay shop that had lots of maths books for sale pretty cheaply. Now, they also had an offer on of “buy 40 books, get 50% off”, and, like a TV with a broken volume control, you can’t turn that down can you?

I picked out some for myself:


Some that I’m going to take in for students to borrow:

And there was only a minor mishap as I tried to buy a couple of copies of Alex Bellos’s book, ‘Alex through the looking glass’:


I don’t suppose anyone wants a snooker book do they?

Open Evening – The Psychic Maths Department

We had our open evening last Wednesday. It was very well attended and I wanted to share with you what we did.


I saw this sign on Resourceaholic who saw it on Blackpool Sixth Maths department’s twitter feed. Couldn’t resist borrowing the sentiment.

We are a big department so had two rooms to allow more space. In one room, we had:

  • Examples of year 7 students’ books from last year
  • Chess boards set up with current students to play against
  • Another student available to help students draw a hexagon using a protractor. The students then put their name and school on the hexagon and tessellated them on a wall (wish I’d taken a picture now)

In the other room, we had

  • Guess the lowest, unique, positive integer competition (Thanks to Resourceaholic again) which I’ll make a separate post about soon
  • A coordinate challenge (with students helping). This was designed by a current year 10 student (when she was in year 9) and makes a copy of the school logo


  • A ‘magic’ trick that I called “The psychic maths department”

I had three trays:


The visitors were invited to “Choose a tray, any tray”. Each one had 3 screwed up balls of three colours. Next, the visitor picks out a ball and reads out the number on it. They had to choose where to put the column of the colour that matched that ball, and then, in that column, where to put that number. This is repeated 8 times and the fact that there are so many choices is highlighted.psychic-maths

Eventually, you get to something like this:


Next, you give them the novelty, oversized calculator and get them to add up the three, 3-digit numbers. Onto our predictions:


(Next year I may work out how to make those shapes match the logo).

Then, reveal the predictions one at a time:


If you come to our school, I’ll help you work out how that was done.

There are a few subtle things that I think this activity does:

  • Shows that maths can be exciting and intriguing
  • Demonstrates that we know how to use interactive whiteboards as more than just projector screens
  • We use calculators when appropriate

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts and I hope that’s inspired you for your own Open Evenings!