Future Learn – Free Courses

For excellent and free professional development sign up to FutureLearnLooking at what is coming up for example, we have from The University of Leicester a course on Real World Calculus: How Maths Drives Formula One and Launches Angry Birds. The course starts on 9th November for three weeks and requires about 2 hours a week. The course is entirely free; certificates of participation are available to buy (£34 plus delivery for this course) if you would like proof of your training.

This particular course is one of the FutureLearn Choices series which offer a chance for students to see what studying a subject at university will be like. It strikes me that these could also provide professional development for teachers too and offer ideas for teaching in the Sixth Form (and lower down the school).

The Preparing for University course (started 28th September so you can join and have a look) includes a video on what lecturers value in their students; I’d say that is what teachers at school value in their students too and all through school, particularly in the Sixth Form we need to be conscious of preparing our students for university.

From The University of Reading, A Beginner’s Guide to Writing in English for University Study strikes me as a useful course for Sixth Form students many of whom take a Level 3 Extended Project qualification.

Looking at courses running and coming up I noticed Logical and Critical Thinking from The University of Aukland which has just started. It is simple to join FutureLearn, sign up with Facebook or create an account free. I joined the course very simply, had a look at the materials and tried a quiz – it seems I understand my obstacles well!

Once you have signed up to a course you can use it at any time, looking at my own profile I realised I had signed up to a course back in 2013 and happily all the materials are there for me to return to at any time I like.

Future Learn Course Categories

Future Learn Course Categories

There are many courses to choose from, take a look at all the course categories here. Checking Science, Maths and Technology, I see from The University of Bristol Cracking Mechanics: Further Maths for Engineers; I suspect there may well be some useful videos there to show my Year 13 Further Mathematicians when we study Mechanics.

And look at this – Assessment for Learning in STEM Teaching led by Dylan Wiliam and Christine Harrison, to help STEM teachers get to grips with Assessment for Learning.

Another interesting category for teachers and students is Teaching and Studying. I mentioned the Extended Project above, under this category I discovered a course on just that. Already under way, from The University of Southampton is Developing Your Research Project.

You can find out more about FutureLearn here. Looking at FutureLearn’s description of why their online courses work I discovered a reference to John Hattie and his work on Visible Learning. Certainly the structure of the courses is very clear.

I personally like the flexibility of online courses – I can access them for as long as I want whenever I want. I also like the fact that the courses include quizzes to check learning; something I believe is very helpful in supporting our students’ learning.

Writing this blog post I have signed up to rather a lot of courses!

(Student version of this post to highlight some courses).

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse September 27th / September 28th

NASA activity tableThe rare Supermoon Lunar Eclipse on September 27th / September 28th reminds me of the extensive Mathematics resources available from NASA. The eclipse might inspire you to do a little Lunar Math!

The total eclipse will last one hour and 12 minutes, and will be visible to North and South America, Europe, Africa, and parts of West Asia and the eastern Pacific.

The moon will start going into partial eclipse at 12.07am in the UK. The eclipse will then become total from 1.11am until 2.23am. The eclipse will end entirely at 4.27am.

Space.com – photographs of the Supermoon eclipse

Top Tools for Learning 2015

Jane Hart has now published her Top 100 Tools for Learning 2015 list, appropriately using Slideshare, one of my own favourites (these presentations are all uploaded to Slideshare) and I see is number 20 in the list of top tools:

I wrote about my own selection recently, it was very hard to choose 10. I thought it would be interesting to see where they came in the list.

Tool   (CY votes) Place in Top 100 2015
Evernote  10
WordPress  8
Google (search)  3
Twitter  1
Slideshare  20
PowerPoint  5
Excel  56
Diigo  42
WolframAlpha  –
Desmos  –

So I am not alone in my choices for most of my favourites; I did not really expect WolframAlpha or Desmos to appear in this particular list but they still get my vote! WolframAlpha is useful for so many subjects – not just Mathematics.

I found it interesting looking at the list, seeing Screencast-O-Matic back in the list at number 27 reminded me to try it again; I downloaded the recorder and it certainly works very easily – now this is not the most exciting video in the world – just a test, but it took just a very short time to record and upload to YouTube:

Other reminders for me in this list:

Wallwisher - quadrilaterals


Padlet (29), formerly Wallwisher is such a good idea and I have not used this for a while; Wordle and the other various word cloud generators are another example. Tools to try with Year 7 I think.



Piktochart is a new entry in the list and provides an easy way to create infographics.

Scroll down Jane Hart’s page to see new entries and the big movers up the list.

Long Division & Multiplication – Formal Methods

The UK National Curriculum now specifies that:
Pupils should be taught to:

Year 6 (UK KS2 age 10-11)

  • multiply multi-digit numbers up to 4 digits by a two-digit whole number using the formal written method of long multiplication
  • divide numbers up to 4 digits by a two-digit whole number using the formal written method of long division, and interpret remainders as whole number remainders, fractions, or by rounding, as appropriate for the context
  • divide numbers up to 4 digits by a two-digit number using the formal written method of short division where appropriate, interpreting remainders according to the context

Appendix 1 of the KS2 document includes the examples below and states that “the examples of formal written methods for all four operations illustrate the range of methods that could be taught. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list, nor is it intended to show progression in formal written methods. For example, the exact position of intermediate calculations (superscript and subscript digits) will vary depending on the method and format used. For multiplication, some pupils may include an addition symbol when adding partial products. For division, some pupils may include a subtraction symbol when subtracting multiples of the divisor.

NC Formal Long Multiplication

NC Formal Long Multiplication

NC Formal Short & Long Division

NC Formal Short & Long Division

And at KS3 (UK age 11-14) we are reminded that students should be able to “use the four operations, including formal written methods, applied to integers, decimals, proper and improper fractions, and mixed numbers, all both positive and negative”.

The Mathematics documents can all be found on this page.



From Sums Mathematics come many useful activities including activities to illustrate formal methods of long multiplication and division. Choose Multiplication or Division under Numbers and Calculations from the top menu.  All demonstrations are very clear and show the methods step by step. You can choose to watch examples and/or try examples of your own; choose Option 1 or 2. See the images below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

CIMT Long Multiplication & Division

CIMT Long Multiplication & Division

For further examples, exercises and problems try the ever reliable CIMT’s  GCSE chapter 6 on the Number System – see Section 6.4.

For more on new GCSE content see these pages.


Thoughts this week …

A compilation post this week.

I am really pleased with my introduction of RAG123 for marking. I will write more fully on this in the coming weeks but certainly Year 7 seem to have got the idea – 10 minutes into a lesson after discussing some examples –  a little voice – “can we RAG123 that?”

Factorisation - box methodResponding to a query on using the box method I realised an additional example was needed where a common factor could be taken out first. The updated post can be found here; additionally if you just want to direct students to the resource – the slideshow only can be found on Mathematics for Students.


Android App

Desmos on Android

Desmos on Android has had a major upgrade and you can now access your account with all your saved graphs and also create new graphs. Press the three lines in the top left corner to sign in, sync up, and take all of your graphs on the go. (Post on Desmos Apps on Mathematics for Students)

Join the dotsOn the subject of Desmos did you know you can join the dots?!

Corbett's Conundrums

Corbett’s Conundrums

I will be introducing several classes to Mr Corbett’s 5 a day this week, these work so well to keep topics in mind – and note too the 5 a day resources for A Level. A brilliant resource. I’m not sure when Mr Corbett goes to sleep – see also Corbett’s Conundrums!






Some useful notes and tips for students who might need some revision of previous work whilst studying their new courses can be found on Mathematics for Students – Transition Time.

2015 dates

Have you registered for World Maths Day – coming soon in October?

Note that this year you will be able to enjoy three subject events for longer as they will be open and available for the full period of the World Education Games!

Top 100 ToolsHave you voted for your Top 100 Tools for Learning? Voting closes on Friday 18th September.



Having written several of these compilation posts which I hope are a selection of Maths goodies – I have created a new category – under Thoughts this week you can find all such posts – all have been checked to make sure they are still relevant and up to date.

A Classroom Toolkit

Thinking about some of the daily tools I like to have to hand………..

Calculating FinancesTop of the everyday tools list has to be Desmos and Wolfram Alpha; there are also numerous calculators and resources available; this collection is on Mathematics for students which means students can use anything themselves at home having seen it demonstrated in class. I also like to display definitions, the Reference page on Mathematics for students has very useful dictionaries and glossaries.

An annual job for me is setting up my homework blog. I always put homework details online as well as explaining it in class. I use a blog (which doesn’t turn up in web searches) with a page for each class. I find publishing the details online for students makes me think about explaining it carefully and I can also give any links to resources which may help. None of my students can ever say to me that they didn’t know what the homework was!

I want to easily lay my hands on any of my resources so Evernote is ready to go with a notebook for each class where I can put any resources or ideas / random thoughts using my phone or computer. I was reminded of the wonders of Evernote search recently – I will be looking at Surds with Year 10 – a search on surds in Evernote rapidly returned every resource I had ever created. It also returned any document, specifications for example with the word Surds in it. I want to make sure I tag notes really well this year to make things even simpler to find.

I also us my own blogs! For example I can remind myself of all the Starters I like, Problems & Activities or ways to end lessons, find Rich Tasks….the list goes on! You can see the various page tabs near the top of the blog. Certainly – however you do it, make sure you can rapidly find anything you need so you can really concentrate on thinking about your students’ learning; see Lesson Planning.

Mike Hadden - Random Student

Mike Hadden – Random Student

If you want to make sure that you include all students in your class then some kind of system for choosing students is very useful, for a simple and very effective low-tech way then read Harry Fetcher-Wood’s excellent post and make some lolly sticks cards! Harry’s post includes discussion on the fact that this can be contentious; I think the key is to use this technique when appropriate and be very clear that it is OK to be unsure but good to contribute in some way. I let students know that a suitable response includes a question back to me. Another offline option is to use one of Mike Hadden’s many excellent spreadsheets – look at the ‘Other’ section for the Random Student spreadsheet. You can easily create a spreadsheet for each class.

Random Name Selector - Primary Technology

Random Name Selector – Primary Technology

For an online option this random name selector by John Mclear on Primary Technology will randomly select a name from a list you can easily input. Once you have input a list of names you can then save the list as a link. It is possible to remove a name from the list once it has been chosen.

You can save a list of names so have easy access to lists of all your classes by just having the link somewhere easy to access.

Classtools.net Random Name Selector and Countdown Timer

Classtools.net Random Name Selector and Countdown Timer

classtools.net has numerous flash templates which allow teachers to create diagrams, activities and games. As with the previous random name selector the resource on classtools.net also allows you to save a list of your own for easy access later. ClassTools also has an excellent countdown timer which gives you a choice of soundtracks of varying lengths; this is a Flash resource an alternative HTML5 timer where you can add a video and save a link to your customised timer is also available.

stationeryYou may need some specialist paper – coordinate grids, isometric or polar paper for example. See For (Online) Stationery Geeks! I always have a set of whiteboard flipcharts to hand where I already have pages with coordinate grids and any other stationery / background I want.

Whiteboard toolsFor online options check some of the whiteboard tools in the Writing Mathematics Online post including  the interactive whiteboard manipulative from Glencoe  (I came across this in a Google search). Note all the backgrounds and manipulatives available.

For demonstrating ruler and compass constructions look at Bruno Reddy’s lovely Geometry toolbox which can be found on the teachers’ section of his excellent site.

For some fun with crayons try this Crayola colouring application or amuse your students with the writing repeater!

Name card

I will be using my name cards again this year as I found that these really helped me learn the names of my students – collecting the cards at the end of the lesson is a further chance to fix the student names in your head!

Resolutions for (Mathematics) Teachers

Back to schoolIt’s that time of year again – back to school we go.
Time for a revisit and update of “Resolutions for Maths Teachers”.
There are several new slides here for those familiar with the previous edition. I am happy to say that I have been keeping my own resolutions and several of the posts linked to for those have been updated.

I think this year I really want to concentrate again on making things stick and making sure I really am convinced about what they are learning – hence the ‘don’t be fooled by poor proxies for learning’ and trying RAG123.

2015-2016 Resolutions for Maths Teachers PowerPoint file
or as a pdf 2015-2016 Resolutions for Maths Teachers

Thank you to the teachers from the West Des Moines Community School District…for teachers everywhere going back to school, this is fabulous!

Rich Tasks and more ..

Some updates.

The Rich Tasks page here is consistently popular – so a complete tidy up, a check that everything links to the right place and some additions.

AQA Problem Solving Questions

AQA Problem Solving Questions

Note the excellent AQA Problems and Teacher’s Guide which includes indices by topic and also by strategy.

squeaktime.com - Danny Brown

squeaktime.com – Danny Brown

Additions include Craig Barton’s excellent collection of rich tasks and problem sets on Danny Brown’s squeaktime.com.

Form Time Numeracy - Jonathan Hall

Time Numeracy – Jonathan Hall

On Mathematics – Starters and Plenaries, see Form Time Numeracy from Jonathan Hall’s Form Time Ideas site which could be a simple start to a lesson; the questions can easily be printed so could make ideal ‘Bell Work’ giving you a quick and calm start to a lesson; give the questions out at the door or have them displayed on the board as the students come into the lesson.

Thinking about returning to school, I will be checking and updating my resolutions for (Maths) teachers in the next few days.


Top 100 Tools for Learning 2015 – Voting

Top 100 ToolsJane Hart of the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies is still accepting votes from educators for the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2015. This list is based on contributions from learning professionals around the world. Voting closes at noon GMT on Friday 18 September 2015 and Jane will reveal the 2015 Top 100 Tools list on Monday 21 September 2015.

So my own top tools for learning (note these are not subject specialist sites apart from the last two which I just have to include!)

Evernote  – an outstanding note-taking tool and something I use every day. I have a notebook for each of my classes to which I upload any resources I want for that class; I also jot down any ideas I have for each class. I can use it on any PC or my tablet or my phone. It is also a good way to share for example a list of websites with students – using a shared notebook. (Blog post on Evernote).

WordPress  – obviously – you are reading a WordPress blog right now! I have several other blogs, GamesStarters and for students I have created Mathematics for Students and something I am very pleased with is a blog I use to give the details of homework for each of my classes. I created ‘What was that homework?’ as a result of a survey of students across several schools where many students said that they would like homework details online. No student can ever say to me that they didn’t know what their homework was! I also have blogs on useful tools for students and teachers generally. (The very first post on this WordPress blog – which includes some useful WordPress links).

Google which is a vote for Google search. See Google help on search or this Google Guide

Twitter  – great for professional development – I have contacts in education all over the globe and have been led to many useful resources by my virtual colleagues! See Mathematics Conversations. and this post on Twitter.

Slideshare  – it is very easy to upload presentations to this (free) presentation sharing site; the two shows above are examples. Presentations for teachers or students could be uploaded for example.

PowerPoint I can’t really have Slideshare without including PowerPoint in my list because that’s where I start with my presentations, often with a little help from the interactive whiteboard software. It is interesting to see how popular PowerPoint was last year at number 4 in the 2014 list, other tools such as Prezi makes a change, but it’s so important to remember that it’s the content that matters!

Excel (43) is something I use everyday in my job to present data to staff; I also use many spreadsheets for teaching. Of all the applications in the Office suite this stands out for me, the changes from Excel 2003 to 2007 with the massive improvements to conditional formatting for example make this one outstanding application. There are also many Excel spreadsheets out there too to help in Maths lessons – see Maths Files for example.

Diigo I have saved many hundreds of bookmarks using this social bookmarking / annotation tool; I can even find them again! There are numerous examples of Diigo lists on this site – see this on Statistics and Probability for example;  (Digital Tools blog page on bookmarking). I think it is because I find Diigo so easy to use that I still like it. Always liking the idea of a backup plan – all my Diigo bookmarks are sent automatically to Evernote (8) via ifttt (a new entry in 2014). I also have Diigo set up to send the bookmarks to Delicious.

Now obviously the list is not about specialist sites for various subjects, The Top >10 Mathematics Websites is another story but I am choosing these ten tools because I use them so much in my job. So the last two sites on my list are mathematical in nature.

WolframAlpha.  WolframAlpha is not just all about Maths, it covers so many subjects and even though they would love us to pay for WolframAlpha pro, the free model still offers unlimited queries everyday!

Desmos, the outstanding graphical calculator deserves a vote in my opinion, it is wonderful for learning mathematics, accessible for young students yet has the sophistication required for university students. Brilliant.

Here’s the 2014 Top 100 Tools; it will be very interesting to see the changes in 2015.

Mathematics Blogs ..and a few more

There are numerous Mathematics blogs out there!

Maths Echo ChamberA really easy way to follow the UK education Maths blogs is to follow The Maths Echo Chamber

Try Mathblogging.org to see recent posts from an extensive collection of blogs from around the world about mathematics in all its facets.

Craig Barton who has included some of his own favourite blogs in the video at the end of this post (thank you for the mention Craig!) has now set up his own blog where you will find many excellent TES resources; see for example all the Top 10 Collections and the Resource of the Week. See also Craig’s examples from his fantastic Diagnostic Questions site.

There are many excellent articles on Nrich, see for example these articles for secondary teachers.

Continue reading on the Mathematics Blogs page of the Reading series.

And whilst not strictly Mathematics blogs these personal favourites on Teaching and Learning and more by many excellent writers have something to say for teachers of any subject.