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. - Danny Brown – Danny Brown

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

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 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.

Ratio and Proportion

Some resources for problems on Ratio and Proportion…

Thinking Blocks from Colleen King’s site Math PlayGround – a wonderful way to visualize Ratio and Proportion problems. With the full screen option, this will display well. An example is illustrated in the following slides:

I believe that drawing great diagrams to illustrate problems really helps understanding – something I intend to work more on this year.

AQA Problems - Teacher's Guide

AQA Problems – Teacher’s Guide

Part of the Rich Tasks collection, from AQA comes an outstanding resource, ‘Problem Solving Questions‘ and accompanying Teacher’s Guide which includes indices by topic and also by strategy. I have used many of the problems successfully in the classroom with a variety of ages, they really do make students think. Checking the content index, there are several problems involving ratio:

AQA Problems on Ratio

AQA Problems on Ratio

AQA Problem Solving Guide

AQA Problem Solving Guide – Inside Circle

Nrich of course, a search on Ratio returns this selection of problems. Nrich problems always include teacher’s notes and solutions.

Nrich - Mixing Lemonade

Nrich – Mixing Lemonade

Just as one can always find something on Nrich, the same is true of CIMT. From the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching we have Ratio and Proportion from the Year 8 book (UK age 12-13) and Variation from GCSE course (UK age 14-16). As well as the Year 8 text, further resources are available such as Activities and Extra Exercises.

These sorts of problems must be on everybody’s Mathematics specifications all over the world! In the UK there is an increased emphasis on Ratio and Proportion in the new GCSE specifications; a link to these resources has been included on the GCSE New Content page.

World Maths Day 2015

Note the latest announcement and new look.2015 dates

The World Education Games will be back in October 2015. 

The exact dates for 2015 have now been announced and you can pre-register now.

Follow on Facebook or Twitter.

Perhaps time to remind everyone who enjoys these mental arithmetic games that there are plenty available they can still enjoy all year round. Can you do simple maths under pressure?! From Manga High a multi-player option is available on Sundae Times which tests multiplication from 1×1 to 15×15  – play other students from round the world!


Sum Sense from Oswego City School District

Sum Sense from Oswego City School District. for example is a little different – arrange the given numbers to give a correct statement. If you like this game note that Sum Sense games are available for other operations, scroll down to the bottom of this collection

For other free Number games see this page also this page on games collections; the collections from Math Playground and that from Oswego City School District are particularly good for mental arithmetic. For practise at tables, including against the clock see this collection. Can you do simple maths under pressure?!

On Sumdog, I like the way that the various skill levels can be restricted; the site is aimed at students aged 6 to 14 (having said that some of my Year 11 (age 15-16) students looked like they were rather enjoying themselves recently) so I want my secondary age students to practise the skills at the upper end of the age range and have currently restricted them all to levels 8, 9 and 10. It is possible to set up competitions, see the Teachers’ page. 

Shane Hill, the creator of World Maths Day has provided Core Skills for 4 to 10 year olds, this can be played on PC or tablet and is available free all year round. (also for Windows and iPad instructions here).

Desmos dot to dot

Continuing with my Desmos theme (see the excellent Activity Builder from last week), a happy discovery – you can join plotted points on Desmos. This is ideal for creating cumulative frequency graphs for example – see the example in the following slides.

For completeness, so all the information and examples on Desmos are in one place, I have added pages to the Desmos series.

Note for example a little dancing with Desmos!
Desmos series

Desmos Activity Builder

A superb new addition – Desmos have created an activity builder for teachers, this enables the creation of interactive Desmos-based classroom activities. A series of pages can be created – any combination of graphs, questions or text. Having created and saved the activity a code is then associated with that  activity which your students enter at

CY Desmos Activities

A simple experiment for my first activity – identify the lines x=k and y=k.
Activities are very easy to create, the interface is intuitive; images can very easily be added by dragging them to the page.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once students have tried the activity and submitted answers to any questions a teacher can see all their submitted responses. This is certainly something I will be using with my students in the coming academic year. I have various slideshows for Desmos which I can now create activities for. (For more on Desmos, see these pages).

Mathematical Posters

Math Gems

Math Gems

Carrying on with holiday Project tidy up; following a Twitter conversation where I saw a query on posters for displays reminded me to revisit and review a popular post on Mathematics Posters. This post includes several excellent sources of free posters to decorate your walls and get your students thinking too!

There are of course endless possibilities for putting things on walls! Student work obviously but also definitions and key facts to remember   particularly now in the days of no formula sheets! (See also Mathscard from Loughborough University) Or perhaps some exam terminology. Maybe put some mathematical puzzles on the wall for idle moments!

Put Desmos into projector mode and produce some posters of different graph types. And remind students to get the Desmos app free on their phones!
Desmos android2

Time to tidy up

Tidy UpIt’s holiday time so time for a bit of tidying up, just like last year – my
house and my blog!

I’ll be doing some tidying up and updating in the never ending quest to make useful things easy to find! I’ll post details of my weekly tidy ups!

Transum - Arithmagons

Transum – Arithmagons


One task is to revisit popular posts and update them as appropriate, one such post is that on Arithmagonswhich has been checked and updated – Craig Baton has written a whole set of resources on Arithmagons.

These can provide great starter activities and the ‘backwards’ versions really promote great thinking and understanding.

(See also Good Mathematicians Can Go Backwards!