Top Tools for Learning 2017

Jane Hart, of the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies, has published her annual list of Top Tools for Learning. Like last year, she has three sub-lists including Top 100 Tools for Education. Note that you can easily see the rankings for each sub-list using these rankings. Jane Hart’s analysis includes details of the contributors as well as her commentary on trends.

Looking at the Top 100 Tools for Education I see my favourites WordPress (Blogging and website tool) and Evernote (Personal information system) in there, these are also popular in all the lists.

Continuing to look at the Top 100 Tools for Education Excel is quite rightly highly placed. I regularly use Excel resources; just a few examples of some favourites:

Normal Trainer

Excel Files – Mike Hadden


STEM Centre – Descriptive Statistics

See STEM Learning, part of the A Level (16+) Resources series.

A few more for investigation …
KahootKahoot (Classroom response tool) is very easy to use and free for teachers and students. In a few minutes I created a quiz on Directed Numbers … (not very exciting – just a test, very easy to create.) Kahoot qn

Another popular quizzing tool I know some of my colleague’s use is Quizlet.

Seeing Padlet (online discussion board) on the list reminded me of this very easy to use tool. I shall try this with Year 7!
Padlet equations

Unsplash – beautiful free photos to do anything you like with! Perhaps not surprising that this has moved rapidly up the lists!

Photo by Marivi Pazos on Unsplash

Apart from illustrating Unsplash, I can have pictures of flowers to illustrate a mathematical connection! From Science News reading Fibonacci’s Missing Flowers we discover that the most common number of petals is five and whilst there are many flowers with the number of petals a Fibonacci number there are also flowers with four, six, seven or nine petals!

GrammaryI added a comma in a couple of places in this post thanks to Grammarly which has jumped up the Top 100 Tools list by 70 places. Very easy to use, Grammarly lets you check for 250 types of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation mistakes.




Formulae: A Level Mathematics

Looking at the Subject content for A Level Mathematics we see that Appendix A, pages 16-22 describes the mathematical notation for AS and A level qualifications in mathematics and further mathematics. Appendix B, pages 23-26 is on mathematical formulae and identities.
Checking individual examination board specifications shows us the formulae which will be provided in the examination; each looks very similar.

OCR (MEI) Formulae

OCR (MEI) Formulae

I think it is useful for students to be aware as they study the course which formulae they must know and which will be provided; though they should be very familiar with any provided formulae.

MEI Technology

MEI – Use of Technology

Teaching Calculus from the new specifications I see that the formula for Differentiation from first principles is provided which seems fair. Looking at MEI’s very helpful advice on Integrating Technology into your scheme of work we see some suggested resources for teaching differentiation, including this GeoGebra resource on First Principes. I like the way one can choose between numeric and algebraic.
GeoGebra first principles

MEI – Use of Technology, Differentiation

Staying with Calculus and technology, note that Desmos allows you to very easily see a function and its gradient function; note the requirement of the subject content that students should be able to sketch the gradient function for a given curve.
Desmos gradient function
A resource I found very useful for the matching a functions with their gradient functions comes from Underground Maths. I included Gradient Match which can be used interactively online in this post on introducing gradients at GCSE. Note that you can simplify the task by giving students the set of six functions and the six gradient functions separately.






Underground Mathematics – Gradient Match




MEI Ritangle Competition (& Technology!)

From MEI comes Ritangle, a competition for teams of students of A level Mathematics, Scottish Highers or the International Baccalaureate. This year’s Ritangle competition  launches Monday 2 October!

For the main competition, one question will be released daily for 21 consecutive weekdays, the first question will be released on 9th November 2017. I am looking forward to seeing the problems which I am sure will be of interest to many Mathematics students even if they are studying for alternative qualifications and cannot enter the competition.

Something which caught my eye is that Technology can help with some Ritangle questions which led me to some excellent Excel resources, which you can use whether or not you are participating in the competition.

Excel is a favourite for me – I use it in both my Mathematics teaching and in my Deputy Head role. Note from Nrich, we have many uses of Excel for Mathematical Investigation. I like this very clear illustration showing fraction multiplication.

Nrich Fractions multiplication

Excel Interactive Resource – Fraction Multiplication

For teaching sequences, Interactive Number patterns will be useful.

Quadratic Sequences

Nrich – Interactive Number Patterns 2

…and one of my favourites – Happy Numbers! (For the Excel spreadsheet – Nrich investigation)
Happy Numbers

Talking of technology, the Excel fractions resources here reminded me to try fractions with Graspable Math. Having tried Graspable Math on the Interactive whiteboard recently I can confirm it works perfectly.
Add Fractions

And finally, talking of Graspable Math, this led me recently to Dave Taylor’s excellent Increasingly Difficult Questions, a wonderful collection – and with an eye on the copying budget too!
Change the subject DT

Looking at the Graspable Math Teacher Resources, I see some of the Increasing Difficult Questions have been added to a canvas. Graspable Math lets you save your work so you can come back to it later or share it with others. Saving requires a google account. To share a file, use the share menu to get a link that gives others read access to a file. I decided I liked the idea of having a canvas ready for Simplifying Expressions, starting with IDQ-Simplifying Expressions 1, I opened it on my own canvas and adapted it slightly. I do like to keep all steps of the working displayed, so I have put the exercises on the left, creating a good space on the right.
Simplify Expressions IDQ

Tidying Up!

Tidy UpI have made several updates to the organisation of this blog recently, always attempting to make things easier to find!

This includes the creation of some new pages.

Lesson PlanningNote the Lesson Planning series which includes pages on Technology also some useful reading. Note the excellent post from Peps Mccrea, The 7 habits of highly effective lesson plans (on the Lesson Planning Reference page). Much food for thought here with the author’s emphasis quite rightly on learning and making the material memorable.

The post includes some rather thoughtful comments on sins of planning!

With Technology in mind I have the Tools & Calculators and Use of Technology pages and also a new series of GeoGebra pages. Note the wealth of resources available from MEI; MEI as a GeoGebra Institute provides us with many excellent classroom resources. The Calculators page includes instructions and examples on various calculators including the new Casio FX991EX-Classwiz.

MEI GeoGebra Institute

Quadratic Inequalities MEI

Shown here we have Quadratic Inequalities from the Higher Tier GCSE collection. This would also be useful for Advanced Level students.

For any teachers teaching the MEI A Level specification MEI have provided GeoGebra files of their large data sets.


MEI Large Data Sets – GeoGebra

For more on Statistics data sets and teaching activities resources from the examination boards please see the Statistics page in the Advanced Level series. Edexcel have very useful guide to teaching Statistics including examples and calculator instructions.

Edexcel Guide

Edexcel Statistics Teaching Guide


Mathematical Songs

All checked and updated – many of these songs have gone down well for a considerable time. A more recent discovery was the One Direction quadratic formula song which makes my student smile (and sing a long!) (A reminder of GCSE Formulae)

The following songs have all gone down very well with students, particularly the Circle Song!

This on the Quadratic Formula makes my students smile – and they sing along! The One Direction Quadratic Formula song!

Or perhaps try these!

More favourites:

The Klein Four are a bit beyond school Mathematics you may appreciate this if you are studying a Mathematics degree!

….and of course, ‘Katie’s bad science’. I love this!
Original and re-edited version of Katie Melua’s song nine million bicycles proposed by Simon Singh and presented on Ted talks by Michael Shermer.