Opinions

Nix the Tricks: encouraging mathematical understanding

I have recently been using some of the ideas in Tina Cardone’s book Nix the Tricks. Research evidence shows that whilst teaching students tips and tricks may work in the short term, this method makes mathematics more difficult to remember long term.Nix the Tricks considers common tricks and presents alternative methods of teaching topics to...

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The value of teaching assistants in the maths classroom

To say balancing a school budget is difficult is an understatement. How do senior leaders ensure their decisions reflect best-practice, provide value for money and, most importantly, have a real impact on student outcomes?How do middle leaders such as department heads ensure that the strategies they implement are evidence-based and will work in...

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Festive fractals: bringing Christmas into the maths classroom

Santa is 7. A turkey is 11. What is the value of a Christmas cracker?After a long-term, it’s that time of year again when students begin to ask “Can we do something Christmassy this lesson?”With the final autumn term assessments out of the way, it might be time to plan a Christmas-themed lesson - but what to do? In my classroom, took the...

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Finding Friedman numbers

Whether you’re a fan of Rachel Riley, Richard Whitely, Carol Vorderman or even the Des Lynam era - I’ve never met a maths teacher who isn’t a Countdown fan.There are plenty of Countdown-style games to use in the maths classroom, such as this resource on the STEM Learning website. As a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), Countdown was always my...

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Core Maths: the most significant development in post-16 mathematics education in a generation

Agreeing to support the work of Core Maths is one of the best decisions I have ever made. It has been, and continues to be, a huge privilege to support Core Maths and the many wonderful practitioners I have met along the way.But for me, this is only the end of the beginning with so much more support needed for Core Maths.Back in January 2014, I...

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Tough mudder: taking maths outdoors

Being based in the countryside, our school has ample opportunity to make use of the area around us. I am passionate about outdoor learning and am drawn to the idea of using the resources all around us. This particularly relates to teaching maths.However, we also want to ensure that we are focussing on how outdoor learning best supports what the...

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The hunt for perfect numbers

I was born on a Friday the thirteenth, so growing up my favourite number was 13. I found the fear of the number – known as Triskaidekaphobia – fascinating. In some cultures, such as in Hong Kong and Macau, thirteen is actually considered lucky. Either way, at a young age I was aware of the power that numbers can have.In 2014, Alex Bellos set out...

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What are Fermi problems and how can they be brought into the mathematics classroom?

My biggest frustration is when presenting a problem to students and then watching them give up when they can’t see their way to the end of it. Encouraging students to take some initial steps in solving a problem is half the battle towards enabling them to solve it entirely.I’ve recently been working with students on this aspect of mathematics and...

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Leaders of mathematics: taking the next steps to develop your department

Becoming a leader of mathematics can be a daunting, but very exciting, prospect for teachers. We chatted to Marcia Gunson, a mathematics teacher in Leeds, who shared how she prepared for the challenge by attending our New and aspiring leaders of mathematics CPD.How did you find out about the CPD?I found out about the course, and the programme of...

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What is the difference between Core Maths and pure maths?

I recently came across my old A level question paper. Back in those days all A level courses were linear; the first paper containing pure mathematics and the second containing the applied element.Skip forward to curriculum 2000 when all A level examinations became modular, each consisting of six modules. The mathematics course consisted of three...

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