Opinions

How to support your mathematics department

The week in the Algarve seems as though it happened ages ago. Those odd jobs around the house have been completed and then finally, reality hits home as you head back into school to take on the next lot of students studying the maths GCSE.The new term is a time for reflection on the previous two years, identifying what worked and what needs to...

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Time saving ideas for making great secondary mathematics resources

A lot has been written about this year’s mathematics GCSE examination results- what will the grade boundaries be? What is a good pass? How might post-16 take up be affected? No matter how your students fared this year no doubt new efforts are being made to best prepare your future cohorts for the demands of the new GCSE examinations.September...

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Why manipulatives belong in the secondary maths classroom

During my time as an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) I spent time working with teachers in primary schools, supporting maths coordinators. Despite being there as a ‘maths specialist’ to support the teaching of maths, during my visits I learnt at least as much as the primary teachers with whom I worked. What I learned had a great impact in my own...

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How to succeed as a non-specialist teacher of mathematics

It may seem a little strange to some people, but as a head of a large mathematics department, I actually looked forward to that time of the year when the timetable had to be constructed.It was like a giant Sudoku puzzle that would takes days, even weeks, to solve. It was a long, tricky process, but I loved it when eventually it all pulled...

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The twelve resources of ChristMATHS

STEM Learning's Christmas present to you is a collection of the best Christmas-themed mathematics resources to get your students really thinking about mathematics in the festive period.  1. The 12 days of ChristmasHow many presents did ‘my true love’ give altogether in the song? How many French Hens? These, and other innovative questions...

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Leading from the front: confessions of a head of mathematics

A clear, strategic approach is essential to becoming a successful head of department.I was once asked by my head teacher what my aspirations for the mathematics department were. I was a bit taken aback. Was he asking how many students will get GCSE grades A* to C? Or maybe what the A level results will look like? I must have looked a little...

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Is there a maths for science or is all maths the same?

 What is the difference between a histogram and a bar chart? Does a line of best-fit have to be straight or can it be curved? Do all axes have to start at zero? Is it OK to concertina axes on a graph? Is it ever OK to use a ‘calculation triangle’?Ask these questions to a teacher of mathematics and to a teacher of science and you are unlikely...

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Back to school: the first lesson

Inevitably, as the summer holidays draw to an end it is time to get busy planning for the upcoming year. As the ‘Back to school’ stationary sales reach their zenith, I’ve been thinking about my first lesson back with a new class.Thinking back to when I was a student, there are only a few first lessons that stand out. In one, the teacher refused to...

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Water: a calculated resource in mathematics

There are many water-based problems to be found in mathematics classrooms. How many times have you posed questions about filling up water containers, and then matching them with a depth-time graph?Then there is the well-known problem below:Two friends who have an eight-quart jug of water wish to share it evenly. They also have two empty jars...

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The problem with problem solving

I believe Albert Einstein was once asked “If you have one hour to save the world, how would you spend that hour?”He replied, “I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and then five minutes solving it.”When asking 20 mathematics teachers to define problem solving you are likely to get 21 different definitions. In its recent report...

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