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Making estimates about space

Do astronauts cut their hair in space? Recently, I’ve been exploring space in my mathematics classroom. The new curriculum requires students to study mathematics in an unfamiliar context, and the setting of space can provide an engaging way of covering familiar mathematical ideas.Additionally, the new GCSEs in science and design and technology...


Exploring the geometry and measures of space exploration

Given he was about as far away from Earth as anyone could be for half of the year, it was hard to escape from Tim Peake in 2016. Whilst the news coverage brought his journey into homes across the country, his mission also had a presence in my mathematics classroom.In December 2015 the Principia mission launched. Tim boarded a Soyuz rocket bound...


Get the support you need to teach the new A level mathematics curriculum

In September 2017, hot on the heels of the new GCSE, changes to the mathematics A level specifications came into effect.In the new A level, all students are required to study Pure mathematics, Statistics and Mechanics. In addition, three overarching themes of Mathematical Argument and Proof, Problem Solving, and Mathematical Modelling must be...


Making sure you get the best resources for your maths lessons

One thing I found most beneficial as a new teacher was being in a department that readily shared good practice.In each department meeting, members of the team were encouraged to bring something to share: an idea, a starter, a problem or a question. This practice continued outside lessons; resources were continually shared over conversations at...


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...


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...


Using GIFs to teach secondary mathematics

The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is never truer than when attempting to explain a concept in the mathematics classroom.STEM Associate Joe Bayfield recently asked:“Do you insert GIFs into your PowerPoints?”He argued that GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format- a moving image) can be a powerful tool in science lessons to...


How to build confidence as a mathematics NQT

For many teachers, their year as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) is the most challenging of their career. For some, their first teaching role represents their first ‘real’ full-time job. Others, with more experience outside of teaching, can still struggle with the intensive workload of their new role in the classroom.In my first year of teaching,...


“When will I ever need to use maths?”

It is the clichéd question every mathematics teacher dreads. In my own teaching I usually answer in a variety of ways, often alluding to the skills required in the world of work. Apart from my own role as a teacher of mathematics, I could usually think of a few examples but soon ran dry of other career choices which used the specific topic at...


What are manipulatives and how can they be used in mathematics lessons?

I use interlocking cubes (sometimes known as multilink cubes) in a fairly conventional way - to teach plans, elevations, isometric drawing and volume. Every mathematics department I have ever worked in has had boxes full of them and I am a firm believer that every department in the country owns a set of dice, dominoes and multilink cubes.More...