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8/7/16 POTW

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1/7/16 POTW

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Following the success of TeachMeetMaths, I am boldly going where no TeachMeet has gone before (usually).

TeachMeetCORE:   3 TeachMeets at the same time, under the same roof.

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TeachMeetMaths, TeachMeetEnglish, and TeachMeetScience will all be held on Wednesday the 14th of September 2016, at Ormiston Bushfield Academy in Peterborough, from 5pm to 6:45pm.

If you’re coming from further afield, why not rope in some colleagues from the other subjects, and carshare?

Sign up at  for your free ticket(s).

Why not have look at what you missed at TeachMeetMaths?

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New puzzles:

24/6/16 POTW

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TeachMeetMaths 2016

This week, 30+ maths teachers descended onto Ormiston Bushfield Academy (despite the thunderstorm!) for TeachMeetMaths. ¬† I had originally planned to film it, so that all you lovely people could see it for yourselves, but encountered a slight technical issue (I totally forgot to press the record button…). ¬†To atone for my sins, I’ll try my best to do a full write-up of what you missed ūüôā

Bruno Reddy (@TTRockStars) shared some of the things he does to ensure that he gets 100% from his students, such as routines and chants to get students silent / settled / hyped up and ready to work.  He also talked about using minimally different examples to build understanding of concept and method Рe.g. instead of presenting a load of different triangles, why not fix one vertex and the length of the opposite side Рas you move the variable points, what things change on the triangle?


What about when practicing division – do you simply throw up a bunch of questions , or do you work from no remainders, to one carry-over, to 2 carry-overs, to a remainder of 1d.p., to 2 d.p., to a recurring decimal answer, ensuring the questions take students through the concepts one step at a time….?

He also mentioned some of the research results that are coming out of his data from following the short survey each student completed, which will be published soon (I think).

P.S.  Bruno managed to get a roomful of teachers chanting their 3 times tables (in French at one point!), as well as pretty much dancing along with him.  It was an impressive sight!


Michelle Cole (@CNE98MFC) shared some ideas from¬†, using prompt graphics / questions to get students discussing maths. ¬†See her full presentation at¬†. The idea is to dispel the notion that there is always only one ‘right’ answer, by encouraging students to create their own questions etc. She shared some examples of possible prompts, as well as showing a write-up of one of her lessons using the prompts, which has been published on the site.



Mo Ladak (@MathedUp) РMo shared the activities on Рwe played on marbleslides Рlines via the student section of the site as if we were his class.

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The idea in this activity was very much like several games you’d play on your phone – cut the rope etc – in that you have to ‘collect’ the stars by graphing lines to guide the marbles as they fall. ¬† There are loads of great activities already there, or you can create your own. ¬†You can see what your whole class is doing via the teacher view, and it looks like a great way to encourage discussion between students!


Emily Hughes (@ilovemathsgames) – I shared some ‘little things that go a long way’. ¬†You can see the full presentation at ¬† I started with our marking stickers – I designed these to save myself writing ‘use a ruler and pencil’, or ‘show your working’ for the MILLIONTH* time. ¬†It is designed to go in the middle of a page, so that you have space underneath on the left for strengths, and the right for areas for development – much nicer than trying to fit them on the sticker!

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*slight exaggeration.

We have a stash of Avery 3653 stickers in reprographics, and our template prints beautifully on them. ¬†The template is here (as are all the other things I’ve shared):

Next up, Numeracy Ninjas. ¬†We do this with all of KS3, once a week. ¬†It’s all free on ¬†You can buy beautiful stickers on the site to use as rewards for when students hit the next ‘ninja belt’ colour, but we simply don’t have the budget for that, so I made my own. ¬†They’re not nearly as good, but the kids seem to like them anyway. ¬†I’ve also sourced some really cheap black belts (real ones), and have taken the time to embroider ‘NN’ on them. ¬†Once a term, teachers nominate two students from their class, one boy, one girl, (different criteria each time – high performance, effort, perseverance…) and each nominee gets a ‘Grand Master’ certificate. ¬†They all go into a draw, and one boy and one girl from each year gets an actual black belt. ¬†Turns out, they’re pretty high value items to students!

I then made Bruno cringe when I talked about how much I love – it’s worth every penny (and really not a lot of money at all!). ¬† We have now run two events where we took a year group into the hall during a lesson for a Rock Battle to determine which student is the Ultimate Rock God. ¬†I ordered trophies from¬†Kapoww Miniature Guitars¬†for about ¬£13 each, and have a playlist we use¬†here. ¬†In the lead up to this, we scheduled in each class to have at least half a computer lesson each week to practice.

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I showed some opportunities for ‘vandalism’ and ‘misbehaviour’ in the name of learning – ¬†drawing on the tables with whiteboard pens to label properties of shapes made of masking tape, throwing scrunched up post-its into a basket at the front of the room and working out the relative frequency of a shot going in. ¬† Next, the giant co-ordinate grid I made with a tarpaulin and black electrical tape – I use it for plotting graphs, demonstrating translations, co-ordinate practice…..

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I talked ‘simple starters’ – see posts¬†here¬†and here, and then the Puzzle of the Week that I post here on the blog each week. ¬†I also mentioned that students should follow @MathsTopTips on twitter for a daily maths tip to prepare for exams.

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Finally, I showed how a single roll of sticky-backed plastic, and some black electrical tape can go a really really long way towards making your classroom look cool (yes, I cut the letters out myself):

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Thalia Alexander (@thththalia) ¬†shared¬†which allows you to collate all your bookmarks in a very visual, easily organised way. ¬†She has a section for her personal links (social media etc), a section for her favourite maths sites, a section for use in tutor time, etc, etc. ¬†I went home and set up my own that night! ¬† Here’s an example from @EJmaths: ¬†

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Emma Bell (@El_Timbre) shared her ‘maths hacks’. ¬† Some are about ways of making concepts more accessible to students, including using tracing paper to check for matching angles on parallel lines – that way students get the mark for the angle, even if they can’t state the rule. ¬† Putting a number on the board as a starter, and asking students to come up and write a multiplication /division question with that answer (Number Up). ¬†Also, using your set squares to find exact values for trig because¬†you can take them into the exam! ¬†The fact that the word ‘differENce’ has ‘EN’ (N) in it helps students remember where to put the difference in the nth term. ¬†Using Gandalf to demonstrate what an asymptote is all about.

Her presentation is also in the shared folder at, and there’s lots on her site at¬†


Fran Baker shared a lovely trick for dividing ¬†by 99¬†in your head. ¬†The best summary I can find is here:¬†¬†It’s great for impressing students with your mental maths powers ūüėČ


Lynne Webb (@LWmathsmatters) shared¬† ¬†This is a great way to teach real-life graphs in a more interesting way… ¬†Can you map ‘bum height off ground’ against time in seconds, using the video (screenshot below)…?

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We finished off with half an hour to chat with others, and then drew the raffle, with lots of amazing prizes kindly donated by Jackie Beere, Colin Beveridge,, Mathsbox, TTRockstars, Twinkl Resources, 7Puzzle, EMMAths, CGP books, and Crown House Publishing.  We ate pizza and starbursts, and generally had a fab time!

Bring on the next one!!   (14/9/16 РTeachMeetCORE)

Boris enjoyed it:


Setting up TeachMeetMaths 2016

Yesterday, something like 30+ maths teachers descended on Ormiston Bushfield Academy for TeachMeetMaths 2016. ¬† I was very grateful for my need to overplan, when the heavens opened (complete with thunder) as everyone was due to arrive, and my student guides simply opened up their golf brollies, and escorted everyone (in a relatively dry fashion) into the building ūüôā ¬† ¬† (FYI – at least one staff member had to be excused from supervising / helping them, due to being ‘scared of thunder’….. It¬†did make me chuckle!)

I’m going to share in detail what I did¬†for the following reasons:

  1.  Some of you might want to do your own, and can steal ideas.
  2. I will be repeating this, and it’ll save me trying to remember it all.
  3. It was chuffing awesome.
  4. I totally forgot to press record, having set up the video…. duh.

First up, student guides. ¬†Our car park is round the side of the school, and I didn’t want people struggling to find the way to the front entrance. ¬†I’d put up signs to the carpark, and the signs through the school towards the maths dept, but our student guides were amazing at shepherding visitors. ¬†They were rewarded with a cookie and some house points, and it was totally worth it for a positive first impression for visitors. ¬† Also, have a stash of brollies if it’s likely to rain.

Publicity – I emailed details directly to any HoDs I knew / could find locally, as well as using our local network of Secondary Heads to share the details. ¬† I tweeted both generally, and also directly to as many people as I could think of that might attend. ¬†I kept up the mentions, particularly in the fortnight running up to the event. ¬† I used ‘buffer’ to schedule reminder tweets in advance, complete with silly excited memes to catch the eye of scrollers….

Table setup – I picked out some nice puzzle-ish GCSE questions from the new spec, and some puzzles from ¬†(in the google drive shared folder), and laminated them. ¬†I put out whiteboard pens, and baby wipes for cleaning the table afterwards, so that people could have a go. ¬†Each table also had a set of Twinkl travelmugs, which Twinkl resources kindly donated as our sponsors (these were VERY well received!), and a bowl of starburst sweets (because why not). ¬† We put out some of our Happy Puzzle cubes too, because they’re fab.

Each table had a card or two with the wifi access details, and the details of the shared folder on google drive where all the presentations and shared resources would be stored. 

We also set up a puzzle corner, with our giant soma cube, the nrich teacup problem, and some iPads set up on :


Starting them young…..!


*A quick aside about the cube РI made it using 27 x 20cm foam cubes bought online, some vinyl material, a sewing machine, lots of time and cursing.  TOTALLY worth it.  Cost under £100 from our dept budget!*


Raffle prizes – I tweeted / emailed some very lovely people, who were kind enough to donate some awesome prizes for the raffle.

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We ordered pizza for all, and had tea, coffee and juice available. ¬† I believe it’s important when asking people to give up their time, to provide pizza. ¬†And starbursts.

I’ll talk about the actual presentations in the next post, so as not to confuse the organisation with the outcomes of the event.

Tech РI made sure that we had a cable ready for presenters to plug in their device to the IWB, and that there was a desktop  if not.   I emailed the weekend before to ask presenters to email me / add their presentations to Drive, so that I could get them lined up beforehand.   Our tech team are great, and were on hand to help make sure all the tech went smoothly.

Collaboration РIt all worked out perfectly, in that we had 7 speakers for a 2 hour event, which meant we had lots of time available in between and at the end for people to actually talk to each other.  Not everyone is comfortable standing up and presenting, but everyone has something worth sharing, so making time for them to do so in a smaller group is always productive.

Support – I am part of a very supportive team, who kindly worked their way through my setup list an hour before the event, getting the room set up and everything arranged. ¬†The site staff were also great, as well as the kitchen staff who got the refreshments set up. ¬†Delegate. ¬†You can’t do it all on your own (but choose wisely who you delegate to…).

Thanks – be certain to thank everyone who helped, from presenters to attendees to people who donated prizes to people who stuck around to help you pack up afterwards to the site staff who stayed late for you, and the kitchen team who fed you, and even the cleaners that rescued the room after you’d gone. ¬†Don’t take any of it for granted. ¬†Without those that¬†do help, you’d be doing it ALL yourself….

ENJOY IT! ¬†Just because you organised it, doesn’t mean you have to spend all evening bustling round worrying.







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Revision for Y11

I have made these for my Higher C/D borderline students, although it contains some B/A topics too.   They are designed as a memory aid for key points.

Handling data revision prezi:  Click here

Algebra revision prezi:  Click here

Number revision prezi: Click here

Shape revision prezi:  Click here

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20/5/16 POTW

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Book expectations

Sorry – I’ve long since deleted the original, and only have my pdf left….

(I blatantly stole adapted this from someone anyway – just can’t remember who…)


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13/5/16 POTW

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