365. Area of a sector structured questions

Image credit byjus.com

Believe it or not this worksheet has been sat in my Inbox since November 2016. I clicked on it and discovered this structured worksheet on finding the area of a sector, just in time to use it with my Year 9 class.

Area of a sector worksheet (pdf)

Area sector answers (pdf)

It worked exactly as I hoped, if not better. The structure helped students develop their skills. The check column ensured students used the exact value form. Interestingly simplifying the fractions caused the biggest issue – just out of practice. I’d recommend doing some work on equivalent fractions and simplifying as a retrieval activity before doing the sheet.

363. A-level Exam misconceptions 2022

It’s been a while, but I’m back. Crazy times and all that!

Today I’m sharing a presentation about my thoughts on the Edexcel A-Level Maths papers, from the perspective of reviewing students papers. As a KS5 Co-ordinator I am asked by students to look at borderline papers before they send them off for a paper review.

The mark schemes were very clear on where marks should (or should not) be awarded. This presentation (or set of posters) highlights the most common student errors I spotted during my reviews. I would also say that these are most frustrating issues as they are so easy to fix. Unfortunately it highlights the lack of formal external exam experience this cohort had, through no fault of their own.

These resources are geared towards the Edexcel papers, but I’m sure the skills are equally appropriate for other boards. Also a hat-tip to Jack Brown & TLMaths as I have linked one of the misconception slides to his video on hidden quadratic equations (thank you!).

Exam misconceptions 2022 (PPT editable)

Exam misconceptions 2022 (PDF)

Personally, I’m going to print these out and put them in my A-level display corner. I might use the actual presentation after the Y13 mocks to see if they’ve fallen for the same issues. I hope not!

362. Jaffa cake fractions

Been a while since I had time to write a blog post!

Today I was doing a fractions refresh with Year 7. I needed to instill the difference between cutting in two and cutting in half. After a quick dash to the village shop at lunchtime I was ready…


Jaffa cakes or other easily cuttable food stuff, plate, knife, visualiser (optional)


Stage 1: Ask a student to cut a Jaffa cake into two parts with one straight cut. The student then chooses which piece to eat and which piece to give to a friend. Having the visualiser meant the whole class could see it happen. When we did it the first couple of students were nice and cut the Jaffa cake in half. Then some of them cottoned on that they could slice off the smallest crumb and have virtually a whole Jaffa cake to themselves.

Stage 2: This time one student cuts the Jaffa cake and the other chooses the piece. Suddenly there were a lot more identical size pieces being cut

Stage 3: Discussion on the difference in meaning between “Cut into two parts” and “Cut in half”. We had a great conversation on same shape, same area, equal, fair. This was the aim of the activity as we were going to be looking at non-standard fraction diagrams

Genius or insane? One student managed to separate the orange and chocolate from the sponge base in one cut

361. Routes, Reindeer & Reasoning

Well, we are nearly at the end of a very crazy year. Congratulations on surviving it!

So, it’s been a while since the last blog post. Apologies for that. At the moment I am involved in Mixed Attainment teaching with Year 8. To finish off the term, I thought we deserved a bit of fun. We have a week of lessons left so I’m going for a mini project each lesson.

Lesson 1: Santa’s Route
I found this fab task on the Maths Drill website. There is a real chance for extension in this task, which is great for the mixed attainment classroom.

Lesson 2: Reindeer Ratios (Updated 13th Dec)
We have been following the White Rose Maths scheme for Year 8, which covers a lot of proportion and reasoning through ratio, multiplicative change and fractions. This task tries to cover some of these skills. The answers will be uploaded soon.

Lesson 3: Elf Box Packing Problem (Updated 14th Dec) Elf Box Packing Problem Solutions
This task involves using multiplicative change and fractional multiplication and division, with a dash of unit conversion. There is some work on shapes, but formulae are given where necessary. The first four pages print nicely into a folded A4 (A5) booklet. There is a help sheet for the box packing problem; this would be better printed on A4.

360. Preparing for online learning

A few tips for forward planning with Google Classroom in case of school closures, plus a few other hints and tips.

1. Check that all the correct students are on your Google Classroom class list – especially with leavers, joiners and set moves. Invite them by email if necessary. Same goes for other digital assessment platforms.

2. Check that the teachers of shared classes actually all have access to the classroom

3. Do not put everything on the Stream – it will get chaotic very quickly. Post all materials on the Classwork tab. It will automatically be put on the stream, but you will be able to categorise it.

This is an example of good practice. The classwork feed is set up with all the topics being taught, the shared teachers are identified and the tasks/resources are dated.

4. Check the functionality of your materials before you release a post to your class. If things don’t look right, convert it to a pdf. You can’t assume students have specific non-web based software. Also, you are looking to make it mobile phone friendly. The majority of kids have access to a smartphone, but you can’t assume computer access.

5. Make the most of embedding YouTube videos – copy the URL and paste it into the YouTube link when you create materials.

6. When creating assignments, think how students are going to assess – are you providing a markscheme? A link to a website with solutions or walk through? Is it a google form you can mark or auto-mark? A google doc or slide where you can actually mark each student’s work? An interactive website? Are they simply working in their regular book? In which case make sure they actually take it home.

7. Remember you can plan ahead by scheduling future tasks

8. If you want to use a digital textbook, but students don’t have access to it, you can ‘Snip’ the questions from the digital textbook and paste them into a Google Slides presentation or a document. This is probably slightly dodgy copyright wise, but if you can’t send every child home with a textbook during a school closure, it seems a reasonable stretch of copyright. You’d be using the physical books in your classroom if your school wasn’t closed.

9. It’s okay to model an answer on paper, take a photo/scan and upload it. There are many ways of doing this. Personally I use the Scribzee app as it doesn’t involve a computer and scanner.

10. Use it as an opportunity to share interesting maths with your class – the Parallel site, by Simon Singh is amazing. Also an ideal time to catch up with Numberphile videos and inspire future mathematicians.

11. I think Corbett Maths could be the main site for saving teacher sanity!

12. Exam classes are going to be tricky.
For GCSE classes sites like Mathsgenie are amazing. And don’t forget people like Access Maths, Piximaths and MsBsResources. Apologies to all the other awesome resource sites, not enough space to list them all.
For A-level Maths and Further Maths try Alevelmathsrevision and the AMSP (Further)

359. Proportional steps

Just a quick resource upload today.

Image credit: https://www.heyn.co.uk/

I’ve written a step by step resource on how to construct algebraic direct proportion relationships, including the answers.

Small steps in Direct Proportion (docx)

Small steps in Direct Proportion (PDF)

I used this with a Year 11 class who aren’t very confident with algebra. They were surprised by how straight forward the work was and were happy to now attempt problem solving with algebra.