Monthly Archives: October 2013

156. Tweeting tips

Here’s a quick idea for revising or researching vocabulary: Maths tweets.


I know that lots of educators on Twitter like to use tweets to summarise learning. I used this with my Year 7s to investigate the meanings of Prime, Factor, Multiple, Square number and Cube number.

After they independently researched the meanings and wrote the definitions in their books, I challenged them to summarise their learning in 140 characters or less. They then filled in their ‘tweets’.


If they had leftover characters they could create their own hashtags.


The ‘Maths Tweets’ sheet didn’t take long to put together – you can download the maths tweets template here (pdf format).

155. Trigonometry & Differentiation


My Year 13 class have just finished C3 and actually asked a very sensible set of questions:

  • Which formulae are given to you?
  • Which formulae must you learn?
  • Which formulae can you work out from given rules?
  • How do you prove simple rules?

In response to this, I’ve written a booklet for the Edexcel C3 paper: Trigonometry and Differentiation: What you are given and what you need to learn (docx) ( PDF Version)

154. When will I need to work out the area of a circle?

If this is your crop on your farm!


This is center pivot (or central pivot or circle) irrigation. The area which is watered is pretty obvious. There are plenty of images on the internet and sites full of statistics.

I could imagine this making a good research homework. Apart from simply working out the fertile area, you could look at volume of water used – you could even work out the optimum size and number of circles for maximum coverage!

153. Sequences Starter 2

So, you’ve got term to term sequences sussed. Time to tackle Nth term!

This idea just sort of appeared in my sequences lesson.

Giant playing cards (or numbers on two different colours of A5 card)
Numbered headbands (I made crowns out of corrugated border card)

Set Up
1.Lay out one coloured set of cards on a table or the floor – these are the ones we needed in class. We started with all the cards in the suit.


2. Issue headbands to four pupils.


3. Pupils stand in number order.
4. Give each pupil a different. coloured card from a sequence to hold facing them.


1. Explain that each person represents a term in a sequence, given by the headband.
2. Pupil 1 turns around their card – Red 3.
Question: What is the next number?
Answer: Don’t know
3. Pupil 2 turns around their card – Red 5.
Question: What is the next number?
Answer: Might predict 7
4. Pupil 3 turns around their card – Red 7.
Question: What is the next number? Why?
Answer: 9, add 2.
5. Reveal the last number – Red 9.
6. What is the pattern? Add 2 Which multiplication table has the same pattern? Twos
7. Give each pupil in the sequence the appropriate number from the two times table.
Question: How do you turn the two times table into the sequence?
Answer: Add 1

8. How do you get from the headband to the sequence?
Headband x 2 + 1 = sequence


9. What about a headband with 10 on it? Or 100? Or a mystery number?
10. Try this with other sequences and develop the idea of Nth term.

I used this as a plenary for a term to term sequences lesson with a shared class. In the following lesson my colleague, D, used this idea to develop the concept of Nth term with another class. He wanted to make something for the pupils to have in their book to remember this. This is what he came up with: Handout for sequences intro (pptx) or How to for sequences(docx). I’m currently trying out hosting my own resources, rather than using TES resources – so we’ll see how effective this is.

152: Sequence Starter 1

So many people have the preconcieved notion that there is only one right answer to a maths question. This is such a silly idea – they just haven’t had the right question!

Here is a simple starter for introducing term to term sequences.

Classroom whiteboard or large sheets of paper

Write down the next three terms in the sequence 1, 2 … and the rule used.
Eg: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, …      Add 1
Note: Rules should be one short sentence.

My Year 7 were frustrated that I’d given them the obvious answer and was asking for more. After a few minutes adjusting their expectations, they went for it. Some methodically wrote down rules, some abbreviated rules to symbols, some wrote rules and didn’t check them. Some didn’t write rules at all.

I randomly picked pupils to share their ideas on the board. I did the writing as I wanted to control the wording of rules and half of them can’t reach the top of the board.


Their sequences were brilliant and very creative. The stumbling block was the rules. They didn’t always work for every term of the sequence. This gave other pupils the opportunity to develop their ideas by improving or adjusting the rules to fit the sequences. We also discussed how many terms you need to make a unique sequence. By the end of the discussion we only had one sequence without a rule. I was really impressed by their numerical skills!

In the subsequent classwork, their solutions were precise and well explained.

We finished with this brain teaser:
1,2,5,10,20,50,100 …

It’s UK currency:
1p,2p,5p,10p … etc

151: TMNW 1 – Puzzle maker

As promised, I’ve been trying out ideas from TeachMeet North West at Calderstones School. Here’s the first post:

My colleague J had mentioned Discovery Puzzlemaker last term, but I’d not had time to try it out. Then Fiona Bate @fibate used it as part of her presentation on ‘Profound thinking in the classroom’.

How I used Puzzlemaker
I decided to test this out on my Year 9 students – they are a bright bunch and there are a lot of them. I put out tile puzzles on sheets of A5 and the class settled to the starter task, after they’d got their books out. There were lots of different strategies and eventually everyone cracked the code – the formula for the area of a circle.

Blank puzzle


Different strategies



The funniest part was later in the lesson. A student put his hand up and said he couldn’t remember the rule for the area of a circle. More than one of his peers pointed out he’d just spent ten minutes cracking a code where the rule was given and it was still on his desk in front of him!

Lesson Objectives
Luke O’Hanlon @funkwalkee did a presentation on ‘Ways to engage with Learning Objectives’. This linked nicely with using Puzzlemaker to discover the aim of the lesson, as well as encourage independent learning and problem solving. Once the class had cracked the code they knew what they’d be doing that day.




As you can see, Discovery Puzzlemaker is a really useful tool. I’m going to use some of the larger puzzles as homework tasks for my lower ability classes as I can tailor them to their specific needs. I’m starting with the ‘Hidden Message’ task to reinforce circle vocabulary.

Thank you to J, Fiona and Luke for sharing this site/their ideas.