# 336. Geometry Snacks

If you are looking for a very last minute gift for that special Mathematician in your life, or you have Christmas money to spend, may I recommend “Geometry Snacks” by Ed Southall (@solvemymaths) and Vincent Pantaloni (@panlepan)?

It is a nearly pocket sized book of geometry puzzles whose construct of simple, elegant problems can decieve the unwary into thinking the solutions are easy. This is a book for those who embrace mathematical rigour, rather than repetitious guesswork.

In fact, forget buying it for someone else – get one just for yourself!

# 327. Digital Exercise books

Sorry – haven’t invented a digital Exercise book and I don’t use iPads/tablets in class. Today I’m sharing the inventiveness of my class.

I printed out one of those brilliant Corbett Maths textbook exercises to use with a Y7 class. It was a recap task, so I stressed that students could pick the level of difficulty. They cut out the sections they were doing and stuck them in their book. Because there were lots of different questions being completed, I allowed them to use their phones to scan the QR code to access the answers. A couple asked to scan the help video QR code.

I saw a few pupils being fussy about their cutting out – why were they cutting out little bits? That’s time wasting! No one should be time wasting!

Then I checked exactly what they were doing …

… The little geniuses:

They were cutting out the relevant QR codes and sticking them in their books. If this is the level of forward thinking in Year 7, they are going to fly through GCSE revision.

As we reach the end of term and peruse our new timetables, here is a simple way to keep on top of your books. With the continued belt tightening in the curriculum more of us are sharing classes with colleagues. Do you have one book or two? Should you share a book? Should you keep the books?

How about a bit of funky duck tape? You know I love it!

I’ve put this rather garish tape on the spines of the books so both the students and myself can tell whose book they are. It also reinforces the spines. The Year 8 class thought it was ingenious. My Year 9 class were rather jealous and said they wanted tape too!

(You can get the same effect by wrapping a large sticker around the spine, but it’s not as ‘cool’)

PS That’s not my class size in the picture, before anyone gets jealous. There are 33 of them in total.

# 320. Pre-A level skills boost

This is the time of year when Year 11 begin the last minute frantic revision, complete their exams in a haze of hay fever and late nights and then have a well deserved extended Summer Holiday. Over that long summer, they will mature into sensible young adults who are ready to make those critical decisions which will impact their future career choices.

Hang on … this isn’t some idealised political pamphlet describing the leaders of tomorrow!

In reality, Year 12 stroll into the first A-Level lesson like over-confident Year 11s in their own clothes. Except in Year 11 they knew more Maths. Odds are your fresh faced class haven’t looked at a Maths book in over ten weeks!

Despite what some students may think, we teachers aren’t evil. We know they need that long summer to just be themselves. What can we do to help out our future A-Level students and allow them to relax?

I’ve put together a booklet of Maths related activities for students to dip into over the holiday which will be given to them on their last lesson. I hope your students enjoy it!

Alevel prep for Y11 (editable docx)

Alevel prep for Y11 (pdf)

I printed these four pages as a colour A5 (A4 folded) booklet and also printed them as a poster set on A3.

# 310. Menseki Meiro Area Maze

Menseki Meiro puzzle books crossed my Twitter feed a few months ago and I took the plunge.

Image Credit: Amazon.co.uk

The problem is I couldn’t find an English language version. The Japanese originals were expensive so I bought the Spanish version. I don’t speak Spanish so asked my Spanish first language student who said it wasn’t Spanish – she suspected it was in Catalan!

But back to the Menseki puzzles …

They are ingenious puzzles where you simply use your knowledge of the area of a rectangle to solve the problem. Click on the image to see the cover problem. Puzzle 1 was so straightforward a nine year old could do it, puzzle 99 had Y13 Further Mathematicians befuddled. They make perfect starter or plenary activities for any age or ability.

Solutions are provided and if your copy is in a different language, like mine, you might just expand your mathematical vocabulary.

Whilst looking for a suitable image I also came across Alex Bellos discussing them on The Guardian website. Worth a look!

(By the way – the Menseki book also makes a good birthday present for that special geeky someone)

# 265. Book of the term!

We may only be a few weeks into the summer term, but I can safely say this is my book of the term. A gently inspiring, pick up a pencil and relax book.

‘This is not a Maths book’ by Anna Weltman (RRP £9.99) takes all the beautiful ideas we maths teachers wish we could use more often and collects them into a wonderful book.

The pages are full colour and the paper quality is excellent – almost tactile. And the best bit is that no-one can tell you off for doing students’ work or wasting your time making that wall display just right. It’s your book … just for you … you can be as possessive and OCD about the colouring pencils as you want!

It would make a good end of term prize too – a bit different to the usual geometry set or calculator. If you are a forward planner, you could even buy this book for your mathematical someone in a departmental ‘Secret Santa’.