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!

354. Iced gems

Just a quick idea today. You know the feeling when the multi-pack of sugar paper has dwindled down to just the brown. Great if you want to do trees, bleurgh if you want to do anything else.

I did a tarsia recap with Year 7. There were three different tasks going on and so I photocopied them onto three different colours of paper. The only colour of sugar paper was brown. We went with it. As the class finished their work, we discovered that their work looked like iced biscuits or iced gems. Hence our wall of Algebra Iced Gems:

Some of the cutting and sticking is a bit wobbly, but the class really enjoyed this task and we consolidated a considerable number of skills.

353. Large Data Display

If you teach A-level Maths in the UK, you will know about the prerequisite to know about the large data set for the statistics component. We use Edexcel and so need to know about eight weather locations.

Here is my Key Stage 5 corridor wall display.

I’ve got two maps – one of the World ( a freebie from the Humanities Dept) and one of the UK (£2.95 from Amazon).

I’ve included summary information from the CrashMaths booklet.

Of course, you can’t talk about UK weather data from the storm of 1987 – Michael Fish makes a special appearance.

347. Maximising space

As you start to plan the layout of your (new) classroom, I have a handy little tip for you. It’s really useful to have key dates up in the room, but where to put them. Print them out and you lose valuable wall display space, odds are you’ll forget to update it during the year. Put it on the whiteboard and you risk some scamp (or over enthusiastic colleague) wiping them off the board.

How about a blackboard?

This is sticky back blackboard vinyl that you can get very cheaply from places like ‘The Works’ or Amazon. You can cut it to size and put it on any flat surface. I’ve put it on the back of my desk and used chalk pens. Once they dry they take some effort to remove.

Students have already noticed it and have said they like having a big picture of what’s going on next term.

326. Instant whiteboard

Welcome back to school!

I must say your display boards look lovely …

What’s that? You could do with another whiteboard

Why would you need that? They’re not cheap you know!

To help you actually teach? You’ve never needed the space before…

Oh … you have needed the space … you have raised this before …you’re still waiting …

Why didn’t you say! I’ll put you on the list for when we have some spare funds & time

You know the feeling – you could do with more space, but there just aren’t the funds to do anything about it. I initially needed an extra notice board because two form groups were going to use my room. We have a split lunch and I thought it only fair to give the other tutor some space. The idea of those ‘magic whiteboards’ was nice, but they are flimsy and expensive. They’re also pretty useless when you have a rough breeze block wall. Rummaging around Amazon I found some extra thick sticky back whiteboard roll, which was half the price of the ‘magic’ ones. There are a lot of different makes and sizes of roll depending on your needs. I bought a long narrow roll and cut it in half: it fits splendidly on my double doors. The quality is good too, however I think they’ll need a bit more TLC than a heavy duty whiteboard.

So, I’m feeling rather chuffed by my ingenuity when I discover they’ve changed our form rooming and I’m no longer sharing with another form. Nevermind – one board for form notices and one board for homework reminders!

If you like the look of mine it was by Rabbitgoo on Amazon. They are different sizes and prices so I haven’t put a specific link. The description of the one I bought is: Thick Whiteboard Chalkboard Wall Sticker 44.5cm×200cm Thickness:0.18mm

325. Mrs D’s Delightful Display

Anyone else been purging their classrooms of ragged wall displays ready for a fresh start in September? But then you end up rushing displays ready for the Autumn Y6 open evenings? And you need to get to know your new classes too!

Mrs D had a splendid plan to address all these issues. The first step was to introduce the problem: step through a piece of paper. It’s a classic problem involving maximising perimeter – I remember seeing it in a children’s Annual as ‘The journey through a postcard’.

This isn’t the easiest of tasks and takes a fair bit of determination and patience. Teamwork skills are also helpful. You can really get to know your class with this activity.

Once they’ve figured out how to do this you can reflect on how they overcame obstacles. All of this can be pulled together to make an amazing wall display on problem solving.

Thank you to the excellent Mrs D for allowing me to share her idea!

285. Circle Theorem Construction

When you Google the phrase ‘Circle Theorem paper plates’ you will see some stunning work from teachers (and their pupils) from around the world. Today I tried this idea out and I can vouch for its usefulness as a revision tool.

If you are short on display space or need a stable, minimum staple solution, try this:
Use split pins to join the plates together. They are stronger than tape and more flexible than staples, which can tear.

Get creative – I made a triangle, but you could make a chain, other shapes or even an archway around your door frame. Once you have connected your plates, you need far less staples or sticky tack to attach them to the wall.