Busy marking!

It’s been a busy weekend marking mock examination papers!

So this week I thought I would simply highlight some resources I have mentioned on my other blogs and mention a couple of recent discoveries.

Have you tried Rogo? This easy to learn puzzle could make a good starter / settler activity.

On the Starters blog I have included Jonathan Hall’s excellent Flash Maths site. Jonathan links to the most popular starters here.

On Mathematics for Students I recently linked to some Polar Coordinates resources at the request of my Year 13 Further Mathematics students.

I recently wrote about Jeffrey Ventrella’s rather beautiful composite number tree. Another excellent visualization comes from Data Pointed. I discovered both of these thanks to Twitter.

Other recent discoveries include the ability to graph Maclaurin series with the outstanding Desmos graphing calculator and Symbolab with which you can search for scientific equations.

I’ll finish with a TES resource shout out, I shall be trying Craig Barton’s rather nice little starter on algebraic misconceptions on Tuesday with Year 8!
(More TES Maths resources).

Online Utilites

This week I will be teaching Year 12 (age 16-17) about the Trapezium Rule (Trapezoid US). An excellent resource for demonstrating this comes from zweigmedia.com as part of their online support for their Finite mathematics and Applied Calculus text. Using the numerical integration utility and grapher one can enter any function and calculate an integral as well as using numerical techniques such as the Trapezium Rule or Simpson’s Rule to the required accuracy. It is very easy to change the number of strips used demonstrating very clearly how this increases the accuracy. Depending on the nature of the curve it is easy to see why for example the Trapezium Rule might give an over or under-estimate. I will be directing my students to this site for checking their work and experimenting with differing numbers of strips, as well as reminding them how useful WolframAlpha is for checking integration – I have written a post for students here.

There are several other utilities available on this site, the Binomial Distribution utility provides a simple way to calculate Binomial probabilities and graph the distribution for example. I have also used the Normal calculator and the Linear Programming and Simplex tools.

This site also has many online tutorials and quizzes, I rather like the look of the Linear programming tutorialthis could be useful for students for self-study.


I first came across Mathsbox.org.uk when looking at some TES resources (TES requires registration but all resources are free). Games of Bingo have been a great success this year with my Year 8 class and also my Year 11 students. Each time the students have been highly motivated and asked if they could continue playing to try and achieve ‘Full House’. With Year 8 we used Bingo games for practising directed numbers and substitution in algebra; with Year 11 a Bingo game provided a great way to revise completing the square. Mathsbox is now a subscription site (good value in my opinion) but there are free samples to try including a bingo game on solving linear equations. I like the Settlers, activities which could be given to a class immediately they enter the room for a lesson, giving a calm and productive start to a lesson. (See also Bell Work).

For a collection of online Bingo games try these on MathsStarters.net.

Composite Function Bingo – Clea Rodgers

There are many free Bingo resources on TES; note how the search can be narrowed by Key Stage. We could even play Bingo with our older students! some differentiation revision perhaps or Composite Functions? Note that this resource does not require separate Bingo cards, students are asked to select from choices given on the first slide. Some of the TES resources as well as being excellent in their own right provide you with a template for creating your own resources. Try Damian Watson’s Expanding Double Brackets for example – you could easily alter the PowerPoints and the Excel / Word files of Bingo cards. Another set of 10 bingo games comes from Anthony Biggs.

Year 8 – after playing Bingo using the Mathsbox Bingo Resources:
‘It’s great fun, everyone enjoys it. In order to win we have to do the Maths and since everyone wants to win we do lots and lots of exercises –  a fun way of learning!’

‘The bingo is a great idea as it is fun and good for the class and still teaches and helps the students learn.’

‘This really helps me learn about positive and negative numbers.’

‘I like bingo as it is fun. It helps with maths as it allows you to learn to work out sums quickly and it is hands on and interactive It also adds the competitive edge to maths.’

‘I like this because it allows you to relax and have fun whilst being educated’.

Desmos – latest version

Update – January 2013

I think they never sleep at Desmos – now look what they have done!

My favourite graphing calculator just keeps getting better and better!

The new version is available now, having used this a great deal over the last couple of weeks, performance has been superb, it’s fast, it’s slick – and it just works – every time! Note that you can download a very clear user guide.

I seem to keep writing about this excellent resource that I use all the time! I have therefore created a page where all the Desmos posts are together.

The new feature which allows text as well as expressions is useful, one could easily add some instructions for students. (Select the image and try changing the sliders).

Experimenting further this week I created some pages to help students who are learning about solving trigonometric equations. I have used an Evernote shared notebook for these, you can just select ‘View Notebook’ to see the pages. Sharing pages is even easier now.

You can follow Desmos on Facebook or Twitter.