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I’ll start this week with a quiz question!
Quiz Question v2
Click on the image to submit your response and see the answer.

So why start with a quiz question?!

I have just had an excellent few days at the TSM conference where I was delighted to meet Douglas Butler, the excellent tutors and so many teachers. Craig Barton’s quiz on Tuesday evening, after my own ‘Musings of a Maths Blogger’ where I showed delegates some of my favourite things has put me in a mood for quizzes! I would also like to remind everyone how brilliant Google forms are for gathering feedback, we have used many at school for gathering responses from students and staff. (See this page for some survey tools including Google Forms, links include Tom Barrett’s Interesting Ways to use Google Forms in the Classroom and a comprehensive manual from Sarah Eaton).

Craig’s tweets will give you some idea of the huge number of ideas shared and the expertise of tutors and delegates.

I thoroughly enjoyed the two workshops I attended myself, Mike Hadden’s ‘EXCEL for Advanced Users’ and Craig Barton’s ‘Autograph in the Classroom’.

I have written about Mike Hadden’s excellent MathsFiles site before so I was delighted to learn from such a master. I have used many of Mike’s files in the classroom and have put several on our VLE as they are useful for students for self-study and revision.

Autograph Activity – Craig Barton

Craig’s session looked at many excellent uses of Autograph in the classroom. Even if you don’t have Autograph you can use the activities via the free Aotograph viewer. Note that you could set an interesting homework for students by giving them a link to an Autograph activity and asking them to write their responses in their exercise books / or take a screen shot / or for more collaboration post their responses on your VLE or a wiki.

Martin Withington pointed me in the direction of an excellent source of real data for students, from unicef, ‘The State of the World’s Children‘; choosing a report for any year will show you several downloads including some under the heading Statistics; these include Excel files such as this:  SOWC_2013_Stat_Tables_EFS_FINAL, a rich source of data for many reasons. Martin has kindly shared many other resources with me which I am looking forward to exploring – watch this space!

Discussions at the conference included talk of ‘Flipped Learning’ always an interesting subject, in fact while I was away – I left my Year 12s to teach themselves the quotient rule using some, I think, excellent resources – more importantly I’ll find out what they think when I see them!

We’ll end with some entertainment, thanks to Martin again who showed me ‘Katie’s bad science’. I love this!
Original and re-edited version of Katie Melua’s song nine million bicycles proposed by Simon Singh and presented on Ted talks by Michael Shermer.


A site I use frequently is mathcentre which was developed by a group from the Universities of Loughborough, Leeds and Coventry, the Maths Stats and OR Network and the Educational Broadcasting Services Trust. See this link for a list of topics. Reading about the news from mathcentre I see there are leaflets available mathcentre  and statstutor showing the range of resources available.

mathcentre - quotient rule

mathcentre – Maths Tutor

Looking at the second page of the mathcentre leaflet, I noticed mathtutor which provides mathcentre resources conveniently structured as a course.  I shall refer my students to that this week, I want them to look at the quotient rule in my absence (I’m very much looking forward to the annual TSM residential workshop at Keele University) and plan to point them in the direction of resources they can use – a flipped approach! (See ‘Prepare ahead‘ here). I’ll see what they have learned on my return.

The mathcentre site includes extensive resources. Many of my students like the quick reference leaflets which are available on numerous topics. There are also teach yourself booklets, revision booklets, videos and diagnostic tests. Resources are available for staff and students. This is a site well worth exploring and recommending to your students.

It started with a tweet!

Sine curve & transformations

I noticed a tweet from Darren Kuropatwa..
DK tweet1

Here is what Darren was referring to, a video made by Desmos on exploring the sine function:

Sine function with sliders

Sine function created on Desmos by Darren Kuropatwa

Darren has recreated that graph here.

Now I rather like that and thinking it would be useful for my revision session this week with a GCSE (UK age15-16) class, decided I would simplify it so it was more suitable for my students. I changed  the units to degrees and restricted the transformations more so it was more in line with our specification (these students are studying for a second GCSE in Mathematics – AQA Further Mathematics level 2).

Along came Desmos having seen the Twitter conversation..
Desmos tweet

and look at the awesome graph Desmos created which shows a sine curve and a transformed curve clearly illustrating how each point is changed.

We could for example translate the curve 2 units parallel to the y axis:
sine curve and translation

Using the slider for angle we see very clearly that each y coordinate is increased by 2.


Thank you Desmos (and Darren!)

Dollops of Feedback!

The most powerful single modification that enhances achievement is feedback. The simplest prescription for improving education must be “dollops of feedback”.
Hattie, J.A. (1992). Measuring the effects of schooling. Australian Journal of Education (see page 9).

Exam Reflection 8

Marking the examination papers for my Year 8 students (UK age 12-13) has made me think about the feedback I want to give them. I want to help them understand any misconceptions they have and what steps they need to make to improve. 

Having marked the set of papers I can see common misconceptions so I thought this time I would provide my students with a list that they could traffic light as we review their examination. There is also room for their own comments. Once they have reflected on their performance and decided what they need to focus on I will give them some further questions. I believe we should also reflect on their revision techniques and strategies.

I will also provide them with a form they can complete with the possible marks for each question so they can write in their own marks.

The list has obviously been designed for this particular test, but in case it is useful for providing ideas, you can download it here:
Exam review checklist (Excel)

Exam review checklist (pdf)

The reference to the gritty attitude comes from Angela Lee Duckworth.

Further References

Geoff Petty on feedback

Feedback – how am I doing?
This booklet summarises a survey of feedback and marking in key stages 2 and 3 which was completed under the Education Development Plan (EDP) over several months in 2000 – 2001. A team of 19 advisers and advisory teachers were involved and they focused their observations on practice which was making a discernible difference to students’ learning.

Mike Gershon – The Whole Class Feedback Guide (hosted on TES Resources – registration is free)
25 strategies for eliciting feedback from an entire class of students.