Colour in Mathematics

I have written before on how the use of colour and highlighting can add clarity to mathematical explanations. I use colour a great deal in my everyday teaching and also when writing solutions for students to use online. With written solutions I often use a colour to indicate a part of a question and then use that same colour for a partial answer as you can see in the examples presented below. Interestingly some students prefer a series of still images (no sound) to a video as they can control the pace more easily. I present just a few examples here. Note the Algebra – factorisation example, this has proved very popular with students.

Presentation, Colour in Mathematics or pdf version Colour in Mathematics.


Desmos Graphing Calculator

Desmos Graphing Calculator

Earlier this year I completely reorganised  my WolframAlpha pages and at the time decided I should do the same with all my Desmos Graphing Calculator posts and notes. Desmos is something I use so often I decided it should have a dedicated series of pages which you can now see in the menu bar across the top of the page. I will continue to add to this series.

Desmos Photos on Facebook

Desmos Photos on Facebook

I have taken the opportunity to update and add to these pages, so for example the Inequalities slideshow has been updated – each page with a graph links to a Desmos page. I have added a page with useful links – this includes a link to the photo stream on the Desmos Facebook page – some rather nice starters there I think – I do like the Mental Maths Monday series. (You do not have to be a Facebook user to view these). If you have not come across Daily Desmos before you will find plenty of challenges.

Hopefully the clear list of pages should make any resources easier to find. There are several slideshows giving examples of Desmos graphs and syntax on the various pages, I have also put them all one one page here.

Thank you to the wonderful team at Desmos for this outstanding application.

Revision Time Again

UK Department for Education Examinations Timetable

UK Department for Education Examinations Timetable

Once again – examinations draw near; with the timing of the Easter holidays the number of lessons left with our examination classes is small! My lower school classes also have tests coming up, so I find myself yet again thinking about revision. I do try and build in regular review and revision into our everyday lessons and I thought it would be useful to note various ideas and resources for review and revision in one collection. Where I have written on a resource before I have linked to the original post where you will find further details.

Short Basic Recall Questions
These are ideal for use anytime as perhaps a lesson starter.
Dynamic Maths from David Watkins

Dynamic Maths - David Watkins

Dynamic Maths – David Watkins

MathsBox now a (very good value in my opinion) subscription site has an extensive collection of quality resources, there are many free samples so you can see and use several very useful resources. The settlers and Bingo activities are ideal for a series of short recall / revision type questions.  I do like the attractive presentation of the resources on this site (as well as the content of course!)

Bingo from Mathsbox

Bingo from Mathsbox

There are thousands of diagnostic questions available on Craig Barton’s and Somon Woodhead’s Diagnostic questions site.

Diagnostic Questions - vectors & lines

Diagnostic Questions – Craig Barton & Simon Woodhead

As shown in this post it is possible to create a slideshow of the questions you want for your class. Note the ever growing collection of questions, including a section for post 16 students.

Mega Maths Quiz from Ben Cooper

Mega Maths Quiz from Ben Cooper

Further sites with a series of short questions include Maths Teaching – Higher Level Revision Activities and on TES resources, also on his own site, Ben Cooper’s amazing (and huge!) collection of multiple choice questions covering many topics.

Other Suggested Revision Activities

  • Here’s the diagram – what’s the question
  • The Collective Memory resources on TES can make an excellent revision activity, students look at posters and then have to understand and recall that information. These can be used in a variety of ways which are fully described in the article. (A further set of resources is available here). Last year my GCSE students created several posters of their own which they found a very useful revision activity.
  • Mini-tests (or self checks)
  • Treasure Hunts – see the resources on Mathsbox for some lovely resources. These will get students moving round the room. On the subject of moving round the room, you could try an activity using post-its; see for example this Surds post-it challenge on TES.
  • Tarsia puzzles, these are available for all ages including post 16.

Examination Questions
Of course! You do not have to just work through a paper though – try questions on a theme or all A* questions! As usual there is no need to reinvent the wheel because there are generous teachers out there who have shared their resources. Steve Blades has an astonishing collection of 100 hard GCSE questions – all with fully worked solutions (and note all the other lovely resources on his site). Dan Walker on TES has created a mock paper which has only A* questions! You will be pleased to know that Dan’s resource includes model solutions!

SearchingOn TES I really like Tom Riley’s resource – exam questions and solutions but also with clues! Students match up the clues to a collection of exam questions on 10 higher topics, then use the clues to answer the questions. Something I do in the run up to exams is try questions in timed conditions as I think that is valuable – even for very short sessions. I work out how long they should have according to the number of marks (telling them to start another question if they finish or are stuck), it strikes me that I can make this an even more valuable exercise if I provide clues on the back of the questions that they can look at (or not!)

Team Challenges

Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept If you are looking for some problems to use for Mathematics Team Challenges in school or just for class activities with a difference which will help develop mathematical skills there are some excellent sources of materials.

The United Kingdom Mathematics Trust have annual team challenges for junior : UK years 8 and 9 (ages 12-14, I have also successfully used these with Year 10) and senior: UK years 11, 12 and 13 (ages 15-18). UKMT publish materials free online for use in school, these can of course be used for all students and make an excellent class activity for individuals or groups. The junior materials can be found here and senior here. I have found the crossnumber puzzles an excellent activity for the end of term, these are crosswords with a difference as lots of the clues depend on other clues! Which clues to solve first?! All materials needed and full instructions are provided. Note the Supervisor’s booklet with answers and instructions; this includes the complete crossword grid and clues. I have used the Group competition and relay race problems very successfully in class.

staircase GVSU challengeAnother great source is the resources from Math-Team-Matics a competition which was from Grand Valley State University, you can see problems here so you could try any of these activities in class. The individual test has multiple choice questions. I like the look of the 2013 team challenge – a combination of staircases and painted cubes with surface area thrown in as well- I’ll definitely be using that!