Time to Tidy Up!

Tidy UpIt’s holiday time so time for a bit of tidying up – my house and my blog!

During the holidays I’ll be checking and updating New Academic Year Resolutions for Mathematics Teachers and will publish the updated version at the end of August.

In the meantime I’ll be doing some tidying up and updating in the never ending quest to make useful things easy to find! I’ll post my weekly tidy ups!

This last week I destroyed and recreated the UK Assessment Pages, a completely new page, Assessment without Levels KS3  gives details of the packages of the winning Assessment Innovation Fund. The principles here may also be of interest to non UK readers. On the subject of assessment I rather like the student rubrics I found on the US site, Exemplars, particularly the Jigsaw Rubric. Actually I think some teachers would probably appreciate rubrics like that – plain and simple language!

The GCSE & A Level Reform page has also been checked and updated with new links added, including the chart showing the old and new GCSE grades and subject content.

The Reading pages have also been updated recently including the addition of a new page Blogs – Learning and Teaching, these are on learning and teaching generally and are not Mathematics specific. It’s a short list, these are my personal favourites – so much common sense here by such open-minded authors!

Excel spreadsheet for symbols & charactersFinally for this week, in response to a query I had on last week’s post on symbols, I have updated that post (at the end) with a spreadsheet you can use to see which key on your keyboard will give you each symbol in a symbol font.

If you have just broken up for the holidays or have been on holiday for a while, wishing you a lovely break.

Thank you for reading this academic year.


From the MathCentre this very clear nine page leaflet describes symbols and notation in common use in Mathematics, for each symbol we learn what to say, what the symbol means and where appropriate an example is given; it is also possible to search the Math Centre site for further details.

If you are wondering how to pronounce any symbols, this chart of common pronunciations should help. I am pleased to see that the pronunciation of sinh x is given as shine x as there have been a few arguments over this one!

If you are looking for a particular character you could use a WolframAlpha query, or check this comprehensive Wikipedia entry on Mathematical Symbols. There are some very useful documents here and also links to external sites.

To learn more about symbols, try Earliest Uses of Various Mathematical Symbols, from Jeff Miller where you can learn for example when the equal symbol was first used.

From the University of Nottingham Sixty Symbols (there’s actually more than 60!) has a collection of videos about the symbols of Physics and Astronomy.

Mathematics Symbols from Penn State

Mathematics Symbols from Penn StatFFe

From Penn State you can find many symbols here, I found that I can just copy and paste the symbols, for example:


∫   ∲


∀ ∃ ∧ ∨ ∩ ∪ ∊

∣ ∡

One can of course also insert a symbol in a program like Word: ≅ ∴ ∮ R



A very easy to use site is copypastecharacter.com, just click to copy a character. Several sets are available,  note the drop down menu. It is possible to save your favourites from the sets here by creating an account; I created a set which you can see here.

ES03 Font from Casio

ES03 Font from Casio

If you want some calculator buttons in your documents, from Casio a variety of Fonts to download for teachers:

Excel spreadsheet for symbols & characters
In response to a query I have created an Excel spreadsheet which lists ascii characters.
You can then copy the first column as many times as you wish  and then simply change the column to your desired symbol font.
The spreadsheet has EOS3, EOS4 and the Wingdings fonts.

Characters & Fonts

font characters ExcelSee this Excel Zoom post for a simple way to see all the characters in a font – one simple command can generate all 255 symbols!


Technology for Learning Mathematics

Download PowerPoint Learning with Technology in the Mathematics Classroom
or pdf version: Learning with Technology in the Mathematics Classroom

This slideshow looks at resources for various elements of lesson planning such as beginnings and endings, questions, activities and using resources that students can use themselves to support their studies. The slides link to further information. On the subject of slides, I must mention Slideshare; all the slideshows you see on this site have been uploaded to Slideshare so they can then easily be shared with the world! It is, quite rightly in Jane Hart’s top 100 tools for learning.

I want my students to develop independent learning skills; one aspect of being an independent learner is being able to make informed choices and taking responsibility for one’s own learning activities. I believe that using resources in the classroom students can then choose to use at home to support their studies helps with that aim. Whenever I use a resource in class which could be useful for students to use themselves I always make sure that students know how to access and use that resource.

Sites such as WolframAlpha and the Desmos graphing calculator both provides a means to generate many examples and really explore Mathematics.


Standard Form Resources

Some resources for standard form:

I have been interested in Astronomy since discovering Patrick Moore’s books in the library as a child so enjoyed Richard Byrne’s post on resources to help students understand the size of the universeI particularly like 100,000 Stars, a visualization of the 100,000 stars closest to Earth. All those lovely big numbers in Astronomy are excellent for teaching Standard Form; I wrote some time ago on the excellent mathematics resources available from NASA, see this on Scientific notation for example.

Staying with Astronomy, the Royal Observatory, Greenwich has some outstanding resources on TES, including Scales of the Universe (KS4 – age 14-16)

From the excellent Standards Unit, N4 on Estimating Length Using Standard Form works very well as a class activity. (You can find all the Standards Unit Resources here).

From Nrich, two activities on Standard Form.

Teachit Maths though a subscription site offers its entire collection of activities as pdfs for  free. I have found many high quality resources here for all ages. – try these on Standard Form.

From TES Resources – an extensive collection of (free) Standard Form Resources, note the 5 star reviews for many resources.

For the start or end of a lesson (or any time!), you could try some Diagnostic questions on Standard FormI created a Standard Form Quiz from these questions.



 (See these posts for more information on the excellent Diagnostic Questions site).

A site with plenty of big numbers is Is That A BIG NUMBER?

(Post on Is That A BIG NUMBER)is-that-a-big-numb8r

Students could be shown how to check their work on WolframAlpha
standard-form WolframAlpha syntax

and finally some more great links including some rather good animations:

Scale of the universe. 

Magnifying the Universe

Secret Worlds: The Universe Within


You can find lots of data with very large numbers using Gapminder

Staying with world statistics, you could try Jonny Griffiths’ World-wide Statistics task from his Making Statistics Vital. You could use the figures from his spreadsheet – write the numbers in Standard Form and explore some real world Statistics at the same time.