Mathematics Subject Special – UKEdChat

UKEdChat Maths

The UKEdChat Mathematics Subject Special was on Thursday 23rd October, the previous link now includes a record of the chat.

Note the questions raised during the chat:

  1. What are some of your key mathematical questions you use in lessons? Share your favourite maths starter activity.
  2. What are your favourite maths resource sites for inspiration? Who are inspired maths tweeters you follow?
  3. Which maths topic do your students struggle the most with? What support strategies do you use for them?
  4. Homework … Which are the most successful strategies you use for maths?
  5. Maths and computing go hand in hand. How are you tapping into this connection?
  6. Final call. Please showcase your favourite aspects of maths teaching / resources / tips.

I have mentioned many resources you may find useful in connection with many of the questions in my ‘Resolutions for Mathematics Teachers” reproduced here:



Mathematics Games

Algebra Meltdown1How time flies – it is almost half term and I realised that I had not set my new classes up on Manga High or Sumdog which I have now rectified. Looking at the games again on Manga High in particular I was struck by the excellent variety of Mathematics skills involved. So many so called Mathematics games are simply Arithmetic but on Manga High students can use games to practise Algebra and Geometry as well as Arithmetic Skills. The Basic Package (free) allows access to all the games and teachers can set the excellent Prodigi Quizzes for a week at a time; teachers will find clear Getting Started Guides here. Scroll down this page to see some samples of the quizzes and for a very comprehensive guide to the content check the information here selecting Algebra for example shows the extensive resources available.

With my Year 9 (UK age 13-14) class we have been studying simultaneous equations and for their homework as well as the text exercises I have given them some alternatives online to support their work, as a school we use MyMaths (subscription site), I have also linked to David Smith’s excellent site (free) and I have just added three Prodigi quizzes to the list! It will be interesting to see which they like – I feel a survey coming on!

Returning to the games, hover over any game to check the skills tested; for example try Algebra Meltdown or The Wrecks Factor for algebraic skills.
Algebra MeltdownAlgebra 2

I have written on Sumdog before, that post has various useful links. You will see from the Sumdog blog that you can now choose skills appropriate for your school; having initially chosen the UK National Curriculum – I changed my mind and went back to the Classic set – skills for 5-14 year olds, worldwide.

Mathematics Loop Activities

Loop cards TES resourceReviewing some TES resources I was reminded that Loop cards can make a great starter or plenary. This rather attractively presented resource on Significant Figures by Natasha Keyes is a Word file so could easily be adapted for short question types.

Before you create your own though, try this TES collection! See this great set of Trigonometry Loop Cards from Interactive Maths for example or a Quadratics Treasure Hunt by Nicole Cozens or perhaps some Inequalities from James Lockhart. Note you can narrow the search by Key Stage and then by topic. (There are Loop Card activities available for many subjects, not just Mathematics).

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The wonderful Tarsia software has Follow Me cards as one of the output types so this could be a good way to create any new sets, the maximum size for a single set is 24.

Tarsia Follow Me



The more sophisticated versions of loop activities like treasure hunts, can make an excellent main lesson activity. MATHSLOOPS from the creator of MathsBox shows how sophisticated loop cards can be; there are three free sample sets available, questions aimed at (current!) GCSE grades A, C and G.

Of course Treasure Hunts are very similar in that the answer to a question leads to the next question. I have found Treasure Hunts make a real change in that we are all moving round the room; I find this a good opportunity to also wander round the room and talk to lots of students. With Year 9 this week a Trigonometry treasure hunt worked really well and I learned from them that a witty colleague of mine had hidden one of the questions on the inside of the cupboard door when doing a treasure hunt with them! Returning to MathsBox again there are several free samples available. (To see the collection of free samples, see this page then choose Samples and choose a resource type from the menu on the left.) There are many Treasure Hunts on TES resources – they seem to turn up in the Loop Card search, but you can also search for Treasure Hunts.

The simple short answer type loop cards (also sometimes called ‘I have you, who has..’) make ideal starters or plenaries as a whole class activity, each student could have a card each, alternatively perhaps a group of students could have a set of cards for the group.

Quadratic Inequalities and more…

Quadratic Inequalities 2With my Year 12 classes (UK age 16-17) we have been looking at quadratic inequalities and it struck me that as always a really good picture is what we needed – so of course I turned to my favourite graphing calculator and created a couple of Desmos pages for them. I have written a post for them on Mathematics for Students with the links to the graph pages, also a link to David Smith’s The Maths Teacher site and a reminder that you can of course just enter your inequality as a WolframAlpha query.

In other classes this week – yes it was a good idea to have Year 9 measuring triangles to introduce trigonometry – so far so good – I believe they understand the trigonometric ratios – I’ll be more convinced when I see their books this coming week.

Year 11 now regard Circle Theorems as good puzzles and Geogebra applets worked really well for demonstrations. Talking of GeoGebra – look at their newly designed website.

Year 13 Further Mathematicians have seen the benefits of throwing a matrix into WolframAlpha (just enter the matrix and you’ll get the inverse, eigenvalues, eigenvectors & vectors & more). When I get email queries including the words ‘I checked it on WolframAlpha….;’ I know I’m onto a good thing helping them to help themselves.

And finally I’ll mention a rather interesting looking app Math Chat which I learned about on Richard Byrne’s wonderful Free Technology for Teachers – currently only for iPad and iPhone – but I am assured by Math Chat that they are planning on expanding to Android soon and expanding onto the web too. When they do I’ll come back to it. It is interesting that my post on Writing Mathematics online has been one of the most consistently popular posts since the early days of this blog. LaTeX is all very well but to be realistic – our students are not going to be writing lots of LaTeX any time soon.