A Level Reform

Just some simple updates this week – note some new documents on the A Level Reform page. There are already several very clear resources from MEI who continue to document the new specifications. See their comparison of the specifications from the different Examination Boards which provides a summary of the differences between the current and the 2017 specifications for AS and A level Mathematics and also Considerations for choosing a new specification.

MEI Sample Scheme of Work

MEI Sample Scheme of Work

Something to keep an eye on is MEI’s 2017 Scheme of Work which will be freely available from Spring 2017. The sample units currently available look excellent. Each unit (there will be 43) is based on a topic and includes a commentary of the underlying mathematics, a sample resource, a use of technology, links with other topics, common errors, opportunities for proof and  questions to promote mathematical thinking.

Staying with MEI – check the Conference 2016 resources which includes a session on teaching Statistics as part of the new A Level specification and notes from several other sessions on the new A Level specifications.

See also A Level – Draft Specifications.

Introducing Calculus


New on the GCSE specification we have interpretation of the gradient at a point on a curve. I want to introduce this to my very able Year 11 (UK age 15-16) class this week. As this class is also studying for AQA’a Level 2 Further Mathematics Qualification I want to go beyond the GCSE specification. Talking of the Further Maths specification – a wonderful find – thank you Craig Barton  – so many wonderful resources for this specification. Thanks too, to Mark Greenaway, Thomas Whitham Sixth Form College and on YouTube, Raw Maths, Jerry Jam and Riley Maths.

Some resources – I plan on using:

Perhaps after initial explanations with reminders about what they already know about distance time graphs and emphasising that a gradient is a rate of change, a good starting activity, A tangent is … from Underground Mathematics which emphasises rather well that a tangent is a local property of a graph.

I want them to draw some tangents and see how accurate they can be, so I’ll give everyone a good size graph of f(x) = x2 and have them draw tangents at x=0, 1, 2, 3 and 4, something that has worked well with A Level students. We can use Desmos to check our work, Tangents to f(x)=x2 –  Desmos. (For even more @Desmos sophistication – see the end of this post).

Back with Underground Maths again we will use Gradient Match to match functions with their gradient functions. This can be used interactively online. All the resources you need and a solution are provided.

Further Resources
AQA – Bridging the Gap – Pocket 3 is on Graphs and Real Life Contexts; this includes Distance Time Graphs and Velocity Time Graphs.

OCR’s Topic Check In 7.04 Interpreting Graphs     7.04

There are several resources for teaching this topic on AQA’s All About Maths including clear PowerPoints and suggested lesson activities.
(Free for AQA Centres, find out how to register).

Mathematical Miscellany #7

One of my resolutions for Maths teachers, one I think applies to teachers of any subject is a reminder about talking to the students about resolution-study-strategieslearning and study strategies. Read The Learning Scientists blog for more information and note the excellent downloadable materials on study strategies. Since I wrote that post more slides to use in class with your students are now available, including on Retrieval Practice, a subject I have long been interested in and something I have seen as important all through my teaching career. See my own Low Stakes Testing in the Mathematics Classroom.

Follow @AceThatTest on Twitter or on Facebook.

At ResearchEd 2016 I very much enjoyed Oliver Caviglioli’s session on Visual knowledge for better explanation and recall. Oliver is a trainer of Visual Strategies, he collaborated with The Learning Scientists to create the six posters on effective study strategies. Note his free resources for teachers coming soon, Cognitive Science HOW2s.

5-a-dayContinuing on the theme of retrieval practice, a reminder of a favourite resource, something I have used in my first lessons this week with various classes, Corbett Maths 5-a-day. If you scroll down the GCSE 9-1 collection you will see that Mr Corbett is working on the answers too.

Students appreciate the idea of regular reviews throughout the course.

& #math come together here, @cbrownLmath (US) & myself @ColleenYoung (UK) decided we like the idea of a continuing anytime chat. The original idea from Michael Fenton,  see Twitter Chats vs Family Dinners….. (note #slowmathchat – math saves a charcter!)

This coming week we will focus on homework, appropriate for the beginning of the academic year as we establish routines. For some alternative homework ideas, see this page.

On the subject of Twitter, a reminder of just how useful it can be!

Iteration TESAs a member of the TES Maths Panel I have often come across the excellent resources from @Pixi_17. In fact writing the original post on Iterative Techniques (and note the June 16 update with a Further Resources / Questions section) I was able to include a resource of hers on the subject. She has now organised her resources on her own website piximaths.co.uk.

Underground MathematicsCambridge University’s Underground Mathematics is an outstanding resource for teachers of students age 16-19 and I believe will be an important source of ideas for teaching the new Advanced Level specifications.

Iteddy-bear will be regularly featuring favourite resources; here’s a great way to look at circles! The teddy bear! As with all the resources on Underground mathematics much more than just the problem is available; note the printable/ supporting materials for the teddy bear problem.

I can never resist creating a Desmos page!

Further posts on Underground Mathematics.


Teddy Bear Problem – Underground Mathematics on Desmos

More posts in the Mathematical Miscellany category.


Top >10 Mathematics Websites

If you would like a copy of the presentation these versions include navigation from the contents page: Top 10 Mathematics Websites 2016-2017 (PowerPoint) or Top 10 Mathematics Websites 2016-2017  (pdf). Note that hyperlinks seem to work considerably faster on the pdf version.

This and other presentations can all be found in the series of Presentations pages.

Included quite rightly in the section on Questions is Craig Barton’s and Simon Woodhead’s wonderful Diagnostic Questions site. Note Craig’s post on setting up for the new school year including a very clear guide. Check these great collections of Examination questions. This outstanding site just keeps getting better and there are further developments to come.

Top 10