Teaching KS5 Mathematics

On Friday 20th May 2016 I was lucky enough to be asked to lead a session for the University of Nottingham maths PGCE students on teaching KS5 mathematics. It was three hours long and I really enjoyed doing the session and working with a great group of PGCE students.

I have embedded the presentation below, and you can also view it here.


FP1 Revision Relay

Tomorrow is the last day for FP1 revision with classes. I have just made a relay activity to use tomorrow so thought i would share it here in case it is useful for anyone else.

Screenshot 2016-05-18 22.29.09

The questions are here. I am intending on running this like the UKMT Team Challenge relays with one person working on the odd numbered questions and one person working on the even numbered questions.

I hope it is useful.


The Fifth #mathsjournalclub Discussion

On the 9th of May we discussed “Fifty years of A-level mathematics: Have standards changed?” by Ian Jones, Chris Wheadon, Sara Humphries and Matthew Inglis. A pre-print of the article is available here since the published article is behind a paywall.


We were lucky enough to have one of the author’s take part in the discussion and he provided some important insights. I feel that having the authors take part in the twitter chats is very powerful and something I hope we will see more of in the future.

Later this week I will release a poll for the next article, you have a few days to send me any suggestions – please make sure that they are open access 🙂

I will also announce the date for the John Mason article chat as soon as I have one.


Should we mark “mathematical style” at A-Level? 

Something that I have been meaning to write about for ages and seemed pertinent to today’s #mathscpdchat hosted by Rob Beckett (@RBeckett_Yd) is the idea of mathematical style. 

I’m often saying to my A-Level students that mathematics isn’t just about succeeding at getting an answer. The steps to the answer are the most important along with being able to structure a mathematical argument that is stylish. 

Style and mathematical elegance is of course subjective, but I am beginning to think style should be assessed in A-Level examinations. The proposed problem solving questions with multiple possible approaches would be ideal for this. I believe a comparative judgment on “the most mathematically elegant” approach would be a robust way of assessing this. 

As an example, to me, for the below question the first approach is significantly more elegant than differentiating! 

What do you think? 

FP1 Revision Clock

Inspired by posts from Mel (@Just_Maths), a nice C1 revision activity from Jo (@mathsjem) and a Core 3 version from Eve Pascal (@Pascal1Eve) I decided to make an FP1 “Keeping Time” Revision Clock activity.

The questions are a mix of my own and past exam papers. I haven’t used it with my class yet, but all being well they will be able to complete all 12 questions in an hour.The questions are here and the generic clock template for printing on to A3 is here.

Please use 🙂 I’m hoping to have an FP2 one done before the end of the week too!

UPDATE: Solutions now available here.

Monday’s #mathsjournalclub Discussion

Today (Monday 9th May) we are going to be discussing the recent paper by Ian Jones, Chris Wheadon, Sara Humphries and Matthew Inglis entitled “50 Years of A-Level Mathematics: Have Standards Changed“. . As the article is pay-walled we will be looking at a pre-print version available Here.

Anecdotally most people seem to agree that over time A-Level mathematics has got easier. From my own experience the current C1 module for example contains less than the P1 module that I took – but is scoping down definitely leading to easier exams?

The article we are going to be looking at aims to answer that question by using a comparative judgement approach (see the No More Marking Ltd company that one of the authors runs).

It’s a shame that there weren’t any scripts available to be included in the study from the 1970s and 1980s – why is this I wonder?

To me, this study is certainly stronger than previous comparability studies and they have taken lots of measures to address (and in some cases eliminate) problems associated with this kind of study.

A few things to think about:

  • Does the fact that no questions had to be excluded reflect the “constancy” of maths over time?
  • Does the concept of “the better mathematician” vary?
  • Does the outcome of this study fit with our perceptions?

Join me at 8pm!!

FP3 Integration Bingo

A very short post tonight to share a resource that I made last week in an effort to make the beginning of an FP3 revision session a bit more interesting.

I have created 40 integration questions to be used in a bingo format. The presentation with the questions is available here and there are some pre-made bingo cards available here.

Some of the integrals are quite tricky – the possible answers are shown in the grid below.

I hope you can make use of it 🙂

GCSE Revision

Tomorrow I am hosting the NCETM’s #mathscpdchat on the topic of GCSE revision.

Screenshot 2016-04-25 20.25.09

I thought that I would briefly post tonight with a few thoughts and possible ideas for the discussion tomorrow.

For me, in an ideal world GCSE revision wouldn’t be necessary as if there is true understanding I don’t believe that you should have to coach towards a particular exam, as long as the content has been covered. I also think that it tends to be the time of year where (needs must) we aim to get marks, possibly at the expense of understanding, wheeling out things like formula triangles, “keep change flip” etc to get marks for the precious grades that go towards performance measures. I always try to steer clear of these and of “teaching to the test”, but with the current GCSEs it is easy to create questions for students to practise that are very similar to exam questions see my recent post “Edexcel November 2015 GCSE Paper” .

Some things that I would be interested to discuss tomorrow:

  • How do you teach students to revise mathematics?
  • Do you feel that GCSE revision dilutes the purity of the subject?
  • What are the best ways you can get your students to revise?
  • Do you do anything exciting / different in revision lessons?
  • How does GCSE revision tie in with intervention?

Looking forward to discussing it all tomorrow 😉