You’ve never seen the GCSE Maths curriculum like this before…

Whole network no labels low res

What you’re looking at is the GCSE Mathematics curriculum. Each node represents a topic, e.g. transformations, ordering decimal numbers, frequency polygons etc. There are 164 nodes in the diagram representing all topics on both the foundation and higher tier curriculum. The nodes are connected by 935 links. Each link represents a connection between two topics whereby one is the prior learning required to be able to access the other. For example, equivalent fractions is linked to adding fractions because you need to be able to do the former before you can learn how to do the later. Continue reading brilliant maths enrichment videos

Numberphile_-_Videos_about_Numbers_and_Stuff is a website devoted to enrichment maths videos. The quirky, fast-paced style of the presenters is engaging and fun. Whether finding maths deliberately hidden in episodes of The Simpsons or finding the flaw in the Enigma code, Numberphile videos never fail to inspire.

Here’s the latest one about shapes/ solids of constant width:

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G&T website shout out: IB Maths, ToK, IGCSE and IB Resources

Lyapunov exponents of the Mandelbrot set (Stee...

Lyapunov exponents of the Mandelbrot set (Steel Beach) (Photo credit: Arenamontanus)

I got an email from a reader, Andrew Chambers drawing my attention to a website he has built for IB students studying in Thailand. The content they study is generally equivalent to A-level. His site IB Maths, ToK, IGCSE and IB Resources features lots of resources to enrich maths learning of gifted and talented pupils at  KS3 and GCSE. In his own words, here are the highlights:  (links for everything from using ESP tests to look at probability models, to using a mobuis strip to help understand extra dimensions to chaos theory or fractals….. - a large number of embedded Youtube videos looking at speed of light travel, Mandelbrot sets, synathesia, the golden ratio in nature and more…..

and the homepage:  – has a number of blog posts on everything that I think of that could be useful to teaching – from correlations on the latest premier league wages to league position analysis, to maths podcasts to sequence puzzles….

There’s also a load of maths dingbats that I’ve created - which work really well as lesson starters and in quizzes…

I have taken a look at think it is just the thing my super-keen year 8s would love to explore. Enjoy!

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The Magic of Pineapples goes live in paperback via Amazon!

The Magic of Pineapples Kindle 1563x2500 (1)The Magic of Pineapples, my latest book has just gone live in paperback format on Amazon. I wrote the book to inspire kids and ‘curious-minded’ adults into appreciating the beauty of maths. It has just been reviewed by TES Maths Advisor, Craig Barton who says:

“It is impossible to claim maths is boring after reading this wonderful book. I will also never look at a pineapple in the same way again! A must read for the curious minds of students and adults alike.”

The book is available in paperback via Amazon at these links:



It is also available in the Kindle Store. Just search for The Magic of Pineapples.

Here are some video trailers for the book that I’d really appreciate if you could share via your social networks:

Pattern in the Primes- The Magic of Pineapples:

Cherry in Matchstick Glass- The Magic of Pineapples:

Addition and Handshakes- The Magic of Pineapples:

Think of a Number- The Magic of Pineapples:

I hope you enjoy the book and a big thanks for your support :-)

Ideas for helping students tackle ‘wordy’ functional questions

Since the introduction of the ‘functional’ questions on the maths GCSE last year it has become important for pupils to improve the skill of taking a ‘wordy’ question and interpret what it is requiring them to do. Many pupils find this difficult and seem to give up before they have even read the question. Through a couple of strategies obtained from an excellent INSET I attended recently, I have had some success in getting pupils to improve their interpretation of functional questions. Surprisingly, these strategies were presented by our Head of English under the umbrella of a training session based on literacy, but I have found them to work well in the functional maths part of our subject.

Two colour highlighting

After reading the question once, get pupils to read it again twice more. On the second time they should highlight all the numbers in the question (both those in digits and in words). The third time they read it they should highlight in a different colour all the ‘key maths vocabulary’ words that are important to the context of the question. For example words like: more, each, difference, total, profit etc. Through reading three times, each with a different focus it seems many pupils improve their interpretation and understanding of the questions. It is a strategy for breaking down the process of interpreting a question into a series of smaller tasks.

Highlighting numbers in one colour and key maths vocabulary in another

Highlighting numbers in one colour and key maths vocabulary in another

Cartoon story boards

Another strategy that seems to work well with some pupils is to get them to create a ‘cartoon picture’ for each sentence of the question. For example, if the question begins ‘Sue buys 24 books for £2 each’ pupils could draw a picture of a book with a £2 sign on it and a ‘X 24′ beside it. They work through the question creating a cartoon picture for each sentence. They then look at the whole cartoon story board they have drawn and it is a pictorial representation of the problem. I have found that many pupils understand the question better looking at their story board, than looking at the text. I think this may be due to them creating a mental picture of the problem in their imagination, something that is essential for solving functional problems. Here is an example of a story board one of my pupils drew today for the above question and then their solution:

Cartoon story board for the 'Sue buys 24 books for £2 each' question

Cartoon story board for the ‘Sue buys 24 books for £2 each’ question

Cartoon story board of the above problem and then the student's solution

Cartoon story board of the above problem and then the student’s solution

Another cartoon story board and solution to a similar problem by a different pupil

Another cartoon story board and solution to a similar problem by a different pupil

Do you have any other strategies that you use when teaching pupils how to tackle functional questions? If so share them with us in the comments section!

The Magic of Pineapples- A Brain Tingling Adventure Through Amazing Mathematics

The Magic of Pineapples Kindle 1563x2500 (1)

How are children’s puzzles and patterns based on infinity related? What are the similarities in the maths behind the shape of tropical storms and how pineapples grow? Why is much of internet security built on one of the great unsolved problems in mathematics?

A year ago I decided to write a book that answers these questions. The Magic of Pineapples was born. A year later, it’s ready! The aim of the book is to inspire maths-curious teenagers and adults into a life-long love of the subject. I want the readers to realise that maths is not just a set of routine steps that you blindly learn to enable you to live in our society, but a portal into a whole new way of seeing and understanding the world around you. I want them to see the beauty of the subject.

The content of The Magic of Pineapples is accessible to anyone proficient in secondary school maths. I teach 11-16 year olds and I wanted to write a book they could understand. Readers are not just spoon-fed facts however, with the book setting numerous challenges for them to tackle before the interesting results are discussed. The Magic of Pineapples is a hands-on, book that leads the reader into making some of the most famous mathematical discoveries themselves.

Combining interesting historical events with contemporary applications, the book makes links between many different real world phenomena, showing the reader how often the maths underlying the behaviours is the same. For example, the maths used by Carl Friedrich Gauss to quickly add all the numbers between 1 and 100 (1 + 2 + 3 … + 100 ) is the same as that used to calculate the number of handshakes that take place in business meetings!

The Magic of Pineapples discusses the big ideas in maths in a way 11+ year olds can understand and relate to. If it inspires some people into a love of the subject I’ll be very happy.

Available in the Kindle Store now:

The Magic of Pineapples in the UK Kindle Store

The Magic of Pineapples in the US Kindle Store

Coming also in paperback via Amazon soon!

Here is a video trailer about the book:

Numberphile- videos about numbers and stuff

Screenshot_24_03_2013_09_44 is a website your pupils simply must know about. It describes itself as “videos about numbers and stuff” which is a pretty good summary in my opinion. The videos are not tutorial skill-based offerings, but engaging adventures into interesting mathematical concepts and problems. I really like them as they show maths at its best: interesting problems and fascinating results, rather than contrived contextual links. That’s not to say there isn’t context, but where there is it is meaningful and adds to the intrigue.

Here is an example of one their videos called Dragon Curve:

These videos are the KS3 maths curriculum we’d all love to be teaching if standardised testing and judging teachers and students on exam-based success we not the order of the day. The passion and enthusiasm of the presenters combined with the engaging subject matter definitely stoke the flames of enquiry. Pupils I have shown the Numberphile videos to did react very positively to them; many wanting to know more about the maths behind them.

There are links in the videos to topics we do teach however, and I think there are plenty of opportunities to get these videos in as starters, plenaries or interesting homeworks. I commend them to you!


TES Maths Podcast 3 goes live

This time Craig Barton and his guests from King’s College, London discuss falling standards in maths, advice on running discussion based lessons, and some festive maths ideas. In the attached Word document you will find links to all the resources, ideas and activities discussed, and a link to the Forum discussion as well.

Click here to listen to the TES Maths Podcast 3

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