Now that Autumn term is done or nearly for most in the UK, I just wanted to mention Christmas crackers, read all the way to the end!
I wouldn’t have thought, all those years ago as a child, when first pulling crackers with my family at the Christmas table that I would be putting some of their contents to excellent use as a Maths teacher. Often their contents is as quickly discarded as the ‘left over crackers’ and yet many of them have use in the classroom. So encourage your friends and family to save those crackers contents for you and here’s how I put some of the most common contents to good use…
The Screwdriver and pencils
Yes these are both keepers, absolutely perfect for construction lessons. The screwdriver is perfect for fixing and tightening the legs on a pair of compasses (put one in each classroom set of compasses)! Constant issue when completing constructions with pupils, they need to ensure not only that they have a sharp pencil that is kissing the point of the compass but also that the legs of the compass are tight.
The Tape Measure Lots of uses for the tape measure such as estimating and measuring objects within or outside the classroom. One of my favourite uses is for pupil loci, as described in our post Teaching Loci.
The Plastic Jumping Frog– Data collection activities with the following question to investigate; “How far will the frog jump?”.
The Magic Calculator Sometimes called the mystery calculation. I’ve collected over 16 of these over the years and can now use in algebra lessons! At first I just put them in my end of term puzzle box.Check out our post here for more on a class puzzle box. Your best ever investment; A puzzle box
Check out Maths Ed Idea’s blog here explaining the binary process behind some of these calculators.
The Bad Jokes
I am always looking for a good bad joke tell to my students or to include in my worksheet resources such as my collect a joke resource like this Christmas themed Collect a Joke worksheet which pupils need to be able to find the nth term of linear sequences and as a result collect the punchline to the joke; “Why isn’t every man in a red suit with a beard Father Christmas”? Check this resource out here Christmas Maths Sequences Collect a Joke Worksheet Activity.
The jokes within the Christmas crackers, although not often with a mathematical edge (these are my favourite kind of jokes), they are most often family friendly jokes that can be used in the classroom. Check out my previous post Joking around in Maths? Collect a Joke! in which I describe these resources and their uses in more detail.
The Playing Cards So many uses from tricks such as these described in our post Magic Maths or the classic probability “higher of lower”, too many to list but grab those cards and keep them.
Thank you for reading this far! Here is a little Christmas Cracker for you, follow this link below for a free download of our most popular revision foldable usually £3…this link will be free just today, that is until midnight tonight Friday the 18th so download and save (checkout of free resources doesn’t require bank details)!
Our fourth freebie this week is a series of four maths picto-puzzles each of varying difficulty.
Here is an example page;
They include addition, subtraction puzzles and multiplication. Challenge your students to find the value of each Valentines symbol, watch out for valentine’s symbols within symbols on the more challenging picto-puzzle 4 and 5.
The full resource can be downloaded here by clicking the link below.
This free download includes 4 different Valentine picto-puzzles which can be displayed or printed as worksheets, with solutions. Ideal for a quick starter or plenary. You should also check out our premium Valentine bundle.
Click the picture below to visit this bundle.
Don’t forget to check out this weeks Valentine posts for our freebies!
Another quick NumberLoving freebie Maths activity for the week of love, leading up to Valentine’s Day. Definitely suitable for GCSE 9-1 Maths and has plenty of challenge (Pythagoras, multi-step, area of parts of circles, area of sectors and segments).
There are five different hearts and pupils are asked to find the area and perimeter of the heart. The hearts are made up of triangles and two semi-circles or the more challenging heart (heart 5) requires pupils to calculate the area of two identical major circle segments.
Take a closer look at worksheet five for the extra challenge, suitable starter or plenary for Higher GCSE students.
Download the full free resource via the link below; this includes five different hearts of varying challenge that can be printed as worksheets (or displayed) and includes the solutions!
**UPDATED with Table of Values section below and mixed to improper conversion
Efficient Calculator Use
The need for pupils to be comfortable and confident with their calculator by the end of their KS4/GCSE studies is not new, but the new 9-1 specification has brought to my attention some new methods (not necessarily functions) that would benefit pupils in being able to perform using and navigating their calculators efficiently. As we follow the AQA 8300 specification many of this appear repeatedly in the practice papers. You might also be interested in our blog Can you Pay my Bills? 9-1 GCSE blog post, which looks at the bank statements, invoices and pay calculations as seen in the AQA practice papers. Any of the calculator methods described are not to replace understanding or written methods, in fact they are based on a mastery of techniques, particularly when considering remainders.
The new 9-1 specification AQA calculator papers include questions such as this calculation below. When performed correctly this would result in an improper fraction and pupils would be required to change to a mixed number.
I couldn’t understand why so many of my students were getting this wrong. So I asked a pupil to show me how they were entering this in the calculator and it turned out the problem was entering mixed numbers! The pupils were using the primary fraction button (red arrow) and using the ‘back’ button to insert the whole part before the fraction! The calculator would then interpret this as whole multiplied by the fraction part!!! When in fact they need to use the secondary function (green arrow) in order to insert the mixed number correctly.
These questions will give answers as an improper fraction and pupils may need to convert to mixed numbers (depending on the question requirements). Using the S>D function would give the whole part; instead use the shift button to activate the mixed to improper (orange arrow to left).
Although I have shown pupils this function in the past I have been reluctant to push it’s use because pupils need to complete prime factor decomposition for the non-calculator paper. However, increasingly expressing a product as its prime factors or finding the HCF/LCM is present on the new 9-1 calculator papers. To use this function, input the number for example 225, enter, then shift “FACT” and the calculator will express as a product of it’s primes. This was Q 24 from paper 2 of the foundation AQA practice set 3 which required pupils to express 225 as a product of it’s prime factors, this is awarded two marks. Pupils will save time if they use this function and that time can be used to complete the HCF/LCM part of the question.
This function can also help with questions requiring pupils to identify larger prime numbers as seen in Q3 of the Foundation AQA practice set 4, paper 3. If it is a prime number for e.g 97, after using the FACT function 97 would be displayed; therefore it is prime.
Table of Values
I had totally forgotten about this function, thankfully my Twitter colleagues @MrCarterMaths and @Mathematical_A reminded me!
Select mode (green arrow) which will give the four options seen on the display. Select option 3 : TABLE. You are then prompted by f(x) to enter the function, enter the function using the ALPHA key and the bracket key with the X (red arrows). Ensure pupils check carefully that they have entered this correctly. You are then prompted with “START?” followed by “END?”, both referring to the range of values of X in the table, e.g. from -2 to 5 (remember to us (-) for minus two), press enter after each. The final prompt is “STEPS?”, i.e. what is X going up in (most often one). Then a table of values is given in a vertical format. @Mathematical_A has mentioned that the new FX991EX has dual tables!!
Here is one of the treasure hunt cards requiring remainder to be found, again this was originally poorly answered by my pupils despite it being on one of the calculator papers. This style of question is seen in the AQA foundation practice papers, for example Q12 from paper 3 of set 3.
Below is the method we show pupils to tackle this efficiently; this slide is taken from our Walking Talking Mock.
Scientific calculators can be used to set a number of decimal places (using shift>set up>6. Fix), however this is not something that I choose to show pupils; they should be able to round correctly and there’s too much of chance they don’t change it back! So instead it is good ‘exam technique’ to insist pupils write down the whole answer and then round as required. Again a slide from our walking talking mock on the left demonstrates these calculator paper tips.
To help refine pupils calculator paper skills we have produced some resources for use with a scientific calculator and knowledge of skills such as Pythagoras’ Theorem, Trigonometry etc. Therefore this resource is best used once you’re confident pupils have the range of skills on the topics listed below.
9-1 Calculator Use Resources
The first new resource is our 9-1 Efficient Calculator Use Treasure Hunt activity differentiated to two levels; amber and green. The amber level covers the following topics; finding remainders, calculating with fractions, improper to mixed, area of fraction of circle, product of primes, Pythagoras, Rounding. The green level covers Trigonometry, remainders, compound interest, density, rounding, area of sector, scales, conversions, using formula. Each of these require pupils to round correctly i.e. decimal places or significant figures.
Check out our Treasure Hunt blog post for different ways to use treasure hunt activities in the classroom and beyond.
The second resource is our 9-1 Efficient Calculator Use Worksheets which includes two worksheets to complement the first resource to make a full lesson or use as homework. Worksheet 1 covers six topics (powers/roots, place value, remainders, primes, fractions and percentages). Worksheet 2 covers three overall topics but each progresses in challenge (use of formula, right angled triangles i.e. Pythagoras’ theorem and trigonometry, circles (arcs/sectors).