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.

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 a video tutorial from @GuideCalculator on this function and you might also be interested in using the table function to complete trial and improvement (although not explicitly on the new specification, it could fall under iteration).

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.

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).

What calculator tips do you give your pupils? Get in touch @numberloving or NumberLoving’s Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Calculator Scientific by Fornax (Own work) is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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]]>Bills and Statements, Debits & Credits, Task Cards is one of our latest resources which is designed to cover all money related questions as seen on the new 9-1 specification GCSE, in particular on the AQA exam board. This resource includes 5 Bill Statement, 4 Pay statements and 4 Bank statement task cards, instructions and solutions. Here is an example of one of the task cards, in this task card pupils are required to find the missing balances from the bank statement, ensuring pupils understand ‘debit’ and ‘credit’.

To complete this resource we have designed this FREE Bills, Statements, Quick Fire Starter Questions starter resource. Pupils answer questions on mini-whiteboard. In doing this activity first with my class I was able to introduce terminology such as debit, VAT and recap calculating pay (see the example below)

Check back soon for our next blog on calculator use resources!

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]]>This collect a joke resource requires pupils to perform increasingly difficult addition and subtraction of fractions. Watch out for the red herrings! Download it from here!

Check out our other blogs for Easter ideas!

An Eggciting Eggstravanganza of Resources

From practicing proportion with an Easter cake recipe to making origami rabbits, lots of ideas here to try.

In this blog we show you how to make pop shapes, use yellow card to make pop up chicks.

How did the resource work for you? Get in touch @numberloving and follow our Facebook NumberLoving Page

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]]>A set of 16 relay race questions suitable for able KS4 pupils. The questions are progressively difficult, starting with the basics (see picture) to solving problems involving area, circumference or volume.

Print one set of questions for each group on different colours. Each group has a team captain, they retrieve the question from the front , taking it to the team to answer. Once they are confident they’ve got it correct they return it for marking. If correct they get 10 points and the next question. If they are wrong they can have a second attempt for 9 points.

The pupils must calculate progressively difficult fractions of amounts (suitable for KS3 pupils), each answer gives a letter spelling out the punchline to the Pi Day joke. This resources includes ‘red herrings’ for quick self and teacher assessment. This resource is free to download as part of try before you buy!

Pupils are challenged to use the clues to plot all five circles and find the point of intersection. They will need to use and inverse the formulas for the area and circumference of a circle, as well as some Pythagoras’ Theorem.

Each resource includes instructions, ideas for support/extension and solutions.

All three are available in our Pi Day bundle, check it out here.

Check out this blog “Plan a Pi Day Party” by Gary Hopkins for Educational world for more great ideas and resources to celebrate Pi Day.

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]]>Hi there! We haven’t blogged in a while as we are busy behind the scenes bringing you some changes to the website and a lot of great new resources, please watch this space!

**BIDMAS Bells**

The class is split into eight groups and each group is given a bell. Each bell is numbered, if the answer to the question is the same as their group’s bell they should ring the bell. At first the pupils are likely to be too slow to recognise the tune and therefore you may need to go back the beginning and repeat to here the tune. It is an ideal activity for a short plenary.

In this version of the game the order of the questions is important and should follow the same numbers as the tunes provided on the tun sheet. You set some of the pupils a challenge to come up with questions relevant to the topic studying which give the answers to follow one of the tunes provided with the bells.

This bidmas-bells-twinkle-twinkle resource contains questions which if played in the correct order will play the tune “twinkle twinkle little star”.

**Other Ideas**

Another adaption would be to group pupils and give each group a bell. All pupils will be given an answer card, and for each answer card there is a question. The order of the questions is again important. Use the interactive display board to pose a question to the class, if pupils have the answer to the question the ring the bell. The trick here is to first make the questions and answers, one for each note of the tune. Then assign each question card to the corresponding bell by numbering the question card. Then group all the cards for each bell, mixing them up so the order isn’t clear.For example if the tune was 1, 2, 2 (the numbers on the bell) a pupil from the group with bell one would need the answer to question 1 and pupils from the group with bell 2 would need the answers to question 2 and 3! This is slightly more complicated to prepare but worth it. My top tip is to label the back of the answer cards with which bell number it belongs to!

They can also add fun to quizzes or team games, not as tuneful but great fun!

**About the Bells**

The bells are called handbells and are sold in sets. You can buy them from here and many other places, always check that they come with a handy tune sheet.

We hope you find the ideas useful and we would love to hear your feedback on how the ideas work for you. Get in touch @numberloving and check out our free and premium resources in our TES NumberLoving Store.

Thanks for reading!

]]>Another of our Mathematical Halloween themed activities is using ratio and proportion to make witches brew.

**The Brew**

Download the recipe sheet I used with a low ability year 7 group here; Witches brew Recipe Sheet.

I renamed some basic ingredients to make them more disgusting sounding! Stagnant pond water = lemonade, pumpkin puree = orange juice, pink poison = cranberry juice, dash of blood = grenadine.

Any non-alcoholic recipe can easily be used as a witches brew, make it more ghastly by adding jelly snakes, eyes or other gruesome sweets available at this time of year! Check out this post by Emma Salk for non-alcoholic cocktail recipes.

**The Lesson**

Download this creepy cocktails starter activity of quick fire questions; Creepy cocktails ideal for low ability year 7 pupils, which recaps finding halves, doubles and thirds of amounts. Following which pupils then make the cocktail, using the recipe sheet (above) to find the measurements for one drink and then use Price List Witches brew to work out batch costs.

These resources were designed for low ability pupils, they can easily be differentiated by requiring students to work with more complex ratios, or requiring more precise measurement.

**Numeracy Across the Curricular Links**

Many links with the food technology department, adapting recipes and using the measuring jugs!

**Further Ideas**

Why not dress up and make an event of it by also making the pop-up 3D spiders (our next blog post soon to come)!

This idea can easily be adapted for Hawaiian themed beach party if you study ratio and proportion in the summer time. Check out the crazy cocktail resources, also available for free download from Number Loving’s resource shop.

We hope you like our ideas and would love to hear how they went in your school!

]]>Ratio and proportion is such a hands on topic it deserves more than a lesson on recipes for spag bol and pancakes. So why not try out some cocktails!

This has to be one of my favourite lessons, ideally ran over two sessions. In session one you discuss recipes and strategies for working out different quantities (example of Pomegranate Paradise is below), students then complete the four modelled examples on this sheet. In the next session students use the examples for inspiration and make up their own cocktail, they have to work out the cost of making 100 and the % profit (worksheet here). Then they get to make it and sample their hard work! You will need to borrow some measuring jugs from food tech and make a trip to home-bargains for some cheap ingredients.

My students loved this lesson and even stayed at break to make another one! There really is a lot of Maths involved, they have to work out proportions, convert measures, calculate cost, profit and then interpret scales and they certainly won’t be forgetting it in a hurry!

Get in touch @numberloving and check out our free and premium resources in our TES NumberLoving Store.

]]>The classic nine’s known by most, is described nicely in the this youtube video by funkyversion

The following trick will take some practice to get the hand of, but works a treat. To support pupils they can use stickers to number their fingers, or some numbered plastic gloves!

I hope your students find these tricks useful! Feedback always welcome! Get in touch @numberloving

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