After our Year 11 mocks at the beginning of term, I have been looking at topics that the group need to review before we get in to run of past papers. The first topic I decided to look at was Percentages. In the previous lesson, I set a homework on percentages to get them thinking about it before the lesson. I started with this set of amazing Percentage Multiple Choice Quizzes uploaded to the TES by Ben Cooper. There are 7 different 10 question multiple choice quizzes, and I started with the easy ones, and worked my way up to the Reverse Percentages questions. The students were working on Mini Whiteboards.
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Drawing straight line graphs is a rich area to use the interactive whiteboard, miniwhiteboards and loads of other amazing interactive resources. One of my favourite ways to approach this subject, normally as a precursor to introducing y=mx+c, is to put 6  10 equations of lines on the board, of varying difficulty. I then split the class into as many groups as there are equations, and give each group a set of coloured page markers. Tell them they are going to be assigned one of the equations on the board which they will have to use the page markers to show.
I had introduced my Year 7 students to Pythagoras' Theorem, and we had looked at using it tofind both the hypotenuse and shorter side, as well as using it to solve some worded questions. I was looking for something a little bit different to finish off the topic, and I remembered the Tilted Squares activity I made last year. In the activity students have to investigate the area of squares that are slightly tilted, like the ones shown below.
I had a double lesson with my year 8 on Friday morning, and we were looking at averages, and moving on to averages from a frequency table. Several were away due to the snow, and the class were in a rather hyper mood. Fortunately, the lesson I had planned fed very well off this energy. In the previous lesson we had used this Averages Collective Memory to jog their memory about what they averages were and how they worked. They really enjoyed this activity, and we ended the lesson with a few quick questions on calculating the different averages. They were all pretty confident with this. To start the double lesson, I gave out the mini whiteboards, and we had a go at the Averages Activity. I started simple, with 5 numbers, and they had to find the averages, then made it 6 numbers and we discussed the median again. After a couple of these, I only showed them 4 numbers, and gave them the mean. After a little complaining ("that is so mean of you sir!"), and a bit of discussion, they all worked out how to do it.
This is a project I did last summer with my top set year 9. The idea was simple: we were going to build a scale model of the school.
One of the things I always struggle with when questioning is to make sure I am asking everybody in the class. It is so easy to pick the students with their hands up, and after half a term, you realise it is the same 5 students answering questions all the time. In my last school, I had a projector, and a whiteboard next to it, as the wall space was huge. I had heard of people using lollipop sticks in a cup to select random names to answer questions, but since I had the ability to use a board and project, I decided to make a Random Name Generator, which you just need to input the names of your class into, and it then chooses a person randomly. Having it visible on the board, meant students could see it, which really kept them on their toes. This year, I have found that it can sometimes be rather time consuming, and also a bit in the way, now that I project on to the whiteboard. Rather than using the lollipop idea, I decided to use the random number function on my calculator. On the Casio fx83GT PLUS, there is a random integer button that is absolutely perfect. I have given each of my students a number from 1 to however many in that particular class. Then on the calculator, I press "alpha" followed by "RanInt", then "1", a comma (which is "shift" and ")") and then the number of students. This function then gives a random number in that interval, and whichever number comes up, that student answers the question. I have found this a really nice quick alternative to the more technological Random Name Generator, and it is already starting to get more students involved in their lessons. I can see this becoming a permanent part of my teaching repertoire (although maybe not whilst trying to learn their names). This evening saw me finish up the first section to my new website, Crypto Corner. This website is dedicated to the learning of codes and ciphers, and provides lots of information about a whole range of codes. At the moment, the site has gone live in a Beta state, with large sections still needing to be completed, but there is a good starting point, with an entire section on monoalphabetic ciphers. For each code, I have written a huge chunk of information about how it works, and a little history about it too. There are also flash interactivities to use the codes, which will be really useful to make codes quickly for a lesson, or just for a bit of fun. I have included a page on Educational Uses of cryptography and the website, as well as a section with some Downloadable resources. I am looking forward to this project expanding over the next few years, to hopefully provide a onestop shop for all the information you could possibly want on Cryptography. If you are interested in codebreaking, then please swing by to have a look at crypto.interactivemaths.com. It always amazes me some of the things you can find on www.tes.co.uk and yesterday I found a real gem. For those of you that haven't read "17 Equations that Changed the World" by Ian Stewart, it is definitely one that you should read. This wonderful resource sees the 17 equations turned into simple but effective posters. They are eyecatching, and bound to spark the interest of a few students in the corridor. The user who uploaded them suggests they are the perfect way to reply to the ageold question "Why do we need algebra?", but I think these posters have so much more to them. They are of varying levels, and so can interest any secondary age group, and they give students a nudge towards going to look something up themselves, as well as how far mathematics can really take you. I'm going to be printing them off, laminating and putting them up next week, and I look forward to the responses from the kids. I know this is an idea that has been around for a while, but as a relatively new teacher, it is the first time I have got round to actually doing it this way. I have done the challenge in class before, but this term I am opening it up to the whole school! For those who don't know, the Four 4s challenge asks students to use the digit 4 four times along with any mathematical operations to make the numbers 1 to 100. They can combine the digits to make 44, and can use any operations they can think of, including factorials, powers and roots (as long as they make the power using 4's!) I have put the display in the main maths corridor, which is in a fairly central location in the school. Rather than have students write their own answers on the display, and to allow the activity to continue when I am not there to check and write up immediately, I have come up with a system where they submit their solutions on a named slip, which they hand in to be checked. If correct, I will then add their solution and name to the display for everyone to see. To add another edge to the problem, I will also be allowing them to submit "better" solutions for numbers which have already been solved. By better, I mean more efficient, which will be measured by the number of key presses on a calculator it takes to input the calculation. I am hoping that the location and input method will get the whole school involved in the problem, from Year 7 to ALevel. I am also going to award prizes for completing "random" numbers, which I have prechosen as winning numbers, but have not told them which ones they are. I put up the display on the last afternoon of school, after the students left, before Christmas, and I am looking forward to getting underway with finding them all!

Dan RodriguezClark
I am a maths teacher looking to share good ideas for use in the classroom, with a current interest in integrating educational research into my practice. Categories
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August 2021
