Should we set students in Year 7? | bettermathschat

Most schools set their students in or around Year 7 but there is still a large number of teachers who choose not to, some of whom are quite vocal on their reasoning. See mixed attainment maths, for example.

We discussed it in a recent #mathschat too, when we looked at plans for next year’s Year 7. The summary of that discussion can be found on a Twitter moment.

According to my Twitter poll following the chat, the majority of teachers, at least in my Twitterverse, set their students in Year 7.

That 7% who chose ‘none of the above’ used a variety of alternative approaches to setting,…

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Questions that make you go ‘hmm….’ | bettermathschat

In this blog, I want to share some of the great adaptations I’ve seen for maths questions. This was the theme for my session at Mathsconf10, which took place in London in June, where I tried to squeeze as many adaptations into the session as possible, like an over-enthusiastic smoothie maker!

Up front I need to say, these are things that I have had the privilege of seeing other people do. I’ve adapted some of them for my own lessons, but most of what I use has been found from other lessons, and it is in that spirit that I’m delighted to share these ideas with you.

I need to thank all…

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How our ITT trainee opened our eyes to maths teaching in science | bettermathschat

There is loads of maths in science. We know that science involves loads of formulae as well as manipulations and practical applications of the maths we teach in maths lessons.

But I don’t really know what science teachers are doing with maths, or how they are doing it.

For students to make good progress in maths and science, it makes sense that maths teachers and science teachers should use methods and approaches that are familiar and similar, and consider together how and when they should do this.

The mathematician EH Moore was complaining about the water-tight separation of maths and…

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Does more time for maths mean less time for creativity? | bettermathschat

It was about this time last year that I had to take part in The Big Timetable Meeting.

This was the meeting where I successfully argued that there was no way that I was going to be able to deliver all that new maths to the new cohort if I stuck to the old timetable.

I needed an extra three hours a fortnight. I’d even made an infographic to prove it.

And so it was agreed.

It was also the meeting where drama and music got cut by three hours a fortnight, so the students got 1 hour of each every other week.
One year on, how has it been?

Firstly, there is so much more time! Clearly…

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Even more recipes from the Power-cut cook book: low-tech lessons | bettermathschat

Every maths teacher has lessons that should have worked better than they did. Lessons where the planning was faultless, the theme had hooks and catches, and all things concrete, abstract or pictorial were spot on. The sort of lesson where you “would have gotten away with if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids”.

And then there are activities that are unexpectedly successful, and you end up using them, or variants of them, again and again. My ‘What’s wrong with this picture’ tasks, for example.

I have started to collect these activities together and, like any good mathematician, I’ve…

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