Archive for July, 2010

Problem solving rules are for fools, says streetfighting mathematician

July 28, 2010 1 comment

The New York Times has an interesting Q&A with Sanjoy Mahajan, author of Street-Fighting Mathematics, that delivers his take on the Gulf Oil spill, and the relationship between stair-climbing and eating jelly doughnuts. Here’s the promo spiel for his book…

In problem solving, as in street fighting, rules are for fools: do whatever works—don’t just stand there! Yet we often fear an unjustified leap even though it may land us on a correct result. Traditional mathematics teaching is largely about solving exactly stated problems exactly, yet life often hands us partly defined problems needing only moderately accurate solutions. This engaging book is an antidote to the rigor mortis brought on by too much mathematical rigor, teaching us how to guess answers without needing a proof or an exact calculation.

Under a business model that makes no sense at all to us, the PDF of his book is also provided for free.


Maths busking…

…not seriously?

Yep, apparently Maths busking is the new thing.

Here’s an article we spotted in the Guardian:

What do you want to be when you grow up? Click to access full article on Maths busking.

Will mapping Functional Maths teaching onto a GCSE course be a nightmare?

When we set about designing our AQA Functional Maths series, this was one of our main concerns: that teachers might struggle to integrate Functional easily into their existing GCSE course. 

Indeed, it was a stand-out feature of existing Functional books that they did not lend themselves to integration, as we posted back in January.   Sure enough, one of our readers raised this issue earlier this week.

Actually, it doesn’t have to be that way.  This is what we replied to our reader:

 We designed our Functional course to slide as easily as possible into a GCSE course. Here’s how:
1. The Functional Teacher Guide (due out early next month) contains Schemes of Work mapping the Functional to GCSE.
2. The Functional Student Book has been designed with a clear mathematical structure: each chapter is clearly labelled by mathematical topic (ratio, mean & range, probability, etc) so it’s easy to see where and when you might fit a functional lesson into a GCSE course. The maths builds through the book, so students are never asked to tackle topics they haven’t already covered earlier in the book. “Practise the Maths” sections at the start of every chapter provide a chance to recap all key mathematical techniques before tackling Functional questions.
3. The Functional Student Book mirrors our GCSE Student Books, so mathematical topics are covered in the same order in both resources.
Hope this helps…

We’re running an offer until 31st August

Any Maths teacher who subscribes to this blog between now and then will be sent a FREE Functional Student Book.  To subscribe you need only enter your school email address in the box top right of this screen – subscription is cost-free and spam-free.  Your details will not be shared with any third parties.  You will receive all our posts by email: 3-4 per week during term time, 1-2 per week during the holidays.  Existing subscribers can request a copy by leaving a comment on this post (which we will not publish).

All About Maths textbooks

July 20, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s interesting to see that AQA have added a ‘textbooks’ tab to their GCSE maths website to help you ‘find and buy resources you need for teaching [the] new Maths qualifications from September’.

And to complete the Longman resources we’ve just published our Assessment Pack:

All this for only £149.99!

 This straightforward and comprehensive pack gives you:

  • Course entry tests
  • Chapter tests – every chapter in each of our 3 Student Books
  • Practice Papers – modular and linear
  • Resit Papers – ditto
  • Mark Schemes for all the Papers
  • Class Progress Charts (on the CD-ROM in the pack) for you to keep track of students’ progress

Functional Maths is coming! Subscribe to this blog by 31st August and receive a FREE Student Book…

July 19, 2010 5 comments

After a 3 year pilot and much debate, Functional Maths is about to become reality for all schools in the UK.

We expect that teaching Functional will evoke a variety of emotions in Maths teachers (curiosity? excitement? panic?)  If it’s the latter, please remember there’s a survivor’s guide on this blog.  Or click here to go through to the AQA website.

And if you’re looking for resources, only one Student Book has been published for the new spec…  Yes, it’s ours and we’d be delighted to offer a free copy to any existing or new subscribers to our blog. Here’s a sneak preview:

Blogging about the blogosphere - could this create a space-time anomaly? Click to download PDF.

Other features of the Student Book:

  • Practice exam papers at Level 1 and Level 2, written in accordance with the new spec and the new specimen papers. Click here for a sample.
  • “Practice the Maths” sections at the start of every chapter, offering revision and practice to build students’ confidence.  Samples of these can be found in two recent posts: click here for wind power / formulae, and here for school trips / understanding data.

How do I obtain my free copy of the Student Book?

If you’re new to this blog, simply enter your school email address in the box top right and we’ll post a copy to your school address.  You’ll be subscribing to this blog, which is cost-free, spam-free and hassle-free.  You’ll receive each of our posts by email, which amounts to about 2-4 per week during term time and 1-2 per week during the holidays.  We will not share details with any third parties.

If you’re already one of our subscribers, just click on “Leave a comment”, and let us know that way.  The comment will not be published (unless you want us to) – it will just be read by the team here.

Other Resources

We’ve published a free Evaluation Pack, which contains a copy of the Student Book.  In a few weeks time, we publish the Teacher Guide and, a few weeks after that, the ActiveTeach DVD-ROMClick here to browse or order any of these resources.

Subscribers win prizes!

July 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Our 5 winners of the June prize draw will by now have received their £20 Amazon vouchers – this is just a small thank you for showing your interest in AQA GCSE Maths 2010.

The East-West spread of the winning schools spanned Bristol to Lincolnshire (209 miles). Our most northerly subscribers are ‘over the border’ in Scotland!

Remember: at the end of every month we hold a free Prize Draw for all our subscribers.  To be eligible, you just have to be a Maths teacher and a subscriber to this blog. 

Holidays soon!

And be sure that we’ll continue over the summer, so subscribe now to make sure you’re in with a chance for the July and August draws!

Chameleon explains Maths, tells Pony to shut up

Chameleon explains AO2. Note - turn your sound up!

So we had this idea a while back to try and explain the concept of AO2 through the medium of animation. However, somewhere along the line things went a bit skew-ways, and we had to call a halt before the “creative” madness got out of hand. Check out the results…

This is wrong in perhaps many many ways, but we think it’s funny and harmless, so take a look and pass it on if you agree. (Note – turn the sound up)