## The AV referendum – FREE Maths activity to download!

The **Alternative Vote referendum** will soon be upon us…

Exciting for some, dull for others – and a rich source of Maths questions for GCSE classes.

Download our very own ** alternative Alternative Vote referendum**. It’s a role play allowing your class to mock up their own referendum, learn about the two different voting systems, and explore the maths behind them. It’s also a bit of fun and we guarantee it will bring a smile to your students’ faces.

Here are the Teacher Notes to accompany it…

The Maths includes percentages, representing data and bias. The last two topics often perform badly in exams, so don’t lose this opportunity to set your students down the right path!

We’ve also prepared a **worksheet** and **ballot papers **for your class.

Oh, and please tell us how the *alternative* AV referendum plays out in class? Which candidate wins under AV? Which under FPTP?

## Here’s what you told us

Last month we conducted a survey of our subscribers to find out what you really think! After 18 months of blogging, we were curious…

**Q. If the blog stopped tomorrow, which of these statements would best describe your attitude? **(Tick only one)

Well, that was a relief. No-one ticked the “Happy – all the email updates annoy me” box. We’ll do our best to keep it that way. Thank you for your support.

**Q. How long did you read the blog before you subscribed to it?** (Tick only one)

This result took us by surprise. We had no idea the decision to subscribe was taken so quickly.

**Q. Before you started this survey, who did you think writes and produces the blog?** (Tick all that apply)

This response made us smile. We can say definitively that we are *Longman*, which is part of *Pearson Education. *Either of those would have been correct, so a majority of you were on the right track. We are not part of AQA and definitely not Nelson Thornes (greatly though we esteem those organisations)!

**Q. If we were to cut down the types of activities we were going to provide on the blog to just four, which of the following types would you want to keep?** (Tick four only)

Harder to read this slide, so here’s a summary: the most votes went to “GCSE new-style practice questions and papers”. We hear you – we’ll keep them coming and make sure we offer all the support we can through the Summer exam season.

Our topical resources came in as next most popular. Collectively, there were 42 votes for our topical lesson plans and activities relating to**:**

- “…major sporting events” – for example, our World Cup posters last year – 16 votes
- “…major non-sporting events”, for example our General Election activity last year – 15 votes
- “…annual festivals, e.g. Christmas, Halloween, Bonfire Night”, for example our Sherlock Holmes competition last Autumn, episodes of which related to these festivals – 11 votes

We’ll keep this stuff coming as far as time and tide allow. For example, to mark the passing of the 500 day milestone and the availability of tickets for sale, we’ll shortly be publishing an Olympics poster.

There was also enthusiasm for the sample pages from our published resources, with 12 votes. Again, we’ll keep these coming. The least votes went to our video resources and news updates on AQA specifications and policy.

We asked you to tell us what other kinds of resources you would like to see. Your answers centred around three types: (i) more exam questions/papers/feedback, (ii) more puzzles, (iii) interactives.

We hear you. We’ll do our best.

**Q. What are your other sources of topical resources for use in school?** (Tick all that apply)

Space doesn’t allow for all the questions, and we promised to keep all individual responses confidential. But we do want to say a big T H A N K Y O U to everyone who took part. Some of your additional feedback was very encouraging: you made especially kind comments about our Middle sets Student Book, about our Sherlock Holmes competition, and about our other free resources.

Finally, some of you expressed concern that we might start charging for the content on the blog (we asked a few hypothetical question around this). Don’t be, because we won’t.

With best wishes,

The Maths Team at Longman

## Our top ten most popular articles

In honour of our 7 month anniversary we initially thought it would be quite interesting to tally up and see which had been our most popular articles on the blog. And so a long dark night of manually totting up and comparing visitor numbers followed, until someone pointed out it’s actually quite easy to rank articles by popularity on WordPress.

There’s a button for it.

Sigh.

Well, we didn’t have blogs and social media and such whatnot when I was a lad.

Turns out the results of the tally are most interesting if you find predictable things interesting, such as the World Cup or the Olympics being popular. But here’s the list of our top ten articles in any case, on the off-chance you missed any of these little crackers.

1. Countdown to the World Cup!

2. World Cup maths: the route to the Final!

3. Problem solving at the Winter Olympics

5. Election Maths! Functional Maths resources

7. Functional Maths Qualification 2010

## New Education Secretary, Michael Gove on Maths

Note to self – next time the country gets caught up in coalition arranging shenanigans, don’t go profiling the new Education Secretary until it’s officially *officially* confirmed exactly who it actually is. Damn you, Sky News!

Was it the tone of our earlier (now hastily deleted) post that ousted David Laws from contention at the last minute? Who knows, and er, oops, sorry if so, but anyhow it’s Michael Gove we’re dealing with now.

If you’ve not heard it before, here’s Mr Gove’s take on what should be done with Maths, in a speech he gave waaaaaaay back in the old days – over two whole months ago. Whether his ideas survive the trauma of hung-parliamentitis, we’ll find out over the next few weeks.

The most influential language on earth is not English, or Mandarin but maths. Mathematics is the means by which we make sense not just of the natural world around us but also lay the ground for discoveries yet to come.

The Pythagorean revolution was prelude to the astonishing flowering of classical philosophy which laid the foundations of the Western world. Galileo recognised that it was through mastery of mathematics that the music of the spheres could be heard by man, and the shape of the earth made real. The thrilling breakthroughs he and his contemporaries made helped mankind move from an age of superstition to the rule of reason.

The Enlightenment, mankind’s great period of intellectual flowering, the liberation from ignorance on which our current freedoms rest, was made possible by the work of mathematicians like Leibniz and Newton.

Gauss, the prince of mathematicians, called maths ‘the queen of the sciences.’ Why? Because of what Wigner famously called ‘the unreasonable effectiveness of maths’ – the miracle whereby pure maths can, sometimes centuries later, find practical applications never originally dreamed of, and the way in which a mathematical formulation of a physical principle leads to extraordinarily precise descriptions and predictions.

## More election maths…

One of our readers has just highlighted a free election maths resource which he’s put together and which we’re happy to highlight:

http://www.caniplaythisathome.com/play.htm?questions=reviseGCSEMaths

It’s taken from his website:

http://www.caniplaythisathome.com/

Click this link to see our own **Election Maths activity**, which we posted last week.

## Election Maths! Functional Maths resource for schools

**General Election**, 6th May 2010 – the Big Day approaches!

With that in mind, here’s an Election Maths activity to tease out the** handling data and percentages skills** of your class:

Click here to see last week’s **post on the General Election**.

And here are some free **Functional Maths**** **activities, which we’ve posted recently: **Volcano Maths** (probability; distance-speed-time), **Countdown to the World Cup** (fractions) **Maths in the Roof Garden** (volume, area, perimeter), **Of Rock Festivals and Number Skills** (interpreting data, number skills).

## The future of schools – what does Nick Clegg think?

With the second **live Leaders’ Debate** coming up tonight at 8pm, and with the Lib Dems riding high after last week’s debate, we decided to have a quick look at Lib Deb policy on schools.

We found nothing specific to Maths in the **Lib Dem manifesto**. But here are some general highlights, which would impact on Maths teachers. (This is just what we’ve dug up – there is of course no substitute for reading the **manifesto** itself.)

**Standards and Curriculum**

- The Lib dems would replace QCDA and Ofqual with a “fully independent educational standards authority (ESA)”
- “Axe the rigid National Curriculum and replace it with a slimmed down ‘minimum curriculum entitlement'”
- “Scale back KS2 tests at age 11 and use teacher assesment…”
- They would reform league tables, in particular to reduce importance of borderline C

**Teacher Remuneration**

- “Reform the existing rigid national pay and conditions rules to give schools and colleges more freedom, including offering financial and other incentives to attract and retain excellent teachers, while ensuring that all staff receive the minimum national pay award.”

The manifesto also includes a commitment to cut class sizes. “An average Primary school could cut class sizes to 20. An average secondary school could see classes of just 16.”

We’ll be blogging highlights from the other two parties’ policies later in the election campaign.

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