## Tracking feature tracking quite nicely, response-wise

Long time visitors to the blog might recall the occasional self-congratulatory reference to the new tracking feature on our forthcoming ActiveTeach software. What the hey, we think it’s pretty nifty.

ActiveTeach puts the textbook up onscreen for whole class teaching. The new tracking feature enables the teacher to gather information on the class response to every single activity or exercise, with, oh, about 5 seconds total effort per lesson. A tracking screen then shows topic status, traffic-light-style, and it’s dead easy to see what needs attention. Or indeed, simply what topics you’ve covered. In a future world, this information would then be beamed direct to your brain, but that’s Phase 2 territory for now.

Most importantly, teachers we’ve shown it to, “get it” instantly. The response has been so positive, we consider the tracking feature now worthy of the ultimate accolade: a screencapture walkthrough that explains what we’re actually talking about.

CIOLUKWYK (Check it out, let us know what you think).

## In praise of problem-solving: Dan Meyer speaks

Here’s a fascinating video clip we found on the **TED site**… **Dan Meyer** is a Maths teacher in the US and gives a passionate defence of problem-solving as the way to teach:

Problem-solving , alongside **functional maths**, is exactly what the new **Maths specifications** in the UK are all about. Click here for more info about **AO2** and **AO3**.

Oh, and here’s a short, tongue-in-cheek video that we made, explaining problem-solving: **Zen and the Art of AO3**

## 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.

## Update from QCDA on Functional Skills

QCDA has just updated its Functional Skills site for the first time since early November, and here’s the gist below. Still no further word though on its previously heralded Functional Skills Conference due for March 9th in London, but maybe we only dreamt it? Maybe it’s a Fictional Functional Skills Conference? Get in touch if you know better.

Free guide to functional skills – out today in SecEdIncluded with 25th February edition of SecEd is a QCDA-sponsored supplement on functional skills and their position within the four qualification pathways for 14-19 year-olds – Apprenticeships, Diplomas, GCSEs and Foundation Learning. This free booklet guides readers through the need-to-know areas of functional skills, including case studies, interviews and practical advice. To get hold of your copy, look inside the SecEd, which is sent to every school, or visit www.sec-ed.co.uk

Functional skills in action – four new films launchedWe’ve launching four short films on functional skills . These films look at some of the ways that pilot centres have been approaching delivery of functional skills within the 14-19 qualification pathways – GCSEs, Diploma, Apprenticeships and Foundation Learning. The films have been launched on the SecEd website, to coincide with the QCDA-sponsored functional skills supplement.

Factsheet on transition arrangements now availableWe’ve now produced a factsheet on the transition arrangements for functional skills. The factsheet covers everything you should need to know about the transition from the pilot, to the national implementation.

## First exam dates for new GCSE specification now available

The first batch of exam dates for AQA’s new GCSE Maths Specification 4360 is now available:

- Tuesday 9th Nov for Unit 1 Higher and Foundation
- Friday 12th Nov for Unit 2 Higher and Foundation
- Monday 7th March for Unit 1 Higher and Foundation
- Wednesday 9th March for Unit 2 Higher and Foundation

You can doublecheck this with the interactive exams timetable at http://www.modernisationonline.org.uk/comptimetable/ . This site is useful for creating a personal exams timetable for printing and downloading.

Keep an eye on the AQA website for details too.

## Zen and the Art of AO3: A transcendental explanation of the new AQA GCSE Maths Assessment Objectives…

We know some teachers have been struggling to understand what the new **AO2 and AO3 Assessment Objectives** are all about… We struggled to start with.

But after publishing two student books, consulting endlessly with the examiners, and writing umpteen practice questions on AO2 and AO3, we think we’ve sussed them. Which makes this about the right moment to share this knowledge…

One of our authors happens to double as a Zen master and explains AO2 and AO3 in this short video in the only way he knows how. It’s tongue-in-cheek, of course, but we hope teachers find it genuinely helpful:

## Definitions of terms commonly used in maths teaching

This made us laugh, courtesy of http://sureshtcs005.wordpress.com/2008/02/12/maths-humour/

Maths terms commonly used in teaching, with their more accurate meanings…

CLEARLY: I don’t want to write down all the in-between steps.

TRIVIAL: If I have to show you how to do this, you’re in the wrong class.

OBVIOUSLY: I hope you weren’t sleeping when we discussed this earlier, because I refuse to repeat it.

RECALL: I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but for those of you who erase your memory tapes after every test, here it is again.

IT IS WELL KNOWN: See “Mathematische Zeitschrift”, vol XXXVI, 1892.

CHECK FOR YOURSELF: This is the boring part of the proof, so you can do it on your own time.

SKETCH OF A PROOF: I couldn’t verify the details, so I’ll break it down into parts I couldn’t prove.

HINT: The hardest of several possible ways to do a proof.

ELEGANT PROOF: Requires no previous knowledge of the subject, and is less than ten lines long.

SIMILARLY: At least one line of the proof of this case is the same as before.

PROOF OMITTED: Trust me, it’s true.

THE FOLLOWING ARE EQUIVALENT: If I say this it means that, and if I say that it means the other thing, and if I say the other thing…

BY A PREVIOUS THEOREM: I don’t remember how it goes (come to think of it, I’m not really sure we did this at all), but if I stated it right, then the rest of this follows.

TWO LINE PROOF: I’ll leave out everything but the conclusion.

BRIEFLY: I’m running out of time, so I’ll just write and talk faster.

LET’S TALK THROUGH IT: I don’t want to write it on the board because I’ll make a mistake.

PROCEED FORMALLY: Manipulate symbols by the rules without any hint of their true meaning.

QUANTIFY: I can’t find anything wrong with your proof except that it won’t work if x is 0.

## Recent comments