My favourite shape…

The content of this post originally appears on Chalkdust’s ‘What’s your favourite shape?’ post.

Möbius strip (Rob Beckett)

My favourite ‘shape’ is the one sided non-orientable surface called the Möbius strip. This can be created by simply twisting a long strip of paper and gluing the ends together. One of the explanations most regularly associated with the Möbius strip is that of MC Escher, who described an ant crawling along its surface. The ant would be able to do this and return to his starting point having not even crossed an edge (or maybe it keeps crawling on indefinitely hoping to find the end!).

In the Numberphile video Möbius bridges and buildings Carlo H Séquin (UC Berkeley) considers using the idea of a Möbius strip to create aesthetic bridges and buildings.

mobius

#ChristMaths15

On the 21st December 2015 Jo Morgan hosted the first ever ChristMaths party event with CPD, networking and of course alcohol! This post contains some of my reflections after reading what I wrote down during the talks.

Strategies for teaching previously ‘Grade C and beyond’ topics to Foundation students – Mel Mundowney (@Just_Maths)

Mel delivered some interesting points in her talk, particularly addressing how many students are now playing ‘catch up’ with the curriculum changes due to different demands and teaching. One of the key things I noted were that there is a need to ‘keep things fresh’ as, more recently, there has been cyclic and repetitive content being taught in a disjointed curriculum. Another was that it’s ‘all about the questions!’ In particular how these differentiate tasks and how it can help develop pupils.

Flexible maths – The Michaela Community School Maths Team (@BodilUK, @danicquinn & @naveenfrizvi)

The Maths team from Michela school delivered a session discussing their approach so far (being a new school they have only year 7 and 8). They showcased their knowledge booklets which have been used to aid lesson teaching and have a strong focus on developing mathematical vocabulary and knowledge through ‘drilling’ the basics. It was interesting to hear their approaches and the booklets that were shared at the event will probably be a valuable resource!

Developing problem solving skills – Colleen Young (@ColleenYoung)

Colleen Young’s talk had a focus on developing the problem solving classroom. She suggests that the teacher-student relationship is a key aspect of this development. Additionally our use of vocabulary and students understanding of this could develop. When tackling ‘problem solving’ questions students should not fear just trying something; there should a resistance in the urge to rely on the teacher as ‘mathematical guru’. She provided lots of resource suggestions and her whole talk can be found on her blog!

A five year GCSE – Kris Boulton (@Kris_Boulton)

Kris talked about how we can better our own teaching, in particular discussing examples where he had not explained or taught topics well and had then adapted or radically them at the next time of teaching. He also identified that there is plenty of time to teach the new curriculum, but we need to focus on teaching well in the first instance and sequencing the content better. He concluded his talk by saying “Mathematics is mathematics!” This was a suggestion that we should be teaching students maths from (at least) year 7 through to the end of (at least) year 11 and we shouldn’t ‘start teaching GCSE in year 9 or year 10’.

Closing remarks – Jo Morgan (@mathsjem)

Jo was the concluding speaker raising some of her talking points and concerns about the new GCSE. One that stood out to me was the mention of Gove claiming the new GCSE would include fundamental mathematical content – but who decided what is fundamental (e.g. trig ratios in foundation)?

Evening networking

Having recently joined the Chalkdust magazine team Jo kindly allowed me to distribute copies around the room for people to take. It was really well received and I hope everyone from #ChristMaths15 enjoys reading issue 2 as much as I did!

The evening of the event saw maths teachers talking, completing Jo’s quiz and solving puzzles from Emma Bell (@El_Timbre).

An excellent ending to a very well organised and successful event! Well done Jo!

 

 

My favourite function…

The content of this post originally appears on Chalkdust’s ‘What’s your favourite function? Part II’ post.

Rob Beckett’s favourite is a classic:

e^x

My favourite function is the exponential function f(x)=e^x. This is primarily because \frac{d}{dx}(f(x))=e^x, in other words the function is growing at a rate which is equal to its current size. This is a really interesting property which comes from the fact that e=\lim\limits_{n\rightarrow \infty}{(1+\frac{1}{n})^n}. Just like pi is the ratio between the circumference and diameter of circles, the number e is the base rate of growth and it crops up whenever things grow or decay continuously and exponentially. Our exponential function appears when considering bacterial growth rates, populations, radioactive decay and even occurs in the Black-Scholes formula which is used in the financial market.