A letter to the Sheffield Star

Dear Editor

As someone who teaches maths for a living it saddens me when I see mathematical errors in your paper.

In a letter about Council Tax increases (21.2.18) Ron Sanderson claimed that last year’s 5.99% rise combined with this year’s 4.99% rise made a total increase of 10.98%. He has added the percentages, ignoring the fact that this year’s increase is 4.99% more than the new total for last year.

For every 100p you paid in Council Tax in 2016, you paid 100 x 1.0599 in 2017.
In 2018 you will pay 100 x 1.0599 x 1.0499 which equals 111.28p or an increase of 11.28%

Understanding percentages is vital when working out things like Council Tax rises, pay claims, credit agreements or interest earnt on investments. People who don’t understand percentages and APR’s are much more likely to be ripped off. If you need help with maths visit my website at www.mathswithgraham.org.uk where you will find free activities, some with a Sheffield theme such as the Sheaf Valley Maths Trail, to help people of all levels, from the very basic up to Higher GCSE.

Yours faithfully

Maths with Graham

Here is the original letter.

Many FE students are preparing to take GCSE maths and are taking the new 9-1 syllabus for the first time. This document tells you exactly what you can expect if you are taking Edexcel.

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Here you can find practice exam papers. The best way to revise is to practice questions then mark them yourself to find out where you are making mistakes.

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www.onmaths.com is an excellent new website to help you with your GCSE maths revision. You will find practice papers that tell you straight away if you have got each question right or wrong, and the graphic shows you what grade you are achieving. If you get stuck each question is explained on a video.

I have recently discovered Kahoot! which is a free quiz game that anyone can use to make interactive quizzes. Competitors compete for points using their mobile phones or tablets to enter their answers. The quicker they choose the correct answer the more points they earn. It is very competitive and certainly provides plenty of pace to a lesson. It is completely free for both teachers and students to use. To start, set up an account at http://www.getkahoot.com and begin making quizzes.

Here is my first attempt. (I edited an existing one by improving the questions to include misconceptions and added a video for the start).

Mean, Median, Mode and Range

Here are some other Maths Kahoots! Please let me know your favourites and I will add them to this list.

Corbett Maths

Multiplication Facts 9 times table

Rounding Whole Numbers

What others think

Ticktock Maths

Great maths teaching ideas

Quizizz-an alternative to Kahoot!

The Math Hatter

Fed up with your GCSE revision? Try these new quizzes. You’ll find lots of different topics. Beware, they are designed to catch you out! The authors have thought carefully about the mistakes you are likely to make. So when you get to the end of a quiz look carefully at the mistakes you have made and make sure you understand where you went wrong.

A film about emotions, maths, relationships and autism. Partially set in my home town of Sheffield and highly recommended by Maths with Graham! Have any of my autistic friends seen this film? I would love to know what you thought about it.

If you are studying GCSE you need to be able to draw and recognise graphs of simple functions, both straight lines and curves.  If you are at college your computer might have software on it such as Omnigraph. If you are at home you can download free open source software that does the same job, called “Graph”. You can read more about Graph and download it here. When you have downloaded it experiment with different functions and see what happens to the graph. To enter x² you have to use x^2.

Here are some ideas of functions to try.

y=x,  y=2x,  y=3x,  y=4x etc

y=x+1, y=x+2,  y=x+3 etc

y=-x,  y=-2x,  y=-3x etc

y=x-1,  y=x-2, y=x-3 etc

y=x^2,  y=x^2+1,  y=x^2+2 etc

y=x^2+x,  y=x^2 +2x,  y=x^2 +3x etc

y=x^3,  y=x^3 +1,  y=x^3 +2 etc

I am becoming increasingly concerned by students who seem to have developed a complete addiction to their mobile phone! Many struggle to concentrate for a minute without having to check their device. So, mobile phone addicts, here is my solution to get you engaged in maths again! Download these great apps, and prepare for your GCSE. They both have limited free versions so you can try them out, but the price for the full version is very reasonable and much less than a revision book.

The news today is concentrating on UK students performance in maths, and how the students in countries like China, Korea and Japan seem to be doing much better.

Why not have a go at some of the test questions and see how you can do?

http://www.oecd.org/pisa/test/

This is what the Guardian has to say about it.  The OECD believe their results show that boys are better at maths than girls. Do you think this is true? Over the many years I have taught maths I have not found a great difference between the sexes, but I do acknowledge that the boys generally find shape and space activities such as working with nets of three dimensional shapes easier.

Image from the Lisa Simpson Bookclub

Simon Singh has written a book about maths in the Simpsons. Read all about it here on the Guardian website.

Have a read of the article and find out about Fermat’s Last Theorem,  Perfect Numbers, Narcissistic numbers, Mersenne Primes, Googols and Googolplexs and lots more! You may not need to know this stuff to pass your maths exam, but hopefully you’ll see that maths can be both fascinating and fun!

Nelson Thornes have published a very attractive Functional Skills Maths Childcare workbook. It covers levels from Entry 3 to Level 2 and all the maths is set in the context of childcare. Topics include Body Mass Index, Child Protection Legislation, Childcare provision, Children in Need, National Child Measurement Programme, Staffing Ratios and lots more. This book will not only be useful to Childcare students but will be an invaluable resource for teachers and lecturers with mixed groups of students looking for ways to make maths relevant and “functional”.

I particularly like the section on measuring babies which looks at length and head circumference and uses a centile chart for boys weight during their first year. I like the way each section includes questions at three different levels, making differentiation a doddle!

I originally posted  “The only down side with the book is that there are no answers. How do students working on their own know that they have got the calculations right? Busy teachers still have to work out all the answers!”  but I stand corrected. The answers are all freely available by registering on the website at

http://www.planetvocational.co.uk/contact-us/register

Do you want to buy a book to help you prepare for your Functional Maths test? Why would you when you’ve got Maths with Graham! Well some people learn better with the aid of a book and this selection is a good way to make sure you have got to grips with all the important topics. All I ask is you buy from a reputable dealer that pays their taxes! The Level 1 book is out now and the Entry 3 and Level 2 books are following soon. Each topic is clearly explained with straightforward notes, tips and worked examples. There are also practice questions throughout the book, plus plenty of test-style questions (with answers) to help you prepare for the real thing. It is suitable for all the different exam boards.

#### M1SRA3 – New Functional Skills Maths Level 1 – Study & Test Practice (for 2020 & beyond)

This amazing Functional Skills book has everything students need to prepare for the Level 1 Maths test! It covers every exam board and every topic, including all the calculator and non-calculator skills needed for the new L1 Functional Skills specifications in 2019 and beyond. Everything’s explained in CGP’s easy-to-understand style, with examples and notes galore.

If you can’t afford the £7.99 the publishers are very generous and have actually put quite a few of the pages on-line, so it’s worth a look

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An article on the NIACE website (unfortunately no longer available) informs us that funding for Functional Skills is to be doubled. This is undoubtedly good news, though the question has to be asked why it was cut back in the first place. I hope this improvement in funding will enable Colleges to cater for workers in smaller workplaces, many of whom need help with their Maths and English.

There is lots of controversy today about the Governments latest plans to ensure teachers are literate and numerate before they start teacher training. Maths with Graham thinks it is vital that all teachers are literate and numerate, so is much more concerned that an Academy school can appoint people without any teaching qualifications at all. It’s quite ironic that calculators will not be allowed in the new tests when the Government have just replaced the Adult Numeracy test (where calculators were not allowed) with Functional Skills (where calculators are allowed!) Teachers need to be both proficient at mental arithmetic and able to use a calculator, so really both should be tested.

You can see examples of current and future test questions here .

Here’s what the press are saying.

Guardian

BBC

Telegraph

Channel 4

Yahoo!

There are examples of test papers are on the TDA website.

Maths with Graham will of course be pleased to help prospective teachers with the tests, however difficult the Government decides to make them!

This was published in the Sheffield Star on 10th October

Dear Editor
Hats off to Bea Marshall who is educating her children at home. (Education on the Home Front 8.10.12). People of all ages learn best when they are enjoying themselves and unfortunately school is sometimes not a happy place for some children.
Home educators need to help their children experience and investigate subjects they may not be very confident  with themselves.It is certainly true that lots of maths can be taught by using practical activities like baking, playing with lego, going on a trip (planning the journey etc.) . Bea and other Home Educators will find lots of helpful resources on my website, www.mathswithgraham.org.uk. There are jigsaws, interactive puzzles and quizzes, videos and games that make maths fun and show where it is applied in every day life.
One thing many children learn at school is that they can’t do maths! This is usually far more to do with the large number of children in the class and the differing speeds of development of the children than a persons ability at maths. But once they have been put off it is incredibly difficult for them to regain confidence and be successful. Schools should be moving towards much smaller class sizes to ensure all our children reach their full potential and do not lose their natural instinct to find out about the world.
Graham Wroe
Original article
http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/sheffield-mum-home-educates-her-children-with-life-lessons-not-books-1-5002961
Education Otherwise provide information and support for Home Educators

Interesting news today that the NHS want to introduce standardised health charts to monitor patients pulse, temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, level of consciousness, and oxygen saturation. Apparently each hospital currently has its own chart, leading to confusion when staff move between hospitals.

Here is some of the coverage.

BBC

Guardian

Telegraph

Mail

If ever there was a good example of “Functional Maths”, this is it!  Everyone should have a basic understanding of these charts.

Maths with Graham would like to be able to access the video on the learning portal which explains how to use this chart, but searches haven’t yet managed to find it. Please let me know if you have the link.

Quia  is a site where you can easily create your own quizzes and access quizzes made by others. You can see examples of Quia quizzes by clicking the “Quia” tab at the top of the home page. There are 16 different types of activities you can create, including flashcards, concentration, rags to riches, wordsearch, columns, hangman, picture perfect  and battleships. Quia is a subscription service, but you can get a free 30 day trial.

Here is a great website to learn how to make paper planes.

Why not organise a competition to see which type of plane flies the furthest? Collect data on the flight distances and work out the average distance flown. Does it make any difference if you use mean, median or mode? Work out the range in flight distances. What does this tell you? Which sort of plane is the best?

The Manchester Science Festival  encouraged people to grow sunflowers in order to conduct a massive mathematical experiment. Plant the seeds in April and May, nurture the plants throughout the summer and when the sunflowers are fully grown be counting the number of spirals in the seed patterns in the sunflower heads. Don’t worry – expertise will be on hand to help count the seeds and you’ll be able to post your ‘spiral counts’ online.

The Fibonacci Sequence starts 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34…..

Can you continue it? Can you explain how it works? If you follow the link below you will see how this relates to flowers.

The results of the experiment will be announced during the Manchester Science Festival 2012 (27 Oct – 4 Nov), alongside a host of cultural events connected to Alan Turing’s life and legacy.

More about the Fibonacci Sequence in nature