Avoiding the textbook

Maths is exciting, it is engaging, it is enthralling; yet all too often the enthusiasm, the buzz and the motivation to get involved can be sucked out of a lesson by boring, dull, lacklustre resources. In starting the planning for a new scheme of work with @Just_Maths, @el-timbre and others, a key feature of people’s requests was that our schemes should have ideas and links to other resources and rich tasks; basically anything that stops the default lesson planning involving a textbook, 10 ticks questions or a PowerPoint equivalent.

The following are tiny selection of books, websites, and software packages that might help you ensure your pupils avoid the doldrums and retain/regain their enthusiasm for the subject. The best place to find new ideas though has to be on Twitter. If you’ve not yet seen the light, read about why I think it is so wonderful here.

  • MathsBox.org.uk is a fantastic website with hundreds of free, pre-made Bingo activities and settlers for most topics on the GCSE curriculum. (Free!)
  • MathsLoops.co.uk are made by the same people responsible for the MathsBox website. They are sets of loops cards for practising most GCSE topics, but presented in a completely different way. Pupils will end up doing more practise that they would working from a textbook/worksheet but without realising it! They have three free samples available on their website at Grade A, Grade C and Grade G.
  • We Can Work It Out – A resource produced by the ATM. It consists of sets of cards that together provide enough clues to solve a given problem. Ideal for group work.
  • What Kind of Game is Algebra? – Another resource produced by the ATM. It contains card based games for collaborative group work.
  • People Maths: Hidden Depths – A book produced by the ATM to give ideas for how to teach maths using people. I particularly like the ideas for loci!
  • Dance Mats – an idea I found on @NumberLoving’s blog.
  • 10 Quick Questions is a piece of software produced by Chris Farmer. It allows you to set 10 timed questions (ranging from a couple of seconds up to a minute) on literally hundreds of maths topic areas.
  • Using music in lessons – most people have seen the circle song on YouTube. There are other equally catchy songs for other topics. The link is to another blog post on @NumberLoving’s blog.
  • Jigsaws – The Tarsia jigsaw software (free!) is excellent.  @MrBartonMaths has loads of pre-made activities that you can download from his website.
  • Always, Sometimes, Never – by Andrew Jefferies – 90 Always, Sometimes, Never cards. [With thanks to @Jessica_r_b]
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