A blog about teaching and learning in a maths classroom.

@mathslinks — Added to MathsLinks: Proof Without Words: The Circle 29 Aug ago

Preparing to Engage, Enhance and Extend

Tuesday, 26 August 2014 | 0 Comments

I am presenting twice in September about how I use technology to engage, enhance and extend in my teaching.

I guess, this is a promo.

My focus in this presentation is on using a projector, the internet and a digital camera to improve the learning experiences in your classroom. Seems simple, but I suspect these tools are often overlooked for their true capabilities. Rather, teachers are being tantilised by BYOD, tablets and apps.

Fridge Shelf


How does this simple image of the bottom shelf in my fridge help get my students talking and learning about capacity?

[I used this image just today and one student couldn't believe I was using a photo from my own fridge, not sure why.]

Parts of Circle


How is this better than the static images of a textbook?

Racing Car


How does a toy car extend my students?





I will be presenting these ideas and much more in two sessions (each slightly different):



Maths in ACtion!

Maths in ACtion!

For DEC teachers, this is a 90 minute workshop.
Tuesday 2 September 2014, Ringrose Office, Greystanes.
PL@Edu course code: NR06824

I'll also be presenting at the MANSW Annual Conference.

Sign in to MathsLinks with Edmodo

Saturday, 23 August 2014 | 0 Comments

You can now sign in to MathsLinks with an Edmodo account.

This saves you from remembering another username and password.

MathsLinks also allows you to sign in with a Facebook, Twitter, Google or LinkedIn account.

[If you already have an account on MathsLinks, go to your profile page and you can add the ability to sign in with Edmodo.]

Here's a short (silent) screencast showing how easy it is:

Stem-and-leaf plots… an activity

Sunday, 03 August 2014 | 0 Comments

I recently came across the blog Resourceaholic. As a fellow resourceaholic, I immediately added it to my feed reader. In the post, Long Live Stem and Leaf, there's an image of a "real-life" Japanese train timetable represented as a stem-and-leaf plot, found on Wikipedia.

So good, I've added it to MathsLinks:

Glenn said to me, 

We should do the same, would be much more compact.

Good idea. I went to the Sydney Trains' timetable for the Western Line.

Here is the resulting stem-and-leaf version for the station local to me.

Stem-and-Leaf train timetable

The shaded orange cells are express services, the strike-through purple cells are for trains on the Cumberland line that also stop at this station.

This compares to the downloadable 25 page PDF version (obviously with much more detail, 55 clicks on the on-line version to get all these times, or a $3.79 app.

If I were still a commuter, I wouldn't mind a credit card sized version showing there and back around my common travel times.


Well, it's always nice to have real data and there are only so many times that you can plot the heights of students in the classroom. Plus, this is a practical activity that could be as small or large as suits your class.

Lots of the common data discussions could happen, outliers, clusters.

Maths Teaching Crisis

Wednesday, 09 July 2014 | 0 Comments

Everyday in the media, maths teaching and teachers are being judged. Maths teaching is in crisis. A shortage of maths teachers (and science) and the, presumably poor, quality of maths teaching.

This talk has been around since I've been teaching, and presumably longer. In fact this "crisis" may have been around since 1868:

In a report dated 1868, the Schools Inquiry Commission expressed serious alarm about the neglect of school mathematics and about the effectiveness of teaching the subject in UK.
A history of [MANSW] up to 1985 ... written by John Veness. [source]

Simple Harmonic Motion with Sam

Sunday, 06 July 2014 | 1 Comment

Back in 2012 when I first taught Extension 1 Mathematics, in particular Applications of Calculus to the Physical World - Simple Harmonic Motion (SHM), I captured this clip of my then 2 year old son:

This year, instead of using the clip as just an example, we watched the clip before SHM had even been mentioned. I asked the class to discuss and describe the displacement, velocity and acceleration. They observed, discussed and did a good job of describing (and plotting). (We also played the video at half speed to have a better look)

A little later I remembered that I had seen a Physics teacher blogger using video analysis software. Tracker seemed like the software of choice. This software has "automated object tracking" which worked ok, but I still did a lot of manual tracking. Anyway, here is the result:

This seems a lot more engaging than an applet.

With Extension 2 Mechanics in a week, it might be time to get Sam on his bike for some circular motion.

(Here's a nice collection to get an idea of what this software can produce.)

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Simon Job — ninth year of teaching maths in a public high school in Western Sydney, Australia.
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