Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Cambridge Mathematics Education Project: The power of CMEP resources

Here is an account by one MA member on using Cambridge Mathematics Education Project resources in the classroom.

Having returned to teaching year 12 core mathematics for the first time in several years I was keen to try out some of the many resources currently being created by the Cambridge Mathematics Education Project (CMEP).

Having initially thought many of the resources would be beneficial for extension and revision but not quite sure how much time I would have to fit things in I was inspired to try something different having heard other teachers discuss how they have used the resources in their classrooms at a recent workshop.

I chose to dive straight in to linear coordinate geometry with a CMEP problem I liked: In-betweens. This problem encouraged students to find the missing value of y for a point on a line segment. Having shown students the initial picture I was impressed at the resilience and collaborate working they displayed as they set about using what they knew about linear equations and supported each other with gaps in their knowledge from GCSE.

What became apparent is that students remember and can apply a lot more than I normally give them credit for. Students argued over methods and quickly became engaged in the recurring decimals they were coming up against accuracy required. A quick discussion about the value of fractions and they were off, having accepted more quickly why exact values are more useful then I have ever experienced before. The problem extends to a similar set of problems (e.g. now finding the y value) that are all subtly different and lead them more generally to the utility of sketches but also the futility of plots which are time consuming and don’t really help anyway. It was a great problem for exploring other geometric methods such as similarity and in one lesson we recapped and covered: gradients, finding the equation of a straight line from two points, midpoints, ratio, substitution, rearranging, Pythagoras and similarity. This is not to say I stopped there and never looked at these topics again but it gave me a great pre-assessment of where students currently were in their knowledge as well as a chance to introduce a more typical A level solving problem than they were used to and get them talking mathematically.

I am impressed at the thought that goes into these resources and the potential they have to help students connect topics and apply knowledge which I have previously found lacking in my students. I am glad I took the risk and decided to try something new.

The Cambridge Mathematics Education Project is a Department for Education funded project in the UK. For further information and access to the pilot site please email cmep@maths.cam.ac.uk. The resources are also being featured in the upper secondary student section on NRICH.