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.

STEM grants for Teachers

From the National STEM Centre “The Ri and the Causeway Foundation are offering UK schools grants of up to £500 to host a show, talk, workshop, debate, challenge or other STEM activity to supplement their students’ classroom activities.

Grants of up to £500 are being offered to eligible state-funded schools, academies and FE colleges in the UK to take part in an Enrichment and Enhancement (E&E) STEM activity from the STEM Directories before July 2015.

The Scheme is now open and the deadline for applications is 9th February 2015 at 5pm. For more information and to apply, visit the STEM Directories website.

Priority will be given to schools meeting certain criteria – please see the grant terms for more details.”

London Mathematical Society 150th Anniversary

http://www.lms.citizenscape.net/core/portal/webcast_interactive/156983

From the LMS “The talks will be given by mathematicians at the cutting-edge of mathematics research, whose successes underpin some of the most exciting technological developments we take for granted today. Additionally, the event will feature speakers who use mathematics in other exciting ways, such as in the making of the TV series Dr Who and Sherlock, and films such as Life of Pi and Harry Potter. Click on the tabs above to find out more about the speakers and the full Launch programme.”

London Mathematical Society Grants for Teachers

1) Small Grants for Education (from £600 to £800): http://www.lms.ac.uk/grants/small-grants-education
This grant is to stimulate interest and enable involvement in mathematics from Key Stage 1 to 5 (and beyond) by enhancing and enriching mathematical study beyond the curriculum, engaging the public with mathematics and encouraging unusual ways of communicating mathematics.

2) Teacher CPD Grants (up to £400): http://www.lms.ac.uk/grants/teacher-cpd-grants
This grant is here to provide opportunities for mathematics teachers to attend training which is specially mathematical. It is intended to facilitate mathematical professional development to allow teachers in UK schools to develop their subject knowledge, engage in a deeper understanding of how to develop mathematical thinking, appreciate the interconnectivity of mathematical topics, update themselves on mathematical curriculum reform and the use of technology where appropriate.

RISPs

 http://www.risps.co.uk

Brief Outline:

A free website which provides tasks which are laid out in a form which can easily be projected or printed and given straight to students. Each task comes with detailed teachers notes which give some background as to why the task might be useful, suggested ways to lead students through the task and any necessary answers or examples of possible answers. Many of the tasks can be adapted to other topics. The tasks are arranged by topic for AS and A level Core.

How to Use them:

As suggested by the name, the tasks are designed to be interesting starting points for topics. I, however, tend to find students get more out of them if they already have some knowledge of a topic. I find the tasks are great for consolidation and for connecting together ideas. They often encourage students to think things through and generate questions. Many of the tasks can be taken to varying degrees of complexity and hence provide differentiation by outcome.

Some of my favourites:

Risp 10- More Venn Diagrams

A great way for students to consolidate knowledge of straight lines or quadratics. Can be used as a starter with some discussion about what properties are needed to fit each section, or as a plenary to check knowledge of properties.

Risp 24- 3 Fact Triangles

I use this as an introduction to C2 Trigonometry. It allows students to recap knowledge of SOHCAHTOA and non-right angled triangles. I tend to find students need to recap their knowledge of non-right angled triangles. I often adapt this slightly…first I give students time to find as many triangles as they can. We draw these together as a class with discussion about how students approached the problem (strategy) as well as what makes the triangles mathematically different. I then tend to pick a selection of the triangles (including right-angled and non right-angled) and ask students in pairs to work out as much information as they can about those triangles.

Risp 29- Odd One Out

This can be adapted for use with many different topics. Students can argue why they think on of three things is the odd one out and there are often different answers depending on your explanation and reasons. I like using this when discussion properties of functions in Core 3.