The original presentation I did for my ITT trainees was called ‘where to find great resources’ – about 10 minutes in to the session they said ..

‘finding resources is not the problem, there are 100s and 1000s of them – selecting them and not spending hours looking at them is the problem! – how do you decide which of the resources you find is the right one?’

For example – one of them ‘needed some resources for teaching quadratics’ for next week – how do you find something on that! This blog is a summary of what I thought about how you chose those resources.

There are particular sites I visit regularly and there are resource makers I favour, and I tend to start there, but that is just because of the lack of time. It is interesting to consider what it is about those resources that make us come back again and again. Being able to change other people’s resources to work for you and your students is crucial, if I can’t adapt it then it is of limited use to me.

Some resource makers are particularly strong on maths concepts and ideas – like Don Steward or nrich.  Some are fostered in classroom experience like maths jem / Corbett / pixi / just maths / barton / MissB / …
some are good on developing skills like NCETM and the maths pedagogy gang.

If I had the luxury of looking at lots of different resources I would want them to cover 6 different elements. And the best resources would so all 6, though in practice, some are selected by me because they focus particularly well on one element.

Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 11.44.05.png

If you want questions that test students exam skills – 
go to the exam experts

cube exam qu.pngthis one is from


exam qu 2.png

and this from


the fine detail

Students have to be able to remember what they learned today and carry it with them into the back-end of next year. They need to have the FINE DETAIL at their fingertips. Students need to know the facts. That formula, that process, that set of operations. Knowing how to do something on a mechanical level. Our department does a great exercise stolen from Hattie (Visible Learning) based on his six principles of memory retention (p116) and how knowledge is stored (p126). By the end of this block of lessons each of the students has a set of revision strategies to try to develop over the year. We collect our ‘Fine detail’ facts on the wall as we go through the course. I talked about this in my blog on the formula bucket.

there are loads of well-respected and well used site with exercises to refine and refresh this fine detail.

Ten tics, Maths ninjas, Mathematics Enhancement Programme, Corbett Maths, SMILE, Pixi Maths, Resourceaholic, Solve My Maths, Access Maths, MathsBot, Miss B’s Resources, Cav Maths, Maths Sandpit, Mr Collins, Flying Colours, Dr Frost Maths, Mr Reddy Maths, Craig Barton, CIMT, Hegarty Maths, Mr Mattock Maths, AllAboutMaths, Khan Academy .. to name a selection!

the big picture

Activities for broader understanding or testing unfamiliar scenarios. Activities for making links between topics.

pineapple bitpineapple full

Helping students to step back from a question and see the links to other topics – for example @mrBarton talks about this in his Same surface, different deep questions .

To help them to start noticing the clues, observing, stepping back from getting stuck and thinking hmmmmm.. That’s interesting, I wonder what would happen if …

What not to learn

Some students try to ‘remember’ everything, so first you need to be clear what is on the specification, and what do you have to ‘learn’ and Second, what can I use to work out other things and not need to learn it, but I can work it out when I need it?  Where can I save a bit of brain memory, and where do I just need to learn it like a monkey being taught to jump! (we have  ‘monkey jump questions’ where we flag them in the papers).

Later I would use more of the examiners reports like these from AllAboutMaths to help students not panic when they find a question that they don’t know what to do with it – is this something I don’t know or a clue that I am missing?

Maths awe and wonder

I have talked before about my ambitions to help students see the wonder in maths, but if I can do something from the list about and have a sprinkle of awe, then that is always a bonus! Have a look at Vi Hart, Numberphile, Simon Singh parallel, Subtangent, Project Maths for full lesson plans, TED talks, Alex Bellos,, Maths in the movies

or try some puzzles and codes etc. like the ones on the GCHQ book.


maths skills

I think one of the key differences between NQTs and more experienced teachers and the outcomes of their students is pre-planning for misconceptions (which is from experience), but also knowing the language of the testing regime and the skills expectations of the exams. Know which investigations, patterns sniffing and efficient methods are likely to be engaging and fruitful takes time, and you need to know your classes and school. you could try Don Steward, MEI, UKMT maths challenge, 3 Act maths / Dan Meyer, Open Middle Problems, Math Argument 180, 5 Triangles, Mathematical Beginnings, Nuffield AMP Investigations or Bowland Activities.

and while we are at it, how about some recommendations for the 
teachers too!  
Here are the 3 pieces of academic research that 
I have found most interesting this year.

USING POPULAR CULTURE TO TEACH MATHS Heather Mendick, Brunel University

Being a Girl Mathematician: Diversity of Positive Mathematical Identities in a Secondary Classroom (2017), Darinka Radovic, NCTM

Investigating the impact of a Realistic Mathematics Education approach on achievement and attitudes in post-16 GCSE resit classes (2017), Sue Hough, MMU and Nuffield,

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