Five favourites from AS Maths

Last year I wrote 5 favourite things from GCSE maths so this year I thought I’d put some from AS. There’s quite a few things that we’ve tried this year with the AS students so I thought I’d write about a few. We’ll see how results go but the students have been positive about the new things we’ve done. I’ve absolutely loved my AS class this year but they were a bit odd (well most of us are!) and quite weak so it’s been important to try and help them do well. I’ve done more about trying to look at the bigger picture and connect topics to give a better understand but there were also a few simple things that we did that I thought worked well.

Radians as the first topic – I wrote a post about this earlier in the year (check it out here) I said at the end hopefully by the time we were using radians in February they’d see them as fairly normal and I think that worked pretty well. Things like arc length, sectors and segments were really quick to teach meaning we got straight on to the interesting bits and with trig graphs they automatically put the axes in radians which I thought was brilliant.

Bread and Butter – I love bread and butter that Mel from just maths came up with. She’s got a post about it here with GCSE ones on that are fab. As a department we decided they would be a starter across all levels once a week. It’s a good way to start a lesson because students know what they are doing and there are always a few questions they can answer so everyone gets a quick win at the start of the lesson. Sharon did the questions I just did the template and the graphs but she said I could share them so they are in the A level section

Races – Not a new idea but they’ve worked well this year. With the students in pairs they get Q1 and bring their answer to the front, if it’s right they get the next question if not they try again. It’s really funny when you put in a question that has something in it that students often miss like converting to units or substituting back in at the end as they get really frustrated that their answer isn’t right and it teaches a good lesson about reading questions carefully. Well designed questions mean you can start simple and then build up so that the last questions involve more thinking and working out which slows students down so the gap between the fastest and slowest isn’t as big. Once there is a winner I often get them to explain their answer before they get their prize with other students allowed to question them and will get students to choose the trickiest question they did to write up. I’ve put quite a few up in the A level section but will have a look for any more to add in soon.

Markit!! – I want students to be doing more practice outside of lessons and this has been a really good online way to get that happening. the questions are really well thought out with some nice interesting ways of asking exam style questions. Some of my students got really into it over the Christmas holidays to prepare for their January trial exam. One of them did every single question after doing badly on a mock before the holidays and went up by 28 marks! Next year it’s going to be built in from the start to get students into good habits. If you haven’t already seen it have a look here, there’s enough free to be able to get a good feel for it and be useful to students. Charles and Nikki aren’t paying me to say this but they are lovely and have been great this year at things like adding in extra content and features I’ve asked for.

Power hour – Jo wrote about revision clocks here and I used the idea with all of my classes. It was a nice way to get students focused especially some of the tricky lessons like the afternoon after the C1 exam when we needed to revise C2 but they mostly wanted to complain about C1. I like the focus on some of the basic straight forward exam questions and tended to use it in a 100 minute lesson so that everyone was expected to do all of the questions for the power hour and then afterwards could either move on to standard papers or something harder. There’s one for C2 and S1 at the minute but I’ve got a couple more to put up.