It’s good to be back!

By Mark Dawes, in conversation with Andy Cornick and Jo Cayley (March 2021)

Now that the vast majority of staff and children are back in the school building it seemed useful to capture some thoughts while these are still fresh.  What follows is taken from conversations with Andy (secondary) and Jo (primary) about their experiences.

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Cats don’t like avocados.  Maybe.

by Mark Dawes (February 2021)

I don’t often eat avocados but bought some last week when they were on special offer in the supermarket.  I ate one this morning and then one of our cats, always excited about anything new in the house, jumped up and started licking the inside of the avocado skin.  Three minutes later he started retching.

My first thought: “Cats don’t like avocados”.  But maybe they love the taste, and it’s just too rich for them (in the same way that young children like chocolate but it can make them ill!).

Would it be better as: “Avocados make cats ill”?  But perhaps that’s not true of all cats and only our cat is susceptible.

My third try: “My cat and avocados are not a good combination”.  But maybe it’s only because it was the first time he had tried it and if he were to get used to it then things would be fine (not that I’m planning on this!).

Fourth go:  “An avocado made my cat ill this morning”.  That sounds better.  But perhaps the timing was a fluke and he had previously eaten something else that didn’t agree with him.

I finally landed on: “My cat ate avocado and was ill a few minutes later.  I don’t know if there is a connection.”

While this clearly links with the idea that “correlation is not causation” (demonstrated brilliantly here in one of my favourite xkcd cartoons), this made me think about online teaching and how we tell whether students are engaged in the lesson.

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A net or not?

By Mark Dawes (December 2020)

What is your response to the instruction “draw the net of a cylinder”?

  1. To draw a rectangle and two circles
  2. To quibble with the word “the” in the question
  3. To state that “the net of a cylinder” doesn’t exist

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Mathematical Thinking for GCSE

by Julie Jacques (November 2020)

This week saw the first session of the Cambridge Maths Hub work group on Mathematical Thinking for GCSE. Because this is one of the Five Big Ideas in Teaching for Mastery I signed up. The work group is led by the Deputy Lead of the Cambridge Maths Hub. There were only three participants – me, a head of department and someone else who I didn’t get to meet because their microphone and video were not working. It meant I got to spend 90 minutes deeply unpicking maths questions with three other teachers – wow, what an amazing CPD opportunity! Being online makes accessing this workgroup really easy too. If you would like to come and join in the fun, email admin@cambridgemaths.org They have said that they will re-run session one for anyone else who wants to take part.

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From EYFS to KS3

by Chris Clayton (September 2020)

I was reminded of the early foundations in the teaching of mathematics when I attended a seminar on subitising for early years. At the seminar, the book Making Numbers: Using manipulatives to teach arithmetic, by Griffiths, Back & Gifford (2016) was recommended. While the book is aimed at EYFS and KS1, as I started to read it I realised the impact it could have on mathematics teachers at KS2 and KS3.

It will certainly have an impact on my own work.

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About the Cambridge Maths Hub – September 2020

By Mark Dawes (September 2020)

This blog post is aimed at those who want to find out more about the Cambridge Maths Hub, either because they are new to teaching maths, are new to our region, or want an update as to what is going on in this strangest of years!

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Geometry Quest

By Julie Jacques (July 2020)

Geometry is one of the most beautiful and versatile areas of mathematics, which is why it is my favourite area to teach. Shape fills the world around us; just look around you now, how much geometry can you see? During the lockdown period, 30 of our Year 7 mathematicians have been on such a quest.

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