This is the Transum Mathematics Newsletter for February 2018. This month’s puzzle comes from The Penguin Book of Puzzles, a collation of great puzzles from old, out of copyright books written by the prolific puzzle setters from way back.

“Divide 45 in four parts, so that the first part with two added, the second with two subtracted, the third divided by two, the fourth multiplied by two, shall be equal to each other.”

That will give you something to think about. It’s not a familiar puzzle format is it? The answer can be found at the end of this newsletter.

The three most noteworthy new learning objects added to the Transum website this last month are as follows:

Frequency Trees: Being able to construct and read these diagrams is a new topic which appears on both the higher and foundation GCSE(9-1) specifications. This interactive exercise requires pupils to fill in the partially completed frequency trees then try some exam-style questions that introduce calculating probability from the numbers in the trees.

Number Grids: I have started collecting a variety of activities that can be enjoyed using this page of customizable number grids. As a Transum subscriber you get access to buttons that can quickly colour in the grids with the most common number patterns for pupils to describe. Please let me know if you have other ideas for number grid learning activities.

Old Equations: Most students can deepen their mastery of linear equation solving with these old, but just as good as new, intelligently varied questions. These linear equations appeared in a book called A Graduated Series of Exercises in Elementary Algebra by Rev George Farncomb Wright published in 1857.

The book I’m reading at the moment is “What does this look like in the classroom?: Bridging the gap between research and practice” by Carl Hendrick and Robin Macpherson. It is a very readable book in which the current educational experts answer the commonly asked questions about learning backed by the latest research. You can dip in and out of the book focusing on the chapters that interest you. The chapter headings are: Assessment, Marking and Feedback, Behaviour, Reading and Literacy, Special Educational Needs, Motivation, Memory and Recall, Classroom Talk and Questioning, Learning Myths, Technology and Independent Learning.

The thought buzzing around my mind at the moment is the notion that “I think the paradox is that the things that make you a good independent learner don’t necessarily look like independent learning.” Or in other words “…independent learning might be a desired outcome, but paradoxically, it may not be the best way to achieve that outcome.” Get a copy of the book and read about this and other Maths teacher dilemmas.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been posting “Hidden gems on the Transum website” on Twitter. The idea is to make teachers aware of some of the Transum pages I think are really useful but you wouldn’t necessarily think of searching for. They are also like needles in a haystack as there are over 4000 pages indexed by Google on the Transum website. Here are the gems I’ve already tweeted at the time of writing.

1: Triangle Solver

2: Mix and Math

3: Mind Reader

4: Refreshing Revision

5: Pong Hau

6: Old Equations

7: Graph Patterns

8: Box Plots

9: Venn Paint

10: Heptaphobia

11: Great Expectation

12: Number Grids

13: Transformations

14: Sheep Herding

15: Systematic Listing

16: Areas Investigation

17: Number Line

18: Exam-Style Questions

19: Area Wall Puzzles

More will be tweeted soon as there are many more hidden gems. You can find out about them if you follow me (@Transum) on Twitter.

The answer to the puzzle of the month is 8, 12, 20 and 5

That’s all for this month,

John

P.S. What do you need to calculate the distance around a circle of sheep?

Answer: Shepherds’ Pi.