#MathsConf9: For lots of teachers their first time !!


So @MrMattock and I travelled by train t0 Bristol. Would you imagine the lady we sat with moved within 30 seconds of me opening my iPad on the table. Hmmmm perhaps I am a bit noisy for her !!

Anyway, we arrive in Bristol and Pete goes to check in. I head straight to the pub.  ‪@ColinTheMathmo ‬Is at the bar wondering if he is in the right place (thanks for the Orange and Lemonade) . I arrive and he knows he is. A few table moves later and we are ready to go. When I say a few moves, people that were there will know it might have been a minor fire hazard.

I even managed to get @EmathsUK his own chair which no one else was allowed to sit in. Here he is with @Rach_Read and Lisa (plus a few others that were there). A bit of glass collecting later, and the bar staff bought me a pint of milk. For those that know I would usually have Coke but we always seem to choose pubs that don’t sell “Proper” Coke.

Less than 6 hours in a Travelodge and I am ready to go to #mathsconf9 by shuttle bus provided by @EmathsUK and @LaSalleEd. Were you the 1 person that got the 8:05am bus with me this morning and then you will definitely understand that “Getting to know each other and sharing what we do is a very important part” #mathsconf9 From the Isle of Man and hasn’t been to #mathsconf before.

Introduction as always by Andrew Taylor and (Dr) Mark McCourt. Have seen Complete Maths and think it is great. I also have to look at the next few MathsConf as they don’t let me out of Leicester very often but Cardiff, Edinburgh, London are all coming up so may have to get a “pass”.
Arrival / Networking / Morning Refreshments / Exhibition

So already this morning I have helped on @Mathematical_A and @ATMMathematics stands. Card readers are never simple to get working. And technology never works the way you want it to when you have a queue. Good job that East Midlands have a joint MA/ATM branch. Loads of great publications on both websites. Hoping that I will get to see the other exhibitors at the next break time. Following on from the “Welcome” from the #mathsconf9 Main Sponsor, Andrew Taylor @ AQA I am keen to go and visit their stand to see the latest. Also interested in getting information about Marking the GCSE this summer.

The Welcome and introduction is detailed and informative about Complete Maths Schemes and Curriculum, students taking quizzes and doing independent studying. As alway Mark McCourt, Chief Executive, La Salle Education provides plenty of detail on how the Complete Maths Network works. Here’s some stats:

OfSted priority is to know what KS above and below are doing.

Mark gets a laugh from his “buying manipulative” / “come to my session” line. Times tables going into Student App.
I can only apologise to those that have to have me as a Speed Dating partner as I’ve not had breakfast (Travelodge don’t do breakfast pre-8am on a Saturday !!!). I (as always) try to find someone I’ve not met to share a favourite maths idea. Some great websites and ideas shared as always. 120 seconds (naughty school children) everyone moves and talks. I am not Speed Dating @MrMattock !!!

Actually turns out I am (looks like the worksheet he plans to use at the TweetUp !!

As it happens I also followed @LMPeters16 … Really like the look of http://www.visualpatterns.org and http://www.mathtalks.net

My third date I turned Stalker-esque as I watched Kath and Emma have a “date”…


That’s the @MathsDragon and Emma doesn’t tweet !!! I mean what is happening !!!

Apparently only the final date matters after Birmingham led to a Speed Dating marriage. Just been offered a 3-way date for the second time by @maudemaths The @MathsDragon turned down a 3-way date !! The idea is from Ellen’s colleague (@Captain_Loui) who clearly doesn’t realise @ColonelPrice outranks her (or does she ??) interactive resources to engage students. And available on TES … what more could you want !!! Apparently it is not going to happen this time but next Speeddating session I will be ready.

The Twitter hashtag is still behind Saturday kitchen but @Gordon_Brough tweeted the cakes. And got a reply. If you signed up for sessions, or didn’t, work it out as some of the rooms will be crowded. @El_Timbre stuck in the middle of nowhere waiting for someone to save her !!! Lucy steps in to connecting research in maths education to practice.

Make sure you complete the Treasure Hunt. Winner gets an Amazon Fire. Go around all the exhibitors to get the clues. Every #mathsconf raise money for Macmillan and we have so far raised over £10,000 and for every pound raised @EmathsUK matches…. Last maths conf was £1,700. MathsCake competition lunchtime the winner was:

Leibniz is @EmathsUK all time favourite EVER. I wonder if it is for the same reason as me !!!


The first Coffee Break and I’ve sold lots of raffle tickets !!! I’ve met lots of great new faces and looking around the Exhibition there are lots of people I need to go and speak to. I am sure I will find more time after selling even MORE raffle tickets.

Workshop 1 – From Abacus tô Zero. The Etymology of the Language of Mathematics, with @SolveMyMaths He couldn’t decide where in the room was best to stand and suggested he stands on the table. A quick scan through some of the key vocabulary and where the words come from. Ed questions EVERYTHING in Maths. Is Quadratic a “strange” word ?

Let’s start Abacus and go to Zero ? Slabs and Dust !! Greek and Hebrew. Slabs and Dust, how we used to do maths a long time ago. Calculus refers to pebbles. Use pebbles in the sand to represent arrays and properties of number. Back in the day (possibly just for some older Twitter followers – no names mentioned this time !!!).

The word one derives from an…. An animal… one animal…Sem think same.

I am sure many others thought Polygon was many sides … but actually means many angles. Gon meaning angle. DiaGONal…. and also words like PeriGON (means a full angle) and DiGON… Slides as always shared later and think this will definitely be something I could use. Great to come out on a Saturday morning and find things that you can use back in the classroom. Trigon and tetragon- Triangle and Quadrilaterals.. obsessed with those and circles. Only later when people got interested in more sides and they needed a structure. This was built after we needed the structure. What shape would you be if you had to come back as any? @SolveMyMaths wants to be a Triangle.

Circ is a ring. Circus… Circumstance (To stand around in a circle / the events surrounding something) Another inappropriate joke from Ed … words beginning Circ !!

Quadrilateral… means 4 sided… But Rhombus is named after an object… Description of it’s appearance.

Coffee Break 2 I managed to sell some more Raffle tickets. I thought I would get a chance for a coke but as people kept giving me cash (which is far more important).

Workshop 2 with Mr Barton

The discussion we had on the table was great. Every week they discuss what % will get it right. Then discuss the reasons why. Maths meetings should always involve doing some maths.

The thing to take away is if they are not secure in a topic then there is no point doing multi-mark practice exam questions. The students do not learn tricky problem solving skills by doing tricky problems.

Read the papers on: Self-efficiency & Learning vs Performance

What is purposeful practice? There are three key principles,

  1. Practice key concepts in engaging ways
  2. opportunities to think deeper
  3. focus is always on the practice

Number 1 is the key to this. Everyone is working on the same task, Students not fluent can practise. Rich Tasks are Purposeful Practice.

A great activity shared:


Don Steward activities are great:

We are reminded to give students  activities that they can get purposeful practice. And we are also given the 10 topics that students struggle with: The BIG 10 !!


We also got to see the UKMT questions which are beautiful questions for students to do once a week.

Lunch as always is fantastic. I managed to go and do some extra Networking  and sell some raffle tickets. I went to the Exhibition and got some Maths Badges. I took a photo of (and tried to eat the Maths Cakes. Competition winner has done a fantastic job.

The TweetUp as always was a great chance to “do” some maths. I was busy selling raffle tickets (Over £700 raised again for Macmillan – Great work as always @LaSalleEd and @EmathsUK )

Workshop 3 I went to see Andrew Taylor from AQA. Discussion with audience about whether marks can or not be awarded.


If there is a completely wrong method that by some method gets to the right answer then it may be penalised. It is rare that we will get the situation. You don’t give the answer mark without the method marks. Start again and come to right answer then you would give the benefit of the doubt and give the marks.

AQA Maths expert panel split 50:50 on this diagram:


Apparently 3D diagrams (and OfQual) are the … got a laugh… Part of the assessment strategy is to have A01 marks in straight forward questions. If you allow straight forward marks you lose A01 marks somewhere else. Have to make those decisions about where to allocate the marks.

The key thing to take away from the session is that if even if students are unable to answer a question there are marks available throughout a paper for resilience and having a go. Organised working out will help the student but will also help the examiner. Spend time with students setting work out.

Workshop 4 – Kris Boulton The Genius of Siegfried Engelmann

Most of the things you think are processes probably aren’t. Recommending a hard to read book. His Twitter is @Kris_Boulton

Certain things are either Concept, Fact (should this be a subset of Concept), Process

The idea of examples and non-examples. Lots of people have now heard of this but 6 years ago Kris explains that not many had.

Expand 4(7x + 13) … The Americans talk about distributative property. Would you use this language at the start ? Kris uses the identity symbol a lot !! Assuming what the identity is. Use arrows or equals if they are unfamiliar with identity symbol.

Write this expression without brackets.

Direct instruction people think is Teacher talk in a lecture format. This is not the case. Do not speak and write. When we read we translate in our minds (phonological loop) we hear sounds in our head. We can not process two sounds at the same time. When written, go back and say it. The numbers must be selected so that it is painstakingly obvious where they have come from.

Minimal difference examples. Not rewrite expression rub out the number and replace. This is continuous conversion. Change in the input affects the change in the output.

Kris uses many words Lógico Imperico ?? He is such a smart guy – (yet still forgets cash for Raffle Tickets !!!) – And not his first #MathsConf so no excuses !!

Engelmann is a behaviourist when it comes to instruction. Given certain stimuli, questions, what responses do individuals give in response. How do they respond? Can someone infer easily/automatically where it came from. Kris explains that it is a process and we can come back to distribution and this becomes exciting. If we have taught the property as he has explained distribution in another context. They are taught first and chained together in a later lesson.

Kris has explained what a Transformation concept is. Kris asks for questions and talks about deeper interconnected understanding and how they connect to one another. Starting positions as simplistic input/output approach. What you should get across the prior attainment spectrum is that students are able to understand. Do a different lesson and then connect it.

Kris talks about expansion sequence and taking students further than they have gone before.

Mark returns to the stage and as always the Closing Remarks include the announcement that the Macmillan Raffle raised £805.  £1600 and a bit off to Macmillan next week. A Twinkl subscription to the winner. 1st winner is Ticket 33, Sam. The Treasure Hunt was won by Henrietta !!!

The Maths Cakes Competition Winners Announced and the winner is:


After Prizes done, time for Postcards. What will you write to your future self? What do you pledge to do. Postcards to yourself to remind you what it was you wanted to implement from today. So far I have not been very good at doing this so perhaps my postcard should be to write my postcard !! What will I embed back at school and make sure I do when I get back. Technically it could be to write more blog posts about #mathsconf !!

As always the Farewells and goodbyes are emotional but with a #mathsconf not far away it will not long before we all catch up again. The Bar Opened as always the La Salle Education team for after conference drinks in the bar. Another great day. And don’t forget about future events:

And the Maths Teacher Networks are like mini-MathsConf events !!



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