A Level ideas from outside the box

Thursday 30th June 2022

Do you have any ideas for teaching A level Mathematics that aren’t just following the textbook?” – I heard that question a couple of times last year, and it led to Ben Sparks and me putting on a series of online sessions titled Ideas from outside the box that explored various topics from A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics.

If we were running these sessions face-to-face, they would have had a very different flavour. I expect we’d have used some of our favourite rich tasks such as RispsOpens a new window or materials from Underground MathematicsOpens a new window, and possibly some practical activities. The online nature meant that we instead focused more on the maths – ways to introduce new concepts, looking at some of the proofs that are often omitted at A level, exploring links between topics that might not be obvious, and applications to modelling.

For example, why is finding the area under a curve (integrating) the reverse process of finding a gradient (differentiating) – whilst we may not show the justification to every class, earlier this year one of my own students found me after a lesson to ask exactly this question! In the Trigonometry event, we ranged from discussing “What is sine? And why is it called that?!” to using real-life tide data from Devonport and fitting a mathematical model to it in GeoGebra!

We’ve got one more of these online events planned this term on Monday 11 July 2022 from 14:15-16:15: Exponentials and Logarithms - Ideas from outside the box. Ben and I are planning to run this series of online sessions again in the 2022-23 academic year so, if you missed out on them this year, we hope you can join us next year! Sessions planned for next year include Differentiation, Integration, Trigonometry, Exponentials and Logarithms, Differential Equations, Matrices, and Complex Numbers. Keep an eye on the AMSP South West regional events page.

By Pat Cobb

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