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This term, Ben Sparks and I have had the delight of discussing interesting integrals, devilish derivatives and cool complex numbers with teachers as we carried on with our series of “Outside the Box” A level PD sessions – apologies for all the alliteration! Within each session we’ve tried to consider the big picture for a topic, and generally how it develops through A level Mathematics, and possibly Further Mathematics as well. We’ve also thought about some of the proofs that students might not need to know to pass their exams but that can enrich their understanding of a topic and the connections between different areas of maths. As well as that, we’ve looked at little twists and interesting observations, such as the following:

In the first Year 13 class I ever taught I had two students who tackled the same integral in two different ways and then were puzzled by their different results – what is going on here?

Interestingly, there has been a very similar question in one of the new A level Mathematics papers (we’ve had five sittings, but only two proper cohorts go through it – so I still call it new!).

If you want to join us, we will be talking trigonometry on 11 January, exploring exponentials on 22 March , and, with a heavy Further Maths slant, discussing differential equations on 12 December. And I’ll aim to avoid any additional alliteration!

By Pat Cobb

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