What’s new? April 2021

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Desmos classroom activities

We have started adding Desmos classroom activities for a number of topics. Our collection of activities is still growing, but where available, you will find links to these in the expandable Teacher resources boxes under a topic’s set of slides.

Desmos classroom activities allow you to set work to students and see how they are performing, either in real time, or at some later point. Here is a view of the teacher dashboard (on the left) as a student works through a task (on the right). Note that our tasks contain randomised questions. Therefore, for any given tasks, students in general will get similar, but not identical, questions to each other. As a teacher, you can quickly see the type of questions that students are seeing, but you can also dig deeper to see the specific question that each student sees. Whilst you can monitor students’ progress on a question-by-question basis during a live lesson, you don’t have to do this in real time. You can simply check how students fared at a later time, if you wish. This makes these activities suitable for use as homework tasks.

Find out more here.

In each activity, we have tried to include questions that go beyond the merely procedural. For example, you can preview the addition activity here. Questions 10-12 are designed to be somewhat calculator-proof without being tedious. They numbers being added contain too many digits for most scientific calculators, but a student with a good understanding of addition can find the sums quickly. Questions 13-16 contain non-standard questions focussed on partitioning, commutativity, and associativity. Questions 17-20 here are worded questions where students may need to select exactly which numbers in the question need to be added, and which ought to be ignored.

Shortcut and Mashup questions

We have continued to add questions to our shortcut and mashup collection which now features almost 50 questions. I tweeted about a recent addition—and a couple of rich seams of mathematical opportunities that arose from using this in the classroom:

Firstly, the equation can be solved without needing to find the value of \(k\). And if students don’t spot this and instead try to find \(k\) first, it is interesting to see how efficiently they go about its value.


While we haven’t added any new topics to this set of question generators, we have added a number of new question variants to the existing topics.

Vocabulary resources

We have continued to create slides highlighting the etymology of key words, creating cross-curricular links where possible. Here is one of the latest additions:

The current collection of slides can be downloaded at bossmaths.com/voacb

Earth Day 2021

For Earth Day, we created a few environment-themed prompts, which we have embedded amongst various topics. For example, consider this “live counter”:

This is based on data from https://www.globalwarmingindex.org

This counter can be used when considering place value, rounding, converting between Celsius and Fahrenheit, decimal arithmetic, rates of change—and whether it is reasonable to present data in this way!