Here is the Transum Mathematics Newsletter for May 2017. As last month’s puzzle was quite difficult (particularly if you did not have access to pen and paper), this month’s is a little easier. It’s the sort of puzzle that you could throw out to your pupils at the end of the lesson and is inspired by the forthcoming exam season.

Mac has taken seven maths exams this year. His average mark is 78%. What mark must he get on the eighth exam to raise his average to 80%?

While you think about that I’ll alert you to some of the new content added to the Transum website this last month.

Manifest: This is a new game that I have played with some pupils and the excitement it generated was immense. I thoroughly recommend it if you would like to end your lesson with a little bit of strategical thinking thinly disguised as fun. The rules of the game couldn’t be simpler.

Players take turns arranging their cards to make a single digit number, a two digit number, a three digit number and a four digit number. They should do this while the other player is not looking. The player with the largest single digit number wins one point, the largest two digit number wins two points, the largest three digit number wins three points and the largest four digit number wins four points.

The Transum interactive version of the game is designed to build suspense and anticipation at the ‘compare numbers’ stage. Give it a go, you will love it.

Screen Test: A selection of short (one to two minutes) factual videos have been chosen for this test of memory. When the video has finished playing you can reveal the mathematical questions about the video. The first questions test recall while the latter questions require application of the facts. A little bit of variety in a Maths lesson can be provided by this five-minute activity.

Bearings: A five-level, self-marking quiz on three-figure bearings. Level 2 is a measuring exercise with an online protractor provided. If you are planning on using this activity with your pupils be sure to develop bearing estimation skills first by using the Plane Bearings visual aid.

Box Plots: Level 3 of this online exercise is a major new manipulative feature. Pupils can drag the handles on the box-and-whisker diagrams to create the correctly-aligned box plot.

Averages: Not strictly a new activity (3528 people have already earned a Transum Trophy for completing it) but this online exercise has been updated and some of the levels changed.

For most of the online exercises the Check button can now be double clicked to make it float at the bottom of your screen. This makes it much easier to check answers as you are working through an exercise rather than just at the end. Transum excises are designed for frequent checking and the pupil is encouraged to change wrong answers and click the Check button again.

Many schools have direct links to Transum activities in their schemes of work and at least one of the major exam boards links to Transum activities in their publications. There is now a short URL for each activity (scroll down the page to find it) making it easier for teachers to include the link in their scheme of work or learning management system. The short link is also ideal to show or send to pupils.

It is not too long now until some of your students sit the brand new GCSE(9-1) examinations. Many people have talked about how the new numbered grading system will be understood by those outside education who have been used to the lettered grades. When I took my O Level Maths exam in 1974 it was also a set on numbered grades but going in the opposite direction; the top grade was a one!

An amusing reflection on the new 9-1 grades was included in the News Quiz on BBC Radio 2 last week. The excerpt has been included in the podcast version of this newsletter.

Talking of Maths exams, I would like to invite you to send your pupils a pre-exam present. Send them the URL of the Transum Exam Revision page. The page contains tips and links to useful revision resources such as my Exam Tips Presentation (a poem) and the Exam-Style questions.

But if they have done too many past papers already how about inviting them to take the Tran Tunnels adventure which is full of GCSE style activities and accompanied by music (The Goldberg Variations).

Finally here is the answer to this month’s puzzle.

In order for his average mark on eight exams to be 80% the total of the percentages on all eight exams must be 8 x 80% = 640%

His total percentage on the first seven exams is 7 x 78% = 546.

Therefore the mark he must earn on the eighth exam is 640 – 546 = 94%

That’s all for this month.

John

P.S. Theorem: a cat has nine tails.

Proof: No cat has eight tails. A cat has one tail more than no cat. Therefore, a cat has nine tails.