The Return of Y12: ideas to inspire for the last few weeks
It’s summer. Exams are almost over. Classrooms are hot. Students are winding down to the holidays and teachers are battling their own wind-down feeling to keep students alert. And suddenly… Y12s are back! And they are not back with new pencil cases and the fresh brightness of a new term. They are tired from exams, some not sure if they are actually taking A2 maths, and most are a bit jaded about back being in school while the sun shines. Classes are besieged with absence caused by university open days, enrichment events and sports day. Some teachers will remember the days when the ‘lower sixth’ was about delving into the depths of your subjects, engaging in small scale research projects and immersing yourself in learning without the pressure of exams (or else it was the year of hard socialising and minimum work because there were no exams!). Now we are faced with students that have spent the year responding to exam pressure, and have just got over that hurdle.
So the question arises of what to do with Y12s in these last few weeks while the sun beats down and the end of the year is in sight. It may be that you have been given a chunk of the A2 syllabus to cover, with the aim of getting ahead before the year starts. But maybe this is the time, without Y11 pressure, to branch out and get creative, aim to enrich and inspire those tired brains, and pull in some of those students that might be considering dropping maths.
Here, we suggest some resources that can support the more creative, open-ended and rich teaching of A2 topics, some stand-alone resources for those teachers with time to branch away from the syllabus, and some events that you might like to consider attending with your sixth formers.
Resources to support rich A2 teaching
- Rich Starting Points (Risps)
Based around the A level maths curriculum, and usefully categorised by topic, each Risp comes with a simple PDF problem sheet for students and a PDF of teacher notes with answers, explanations and ideas. For example, Risp 26 which supports students to generate the compound angle formulae (C3 trigonometry)
- Rich tasks categorised by paper then topic at AS/A2 (NRICH)
For example, this one to support C3 numerical methods and functions work – finding roots of tricky functions using numerical methods
- A level problem solving resources (Further Mathematics Support Programme, FMSP)
If your students could do with some problem solving practice, the FMSP resources consist of topic-based individual worksheets, or problems for work in groups of four. No substantial knowledge of Y12 maths is assumed, but their problem solving skills will be challenged and sharpened, as well as reinforcing A level concepts.
There are also materials for Y12/13 problem solving masterclasses – this could be time to put on a more general event for the whole cohort.
Ideas for other creative things to do with Y12 students to expand their mathematical horizons
- UK Mathematics Trust (UKMT) Senior Team Mathematics Challenge
UKMT Senior Maths Challenge (for Y12/13) this takes place on 8 November 2016; Senior Team Maths Challenges are in November/December. Summer is the perfect time to have a go at some of the problems and develop some tactics or to pick a team for the team challenge
- Star trails and the sidereal day
This is a resource from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. In this activity students use star trails to calculate the true rotation period of the Earth. Students can make their own star trails inside the classroom.
Hot weather produces hot classrooms and even older students will welcome the opportunity to have a lesson outside. These resources, produced by the Millennium Mathematics Project (MMP), are ideal for an Olympic year, and with a little creativity could involve a lesson outside to test mathematical models.
- Key Stage 5 Maths and Sport Resources (MMP)
Activities based around sport using A level maths. These include the mechanics of various throwing/jumping sports, probability around drugs testing and looking at stadium lines of sight.
Why not take your Y12s out for the day? The following are a few suggestions – there may be more available locally:
- Y12 Mathematics Enrichment Day, 8 July, Cambridge
Each student will take part in three different highly interactive workshops during the course of the day. Workshops are led by members of the NRICH team
- Take Maths To The Limit, Y12 Mathematics Day, 28 June, University of Bath
Preparation for STEP and AEA papers and aiming to give students an idea of what a degree in maths might be like
- Student Maths Conferences, 6 or 14 July, University of Warwick
Proof, Presenting Solutions, Fun Maths & STEP, guided tours of the campus. Accompanying teachers are provided with a parallel CPD programme
- Y12 Mathematical Modelling Day, 12 July, Lancaster University
This is an event designed to encourage enthusiastic Y12 mathematicians to undertake some in-depth study through two mini projects which show different aspects of the applications of mathematics.
You may not want to take your students to the pub, but that needn’t stop you suggesting this to the enthusiasts:
Second to last Tuesday of every month, in a pub near you, MathsJam is a monthly opportunity for like-minded self-confessed maths enthusiasts to get together in a pub and share stuff they like. Puzzles, games, problems, or just anything they think is cool or interesting.
Come September, they will all have new pencil cases and fresh faces, as well as the memory of inspiring maths from the summer!
Page header by Caio Resende (adapted), in the public domain