Venn Diagrams and Simultaneous Equations

Download the PowerPoint and Worksheet here

Just a quick one this week.

I’ve been reading Michael Pershan’s Teaching Maths With Examples this week. It’s really good. I recommend it. Quick, simple and easily digestible. Great stuff.

In the book, Michael describes using Venn Diagrams to give an overview of what, exactly, we mean when we talk about systems of equations. This really made me sit up, because I think students often don’t quite know what systems of equations ARE. They can procedurally solve them, but sometimes struggle to get a big picture of what they’re doing.

This resource aims to give the big picture, the WHY, before moving onto the HOW to solve.

So we do this by trial and error, then you swoop in and show students a more formal, better method for finding these answers.

I hope you like it and find it useful.

As always, feedback to @ticktockmaths on Twitter.

Maths Spelling Tests (Again)

I talked a little about the idea for Maths spelling-type tests here.

I’ve used them this year, but I’m not really sure how effective they’ve been. I’m not sure pupils have fully bought into the idea of using learnt facts.

The other thing I noticed is that I hadn’t really presented them in a way that was useful, so I’ve redesigned them and made enough for an entire half term. You can download the pdf here or the PowerPoint file here.

Now for each week/test you get a version with everything filled in to give to the students to revise (two to a page to save on printing), and on the next page there are two of the tests, with blank sections for pupils to fill in from memory.

As always, feedback appreciated.


A few years ago I had some difficult year 10s. Instead of doing their work they would play a game called Bananas. One of them would give the others a letter, and they would each try and come up with a film, a popstar etc that started with that letter.

I decided to turn the tables on them and made a maths version.

I think literacy in mathematics often gets overlooked. Many students struggle with the words we use and their meanings. They also often struggle to decode questions. This helps to a limited degree, and it’s fun. Often when a student completes each category, it’s a worthwhile conversation talking about the words they have come up with and what their definitions are.

The online version is here. It’s set up to display nicely on a whiteboard.

If I were to modify this, I might make it so that some letters are more frequent than others.

It’s difficult to do for z.

Rent To Own

I made a quick PowerPoint comparing rent to own companies like Bright House with buying goods outright.

Get it here

I think there’s a problem solving task in here. Collecting the items needed for an everyday house and comparing the cost of buying them outright, buying them with a credit card and buying them with Bright House.

Financial literacy is important for students, and it’s a shame it wasn’t foregrounded more in the new GCSE.

I would like to see a syllabus that included as an objective the ability to compare credit card and loan deals, and the ability to compare, both in cost and in time, the outcomes from paying off the minimum each month versus other sums.

Maybe that’s a summer project.

The UK's cheapest mortgage?

HSBC launches Britain’s first fixed-rate mortgage below 1% [The Guardian]

The bank is offering customers the chance to lock in for two years at an interest rate of 0.99%, but they need a deposit of at least 35% and will pay a product fee of £1,499.

The question then is, is this cheaper that most people can currently get? How much cheaper.


It seems like a lot! I’ve done a quick graph in DUDAMATH here comparing debt after 2 years between the new mortgage and a typical no-fee 1.89% mortgage. I’ve used x to represent the amount that you’re borrowing.

Stuff like this is good.

  1. It’s nice to demonstrate that the maths we do has real world applications. Solving equations links to mortgages.
  2. It’s nice to show all the different maths I’ve used here. Forming equations is useful when plotting graphs and comparing data. You can also see why I’ve plotted the graph. It gives a much nicer and easier to read handle on the financials when compared to the article.
  3. Teaching this in a lesson I could vary the interest rate using DUDAMATH. We could investigate at which point the 0.99% deal is better than a y% deal.
KenKen Puzzles

Since finding this on TES, I’ve become midly obsessed with KenKen puzzles. They are like Sudoku (which I already think is fantastic at developing the kind of maths skills I want to see) but much more mathematcally involved.

There’s a load of these puzzles on the linked PowerPoints, or you can just Google ‘KenKen’.