After an exciting and intellectually tiring first two weeks of the PGCE (including an introduction to maths resources where I was encouraged to explore the NRICH website for myself), I sat down on Saturday morning for my first Maths Scholars CPD webinar. This included a session on NRICH by Dr Ems Lord, who is currently the Director of NRICH, but also has incredibly impressive credentials and past experience. I was interested to hear Ems speak about the things she wishes she had known whilst teaching, but I wasn’t expecting to find out anything particularly new as I already knew how to use NRICH, or at least I thought I did!

Ems talked about the NRICH activities being aimed at increasing students’ problem-solving skills and having a LTHC (Low Threshold, High Ceiling) which she explained allowed any ability to access the problem with plenty of opportunity to stretch the students to consider trends and predictions.

We were invited to consider the way the resources could be used by the students. Ems suggested that parts of the available “Student Solutions” could be offered to a student who was stuck to help them get started again; that pupils could submit their own solutions enabling them to extend their conjecturing and convincing skills to the point of convincing an unknown audience; and that there were accessible resources in case students are learning from home again. For A-level pupils, there are also STEP resources which would be particularly useful for those looking at studying maths at university.

I was amazed at the range and breadth of resources accessible to students directly and through their teachers. However, my misconceptions of NRICH were challenged most by the resources available to teachers. As well as the NRICH events, which I will be making every effort to attend, and the teacher resources running alongside the problems I was interested to hear about the Curriculum Maps and the Habits of Mind sections.

The Curriculum maps are contained with the Secondary teacher homepage within the Secondary Curriculum section. These organise resources by topic and level. I plan to use these maps to link relevant resources to lesson planning and would recommend these to any other trainee maths teachers.

The most interesting aspect for me was Habits of Mind sections. This section conjectures that pupils learn better when they are being curious, resourceful, resilient and collaborative. This sparked my interest and led me to spend time reviewing the suggested activities for each topic to help our students become more curious, resourceful, resilient and collaborative.

I am so glad I joined the webinar and listened to Ems and I am planning to try out some of the activities with my maths-loving daughter and to incorporate activities into my lesson planning in school as soon as possible.

By Anna Gray

You can find NRICH on Twitter as @Nrichmaths, Dr Ems Lord as @DrEmsLord, and Anna Gray as @MrsGray1905.