For Students

Hey students.

My name is Mr Jones, and I currently teach at a mixed 11-16 school in Gloucestershire, although I’ve taught A level before and worked in a grammar school too. In each school I’ve taught quote-for-students1in, I can tell you that Maths is a subject in which you will struggle. It’s just not easy, and even if you ‘click’ with it, there’s still a huge amount to learn, and yes I know it can be dull.

But I have a secret – when you’re older, you will need more Maths in life than you think. Yes you’ve heard it before, but I want you to see it for yourself so I’ve made some videos for you to watch.

You may have stumbled across this site by searching online, or you may have been pointed here by a teacher or tutor – either way, browse away and laugh at me by all means. I’m not trying to teach you – your teachers do that. I’m just trying to show you that in life, Maths really is relevant and you will need to apply your school Maths knowledge if you want to make good decisions, and frankly, save quite a bit of money! Maths is all about problem solving – so these videos will help you practise what you’ve learned in class, and help prepare you for GCSEs that open doors to jobs or further education. We really do need Maths 🙂

How to use these videos:

Choose videos with appropriate difficulty. The green, amber or red difficulties are important, because you may not have any idea how to solve a red question if you’re only in year 7!

Play them all the way through.  You need to understand the whole problem before working on it.

Rewind. Drag that slider backwards until you can see all the information just before the end music (normally my face looks pretty funny at this point, but hey). Just like a complex exam question can be overwhelming, practise seeing quite a lot of information in one go.

Look at the number of marks. If it’s a 1 or 2 mark question, you should need one step to get that answer. You may need to just remember a formula like the area of a triangle, and plug in the numbers of the question. If it’s a 4 or maybe 5 mark question though, it will take a few steps to get there, so think about an overall approach before just launching in and starting to solve it.

Problem Solving Tips:

Re-Read (or re-watch) it. Your teacher will almost certainly keep telling you to read the question carefully – they’re right. There are clues and crucial information there that you must not miss – so don’t rush.

Break it down. Your teachers will encourage you not to panic if the question requires about 4 steps to get to the end answer. You may not even know how to get there. Either way, think about small steps that may take you towards the answer. Ask yourself ‘What are the units of the answer?’ – does that give a hint as to the kind of skill you need to apply to solve it? Even if you still get stuck, hey, you’ve calculated something and maybe would have earned some marks in an exam situation.

What DO you know? Sounds basic, but write down or add to a diagram anything you DO know. Are there any angles you CAN identify? Add them. Are there any sides that are the same which makes a special shape? Write it’s name down. If it’s a time question, how many seconds are in minute, or if it’s a numbers problem, how do you start to find a percentage, or how do I divide by 10?

Don’t forget to answer! Sounds strange, but so many students think that a Maths answer is always a number, but sometimes it’s a choice, or a reason, or a person. So make sure you re-read the question at the end and ensure you’ve actually answered it!

Who you gonna call? When stuck, look in  your class books. What problems have you done already that are similar? What link is there between the answer and the number in the question – can I work backwards maybe to find what the question must have been? Still stuck? Search online – hey, you guys have such an amazing tool called the internet, with loads of teachers on YouTube and other sites who are offering to teach you. Watch their videos, see their examples. Does that help? Finally (and I mean finally) you can ask your teacher of course, but a good teacher won’t just give you the answer – they’ll get you to look at the problem from a different perspective.