Jo Morgan is the teacher behind successful Twitter profile @mathsjem. She’s also a respected maths blogger and a self-professed ‘resourceaholic’, collecting and sharing a wealth of useful teaching ideas and resources on her website, resourceaholic.com.
I talked to Jo about her current year 11 top set as she comes to the end of teaching for the new GCSE and her reflections on the year.
How confident were you about teaching the new GCSE content?
“Last year I taught Linked Pair, so I wasn’t really worried about the new topics – I was familiar with the material already.
“At the start of the year I knew I did not have many resources for some topics, such as iteration and systematic listing. When I came to teach these topics I did some searching and found there were actually plenty of resources available, so it worked out fine.
“Besides the topics, the thing I was most worried about was how my pupils would take to the new Assessment Objectives and the new style of questions. I stuck with my principles – if you give them knowledge, and then build in suitably challenging questions, then pupils will develop the problem-solving skills they need.”
With two weeks to go to Easter you only had two topics from the spec content left to teach, are you feeling confident?
“We went from six lessons a fortnight for two GCSEs to nine, and that meant we did not have to rush so much. I could lay down the underlying skills and knowledge, practise those and then still have time to bring in the lovely problem-solving questions that test those skills. I think if we still only had six hours a fortnight we might have struggled to get onto the problem-solving questions.
“It does feel quite late to be finishing the course and starting revision. Last time I taught GCSE we had finished by February. I have a very clear plan for what I’m doing in the revision time after Easter, though.”
How do your lessons inform your website and vice versa?
“My website changed when I changed schools, because I’m adding content that’s suitable for my current pupils. If I’m planning a lesson and I use it, I put it on my site. There’s so much brilliant material, but I look for both great resources and content that is free to access.
“I keep improving and refining the site as I cover topics with my own classes. When I come to teach growth and decay next week, I will spend some time finding out what the topic involves. Then I’ll look for great resources and add them to my website.“
Looking back on the past year of teaching, was there anything that struck you as interesting?
“I don’t think the changes were as big a deal as I’d first thought. We simply covered the required content. I made a lot of use of the AQA topic tests and the questions by topic from justmaths.co.uk.
“Getting the right questions and using them through the course gives me real confidence that the pupils are in a good place. I really like that my highest attaining students have been challenged by the new GCSE and that they have to work hard.”
Jo’s top resources
Are you a resourceaholic too? Jo’s site has saved me countless hours over the years, and most teachers I know have favourite resources that they accessed through her site.
Here are some of Jo’s top resources, which you can find via her website.
I’m absolutely loving Dan Walker’s resources at the moment. They are really well designed, with great questions and clear, animated answers throughout. I recently used these slides and activities when I taught circle functions to Year 11.
Don Steward is my hero. I have dozens of favourite Don Steward resources – I’ve chosen this one because it’s for a new GCSE topic. I used these lovely questions in a lesson on exact trigonometric values. They’re rather challenging and require a solid understanding of surds.
‘One incorrect simplification’ is wonderfully engaging and incredibly helpful for assessing algebra skills and drawing out misconceptions. I use this at every opportunity! It always works well.