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This is the February newsletter with the latest Transum news and, to kick things off, the puzzle of the month:

Keith and Kath’s combined age is 91.

Keith is now twice as old as Kath was when Keith was as old as Kath is now.

How old are they?

Easy I hear you say! You can check your answer with mine which is at the end of this newsletter.

REFRESH: I have noticed more and more ‘503 errors’ when trying to load Transum pages recently. These occur when the site has so many concurrent users that the server can’t quite keep up with the demand. Refreshing the page usually solves the problem but it is really annoying. If things get worse try Transum.com or Transum.info which contain copies of 95% of the Transum resources and may save your lesson.

The good news is that I am now in the final stages of negotiating a contract for a super-powerful new virtual private server for Transum. In the meantime sorry for the inconvenience, keep refreshing.

A Digital Units exercise has been added to the Converting Standard Units page. I realised that in this digital age that many pupils might learn about the SI prefixes (kilo-, mega-, giga- etc.) through their interaction with technology and maybe this familiarity might support their understanding of the units of lengths, weights etc.

Factorising, Probability and Ratio are the latest videos to appear in the 'help' tabs of the corresponding exercises. They were filmed and uploaded during last month and I'm expecting that very few people will ever watch the entire videos. Instead they will just watch the part of the video referring to the level of the exercise they are working on.

I know many of you are using the exam-style questions and the number available grows each week. Last week I had a eureka moment. After using them myself for many years I have only now realised that thin questions are better than fat questions. What I mean by that is that if the question is presented in a half-page-width column, the student or the teacher can write out the solution of a multi-part question so that the working is next to the relevant part of the question. I have added a ‘Thinning Feature’ to the question pages which scrunches up the text on the left side of the page leaving writing space on the right.

When projecting on to a whiteboard or copying into Bitpaper (I love Bitpaper) it has been a game-changer (maybe that’s a slight exaggeration) for me.

When interacting with individual students with Zoom (and Teams I believe) it is possible for the student to share their screen and to give you the ability to interact with their shared web page. There are a number of Transum activities that work really well in this setting but the most exciting are the games. The student drags and drops their piece/counter/number and then you can take your turn. It has provided a lot of fun for me and my students recently. Here are a few activities that spring to mind.

- Superior
- Trees and Fives
- Connect 4 Factors
- All of the pairs games such as Indices, Clock Times, Fraction Decimal etc
- Flabbergasted
- Pips in Pots
- Dump-A-Dice
- Prime Pairs
- Remainder Race
- Nevertheless
- Fifteen
- 23 or Bust
- Bidmas
- Great Expectation

Partial Pyramids is a new take on the idea of number pyramids. I recommend you begin with the Pyramids Starter while your class is together then allow pupils to work through the Partial Pyramids exercises which go on to include negative numbers and fractions

The Symmetry Table Challenge is not marked by the computer as there are an infinite number of ways the correct answers can be drawn. I would love to see screen shots of the work your pupils produce and hear of any conclusions they reach.

Valentine’s Day falls in February and if you want to prove that you are a real trendy teacher you could surprise your pupils with one of two Valentine-themed Starters on the 14th: Valentine’s Puzzle and Love Maths.

Two days later, the 16th February, is Pancake Day. Here is the Transum virtual pancake tossing activity which lets pupils participate in a themed challenge while developing their mathematics. You could also demonstrate the rules using real pancakes which the pupils could eat at the end of the lesson with lashings of sugar and lemon juice … or maybe not!

Finally the answer to this month’s puzzle Keith is 52 and Kath is 39.

I began by letting Kieth’s age be x and Kath’s age be y so that I could form simultaneous equations:

x + y = 91 or x = 91 - y

x = 2(y - (x-y)) or x = 2y – 2x + 2y or 3x = 4y

Substituting the expression for x from the first equation into the second equation gives:

3(91-y) = 4y or 273 – 3y = 4y or 7y = 273 giving y = 39

Substituting this into the first equation gives:

x + 39 = 91 so x = 52

That’s all for now,

Stay safe,

John

PS. I will do algebra, I’ll do trigonometry and I’ll even do statistics but geometry and graphing is where I draw the line!

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