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October 2014 News

Wednesday 1st October 2014

This is the October 2014 Transum Newsletter bringing you the latest news from Transum Mathematics. October brings autumnal colour to the northern hemisphere while welcoming warmer weather to those down under. The highlight for some is Halloween and there is a themed starter of the day for that day of course. My favourite Halloween puzzle is "Why do mathematicians think that Halloween is the same as Christmas?". I think most people would need a clue so I'll let you know that the answer is something to do with number bases.

I think that the study of number bases could have a bigger part to play in the mathematics curriculum. My feeling is that it would strengthen the understanding of place value, times tables and number patterns which are all essential concepts of basic numeracy. At one stage in my teaching career we successfully ran a number bases topic as the transition between Primary and Secondary schools. It led to some great problem solving, investigations and display work. Two things that stick in my mind are the excitement of meeting the binary system (see Coins in Envelopes and Binary Lights) and the discussion about why having five fingers on each hand played a big part in us adopting base 10 as our standard. There's an interesting video about the four fingered world of the Simpsons called Pi and Four Fingers.

Did you know?

This month I'd like to share the answer to the question 'How do I view the trophies my class earn?' The answer assumes that you have already set up a class and included the names of all of the students in that class.

When you have done that for all of your students you can monitor the class as a whole and even see each student’s Trophy Cabinet. It’s a little time consuming to set up but will save you hours over the course of the year as you’ll be seeing how your students are doing without having to do all that marking!

The route to the monitoring page is:

Last Month’s Updates

The following pages were updated: Standard Form, Venn Diagram Pairs, Sign SequencesRounding, Missing Pound and Thai Restaurant.

Polygon Properties is a brand new activity. The objective is to join the names of the polygons with their properties. This is a many-to-many relationship and the finished product can look very busy! Doing the task in a systematic manner is essential if you want to be sure you don't miss any links.

Four's Independence is a new starter for the 4th July, American independence day. It's a variation of the four fours challenge presented as the numbers of a clock face. Apologies if there is too much red, white and blue for you!

Know Weigh is a new version of the 18th June starter which previously provided four divisions to be evaluated. The new version is more visual though requiring the same calculations to be performed.

Finally the Number Skills Inventory was unleashed on the world! It is a grid showing the basic numeracy skills we expect pupils to develop at some time in their learning journey. The main motivation for creating this inventory grid was to produce something that provided visual impact. Each of the ideas or concepts has been broken down into five levels. This has been done for consistency so the differences in the difficulty between levels is not the same in all cases. My feeling is that it will be most useful when working in a one-to-one situation with a pupil. Each of the statements has an example generated with random numbers which will help identify if the pupil is confident at that level or not. There are links from each statement to related online activities and the grid enables you to record what the pupil has mastered. The recording is 'remembered' by your browser using something called HTML5 Local Storage. The data is stored on your local computer rather than being sent to some remote server.


Welcome to new subscribers from the UK, US, Dubai, Kuwait, China, Singapore and Ireland. You are all very welcome.

Puzzle Answer

The answer to the puzzle is 31 Oct = 25 Dec. (31 in base 8 is equal to 25 in base 10 or 3x8+1 = 2x10+5)

Enjoy October!


PS. What do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o-lantern by its diameter?

Pumpkin Pi

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