Traditional problems, innovative solutions

Mary Pardoe

Mathematical Problem Solving with Interactive Spreadsheets Association of Teachers of Mathematics pound;25 (pound;20 for ATM members) Tel: 01332 346 599 Email:

Many students have too few opportunities to make and test conjectures, and to generalise and try to prove their generalisations. Instead they are often occupied answering questions that provide little mathematical insight. But Paul Andrews has created, for the Association of Teachers of Mathematics, a collection of starting points for problem solving that does lead to real maths.

Although all 15 explorations are presented on a computer screen, learners use pencil and paper, returning regularly to the computer to enter findings and receive further stimuli. The displays never look like spreadsheet files. Apart from the method of entering responses, you are not aware of using a spreadsheet. But, by following instructions in the book, which accompanies the Excel files on a CD, you can change wording or add new questions. The rest of the book consists of comprehensive guidance for teachers.

The way into each exploration is explained, with illustrations showing what appears on the computer screen. The author describes the maths that learners are likely to do, giving examples of possible generalisations and ways of reasoning about them. To get started you only need to be able to apply simple operations to small numbers. However, there is often the potential to express generalisations, and reasoning, algebraically.

Although students might be any age, this material will be particularly valuable in key stages 3 and 4, and I would recommend every maths teacher to explore it.

Free samples are available to download from the ATM website.

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Mary Pardoe

Latest stories

New headteachers - here are 9 things you need to know

Headteacher wellbeing and sources of 'streth'

Former headteacher Chris McDermott set out to find out the true causes of leader stress and support – and in doing so coined a whole new term, as he explains here
Chris McDermott 2 Dec 2021
Transdisciplinary learning: how to embed it in your school

Why you need a transdisciplinary curriculum

At the Aspirations Academies, six hours a week are dedicated to applied transdisciplinary learning - but how does it work? And should you apply something similar at your school?
Steve Kenning 2 Dec 2021
Expert governors can now come and help schools and trusts

Why schools and trusts can now hire 'expert governors'

Providing access to expert governors for struggling settings - or those willing to pay £500 a day for their insights - could have a huge benefit across education, claims the National Governance Association
Emily Attwood 2 Dec 2021