TES Maths ROTW: GCSE problem-solving activity

Craig Barton
12th September 2016

TES Maths Resource of the Week

Resource title: GCSE problem-solving activity

Resource author: andy_gillen

What is it?

The first exams for the new GCSE specification are on the horizon and they will undoubtedly be more challenging than ever before. One thing I've noticed when looking through the sample assessment materials is that different topics will be combined together far more frequently.

This provides a problem for students who have learned and practised topics in isolation. If they are not able to apply different skills to the same question, then they are likely to come a cropper. Fortunately, resources like this will help students to gain that essential practice.

How can it be used?

In this unstructured problem, students are asked to work out the total surface area of a cone, cylinder and hemisphere. While this sounds easy enough, it is not enough to simply substitute numbers into a formula. Learners must call upon their knowledge of basic trigonometry, surface area, circumference, ratio and Pythagoras in order to complete this task successfully.

Pupils may find this difficult at first, so it might be worth preparing some hint cards, or using my counter technique, in which groups can exchange a counter for a question. Whatever you try, please persevere as it is essential your students develop the grit and determination needed to tackle problems like these.

Craig Barton

Craig is a secondary maths teacher in the North of England.

Did you know you can keep up with the latest blog posts in our dedicated maths area? And check out our new series of Inspect the spec posts, which offer tips and resource ideas to support the teaching of the new GCSE.

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