Project Maths & Exam Revision

Dear 5th Year Maths Parent,

As you may know, the Leaving Certificate Mathematics syllabus is undergoing considerable change. These changes are taking place under the name of “Project Maths” and, as a result, your daughter will sit a different type of Leaving Certificate Maths exam than those students who sat Leaving Certificate Maths exams before her.

The below is a quote from the Project Maths website,

“Project Maths involves the introduction of revised syllabuses for both Junior and Leaving Certificate Mathematics. It involves changes to what students learn in mathematics, how they learn it and how they will be assessed,”

In relation to the new layout of the Maths Leaving Certificate Exam, your daughter will be presented with two papers where she will be required to answer ALL questions on each paper. This is different to years past when students were given some choice as to what questions / topics they wished to address, i.e. answer 6 of the 8 questions (topics) presented on the paper.

One effect of this change is that your daughter (and her classmates) will have less in-class exam revision time in advance of her exams than the students who took the Leaving Certificate in years prior. The reason being that the elimination of question choice on the papers means that in order for a student to successfully prepare for the new exam, she will have to study ALL topics on the course; not a subset of topics as in the past.

Teachers will now be teaching ALL topics on the course in contrast to the previous common practice of choosing not to cover certain topics knowing that students could simply choose not to answer those questions on the day of the exams. By choosing not to teach certain topics, teachers created additional in-class revision time for those questions (topics) their students would be answering on the exam days. As such, while your daughter’s older siblings or friends may have “finished their maths course” two months in advance of the Leaving Certificate, this will not be the case for your daughter who is studying the new Project Maths course.

By being aware of the above,  hopefully, we will be better able to support your daughter in her maths studies. If she is the type of student who works diligently week-to-week, then she is doing exactly what she needs to do in order to get the most out of the new syllabus. If your daughter is the type of learner who approaches day-to-day study in a casual manner banking on end-of-course revision as the time to get down to “serious study”, then Project Maths will present itself as particularly challenging for her.

As a result, it is more important than ever that your daughter follow through on her daily homework, study for tests and follow-up test corrections. The more effort she puts into her daily work during fifth and sixth year will translate into getting the most out of her maths learning and greater success for her on the Leaving Certificate.

For more information on Project Maths, visit

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions.

Free Copy of Textbook: First & Fifth Years

Dear First Year and Fifth Year Maths Parents,

I am posting this to inform you that you and your daughter can now download a digital copy of her maths textbook from for free. Assuming your daughter has easy and ready access to a computer at home, downloading this copy will alleviate the need for her to take her textbook  home in the evenings.

You or your daughter can access the e-book version of her textbook via

Once you’ve added the e-book to your shopping cart, you will see the price of the e-book as 0.00 euro.

For a more detailed list of instructions, visit

First Year Maths Progress ’11-’12

Dear Maths Colleagues,

With the roll-out of the new maths syllabus and my teaching First Years this year, I thought it handy to have an accessible check list to keep track of the exact topics I have covered with my class.

As such, I’m going to use this First Year Maths Progress spreadsheet. I’m hoping it will keep me on the straight and narrow as my school’s textbook presents the topics in a slightly different order than the order presented in the Project Maths Teacher Handbook.

This spreadsheet presents the topics exactly as given in the Teachers Handbook. Along with the sequence of topics, the Project Maths Team provides a recommended number of class periods for each topic. Very helpful.



On my end, I’ll be placing a dedicated copy of the spreadsheet in “the cloud” for my school’s maths department. Ideally, as a First Year maths teacher completes a topic with her class, she will place an ‘ x ‘ adjacent to the topic on the spreadsheet. It should be helpful in planning our common end-of-term tests.

If you think it helpful to you or your colleagues, you are welcome to download it. Just click File menu, Download as…



Just talkin’ Algebra!

For one to articulate an understanding of algebra, one needs to be able to speak the vocabulary of algebra. Knowing how to correctly reference algebraic terms helps one to ask better questions and to describe methods in a more meaningful manner.

In this series of short video clips, Virtual Nerd revises the meaning of ConstantVariableCoefficientLike Terms and Simplest Form. Review these video clips as the vocabulary represents the building blocks of algebraic expressions. Thank you Virtual Nerd!


Working through a Linear Programming Question

It is my understanding that 2011 will be the last year for the Ordinary Level Linear Programming Question as we know it. Project Maths will integrate elements of linear programming into the syllabus and exam, but not as a full question.

As such, this post is for those 2011 Ordinary Level Leaving Certificate students considering  linear programming for their Options question on Paper 2.

Below, Patrick JMT walks us through a linear programming problem that is used to maximise profit in a farming scenario. After introducing the problem, Patrick gives a general overview of the approach to be taken and then works through the problem step by step.

Many thanks to Patrick JMT!

For more helpful maths video clips from Patrick, visit

Birth to 10 Years in 1 Minute 25 Sec

Imagine your parents took a photo of you everyday of your life from birth to 10 years old and then compiled the photos into one large digital flip book? It might look pretty cool.

Well, J A Magic Films did just that, or near enough that, with little Natalie, and A LOT of people have viewed it. In fact, J A Magic Films’ time lapsed video has gone viral and, as of 30 Dec 2010, it has been viewed on YouTube nearly 4.5 million times.

What questions come to mind when you watch this clip?

Here are some of mine:

  1. Over 4.5 million YouTube views; how big is that number? What might I liken it to?
  2. If I was J A Magic Films and I received 1 cent for each YouTube view, would I be financially content? Might the sum pay for Natalie’s university education?
  3. The term “Time Lapse” is part of the title of this clip. I can visualise “time lapse”, but can I describe it in words?
  4. Did J A Magic Films really take a photo of Natalie every day for 10 years? In my correspondence with J A Magic Films, he explained that as Natalie got older it was more and more difficult to get a photo of her each day. He comments on his YouTube channel that 1,254 photos were taken in total.
  5. 1,254 photos taken over 10 years. That would mean Natalie had her photo taken – on average – every how many days?  Hmm… would I be that patient of a subject?
  6. 1,254 photos displayed in 1 minute 25 seconds. On average, how many seconds is each photo displayed?
  7. 1,254 photos. Might the original 1,254 photos fit on a memory stick? To estimate this, what type of assumptions will I have to make?

Have I missed any questions? If so, post your question(s) as a comment below. All contributers welcome!

A big thank you to J A Magic Films at YouTube for creating and sharing the video and Dan Meyer for inspiring me to do this type of lesson! Good man Dan!


Using the Sine Rule

You can use the Sine Rule to solve any non right triangle when you know (i) a side and its opposite angle and (ii) at least one other piece of information about the triangle.

In this video clip, Conquer Maths provides an introduction to using the Sine Rule for finding an unknown side of a given triangle. Three specific example problems are provided that will allow you to pause the clip, workout your solution and then check your work.

Thank you Conquer Maths!

Cosine Rule Basics

Here’s a 3 minute clip to help you visualise the proper substitution of values into the Cosine Rule.

I like how the author uses simple text boxes to “drag” the labels into their correct place in the formula. He also colour coordinates the angle-side pairs. A big thank you to the author from all of us visual learners out here!

Arc Length & Area of a Sector of a Circle

To determine arc length and the area of a sector of a circle, we make use of the circumference and circle area formulae.
By multiplying each formulae by the ratio of the given sector angle to a full 360 degrees, we arrive at the desired measurements.
In this video clip by, the instructor starts with reasoned semi-circle and quarter-circle examples and solutions. He then introduces the angle ratio to extrapolate a general formulae for finding all arc lengths and area.

In this clip from, the instructor uses common sense semi-circle and quarter-circle examples to introduce the general formulae for finding arc length and the area of a sector of a circle.