Reflecting on the Cambridge O’level syllabus

Today I found myself looking at my download folder and saw a transformation board game document I downloaded last fall.  So I searched to see if I could find more on-line.  And found I had downloaded it from the nRich site of Cambridge UK.  I found the other documents connected with it and hope to use that in my geometry class.  Transformation Board Game


Since I taught for over 10 years in southern Africa using the The Cambridge O’level Syllabus I got curious and looked at the current Syllabus.  Although this is for Mauritius, it looked very familiar.  Maths teachers in the country got copies of given Mauritius exams that we used as  mock exams for out kids to practice.  I really enjoyed the connection with transformations and matrices.  In the lower level certificate they do more with instruments and on the national exams of reflections, rotations, translations and dilations.  In the O’level we did more with transformations on the Cartesian coordinate plane both with verbal descriptions and/or matrix ones.  We also did stretches and sheers.   It seems that CCSS does have a British flavour to them.  We did more on problem solving and patterns that is also becoming more popular here with the Common Core – maybe some influence from the UK.

I learned to say maths, zed (for the letter/variable z), anticlockwise (counterclockwise), made marking schemes (answer keys), revise (review), marking books (grading papers), A4 paper (8.5″x10″)  and enunciated the letter ‘t’ more clearly.

When the exam O level exam results were announce, they printed the individual name/overall result in the national newspaper – now they are posted on-line for anyone to see them in the world … I wonder if America will ever do that???

I remember attending a teacher professional development day and the discussion how to enjoy teaching and not just teaching to the national exam that culminates for any credit in the course.  It was interesting because the few of us Americans were used to the freedom of teaching material and not as concerned about national exams so we were thinking in reverse – how can we learn more about the exam (the ultimate interpretation of the syllabus) so we can help our kids do well.  And now as I teach AP Calc which so reminds me of the British style of exam, that


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