Pi Day!

Aston University

La Salle Education's 3rd National Mathematics Teacher Conference

This was the first of @LaSalleEd's Mathematics Teacher Conferences I had been to and it was a fantastic day of meeting with colleagues (in the wider sense), learning, doing Mathematics and listening to some great teachers speak about what they've been doing in their schools.

On arrival I was presented with my goodie bag for the day and my name tag.

The event was held, weirdly (for me) at my previous University where I studied Information Mathematics for 2 years before deciding Uni wasn't for me (that's another story [I eventually did my degree part-time, whilst working, via the University of East London and ICS]).

Aston Uni was our host and the Aston Conference centre was where I parked for the day and stayed overnight - all of which I was extremely impressed by.

Aston Uni entrance, the only part of the University that hadn't seemed to have changed since 2004 when I left (I was shocked to see that Lawrence Tower, and the other residential buildings, had been knocked down and in there place other facilities built)

The day started by us all gathering in the main lecture hall where we heard key personnel from La Salle Ed, AQA and the DfE talk, all, of course, kicked off at 9:26:53!

After these talks we had a brief 'Speed Dating' session where I picked up a few ideas from my colleagues around me. The ideas were:

1 - from www.mismatchtea.co.uk a starter task that students had stuck in the front of their exercise books at the start of the year. The teacher gave students a number of the day and then 3-4 letters to attempt

2 - 'Dicey Algebra' starter task - students get a dice in pairs to roll random numbers (not just a 6-sided-dice either) and then choose one of the 8 expressions on the sheet given them a value for that expression, they played until all expressions were chosen and valued, the person with the highest total for all their chosen expressions wins! I'll be using this one tomorrow with my Y10s prior to plotting quadratic graphs!

The idea I shared was the 'My Favourite No' starter task, which you can read more about in my previous blog post earlier this school year when setting up my classroom. Click here.

A massive thank you to the colleagues who shared these ideas with me during the 'Speed Dating'. If they were you...let me know by commenting below or via Twitter @mrprcollins so I can give you a shout out here!

Then, the first of the three sessions I signed up to started.

My first session was with @HelenHindle1 and was all about 'Growth Mindset Maths'. This was something that I have been reading about and interested in since a year or so ago when I was reading Jo Boaler's books and subsequently took part in her Stanford University online course, which drew on Carol Dweck's work on the 'Growth Mindset'. So I was looking forward to hearing about how other teachers were trying to implement this approach in their schools.

Our starter task on arriving to the session.

I enjoyed this session a lot and particularly liked the idea of having students' personal stories of how they had changed their mindset towards their Mathematics lessons and having these on display in the corridors, rather than having David Beckham's story on the wall - no offence Dave! Something that would highlight students perseverance, improvement and attitude in the subject for their peers to see. I can imagine if you got the right students pictures/stories up on the wall it'd have a good impact.

I also liked the fact Helen's school gave all students a 'mindset' questionnaire to complete at the start of the year, all the resources she pointed out that are available on her fantastic blog and the learning journeys whereby their school had come away from levels/grades and to where students were along a series of tasks/objectives.

See all of Helen's resources and more on her session via her blog here.

Next was lunch, time for the exhibition/networking and the #TweetUp

I spent some time in the exhibition speaking to various companies/organisations, mainly AQA to learn more about their new qualifications, the 'Core Maths' and their '90 maths problems'! Also, during this time there was a few Maths questions to answer as part of the 'treasure hunt' competition...

I nailed this one! :-p

During the #TweetUp I met with some of my South East colleagues, namely...

@Mr_P_Maths

@MrC_Cooper

@MrsOClee

@TheNerdLP

@sfrench21

We were working on the Bingo cards that @MrReddyMaths et al had organised for the event as well as trying to answer @solvemymaths' puzzles! It was great to put names to some famous Twitter folk!

That South-East selfie!

I'm at the back-right *waves*!

Following the lunch break I then went along to my 2nd of the 3 sessions. This session was with Robert Wilne (@NCETMsecondary) and was all about developing reasoning across KS3, 4 and 5. The session was as inspiring as it was fast-paced. I got loads of ideas from this session as to how we can be deepening students' understanding rather than just getting through a scheme of work. I totally agree with the depth rather than breadth argument and feel students in Y7/8 should only be focusing on developing their basic Mathematics/Numeracy and then in Y9-11 that's when they start building on their learning and preparing for their GCSEs and Mathematics after secondary school.

Here's what Robert found having visited Singapore...

Lots to think about here as to how we teach Mathematics

The third and final session was with the fantastic @mathsjem (Jo Morgan). Jo's session was all about the different methods and approaches to tackling certain topics. We were given a workbook on arrival and I liked that we did some Mathematics at the same time as learning of different methods that existed to teach certain topics - some of which I had used myself in the session, had taught before and others that I had never even heard of. It was good talking to those around me about what methods they used/taught and why they found that to be the best way for their students. I also got to meet @solvemymaths (Ed Southall) here.

Jo, obviously, has already written a blog post about the Mathematics Conference and you can see her presentation & more here!

Finally, we gathered back in the main lecture theatre and had the winners of competitions announced and the day ended formally by Mark from @LaSalleEd.

I had a fantastic day/weekend up in Birmingham and will look to attend all future events where possible. Back at school...on the Friday before Pi Day I got all my current students to sign my Pi Day t-shirt. I thought it'd be a nice idea to get them all to sign it so that in years to come I can look back and remember who I was teaching on the only Pi Day in our lifetimes where the date and time will sync up with the digits of Pi!

Here's my keepsake...

I'm planning on displaying this in my classroom when I can steal a mannequin/bust from Art/Textiles! :)

Thanks to all involved at the weekend to make the conference as beneficial as it was and hello to all/any new followers!