Monday, 29 June 2015

Simplifying Surds Task/Resource

A couple of weeks ago I was teaching Surds to my Y9 class (doing the new Edexcel 1-9 GCSE Spec). I was looking for a resource to use with them, having covered simplifying surds. I looked on the TES and found the below resource by Sharon Derbyshire (@numberloving).

The resource is differentiated into 3 different treasure hunt style tasks. There's a green, amber and red set. I just used the green and amber sets with my class. I gave them the worksheet, printed on both sides of A4 paper. They then chose which set of questions they attempted, the green or the amber. However, instead of running the task like a traditional treasure hunt where they move around the room answering a question then find the answer on another, I decided to just scatter the cards onto my whiteboard (as shown below). My students then answered the questions on the sheet and then, when ready, came to the board to write the lines of the joke in the space on their sheet. Some students chose to do all the questions first and then piece together the joke. Others did a question at a time, found the answer on the board (according to the colour route they chose) and then wrote a line at a time of the joke.

What I really liked about this task is that the joke is the same regardless of the route they chose and so students are working towards the same 'end game', just on differently difficult/paced questions. The scattered effect of the cards on the board worked well as some could see from their desks and others got up as they needed to. The different colours on the board made it easy for them to see which set they were looking for and there were a few cards that had the same answer, which got them thinking about whether the joke was actually making sense as they went through it.

The cards scattered on my board:

You can download the resource free by clicking on the below link...

A massive thanks to Sharon for sharing and uploading.

Intro to Indices (Starter task/ideau)

After the May half term we set our Y9s according to Edexcel's 'Baseline Tests' for their new 1-9 GCSE Spec. Since then we have started teaching them through the Edexcel new 2 year GCSE course. The first 'unit' of this is 'number' and includes topics such as HCF/LCM/Surds/Indices/Standard Form/Calculations/Estimation, etc.
When introducing the topic of indices I thought about how I wanted to do this as it's always been a topic I've found a bit 'dry' teaching as in the past I've kind of just gone down the route of giving classes the rules and then applying them to questions once explained. But, I wasn't sure where their current understanding of these would be and so I decided to write a bunch of indices related questions on the board (these progressed in order of difficulty from the top left of the board to the bottom right) and then, as students came in, gave them a post-it note to write their name on. I then told students to have a look at the questions on the board and then stick their post-it note on the board next to the question they felt was the 'trickiest' that they could do.

What I liked about this was that they were all, on entry, looking at the board to see the questions and immediately thinking about what they could do, what they had learnt in the past and what they didn't know/understand. They were asking each other questions, they were asking me questions, which I avoided answering at this point, and tried to place their post-it note on the 'trickiest' question they could!

After a 5-10 minute go at this, and once they had settled down, found their seats and done the usual title, date and margins I delved into the discussion part of this 'starter'.

I referred to the post-it notes and asked students to explain how they thought they'd 'evaluate' the expression on the board. This was the best bit as there were a lot of 'laws' that came from this discussion alone. I was able to do a bit of 'Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce'ing with the class as I already had post-it notes with different names on for the same questions. So, I was able to ask a whole bunch of ' you agree with've placed your post-it note on the same question' type questions.

I rewarded those students that were questioned and then, as the lesson progressed, those questions that weren't answered from the initial phase of the lesson were answered. Rather brilliantly, students suggested answers to the unanswered questions as they were learning the new 'laws' and we managed to fill in all but two of the questions on the board. This, for me, was great as my AfL was partially done by this alone as I could see which type of questions (negative indices) that we hadn't covered and needed to progress onto.

Y2 Problem Solving Day 2015

Last week, on Wednesday, I hosted my school's Y2 Problem Solving Day event for 7 of our local primary schools. In all we had around 40 students from our primaries in for a carousel of Mathematical activities. I planned the day based on the success of last year's event and here's how the day went...

To see last year's Y2 Problem Solving blog post, click here.

Like last year there were a number of 'bases' with tasks for students to move around in ascending order. Now, as we had more schools attend this year I had to add in a few 'bases'. This meant that the 7 schools all had something to be doing for each of the 5 sessions scheduled during the day. Each school completed 5 of the 7 'bases' throughout the day and then there was a 'Team Challenge' right at the end.

Base 1:

Same as last year - a 4 operations tarsia puzzle. The schools found this generally quite challenging and didn't have enough time to piece the jigsaw together. Once completed the numbers around the outside added to..guess what...27!

Base 2:

 Same as last year - the magic square task. students had two sets of 9 numbered tiles; an 'easier' set and a 'harder' set. Their task was to put the 9 tiles into a 3 by 3 square so that each row, column and diagonal added to the same amount. The 'easier' set's answer was 16 and the 'harder' 99.
The accompanying teachers from our primaries enjoyed this one as at first they struggled to do the 'easier' set. Strangely the 'harder' set was completed more so than the 'easier' one.

Base 3:

 Return of my awesome Frogs! Thanks to Carol (Mrs Murphy) for these once again.
Students had to find the minimum number of moves needed to swap over the differently coloured frogs. One of my extremely enthusiastic Y8 helpers was bound to this 'base' and asked the students to then see how many moves only 2 frogs on each side would need and then got them to estimate how many 4 frogs would need. She was great at engaging the Y2 kids in this and made it into a competition within the schools that visited this task.

Base 4:

New for 2015!
The Mathematical Egg Hunt! Thanks to some last minute help from my HLTA (Thanks Jane) I managed to scatter around 50 plastic eggs around the two rooms I used for the Problem Solving Day. Each egg had a question in it for students to answer. All they had to do was find 7 eggs and then answer the question inside on their answer sheet. Their answer sheet was given to them on arrival to our school. For this task they had to write the question and answer on the sheet so I knew which question had been attempted when marking answers.

Base 5:

 Same as last year - pentominoes
Students had to arrange the 12 pentominoes into a 6 by 10 rectangle. A tricky one this one. Another of my Y8 helpers was really good here at providing hints to schools as they worked on the task. At times, he would show them a correctly placed pentominoe and get them to carry on from there. Side note: I gave all my Y8 helpers (of which there were 10) an answer pack so they were all able to prompt/help out the Y2 students on the tasks.

Base 6:

 Stolen from my Y6 Problem Solving Day...The Marshmallow Challenge!
As it goes down so well at the Y6 day I decided to include it here. I had 2 of my Y8 helpers here to help provide the necessary resources to the schools as they began the task. I roamed around the two rooms but would always see how this one was progressing as they all found it tricky as the spaghetti breaks so easily - I hinted at backing a triangular base (stuck to the table) and going from here to make a pyramid (tetrahedron). One school did similarly with a square...

This school also won the whole day!

Base 7:

Also NEW for 2015:
Mathematical Balloons. Hidden around the two rooms we used were 5 sets of 5 differently coloured balloons. On each balloon I had written a question for students to answer. However, you couldn't answer the question without blowing the balloon up first. So students found the balloons on a little 'treasure hunt' around the rooms, blew up the balloons, read the question, answered it and then put this on their answer sheet.

The Team Challenge:

This was the same as last year too...The Cocktail Stick/Midget Gem Bridge challenge (for want of a better name).
The schools all took part in this challenge at the same time. They had a pack of 100 cocktail sticks and a bag of midget gems and had to create the best bridge they could that would allow a 10 stack of multilink cubes to pass underneath. I got our Resource Manager to judge the bridges based on: structure, stability, design and adherence to the given criteria (free standing, multilink stack has to pass under).
Here are some of the bridges that were made...

 The winning bridge!! With a little help from my Y8 helpers!

The day ran very well with all schools seemingly enjoying their day at 'big school'. It was a hot day and so the students were given a couple of breaks in the day (at different times to our usual school day: I was off timetable and covered). They went outside at one point and played on our flagpole area at the front of the school, which they enjoyed.
The day came to a close when I had totalled up the scores and announced the winners. Every student that participated received a certificate and chose between a pen with our school's logo/name on it or a little 'book bug' to take back with them as a memento (hopefully they'll remember us when it comes to them choosing their secondary school)! The winners each received a small gift, which was a 'Minions' wristband and lolly - these went down very well!

These days are a lot of hard work to organise and run, but are so worth it. The links we have with our local feeder schools are stronger as a result of it and I've heard lovely comments already from our community by friends of colleagues, etc. I wasn't without help when organising the day either and have to thank Jo, our faculty assistant for liaising with our primaries throughout, getting names and details. She printed and made all the certificates and name badges, contacted the office etc at our school to inform them all of the day taking place, arranged the refreshments and so so much more that I'm probably not aware of. So...THANK YOU JO!! I also need to comment on how fantastic and enthusiastic our Y8 helpers were too. They were brilliant. We chose the students that were our Maths prefects and also some others from one of my colleagues' tutor groups. They did our school proud and the Y2 kids really appreciated their help throughout the day.

If you're planning a similar day at your school it would be great to hear from you. What sort of tasks do you do at your days? How to you organise the days, etc. Get in touch my commenting below or find me on Twittter @mrprcollins

Here's to another fantastic Y2 Problem Solving Day in 2016!

Monday, 25 May 2015

GCSE Data Handling Revision

It's half term, which means I'll be heading to school on Wednesday to do a revision session with my Y11 classes, well those who have been 'invited' in; we've picked those students who still need a bit of help and/or are below their target grade.
I'm also doing a bit of private tutoring at the moment and so have plenty to do tomorrow.

As a result, I've created a presentation which goes through the main data handling topics and highlights key bits of information students need to remember for their exams. Things like where to plot points and what to plot, how to arrange a stem and leaf diagram, how to set up a two way table, etc.

I have added the presentation to my TES resources (free), which is available here.

I plan on showing the presentation to my Y11s/private tutees this week and at the same time have them annotate an A3 poster(s) that I will create at school tomorrow when I can get some paper and print off the particular questions/graphs/charts. I will add this poster to my resource on the TES when it is completed (NOW UPLOADED! [26/05]). I will use the same questions that are on the slides, but just leave them as that on the A3 sheet(s) so my students can annotate over them, make their own notes, etc. This, they can then keep for their own revision.

Here are the sheets (before completion):

 Higher and Foundation Topics

Higher Topics (at present) only

I will post a picture on here tomorrow once one of my tutees has tried out the resource to show you what the finished article looks like.
Update 26/06 - - > Here's the finished version:

I hope this is useful for others and...happy revising!

Mr Collins

Monday, 4 May 2015

GCSE Trigonometry Revision

On arriving back at school after Easter I got my Y11s to write down, on a cue card, all the topics that they still felt they needed to go over or wanted to revise in class.
It was the perfect time to do this as they had sat a 2nd mock set of papers before Easter and were able to go through these papers, and all previous papers given to them over the course of the year, to pick out the topics that they were still getting wrong or needed support with.
I then told them that I would look over their topics and choose those that came up more often than others to cover in class in the run-in to their GCSEs. I also said that I would keep all of their cards bound together so that if/when they should seek support after school at our 'Maths Club' I have their personal list of topics to hand to go over with them. Here are there cards...(I keep them in my folder for their class so they're always at hand/easy to locate)...

One of the topics that came up on almost all of their cards was some form of Trigonometry, whether it be 'basic trig (SOHCAHTOA)', or using the Sine and Cosine rule, or Pythagoras' theorem. So, I decided to put together a revision sheet for them to use when deciding how to answer exam questions on these topics. I created the sheet in ppt and then saved it as a pdf to print off onto A3 paper - making the revision sheet large enough for them to see all the different Trig examples and write their own answers to the questions on the sheets along with any of their own personal notes/mnemonics etc.
On the sheet I included a series of sections, some for right-angled triangles and some for non-right angled triangles, with questions for each type (finding a length/angle, etc). I then added in when they would need to use each formula/type of Trig.
The only thing I didn't put on the sheet was finding the area of a triangle using 1/2abSinC as we had gone over this in the week or so before Easter.

I gave these out in class and then got students to answer each question on the sheet adding in any notes. I got them to put all their answers to 3 significant figures to also practise this skill.
Here's one of my students' completed sheets...

This is available to download from my TES resources if you think it'd be useful for your students too.
Click here.

After my students completed their Trigonometry revision sheet they then used it to answer questions from our text books/past exam paper questions I printed off for them.They found it really useful having the notes/examples that they had completed themselves when doing this and later took their sheets home to use when revising.
I plan to also do one of these sheets for coordinate geometry and have previously done a similar activity for the Circle Theorems. I'll upload these to the TES too in due course...

Monday, 16 March 2015

Pi Day and the National Mathematics Teacher Conference III

3/14/15 9:26:53
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 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...
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!

It's 'Revision Season' again, which means...Revision Cards!!

As I write this post we are but 80 days away from the 1st (Edexcel Linear) GCSE Mathematics exam! 'Revision Season' is therefore well underway and when students aren't out doing examinations for other subjects (whilst we wait patiently, as per usual, for the Mathematics GCSE exams right at the end of the exam season) we're using lesson time to go over topics my students and I have identified as needing a 'refresher', doing the past papers and generally...revising!
Now, I'm a big fan of revision - I have loads of ways I have got students to revise in the past, in the hope that they'll find a way that works best for them and then stick to that method when revising at home. I've used my Mr Collins Table Sheets, Deal or No Deal Revision, Past Paper relays etc etc etc. But one thing I've not mentioned on my blog before is my 'Revision Cards' that I get my students to create to help them remember key facts, rules and information.

The revision cards are a set of templates that students cut out and create to help them remember information like circle theorems, differences between HCF/LCM and volume/surface area, BIDMAS, fractions, ways of solving quadratic equations...pretty much any topic can be revised by using a Revision Card.
I provide my students with a range of templates to use and they essentially do the rest, using their exercise books or text books to copy examples/diagrams/questions/graphs etc onto their revision cards.

I have put all of the revision card templates (with examples and instructions for each) onto my TES resources for others to use if they feel they are worth using.
Literally, this evening, I have planned a lesson for my lower Y11 class where they will be creating a Revision Card to help them remember the key formulae when asked to find the circumference and area of circles, as well as labeling key parts of a circle and constructing circles using a compass. I'll be printing my '4 fold' Revision Card (available in the resource) for them and some blank circles to label as well as some questions to cut up and stick onto their Revision Cards. Printing these on coloured paper makes them even more attractive and makes them stand out from their other revision materials.

Here are some screen shots of some of my other Revision Cards I have used in the past and will be using in the run up to their GCSE examinations...

The front page of my 39-page resource - full of examples of the Revision Cards.
 The '4 fold' Revision Card example/instruction page (there's one of these for each of the Revision Cards)
The '4 fold' Fractions/4 operations template card. There's also a blank one that you can use for the revision of any topic (like I'm doing tomorrow with circles (area, circumference, labeling and constructing [possibly areas of sectors and length of arcs too]))
 My 'Vertical 7' Revision Card - ideal for the Circle Theorems
Here's the 'Vertical 7' Circle Theorems template with each theorem's blank diagram ready for students to label/make notes on etc. There's also a blank 'Vertical 7' for the revision of other topics.

My Revision Cards resource can obviously be used for any Mathematics topic, but also any subject - all you'll need are the templates (there's one of these for each type of Revision Card in the resource) and just use the Mathematics templates as examples as to what can be done!

You can find these on my TES resources by clicking here. If you like them, think they're worth it and your students benefit from using them, please comment on the resource! :)