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 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!


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! :)

Y10 FMSP Maths Feast at the University of Surrey...AKA Maths Trip!!

Earlier this half term I was delighted to take 8 of our Y10 students to the University of Surrey for the FMSP's Year 10 'Maths Feast'; a day of challenging activities for students to complete whilst competing against other schools in the local area.
This was the first 'Maths Trip' that I have had the pleasure to organise and the day was fantastically well received by both my colleague and I and our students.
We chose 4 students from each of our Y10 'top sets' to take part in the day so we had 2 teams entered. They were 2 of 20 teams present on the day. When we arrived our teams were given table numbers to sit around and then the day started. My colleague and I were rotated round to the next table number and supervised these students from another school (this was to ensure there was no biased support given to students). As teachers, we were given an envelope of all the materials our designated team would need and were instructed to give these out throughout the day when each 'course' was 'served'. The rounds the students had to complete were varied and used a range of different skills and, of course, teamwork too. The best thing about the rounds was that we, as teachers, were allowed to take all of the resources back to our schools to use with our classes and have since been e-mailed a link to all the digital copies of the resources. I have since used the resources with my set 1 Y11s and they too enjoyed the tasks and the 'group work' lessons I put on for them based on the activities presented on the day.
I want to show all of these, but understanding that there are still events being held across the country I don't want to give any spoilers away or post the link to the resources that another school could use to 'prepare' themselves!
However, here's a few pics of one particular round that one of our teams were successful in (they each got a certificate for getting full marks in the round)...
(the inclusion of the photos wouldn't help anyone produce them as I couldn't put the blooming things together (one for @c0mplexnumber possibly)!)



*permission was granted by students/parents for their pictures to be taken during the event, but I blurred them out using 'Skitch' anyway. Anonymity and all that!*













Considering we were competing with a lot of private schools, who scored highly on all rounds, I was proud of how our teams competed and how they behaved on the day. I must also say that the school I was supervising were equally impressive and it was a pleasure supervising them on the day - I let their teacher know this too.

As this was the first trip I organised I was in 'super stressed' mode throughout the morning before we eventually got to the venue at the University of Surrey. The work needed to arrange the trip, get students on board, get parents to sign permission slips, arrange the use of the school's minibus, arrange for letters and all other admin 'stuff' to be sorted, sort cover, get a colleague to drive the minibus (I took and passed my minibus test earlier this year but can only drive our smaller bus, the larger one was the only one we could have for the day), get there on time and keep everyone safe etc was frankly exhausting, but having now done all of this I can say it was totally worth it...and it'll make the next time slightly easier as I'll know what's expected.

I would love to go on a similar trip provided by the FMSP and will look to do so in the future. I would also recommend this event to other schools thinking of taking a group of students out for an afternoon (the day ran from 2pm - 5pm). You can get more details on what the event entailed by going to the FMSP website here.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Mathematics Assemblies

At the end of the last school year our PSHE coordinator sent an e-mail round to our department asking if any of us would be interested in delivering a Mathematics assembly to all year groups. Having thought about what I could possibly do a Mathematics assembly on I decided to go for it and week beginning 9th March I will be leading an assembly to each of our year groups...all about Mathematics.

Now, I'm thrilled that this week is the week before Pi Day on the 13th March (and the Maths conference run by La Salle Education) and so will be building something in about Pi Day during the assembly.

Having thought about what I want to say in the assembly, I have decided that I will use the chance to speak to every student in our school about their attitudes to their Mathematics and trying to dispel the myths out there about Mathematics and try to move away from the negative perceptions of the subject.

I saw, earlier this evening, this blog post on a similar theme.

I want to voice to our students that it's not ok to say 'i'm rubbish at maths', 'i'm not very good at maths', 'maths is hard' etc, etc. All the things we hear far too often. Indeed, students should be ashamed of saying these things, whereas, currently, they almost say them with pride - as if it's cool to say that they're not very good at it (Mathematics). To put it in context, people are generally ashamed of not being able to read or write and will often say nothing and hide this fact. Then why do we (the general 'we') feel ok to say we're not very good at Mathematics?

I ran a revision session to our Y11 parents last week. The session was aimed at how they can be supporting their child/ren with their Mathematics GCSE revision. After I had covered all of the various ways they can revise for their Mathematics exams and how they should be revising, I mentioned a few other bits of advice. One such piece was to be positive about their Mathematics exam!
Far too often I hear at parents' evenings that parents can't help their child/ren with their Mathematics homework as 'they haven't got a clue', or 'were never very good at Maths at school'. I asked them therefore, whilst understanding that they may not have had a good experience of Mathematics themselves, to be as positive about it as they could. Encourage their child/ren, ask them questions about what they've done, how they've done it, was there anything they could do to check their answer/s, had they looked the question/topic up on the Internet etc, etc. Rather than just going 'oh well, do the best you can'.

I think I want to approach my assemblies with the same sort of tone. Trying to encourage the students to take the 'growth mindset' approach rather than just believing/accepting that they might not be good at Mathematics and therefore giving up altogether.

I also want to highlight good practice from the students themselves. I plan to get some of my students, and other students that my colleagues teach, on board to showcase the good work that is being done. Ideally I'd want them to stand up whilst I talk about the things they've done, or allow me to show their exercise book/work they've produced on the screen - all with an aim of being positive about the Mathematics we are doing at our school, that all it requires is, perhaps, a change in attitude and that they are all capable of doing well with their Mathematics.

I've led a few assemblies this year when standing in for our head of year and so am looking forward to, what I'll now be calling, 'assembly week'. If any Mathematics teachers have given a similar assembly to the students in their schools I'd love to hear what you did/showed etc. Tweet me @mrprcollins or comment below.

Mathematical Plenary Sticks

One of the new resources I have created recently (see them all here) is my 'Mathematical Plenary Sticks'.
The resource is a pdf document with over 100 plenary questions/tasks for Mathematics lessons. Here's the front page of the document...














And here are the sticks once they're cut up, folded and laminated...

 Once laminated, punch a hole through each with a hole punch and then bind them with a keyring chain or treasury tag

 You can see lots of examples of questions here. They're folded over too so there are questions on both sides of each stick
 When gathered together they are neat and can be stored easily
You can print them off as big or as small as you like












I have a set of these on my 'Finished' display board so students can help themselves when finished and choose some questions/tasks to attempt.
Find out more about my 'finished' display board here.














Each page of the pdf comes with the question templates that look like...

Cut around the dotted lines, fold over the bold line inbetween each stick and then either stick them together or laminate them.
There are also some blanks included so you can write your own questions before laminating and binding.







I've used these over the past few years in my lessons. The main reason why I use them is that I tend to forget really good questions/tasks to give my students at the end of lessons. So, I made these sticks and have them on my desk so I can quickly flick through them before or during each lesson. I pick out a few questions that I can pose my class or I give my class a few to choose from - they answer the question they like the most.
Since using them I have come up with other ways they can be used - all of these details can be found in the pdf document...

•Choose 2-3 of these questions/tasks prior to the lesson and put them in your teaching resources for students to answer throughout or at the end of your lesson (take a print screen of the pdf document or put the laminated ‘plenary sticks’ under your visualiser [if you have one] for your class to see)
•Choose particular ‘Plenary Sticks’ to give to certain students throughout the lesson to extend their learning/support them
•Give each student/pair/group a set of these ‘plenary sticks’ at the end of a lesson/series of lessons on a topic and allow them to choose a number of questions/tasks to complete
•Have a set of the ‘Plenary Sticks’ on display in your teaching room for students to go and choose when finished (like on my 'finished' board above)
•Randomly select a question/task from the ‘Plenary Sticks’ (after a brief check it is suitable for your lesson/the topic) and ask this to students at the end of the lesson

All the questions/tasks can be used as starters too and many are transferable to other subjects. Some questions are specific to certain topics, but the majority are general to any Mathematics lesson/topic.

If you like the look of these then here's the link to the resource page on the TES...

http://goo.gl/up8zuJ

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

2015...the answers! [Spoiler Alert]

Following my previous post this year on my new displays (see here), my students have now finished the 2 0 1 5 challenge! In fact, they finished it about a month a go - I've only just got round to doing some blogging!

Here's the finished display and how it looks in my classroom...

Each of the solutions has a students' name attached to it (blurred out here for obvious reasons).
They were all rewarded for providing these.

Since the challenge has been completed we have moved the display from my classroom to our Mathematics corridor to show the rest of the students in the school what has been done.

The final 2 solutions (67 and 68) came from one of our top set Y10 students. Their class (taught by one of my colleagues) were given the challenge to do as homework to try and challenge my top set Y11 class, who had done the majority of the solutions to the challenge out of all my classes.
My colleague came and found me one lesson as I was observing our ITT and presented me with their solutions, including the 2 remaining numbers my Y11s hadn't found!



Here's their work...

Congratulations to them for finding the last 2 solutions!












Here's to 2016 and the new, year challenge! :)

The Never Ending Notebook

Earlier this school year the magicwhiteboard.co.uk brought out their new A5 and A4 'Magic Notebook'. I've been using mine since then and they're brilliant!










Basically, they are 40/60 page reusable notebooks, each page made out of whiteboard material meaning you can write on and wipe off whatever you like, over and over again. Even better is that the books come with a correctable whiteboard pen. This means that after writing and leaving the ink to dry for a few seconds that the ink can't be wiped off unless using the rubber on the end of the pen, or a whiteboard wipe. This means that you can keep notes for as long as you are like until you are ready to get rid of them!

Here's some of my notes/workings...















Each page in the book(s) is perforated so can be ripped out and can even be printed on in a printer. This is perfect if wanting to print graphs/grids on the reverse of one page. They can then be used as mini whiteboards. If you don't have the correctable pens, you can use ordinary whiteboard pens as you would with any whiteboard. The writing wont stay on them, like the correctable pens, but if you're using them as mini whiteboards - you won't want it to!

Personally, having the notebook is great as I'm forever writing notes down and then either having to get rid of them or keep them somewhere safe. With the Magic Notebook I can take and keep the notes I want and erase them when I'm done. My Notebook is a constant working document. I erase when I need to, I take more notes as I need them. The notebook is never ending - once you have one, you won't need another.

Since I've had the notebook I have wondered if they would be a viable replacement for student's exercise books...?!

Considerations:

How would you mark all the work in the books if work was erased as it was no longer needed?
What is the actual purpose of an exercise book? Is it just to keep notes, workings etc? Or is it to have a log of students' work to evidence and show progress, tick OFSTED's boxes etc?
Could students have a 'working book' and a separate 'rule book'?
Cost of the correctable whiteboard pens? Students struggle to have a working pen on a daily basis, let alone a correctable whiteboard pen!

These are all questions I'm yet to figure out. Nonetheless they're great to have as your own personal notebook and I've since bought an A4 one to go with the original A5 one I got.

Take a look at them here...
http://www.magicwhiteboard.co.uk/category/magic-notebook/