Sunday, 22 July 2012

Shikaku puzzles

Here's another of the websites I have recently discovered thanks to this forum post on the TES Mathematics forum ( - Shikaku puzzles!

A Shikaku puzzle is also known as 'rectangles' apparently and the idea is that you have a square grid like those shown below and there are a number of numbers placed in the grid for you as in the left picture.
The idea is to then create squares or rectangles around the numbers so that the area created is the same as the number within the square/rectangle. All squares in the grid must be used and they can get quite challenging as you increase the size of the square grids you are using.

You can print off puzzles like these from the following website...

A completed puzzle can be seen below, the left pic is the Shikaku puzzle you would be given and the right pic is the solution to it.

Another great puzzle to give students for extension work/form time activities etc etc

KenKen Puzzles

In preparation for my NQT year I will inevitably be looking for new ideas and resources that I can use in class.
Today I found a forum post on the TES asking if anybody used things like tangrams, sudokus etc to give students when they had finished work, needed some extension, or just wanted an extra maths puzzle to do. One of the replies on the post gave a link to a few websites which contain useful puzzles to download, print and have spare for such occassions.

The 1st of these I looked at was the 'KenKen' puzzles. Now, I had seen these before but never really took the time to understand what it was you had to do.

A KenKen puzzle is a square grid, lets say 3x3 or 4x4, where there are a number of gates (gates are the combination of squares made up in the grid [outlined in bold below]) In each gate there is a target number and an operation in the top-left. This tells you what operation you need to use in order to get the target number from the numbers you will then place in the squares in that gate. The idea of the KenKen puzzle is to place the numbers in the grid so that no row or column have the same number in it. So, for a 4x4 grid, each row and column would have the numbers 1,2,3 and 4. For a 3x3 grid, each row and column would have the numbers 1,2 and 3 etc.

These puzzles are great for getting students to practise the basic operations and in improving their problem solving skills.

Here's the website where you can either do them online or print them off. You can even sign up to a free classroom KenKen resource where you'll be sent a pdf of KenKen puzzles. I have done this and it was extremely straight forward and I had an e-mail in my inbox in seconds of signing up!

and an example pic...

My 1st 3D Prezi...

As you will probably know if you have read my previous 'reflective journal' blog posts, I have become a big fan of using Prezi in class!!

See... etc

Prezi have just introduced 3D backgrounds for creating Prezis! This adds a whole new element to the Prezi world and not only are they a lot more fun to create but they add a certain 'kudos' to your presentations as everything these days seems to be going 3D!

I have been working up at Cambridge University the past week teaching a Pre-IB class for a summer school and have just created my 1st 3D Prezi. I used one of the many 3D template backgrounds to get started and love the added 'umph' it gives my presentation. This is definitely another tool that will get more and more people using Prezi!

Here's my 3D Prezi...

Saturday, 14 July 2012

#MrCollinsWeekly Issue 3

Slight delay to the creating of Issue 3 due to my short-break to Turkey...but it's ready now!

Here's what's in Issue 3 of the #MrCollinsWeekly:

Venn Diagrams & One Direction
@ilovemathsgames Weekly Puzzles via her blog
The Wizards Trials resource
A very kinaesthetic Algebra task
RemoteMouse App post from this blog!

Hope you enjoy, I will of course be continuing to create my #MrCollinsWeeklys throughout the 'Summer' Holidays. As part of the TES Maths Panel I will be reviewing a sample of the resources that have been uploaded in the last 3 months to seek out the really good resources that have recently been uploaded, watch this space!

Here's issue 3...

Mr. Collins

Remote Mouse

This is awesome!

I saw a tweet a week or so a go about a new App that allows you to control your laptop/iPad/tablet etc. The App is RemoteMouse and having downloaded it and played around with it I can say that this is truly a great App and I can't wait to use it in class.

The App will allow me to advance my presentations and pretty much do anything on my laptop remotely from either the back of the class or when working with individual students I'll be able to bring things up on the IWB etc. The advantage this will give me is that I won't have to constantly be at my desk physically using my computer, and I won't have to pay for a USB dongle type tool that will allow me to advance my presentations. In addition the App allows you to bring up a keyboard, which I'm pretty sure you can't do with an existing dongle type tool?

The App works by connecting to the same Internet connection your computer uses and then this creates the link between the too. When I have tried this on my home PC it was extremely simple to use. The only problems I can see is that my IT department either won't allow the download of the RemoteMouse software on my school PC (I can't really see this being a problem), or that the connection between the App on my iPhone and the school's PC will require me to have the school's WiFi access on my iPhone, which in my previous experiences has not been allowed?! Other than that I'll be set to go and essentially this App could save school's loads of money in not having to buy other devices?

Get it from the App Store NOW!!

Friday, 13 July 2012

'You Know the Fair Rule' by Bill Rogers

My recent holiday reading has consisted of Bill Rogers' 'You Know the Fair Rule'. I got the book for Christmas last year and hadn't got round to reading it. So, when I was looking for reading material to take on holiday with me to Turkey this past week it was the one I chose to take with me.

If you're looking for a book on behaviour management and essential 'a bible' on the topic then this is the one to get! I have been engrossed in the book all week as I attempt to prepare myself for my NQT year and try to think of ways in which I can improve on my existing behaviour management skills.

I have been quite lucky this year on my GTP in respect to not actually having any real behavioural difficulties to deal with, although there were those low-level disruptions to deal with. However, from working previously as a cover supervisor I have experienced by share of 'nightmare' classes and have had some really bad days where I've thought about why on earth I'd want to continue teaching. Looking forward to starting my NQT year in September I felt that, with a fresh start and new classes to establish rules and relationships with, reading a book like Bill's would be great preparation in ensuring I get the start right; this was my main reason for reading the book.

The Chapter I was most concerned with was the one where Bill highlights the best ways in which you can establish your classroom rules to a class and how to stick to these throughout the year, what to do when things go wrong and the support that should be available to you. The key thing in the book is that Bill Rogers places the emphasis of the behaviour on the students and them taking responsibility for their own behaviour and ultimately are the ones that decide whether to abide by or break the rules you set.
The book also places a great deal of attention on the use of language you use as a teacher and how getting the right, positive language will make disciplining and behaviour management much more manageable and in effect will lead to better relationships with your students. Simple things like rather than saying 'don't run' saying 'walking, thanks'.

There is a really good chapter on the 'difficult class' too where some really good methods to use to combat the unwanted behaviour are given.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and have taken on board how important it is to get the routines, rules and rights in place at the start of the year and how getting classes to do simple things like entering and exiting the class in a specific fashion can have a massive impact on their behaviour. I almost wish I had read the book before my GTP year as I feel I would have placed a much greater emphasis on the start of the year and explaining my classroom rules to my students.
Equally though, I was also quite pleased with how many things the book stated that I have been doing throughout the last year, the examples given are extensive throughout the book with each scenario discussed and I was pleased to read that quite a few of the techniques and methods given for solving certain 'disputes' were ones that I have been using.

I will look to build on the things I consider I have been doing right this past year (in reference to the book) when starting my NQT year in September. I will also look to ensure I have a good start with each of my classes and perhaps spend a little more time than I did this year explaining my (high) expectations to my classes in regards to their work and behaviour. I will also continue to use the positive correctional language that Bill Rogers suggests in the book.

Techniques for Top Teaching by Mark Cowen

If ever there was a reason for browsing the TES forums it's finding gems like this...

A couple of weeks ago I was browsing through the forums I have saved on my TES account (NQT, GTP, Mathematics and Student Teachers) and found a post about 'free teaching techniques book to download'. Naturally i clicked on this post and read about a new ebook that Mark Cowen, author of said book, had made freely available on Kindle for a limited period before being made available at a small fee.

I immediately thought that this was something that sounded like an absolute steal and so (as I don't own a Kindle) downloaded the FREE Kindle App for my iPhone and then proceeded to my Amazon account and 'bought' the free book, which then downloaded straight to the app on my iPhone. This took be a matter of minutes to complete and there it was - a 2864 page (based on the setting I have the text size etc on) FREE book.

I have recently been reading through the techniques that Mark suggests in the book and there are SO many fantastic ideas for lesson starters, plenaries, whole lesson ideas, mini-activities, warm-up activities etc etc. The way this book differs in that not only are the ideas presented but Mark also gives the reader an idea of: how long the activity will take in a lesson, the different ways each technique could be used and extensions to each, the time it would take to create the resources and reasons for why the activity should be done in the first place. This is brilliant because it gives the reader an idea of whether or not the technique is one in which you could read the night before planning a lesson and then do the following day or one in which you'd have to do some prior planning and resource creating before using in class.

The book can very much be delved in and out of at the readers need as there are so many ideas it would probably work best to take perhaps 5-10 of these ideas from an initial point, create these resources and then as and when you need a fresh idea, drop back into the book and using the really helpful hyperlinks in the ebook to move quickly between techniques rediscover a technique you had almost forgotten about.

I'm currently about 85% through the book and can honestly say that the ideas in the book will form a strong part of my Summer preparation for my NQT to compliment my existing lesson ideas and resources from this year. I intend to experiment with a few of the techniques mentioned and the only difficulty I am now faced with is shortlisting the techniques I will focus on and making sure I remember to delve back into the book at regular intervals throughout the year to remind myself of all the other techniques I will still want to use in class.

The book is available now on Kindle at ONLY £1.97 and I would highly recommend to any teacher whether they be an NQT, GTP, PGCE or experienced that they get this book. Even if you just read a couple of techniques a day I'm certain that there will be at least 20 odd ideas/variations you would want to use come September!

Click here to go to the amazon page and read more about Mark's book...

And for the original TES forum post on the book click here...

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Maths DJing

As I write this I am in my last week of term and as such I spent last weekend creating some more Maths DJing clips with songs that have been requested from my students. Over the weekend I created another 7 clips!
I have outlined the songs in each clip below (together with their individual links). To access all of my Maths DJing clips click here...

Here are the new clips...

Maths DJing 12
Flo Rida & Professor Green

Maths DJing 13
N*SYNC & Britney Spears

Maths DJing 14
The White Stripes & Outkast

Maths DJing 15
Eminem & Rhianna/Drake

Maths DJing 16
Beyonce & ABBA

Maths DJing Craig David
(includes 7 days, Re-rewind, & Fill me in)

Maths DJing TV Themes
Bananaman TV Theme, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Theme, Thundercats Theme, 64 Zoo Lane Theme

Monday, 2 July 2012

#MrCollinsWeekly Issue 2

Here is the 2nd issue of my #MrCollinsWeekly

In this issue:

The Pirate Game
Techniques for Top Teaching
An Enid Blyton/Famous Five style revision resource
My Lego QR Code
Fibonacci Pigeons!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

My Lego QR Code!!

A couple of months ago I saw an image of a QR Code made out of Lego!

So, I got some Lego and raided my mum's childminding boxes (all of which are toys that used to be mine, including all of my old Lego!!) to create my very own Lego QR Code.

The brilliance about it is that it scans just like a normal QR Code on a poster/paper!
I intend to have this up in my classroom next year. It is the QR Code for my mrcollinsmaths YouTube Channel.