Thursday, 2 July 2015


#mathsconf4 took place on Saturday 20th June in London and I was lucky enough to attend my second #mathsconf having been to the previous one in Birmingham. Check out my previous blog post on #mathsconf3 here.

At #mathsconf4 I took part in 4 different sessions, each of which had their own things to share and I learnt a lot from each. I'll outline each of these below. However, before the first session we had the traditional 'speed dating' event. The event came with a lot more pressure this year - the final 'date' being the potential future wife according to @LaSalleEd! No such luck. However...I did pick up some great ideas that included:

1) from Chloe - a healthy reminder of open questioning and how she'd taken one of her school's units of work and created open questions from their previous statements. For example, rather than showing a triangle and asking what the shape was she'd ask 'what facts/statements do you know about this shape'?

2) from Miguel - - I love the look of this website. Students get given a blank graph and then are shown a small video clip (one of Dan Meyer's) and are then asked to graph the story that is being shown in the video. For example, Miguel showed me one of the videos where students had to record the distance an object was from the camera over the time the video was recorded. The video clip is shown 3 times, once in normal speed, once in slow-mo and again with the iterations of time included. I'll definitely be including this in my teaching of real-life graphs next year - it's going in our SoW too as a suggested resource.

3) from Chris - I really like this idea...when teaching rotations or transformations: give students a set of axes with a shape in one quadrant and just ask them to rotate/reflect the shape - no other information than that and then just see what they come up with. Don't ask them questions, don't hint at anything and then get volunteering students to come to the IWB to draw on where they reflected/rotated their shape. Loads of discussion can then be had as to the direction, centre, number of degrees, line of reflection, etc.

After the 'speed dating' session I went straight to the first of my 4 sessions...

The first session I chose to go to was @MissBResources' 'Inspiring Independence and Progress'.
I'll say at this point that I recorded loads of notes on my iDoceo app as a separate 'lesson' on my planner - this made it very easy to refer to as it's stored under the right date, etc and is just another wonderful use of the app - I will be writing a post about this soon as I've used it all year for the first time instead of a traditional 'school planner'!
Referring back to my notes I took away lots from Danielle's session...
Danielle reminded me of @c0mplexnumber's growth mindset displays that would be great for our Mathematics corridors. This also reminded me of an idea @mathsjem spoke about at the last conference about having students 'success stories' on display when they had overcome something in their learning to succeed in their Mathematics.
Here are @c0mplexnumber's displays from the TES:
The next thing Danielle spoke about that I'd jotted down was having whiteboards on tables in your classroom at all times. Danielle spoke about the need to 'train' kids into using these responsibly, but the main purpose of this being that they could use them at any point to do workings, etc and not be afraid to make mistakes as with a whiteboard they can easily rub them off and start again, whereas some students don't like writing something in their exercise book in case they get it wrong - especially at the start of a new year when they've got a nice shiny new exercise book and want to make it all nice and neat and tidy (usually the girls)!
I love's new Mathematics Notebooks and my department will be using these next year in a similar way with our Y7s at least and then see how things develop. More about these soon...but take a look at them here.
A reminder of the book 'Manglish'.
Learning Objectives should say ' be able that...'. The key part of this being the 'so that' to give students a purpose behind what is being learnt.
I totally agreed when Danielle said about the need to go broader with topics in terms of the contextualisation and links to other subjects/problem solving.
Oh on that note...I found in my #mathsconf4 goodie bag a very good poster on problem solving from AQA. Here it is...(this will be going up in my classroom next year, and my colleagues' if I can get it photocopied/can get more from AQA)?!

We then got introduced to a website similar to Socrative to get students to do a quiz on their mobile devices called 'Kahoot' - this website is free and looked really good. Worth a look.
Finally, I remember Danielle talking about getting students to convert between/from/to cumulative frequency graphs, box plots and histograms and getting students to think about how they would go from one to the others. This then linked in really nicely to my next session as this came up again there...

Second Session: Douglas Butler's (@douglasbutler1) 'Putting the Web to Work in the Classroom'
I must say before I start noting down the things I took away from this session that I found Douglas hilarious! He could definitely be a stand-up comedian if he ever gets bored of Mathematics and all things TSM. I could have quite easily listened to him all day.
In other news...I sat, like, 2 seats away from @ColleenYoung and only found this out right at the very end of the session - was a bit of a Twitter Maths Celeb moment for me having not met her before!
There is so much on Douglas' website that (ashamedly) I knew little of prior to this session. All of the things I will mention here can be found on there...
The most impressive thing about Douglas' talk was the ease at which he took us all through Google Earth and Autograph to show us how you would use these resources to explain/show to students all about gradients, bearings, data and graphs/charts you can create, etc.
I love the idea of using images at the start of lessons on gradient and then using Google Earth to explore these further. I now know how to create paths in Google Earth and analyse the routes. It reminded me of a cycle app I have that maps out my routes for me and shows me the gradients at each point.
I like the real-life versions of hexagons and pentagons using Google Earth.
Jing is a great tool for screen capture and for creating movies. These can be used in a 'flipped learning' style where students can watch them prior to a lesson, or even as the 'Eastenders' moment at the end of a lesson to set up the next!
I need to look at Douglas' recommended apps for iPads on his site and I also need to use the linear clock he showed us - that looked really nice!
Then came the ease at which Douglas used a spreadsheet of data from his website and imported it into Autograph to then create histograms and box plots from, which I thought I could use when doing Danielle's task of getting students to consider how they could go between each one. I now know how to import a column of data from Excel into Autograph and will use this so much next year, where possible. I know I have Google Earth on my school PC, but need to check Autograph!
There was so much more here that Douglas spoke about from his website that I need to really check that out when I next have some free-time and I'll definitely be exploring over the Summer ready for September.

Session Three: Sarah Flynn's 'What I've learned from teaching new GCSE content to year 10 and 11 students'

This session was really interesting to see the difference in preparation teachers have had if they did the 'linked pair pilot' specification over the 'normal' GCSE when looking to the new GCSE spec. A lot of the topics that are 'new' to the new 1-9 GCSE have already been taught and covered in the linked pair pilot and so there are already resources out there that we, as Mathematics teachers, can use when teaching these 'new' topics. Sarah gave us a selection of these past paper questions to look through to see the difficulty of them/what students are expected. We were given questions on Venn Diagrams and on Graphs and finding areas under curves.

The main points I took away from this session were the emphasis on making links in Mathematics and students being able to form and solve linear equations from any context. Also, there is a stronger emphasis on ratio, proportion and fractions and these skills are combined in other questions meaning students need to be proficient with these skills.

Session Four: Amir Arezoo's (@WorkEdgeChaos) 'The Art of Leading a Mathematics Department'

I was looking forward to this session the most I think as it was the one session, when making my choices prior to the conference, that I really felt was relevant to what I needed at this stage of my career; I'm going to be Head of Mathematics at my school from September and so any advice I can get now is greatly received! I have a whole list of questions that Amir gave us to consider at the start and throughout next year - these will be really helpful and I will refer to these regularly. Amir went through each point throughout his session and in addition to these 'prompts' I also took away the following from this session...

A few books to look out for/get for 'Summer reading': 'Nix the Tricks' and 'Teach Like A Champion'.
Having a 'Common Calculation' policy across the school/our local feeder schools. I like this idea and it could tie in with our numeracy across the curriculum on a more formal scale. However, we have been used to saying 'let the students decide what works for them and allow them to use that method', rather than prescribing a single method?
We have a very old 'Mathematics' sign above our staircase at one end of our Mathematics corridor - Amir said about having a 'Welcome to Mathematics' sign and this will be one of the things I 'update' over the Summer at both ends of our corridor and above each staircase.
Interestingly, Amir spoke about departmental observations and how best to record these, who should observe whom and getting everyone in the department to observe one another. He then also spoke about what data to record on each teacher within the department and how that data should/would be used. I have no right or wrong ways to do any of the above - just ideas/questions to consider in line with my school and department and what currently works for us. The main thing I took from this session is that whatever I do has to be in the best interest for our students learning and our department - there is no 'one size fits all' approach to leading a department, but finding what is needed and what works already and going from there seems sensible. Our department is in a very good position and I don't plan on changing that! :)

So that was #mathsconf4 - another thoroughly enjoyable day spent. I took away so many ideas from so many different people. I haven't even mentioned the 'Tweet Up', which was another highlight. I even met up with my old NQT mentor from my previous school and another of my previous colleagues - it was great to see them and catch up. One of the best things about the events is knowing others, and, in turn, knowing that I do have lots of contacts with other Mathematics teachers in other schools that are all trying to be better. I have no idea if other subjects have a similar conference, but can safely say that being a Mathematics teacher at present is both exciting and inspiring.
I do like that about @LaSalleEd - they have the aim of all Mathematics teachers working together and these conferences go a long way to making that possible. So a massive thank you to La Salle for putting on such a fantastic event again. Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. ooh thanks for the celeb mention! Was great to meet you and all the other active Maths teachers out there who so willing share ideas