Saturday, 22 September 2012

Icing Biscuits all in order to teach Ratios

When trying to approach the topic of Ratio with my lower ability Year 8 sets I decided to mix things up a bit.

I had seen on the TES Start of Term resources that there was an idea to decorate biscuits in different ratios and so thought this could be ideal in engaging my year 8s with the topic. So,I got myself some Rich Tea biscuits, Icing Sugar and Smarties.

In the lesson I introduced the topic and asked my LSA to start mixing the icing sugar for me. When this was done I handed out the biscuits to the students (2 each) and told them that they would be given a random selection of smarties and that they'd have to decorate their biscuits with smarties in certain ratios. I gave them the freedom to choose what smarties they put on what biscuits, but they had to tell me the ratio they had used and write this on their kitchen towel they put their iced biscuits on (I didn't want a load of mess in my new room)!

Here are some of the results...


They, of course, also enjoyed devouring the biscuits afterwards!

Class blog and the '100 Word Challenge'

At the start of the year I decided to set up a class blog that I would, initially, use with my Year 8 tutor group.

The main purpose of this blog would be to share my form group's work and to share with them useful information throughout the school year. A large part of the blog involves my form taking part in the 100 word challenge (see The 100 word challenge is a weekly activity for students to take part in that involves them writing a 100 word piece of writing around the weekly 'prompt' that is put up on the website.
I was unsure at first as to how my tutor group would take to the idea, but have been massively impressed with how much they seem to be engaging in the process.

Each Wednesday evening the 100 word challenge website posts the 'prompt' for that week, then on Thursday, during tutor time, I show the class the website, the prompt and then get them to start writing their 100 words in our 20 minute tutor time. Then, at the end of the 20 minutes if they have finished their writing and want it to be put up on the blog (they don't have to have it published on the blog if they don't want) they hand it to me and I post it for them later that day. If they would like more time to work on it, or they want to type it up themselves, they then e-mail me their entry later in the week. This is easier for me too as it means I just have to copy and paste their work into the blog post creator.

From an initial point of view everything posted on the site is going through me, whilst I ensure all the e-safety elements are checked and the students get used to the process. Eventually, I will try and set up a universal 'student' logon for them to all have and then post when they've done the challenges. I can still moderate everything posted by that account and so will still be able to ensure there is nothing that shouldn't be posted on the blog.

We have now done the 100 word challenge for the 1st 2 weeks (the activity is still in week 2) and at least 7 or 8 students have posted each week, there is a buzz about the room when we talk about the blog and many students are asking me if I've seen the comments they've had on their work from other people.
This, in my opinion, is the best thing about the 100 word challenge. After I have linked each of my student's work to the 100wc site the 100 word challenge team (and other students/teachers) then comment on the work completed. They give constructive feedback on the work and highlight areas in which the students may improve their writing. This, for not only the students, but my new school, is a massive thing this year as there is a whole school literacy push. This includes having a 'word of the week' feature in each week's tutor times; I am also posting this on the blog and giving away VIVOs (our awards system) for the first student to comment on the post with a sentence using the word of the week.

I'm planning on 'showcasing' the blog to the rest of the school soon, once I have plenty of evidence as to the usefulness of it, the student's engagement in it and the ways in which it can develop students' literacy. Part of this will involve me explaining that I have said to students that in their writing they are not to mention the school, their full name or names of other students etc etc. I also have on the blog a whole menu devoted to e-safety and have provided loads of links for students and parents if they are experiencing problems with online safety, cyberbullying etc. I hope this will also form a part of tutor time later in the year where I can discuss with the students being safe online, refer to links on the blog and discuss these further.

Here's the class blog... if you'd like to comment on any of the students' work then that'd be great, they love the comments they've received so far and this is helping massively to engage them in using the blog and completing the 100 word challenge.

This week I even had a student e-mail me on Wednesday after school saying that they'd been on the 100 word challenge website, seen the new prompt and asked if they could start their 100 word piece of writing early. I, of course, said yes and then within 10 minutes had an e-mail with a word doc attached containing their entry, it went straight on the blog and was then used as an example for the other students in Thursday's tutor time!


As you may have seen from previous posts, I have my own classroom this year...HOORAY! :)

However, when I'm not teaching the room is used by other members of staff and so I then head to my office space to work. Now, this has been a little unproductive so far this year as I haven't had a laptop to work on unless one of the other members of staff kindly say I can work on theirs as they didn't need it that period (this has happened a fair bit luckily). But being reliant on other members of staff to not need theirs isn't as good as having my own one.

Yesterday, having previously been told that I wouldn't be getting a laptop, I was told that I would be getting my very own laptop!

At the end of the day I went from my classroom to my desk in the office and found it all shiny and new sitting on the desk. I am very excited about this as it now means that I don't have to worry my colleagues and I can get on with work that, until now, I have only been able to do a limited amount of.

First few weeks of my NQT year...

Well it's fair to say, due to the lack of blogging that I've been able to do, that it's been an exhausting start to my NQT year.

I thought that due to doing a fair amount of work over the last few weeks of the Summer holidays that I was all prepared for the new school year, but this was somewhat naive of me.

As I've started at a new school this year I've obviously had a lot of new routines to get used to, surroundings to familiarise myself with and people/names to learn. Add to all this an increase in my timetable and the responsibility of being a form tutor it's fair to say that I've been somewhat overwhelmed by the start of the year.

That doesn't, however, mean that I haven't enjoyed the start of the year, as I'm thriving in my new atmosphere and everything that my NQT year is bringing with it...

I've now taught all of my new classes for 2 weeks (and a bit), my form group are well and truly up and running with their class blog and I'm getting used to the layout of the school and where everything is.

I feel I have my work cut out this year with some of the classes I have and I am still very much in the process of getting to grips with my lower-ability sets: how best to support them in lessons, manage behaviour and get the best out of them. There have been a few testing periods with them, and some fantastic times where I've seen them engage in their learning. I've already booked myself on a free CPD session (run by the local partnership group) on how best to work with my LSAs and hope that this session will give me some effective and useful ideas that I can embed in my lessons. As I have 4 lower-ability sets I have an LSA in each of these class' lessons and so this is pivotal going forward and will form a large part of my development plan this year.

My mentor is already fantastic and we've met each week so far to discuss general NQT things. I've been informally observed by her and my first 'formal' observation with her is this week. I already feel like I have the support there when needed and know that the year will go well because of this. I am lucky in the fact that my department are also extremely supportive and everyone is willing to help out at the drop of a hat and have been great. There have been a number of e-mails just randomly sent round sharing resources and tweets etc! I've started to observe one of the department's A-Level classes when not teaching in order to develop this and (again, luckily) have a desk in an office where there are 2 NQTs (including myself), 1 GTP and our respective 3 mentors. The great thing about this is that we are able to share ideas/resources/thoughts etc when not in our classrooms teaching. There's also another Maths office where the rest of our department reside that I can sit in too.

I'm sharing a tutor group with another member of staff, which, considering I'm new to the school, has been a god's send as they clearly know where everything is in the school, what the expectations are in tutor time and all those 'little' details that you need to know. I feel we're working well together with the group and it has helped to have another person there to check I haven't forgotten to tell the group anything or missed any important information. We have a form tutor parent's evening this coming week and so it'll be a good chance to meet my tutees' parents.

In terms of lesson planning and marking, this has very much taken up the most part of my time, and I expected nothing less. However, due to the increase in my timetable this year as part of moving from a GT to an NQT, I'm finding that there is so much that I still want to be doing but just don't have time to like I did last year. This is meaning that I'm having to find more efficient ways of going about my weekly routines in order to keep the consistency of the quality of my lessons. I'm already aware that my Week 1 timetable is a bit less hectic than week 2 and so I'm trying to plan the marking of students' books around this etc.

I feel overall I have settled well into my new role and school, but there is still so much that I need to do, need to get to grips with and need improving moving forward into the school year. I know these things will eventually get there and each day I feel I'm getting a better grasp on things.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

#MrCollinsWeekly Issue No. 5

Here's the link to the 5th Issue of the #MrCollinsWeekly...

Included in this issue:

Math = Love blog post on a digital cells starter
A square numbers starter task from the magical maths site
Target Boards from @Maths_Master
Some Cool Pictures found on Twitter this past week
and a link to my blog post on my student topic tracker!

Monday, 3 September 2012

This is a great website!! - a website that allows you to create all manner of interactive text games/activities for students to do on the IWB! All you need to do is type in a set of text into the box on the site and then click on 'textivate now'. This then brings up a page with the text you typed in and then a series of options/activities to do. If you click on any of the numbered images it will bring up your text split into that number of boxes. The activity for the students is then to rearrange the boxes on screen (reading left to right) to complete the text you originally wrote. Here's a very simple one I have just done on the site - taken from Sam and the Womp's awesome song...'Bom Bom Bom', just drag the boxes around until you've completed the opening sentence of the song.

HINT: click the 'autocheck' button in the bottom left of the screen and the boxes will go green when they're in the right place!

I can see this forming a strong part of my tutor time activities and I could even possibly put mathematical rules/formulae into a sentence and get students to rearrange this as part of a mini-plenary/plenary! (thinking out loud here)

Check out the website now for loads more ideas including filling in the missing letters (great for literacy)

Student Topic Tracker

I have been thinking this year of how best I can track student's progress in lessons and throughout topics and have come up with an idea that I will try out with my top set Year 9 class. Having spoken to my HoD about the idea he suggested I try the tracker with one class to start with and then see how it works over the 1st half term. Then, I'll have a better idea of whether it works, what could be done to improve it, get some student feedback on the trackers or scrap the idea all together!

I have come up with this Student Topic Tracker Sheet...
(This one is for the first topic to be covered in the Year 9 SoW)

As you can see from the topic tracker there is quite a lot of information provided on the sheet.

I am planning on getting students to stick one of these sheets (there is one for each topic up to the Oct half-term) at the start of each topic in their exercise books.
Each of the topic trackers have all of the learning objectives for the topic, all levelled with the corresponding KS3 NC Levels.
Next to each learning objective there are a series of boxes for the students to highlight their confidence with. There is a 'before lesson', 'after lesson' and 'after revision' scale from 1 to 4. The criteria for each of the numbers 1 to 4 is given at the top of the sheet.
I will therefore get students to circle their confidence on each learning objective prior to each lesson on that objective. I will then, at the end of the lesson/s on that objective, get the students to circle their confidence again. Hopefully this will provide one way of the students seeing the progress they have/haven't made on the objective. The 'after revision' confidence metre is then for the students to use for their own personal learning on the topic after they have been taught it in class. I have put this here as I know some students can forget what they have covered in class or get more confused when they read something online or in a revision guide that is worded differently to what they experienced in class.
At the end of the topic, with all the learning objectives having been covered and confidence against them being highlighted, I will get students to put a comment on the topic, self-assessing how they feel it has gone, what they liked/did well, what they didn't like/didn't go well and what they need to improve i.e. more help on... or more practise on... . This will give them a chance to let me know of anything they haven't already stated to me. I will also get them to give themselves a level/grade on the topic.
At the end of the topic it should be clear for the students to see the level they have been working at given the levelled learning objectives and their confidence on each. i.e. if a student is 'really confident' on each of the level 6 objectives but 'not sure' on the level 7/8 topics then they would say they were working at a level 6 for this topic.

I will then, using my WWW and EBI stamp, put a teacher comment in and I will also give them a level based on their sheet, the work they have done in class and class work/homework I have marked. I will also give the class a brief end of topic test to complete that I will use. I may even add a separate part to the sheet for this level/mark?! (thinking out loud here)

I will then sign, and get the student to sign the sheet after a 'feedback' session with the student on the topic and their work/level.

I will then try and photocopy/scan each of the student's topic trackers and store in their files for future reference (parent's evening, reports, faculty meetings etc).

I can see the sheets working really well in class, both for the students and for me. The students should be able to see the work they are doing, the level they are working at and where they need to focus their attention to improve. From my point of view it will mean that I will only have the end of the topic sheet to mark and level with my WWW and EBI stamp and the rest of the student's work/homework can be 'flicked and ticked' with an overall mark being given against it. I can also get students to peer-assess their partner's work in lessons to give an additional element of assessment to each student.
There will be a fair amount of explaining how the sheets work to students initially, which I will cover in our 1st lesson to get the class into the routine of doing them throughout the year. After this I am sure the sheets will become a natural part of our daily lessons/routine and students will get used to filling them in throughout each topic and referring back to them.

(thinking out loud again here...) I could even get students to, when constantly referring back to the tracker sheet throughout lessons, look to see if there are any 'gaps' they need to fulfil when finished other objectives. This could be a good way of introducing a more 'independant learning' element to my lessons by getting students to decide what it is they need to know, rather than me saying 'this lesson we will be doing this...' (a bit of differentiation here!).

If anyone has used anything similar to this before and have any suggestions/tips on what has worked for them and how I could improve my current version I'd love to hear your thoughts, just reply below or tweet me @mrprcollins, thanks.

Class Blog

This year I'm going to be experimenting with a new class blog.

I'm going to mainly use the blog with my new year 8 form group, but may also use the blog to put up some of my student's work in my Mathematics lessons too. It all really depends on how the students take to the idea initially and the worth in doing so.

So, I have set up a new blog for my tutor group to start with. I will mainly use the blog initially to get the tutor group practising their creative writing by taking part in the 100 Word Challenge on I am a big fan of the site and the 100 word challenge and want to do this once a week with my form group following the weekly prompts put on the site. I will encourage my form to write their own 100 word pieces in form time and then get them to either hand them into me to put on the blog, type them up at home and then e-mail to me to put on the blog/post on the blog themselves.

I will be giving my form group a QR Code/URL of the class blog site in our 1st session together and then we'll be practising with a 100 word challenge that we'll generate the words for together in our 1st tutor session. This will hopefully get the class used to: the layout of the blog, the idea behind the 100 word challenge and read all the info/links I've loaded onto the blog so far. I also intend to ring parents at the end of this week to introduce myself to them as their child's new form tutor and will mention the blog then and ask if their child has said anything about. This will give me a chance to answer any questions they may have and direct their attention to the E-Safety page on the blog.

Knowing full well about the issues around child safety when online I have made a point of having a strong focus on E-Safety on the blog and have a whole separate page on the topic with loads of links for both students and parents to sites on cyberbulling and e-safety. I am sure that I will be mentioning this to my students throughout the year too as the use of social media sites becomes everyday practice.

In doing the blog I am hoping to share the good work of my form group with a wider audience via the 100 word challenge website. I am looking to ultimately improve their literacy and creative writing, inform them about e-safety and how to act when online and also teach ICT skills along the way, directing them to useful websites via the blog.

I will get a better idea about how/whether to use the blog for posting my Mathematics classes' work later in the year after I have seen how my form group do/don't take to the idea. I can see a lot of positives coming from it and it will give some structure to our form times by having the weekly 100 word challenges, posting their pieces of work and then reading the comments that follow in subsequent tutor periods!

The blog I have set up is here I have ensured that ALL posts/comments etc have to be moderated by myself before being published on the site to make sure that nothing inappropriate is put up.

If anyone has any comments on this, what has worked for you if you've done a class blog I'd love to hear of ways I could use it in the future, just leave a comment below!

#MrCollinsWeekly Issue 4

It's now the first week back at school and the return of my #MrCollinsWeekly that I started sending out to all my colleagues and tweeting on Twitter at the end of last year.

I have now done the new issue (issue 4) and this can be downloaded here... Just open up the pdf document and all of the links should take you to the relevant resource/article.

This week's issue contains:

Mr. Taylor's (@taylorda01) 'Heptathlon' resource and link to his blog
My new classroom blog posts
A Hexagon puzzle
An Olympic Rings number puzzle
and...which is the best number, 73 or 34969?

To see all the past issues of my #MrCollinsWeekly either look up the # on Twitter or alternatively you can access all of them here...
I send my #MrCollinsWeekly out each week on an e-mail to my department, previous maths teachers I have worked with on my GTP, maths teachers I worked with when working as a cover supervisor, the maths trainees I worked with last year and others that have requested I send it to them each week. If you would like to be added to my weekly e-mail then just DM me your e-mail address or leave it in the comments below!

I hope the resources mentioned here are useful, let me know of any you've used in class and how they went down!

Mr Collins

Saturday, 1 September 2012

My New Classroom (the back of the room)

The back of my classroom is where the majority of the display space is with a massive display board going, pretty much, across the whole of the back wall. I have made this my class 'Twitter' board to use with my 'Tweets Plenary' ( &

Here's the view of the back of the class from the whiteboard at the front:

Here's the 'Twitter' board up close:
As you can see I have already stuck a load of post-it notes to the board, this is to give students an idea of how the board will work and me an idea of how it would look. I will be encouraging students to post post-it note 'tweets' on the board at the end of our lessons (not necessarily all of them) and also when they have questions they want to ask. I have put up some example questions to think about when writing their 'tweets' such as 'what have you learnt today', 'what do you want to know next' etc
Underneath the 'Twitter' board I have a selection of the puzzles from the nrich website I hope students will feel inspired to try some of these out themselves in their own time. I may also direct students that finish work early to have a go at one of them? (thinking out loud again). To the left of the 'Twitter' board is my 'Stuck-o-meter'...
Here it is close up:

The 'Stuck-o-meter' was an idea I got from Jim Smith's Lazy Teacher's Handbook. My student's will be encouraged to put up a post-it note with their name and problem on the 'stuck-o-meter' during the lesson if I am busy helping another student. I will be keeping an eye on the meter during the lesson and will address the problems on the display (and will encourage my TAs to do the same). The board is a way of students assessing themselves how stuck they feel they are on their work and will give them a place to post their question which I will later address. In an ideal world, I will be able to do this in the lesson, but fully aware of the limitations of this I will at least be able to collect in any remaining questions/problems at the end of the lesson and attend to them by either speaking to the student at a later date or even e-mailing them with help, useful websites to visit, perhaps one of my YouTube videos etc.
Also at the back of the class is possibly the school's oldest book case (it's slightly falling apart at the back) and then a few other displays including my Escher posters and my hexagonal mirror.
Here's how this part looks:


The hexagonal mirrors will hopefully lead to discussions about Polygons, interior and exterior angles, tessellations, properties of shapes etc. The bookcase is already full of my class' exercise books ready for when they get these in their first lessons (including a box of spares for later in the year). There is also quite a random selection of books that seem to have been left from the library or other teachers. I've decided to leave these here for now but may go hunting around car boots and the charity shops to see if I can find some books that the students may prefer/look a bit better than those currently residing on the shelf. I will try and make this the 'station' where the student helpers go to at the start and end of the lesson to hand in/get the class' books. I will inform classes of when I intend to mark their books and at the end of these lessons I will get them to put their books on the top of the book case, open on the page where I need to mark them, in an attempt to try and save some time this year when marking.  If I'm not marking their books they'll just put them above their class tag.
And that, for now, is pretty much it in terms of my new classroom. I am hoping that my students will feel engaged and inspired by the room and it's contents. I also hope that the room brings out a bit of my personality; I have some space invaders stickers on the window...
I want the room to give my students a certain feel that what happens in the room will be exciting and interesting!? They're my intentions anyway. I'm sure I will constantly change things throughout the year as I/my students see fit - I haven't even put up my Arsenal badge yet (we'll see how the season starts).


My New Classroom (the side of the room)

I have two sides to my room the side where I have displays and the windows. I have already been warned that the sun tends to shine quite brightly into the room throughout the day and that the room can get quite warm and at times the IWB is quite hard to see. So I can see that the curtains will be put to good use. I may also have to get some sort of air freshener?!

Here's the side of the room where the displays are (didn't think there was much point in putting up the window side):

The display that you can see closest in the picture is very much a work in progress. This will be my tutor group's display board. Each of the tutor groups at my new school have a different colour to them and as my house this year differs in colour from the house that the room was the tutor base for last year it was imperative that I took down the existing coloured background for sake of uproar in my first tutor session. So, whilst I wait to find some dark blue backing for this I have stuck up the form's name '8 Merton' and a few posters that I will pin up on the board when complete. This includes the  100 word challenge logo (, the NaNoWriMo poster ( and a poster which I love (and have up at home) that says 'Be an optimist prime, not a negatron'; I found this via Twitter.

Next to the tutor display board I have put up the 'When Will I Ever Need Maths Posters'. I really like these posters as the 'what will I ever use this for' question does crop up with certain topics.

The blue display in the distance is pretty much left blank for student's work to go up throughout the year. However, half of the board is covered in my 'Tetris' display, here it is close up:

Now there's a couple of reasons why I put this up...
I think it looks pretty cool, I'm a geek and wanted some of this to come through, and the Tetris pieces themselves can create discussions about shape and space - 3D shapes, surface area, volume, properties of cubes, tessellations, nets etc. I used the magic whiteboard again for this and then stuck together a bunch of cubes I had made from differently coloured paper and then double sided sticky taped them to the magic whiteboard sheet (that sticks to the wall via static [see their website for further info]).

My New Classroom (my desk area)

As I will be the main teacher teaching in my room it is great to have my own desk too. As such I have already started filling the draws of my desk with all the stationary items I/my students will need over the course of the year. I have also hung up some displays around my desk area/behind that I can either refer to or to support students.

Here's my desk area:

The desk itself is pretty bare at the moment, which I'm sure won't last, but I do have a desk in one of the Mathematics offices and so I'm probably going to file paperwork away here rather that in the class so I can put my class information, lesson plan, resources etc on the desk. This way it also means that when other teachers use the room when I'm not teaching that they will have some space too and won't have to sift through my mess to find things they need (the IWB remote etc).
On the front of the desk you will notice I have covered it. Initially, the reason for this was that there was some graffiti/marks on it that I wanted covering. However, as I have covered the the front of the desk with  I have since thought about how I can best use this space. I have decided to put on here information that could support the students sat directly in front of it. These seats will naturally be given to my SEN students that require a bit of further support/access to myself and can see the boards a lot clearer. So, before each lesson/topic I will write some key information/tips/examples etc on the sheets on the front of the desk for them to use in class. This will hopefully improve their learning and also take away from the exposure they may get in class as to be given further help/support. I know certain students can feel embarrassed when needing help/having a TA sat with them constantly in every class and so hopefully, when explaining to them what I intend to do with the space they can get some help before myself and my TAs assist further. I can also direct students to the area if they are looking for further help when I am already assisting another student? (I'm thinking out loud here).
On the window besides the desk I have put up an A4 magic whiteboard sheet for each class. these are currently blank but will eventually contain information for the class in terms of their homework deadlines, exam/assessment dates, websites to use, helpers of the week etc.
I have a filing cabinet, to which I now have the keys to. On top of the cabinet is my QR Code Cube, my Dice of Decisiveness and my Large Playing Cards. The inflatable football was there when I arrived and will be used when I get bored :). There's loads of stationary and files in the cabinet that I will use. The files I need to sort through, but I will keep a file for each student in here to store assessments/results etc.
On the display behind the desk I have put up some 'Maths DJing' lyrics and possibly more importantly my IKEA rulers. Having recently visited the store I asked one of the members of staff there if I could take a handful of these and their mini pencils as I was a Mathematics teacher and they kindly said yes; you don't ask, you don't get! 

My New Classroom (Introduction & the front)

Over the past couple of weeks I've managed to get into my new school to set up my classroom. Having spent the majority of my time on my GTP running between two classes (with no periods really following in each other in the same room) it is fair to say I can't wait to have my own space this year. Not only will it save me lugging around my school laptop, teaching resources and student's books. but it will also allow me to personalise my teaching space and add my own stamp on the class. That being said I did end up taking over a large part of my mentor's room last year :-s.

I've been in to my new school once this week and once last week and I am pretty pleased with how the room has taken shape. I have tried to make it an engaging environment for my student's and hope that they will enjoy their learning space.

Here's the view from the back of the room looking straight toward the front:

As you can see from the pic I have put up my 'Mathematical Alphabet' that I had in my mentor's class last year. Each letter is a tagxedo made up of all the mathematical words beginning with that letter. This is how they looked last year
I was lucky to find that on arriving in my new room that there was already a 'washing line' up that goes right across the middle of the room high enough so the students can still see the boards whilst sat down. I have pegged 12 different laminated Mathematics sheets (double sided) from the website. I blogged about this earlier here --> I think these look great and I will change these as the year progresses. I have put up the charts that correspond to the topics that I will be covering with each class for the first half-term and so will change these when other topics are covered to keep them relevant!
Above the boards are loads of 'can you see the Mathematics' posters that were up when I arrived in the room, they are one of the things I have left up from last year as I like how they get the students to think about the maths that appears in each picture.
Smack bang in the middle of my room is my IWB too, which I am thrilled to have in my class as I used this a lot last year in both of the rooms I taught in. There is also a large amount of space in front of the IWB and whiteboard for active maths to take place. I try to get my students up and moving as much as I can/the topic allows and this space will prove perfect when doing the kinesthetic activities I have used/will use.

Teacher's Planner

This year I am going to make much better use of my teacher's planner!
I was given one last year by my GTP employing school but I didn't really use it that much, in fact I only really used it to keep track of my class' homework.

There were a couple of reasons why I didn't use it that much. The first was that it was only A5 sized. I know that doesn't sound like a good enough reason not to use it but I'm quite particular about things like this and the fact it wasn't A4 didn't really wash with me - I just didn't feel there was enough room to put everything I needed. The second reason, leading on from the first, was that I planned all my lessons on an electronic lesson plan template, and these were planned in depth throughout the year. So, as I was putting an in depth lesson on an electronic format and then printing off for each lesson, making notes on the print out and storing for later reflections etc, I didn't see the point in then putting brief information of each lesson in the planner?! When planning in advance I just used a scrap piece of paper to plan the next day/s lessons and then would cross them off once completed in full electronically.

However, this year I already have a lot of lessons planned in depth to work from/tweak/borrow parts from/adapt for different year groups/sets. So, I feel it is going to be useful to put details of each lesson in the planner and then go to my saved lesson plans from last year and adapt as needed. There is another reason this will work...I have been given an A4 planner this year (HOORAY).
Another reason is that I am tutor to a year 8 group this year and even though I was a joint tutor to a year 12 group last year I wasn't really required to do that much as my colleague had a hold on everything that was going on.
I feel the planner will be equally important to record my tutor group information as it will be my teaching.

Last year there were a few occasions where I wasn't aware of certain trips until a reminder e-mail was sent round a week in advance and so this year I will make a point of jotting down all dates/reminders/deadlines/meetings etc in the planner to really keep track of EVERYTHING that is going on and that myself, my tutor group or my students need to know.

Here's my new planner (I'm geekily excited about this)...

I've already written in all the dates up to the half-term and my corresponding teaching periods/PPA. I've added my class lists to the back and my timetable and have even started putting in all the #NQTtips I have seen on Twitter or elsewhere on the web - this is mainly so when I look back through my planner throughout the year I'll remember everything I've read over the past few weeks.