Saturday, 15 December 2012

Exciting Times for Stationary Geeks!

This landed on my desk this week after the Year 8s parent's evening...

That's's my very own teacher's toolkit, complete with all the stationary I could possibly need as a Mathematics teacher.
It was decided in our department that each teacher would get one of these and so the only equipment we'd need to rely on being in the classrooms was the set of mini whiteboards and a set of calculators. In the boxes we have pens, pencils, rulers, protractors, compasses, scissors, glue, paper clips, post-it notes, rubbers, board pens, and mini whiteboard pens! This, for a stationary geek like me, is very exciting and I was proudly showing off my new stationary toolbox on Friday to my students, some of them were as excited, some thought I was a bit 'sad'...fair enough!

Magic Sticky Notes

Regular readers of my blog will know that I'm a big fan of and have used many of their products for private tutoring and for putting up displays in my classroom. This week I found another great use for one of their products...

My Year 10 classes have been looking at transformations over the past week or so and what with it being the penultimate week of term the tracing paper has run out in our department! So, I decided to get out the Magic Sticky Notes that I had in my drawer and see if these would work - they do! Even better is that they can be used over and over as they can be wiped off and drawn back on with a mini whiteboard pen. So, I gave out to each of my students their own Magic Sticky Note and told them to use them in the same way they would a normal piece of tracing paper to do their rotations, reflections and translations.
My lower set Year 10s also used them to work out the rotational symmetry of a shape after looking at line symmetry. Here's a few pictures of them using the Magic Sticky Notes...

I used the 'pink' Magic Sticky notes with this class and they worked fine. As you can see you can clearly see through them allowing you to use them as tracing paper. The students were extremely excited by them and were perhaps more motivated on the task I had set them had they have been given normal tracing paper to use!



My higher Year 10 set also used the Sticky Notes, this time I gave them the green ones to see if these would work equally as well, they did...

 The Magic Sticky Notes are also available in 'clear' so these are even more see through. I've just received a bunch of these and they work great too, almost too well as they're that clear you can lose them on the desk.

The Magic Sticky notes are currently 'buy 2 get 1 free' on the site and are only £4.99 for 50 sheets and a free pen. Definitely worth it in my opinion as each of my students now has one of these in their books (they stay stuck in their books due to their static properties) that they can use again and again when needed/revising.

You can follow them on Twitter @magicwhiteboard

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Getting SMART: Infinite Cloner

Having downloaded a resource from the TES last week on the Area of a Triangle I discovered a new tool on SMART notebook...the Infinite Cloner tool.

This tool allows you to copy selected text/shape an infinite number of times to drag and label diagrams etc.
In the resource I downloaded there was a 'Key Words' box with the words 'base' and 'height'. Both of these words had the infinite cloner tool on them. This allowed me to drag the word (creating a copy each time) to different triangles to label which of the sides was the base, and which was the height.

I really like this tool and can see it being used to label different sides of right-angled triangles when looking at Trigonometry, labelling different parts of circles, using it to quickly copy and paste text to others parts of your presentation (rather than having to press copy, paste each time), and many other ways I haven't even thought of yet!

All you need to do to infinitely clone text, or shapes etc is to right click on them and then select the 'infinite cloner' option. That's it.

Edexcel Mathematics Emporium

This is purely to remind myself of this site, now that I've been able to log in and access the resources!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Angry Birds Christmas Cards!

Last year, whilst on my GTP, I decided to give each of my students a Christmas Card, each with a differentiated question, just before we broke up for the Christmas holidays; I mainly did this just because it was Christmas, but also to thank them for their work that term and give them the slightest bit of revision! :) They went down really well with my classes and I had many of them coming up to me at the end of the lesson and telling me the answers to their questions, or asking me how they worked theirs out. They were also asking each other what questions they got! So I thought it worked really well and created a good basis going into the rest of the year.

So, like all good ideas, they're well worth repeating! This week (Tuesday) I gave my Year 9 class their Christmas Cards (mainly as they were the first ones I got round to writing and I only have them once this week) and once again they seemed to really like them.
This time I centred the cards around the Angry Birds. This almost happened by coincidence as when I was shopping for Christmas Cards it just so happened that the ones that took my fancy were the Angry Birds ones. The clogs then started turning in my head and I remembered the Angry Birds 3D nets that I had used and blogged about last year (all thanks to 'Little Plastic Man' for these [see previous blog post here]). Inevitably I then bought the cards and for each of my year 9s I copied the nets into a document and added some text to get them to work out the volume and surface area for their Angry Bird character, and then they could also create their Angry Bird too. This not only allows them to revise what we had covered earlier in the year on volume and surface area, but also gave them an opportunity to have a bit of fun creating their Angry Bird.
These were also nicely differentiated as the different Angry Birds 3D nets make different 3D shapes, the 'red bird' and 'pig' characters are cuboids, the 'yellow bird' a tetrahedron and the 'white bird' a trapezoid. I therefore gave the students a character that I felt best suited their ability and the cards were done.

Here's how it all looked before the cards were 'enveloped'...

I intend to do the rest of the cards (for my KS3 classes) over the weekend to hand them out next week!
I will, of course, give them different questions (perhaps worded ones based on the angry birds characters/games).

i.e. If the Angry Birds app costs 69p on the App Store and 12 people out of a class of 30 buy the app what percentage of the class bought the app?

Mathematical Advent Calendar Display

Having posted previously about the Mathematical Advent Calendar template I created last weekend (see blog post here) my Year 7 class have now completed their calendars and I have displayed some of them on one of the displays in my room.
The chosen calendars are fantastic (as were a few others, but I didn't have room for all of them) and I'm looking forward to my Year 7s seeing them up on the wall in their next lesson.

The idea seems to have gone down well with others too as my resource (uploaded on the TES) has had a fair amount of downloads in the past week. To download the template just go to this page.

Here's how the display looks...

In class, I initially got the students to cut out the doors and then stick the front template sheet to a plain piece of A4.

Then they were challenged to come up with the Mathematical clues/equations/facts/calculations etc whose answers were the numbers 1-25.

Then they were asked to swap their calendars with their partner to check whether their partner had indeed got all numbers between 1-25 represented. This was, in my opinion, the best part of the activity as they had to work out their partner's clues and therefore were revising a number of mathematical topics (and some footballers' shirt numbers) that we had covered so far this year; I gave the class a list of possible questions they could come up with prior to the task.

Finally, the class were told to fill in each door with a joke, picture, rhyme etc etc - they finished these off for homework and then brought their calenders in for their next lesson.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Getting SMART: vanishing/revealing text!

Sundays = Planning days for most teachers (I assume) and mine has consisted of much the same. In order to prepare my notebook slides for my Year 8s' lessons tomorrow I decided to try out another 'trick' I read from the previously linked to presentation on ways to use SMART software.

This time I have used a coloured box and different coloured text to create an area in which answers can be revealed by dragging questions into it.

As you can see from the print screen below I have created 'Mr Collins' Amazing Perimeter Checkerer' that is just a rectangle shape coloured in purple. I have then got a few questions with lengths all in the same colour. What you can't see on this slide is that there is also the answer to each shape's perimeter in white text within the shape! The magic then happens by dragging the shape (which has all of the text and question number grouped together with it) into the 'Mr Collins' Amazing Perimeter Checkerer' space!

 This is how the slide will look as the students complete the questions.
When I want to reveal the answers all I do is drag each question, in turn, into the purple box. This then reveals the white text (originally hidden on the white slide background), and hides the purple text that was in the original question as it matches that of the background in the box!

I'm looking forward to seeing the class' reaction to this tomorrow when I use the 'trick' in class!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Stem & Leaf Birthday Diagram

Having been tweeted by @209fifashirts (Nick Warrick) about whether or not I used a Stem & Leaf Diagram to display my form group's birthdays I decided to take his suggestion and do one for my set 5 year 8 classes (I have both sides of the year group).

I wasn't planning on teaching this to either groups but thought it'd be nice to give them an insight into what they were and how they worked nonetheless. So, on post it notes I got them to write the day of their birth and had pre-prepared the stem to my diagram on the display board at the back of the class. The class were then asked where their post-it should go. Some of them intuitively realised that the 01, 02, 03, ..., 12 represented the months of the year and so placed their note next to the correct stem.

I then asked them a series of questions when all notes had been stuck next to the relevant month. I asked them what the range of their birthdays was, who's birthday was the median birthday, whether there was a mode birthday (there was for one of the months). I also explained what the 'stem' and 'leaf' parts of the diagrams meant, the fact the the 'leaf' had to be in order so we could tell who's birthday was first etc. When both classes had done an individual stem and leaf diagram I then created a back-to-back stem and leaf in order to compare the two classes with each other. As I am lucky to have only 10 students in each class it was a clear comparison in terms of the numbers of students represented in each. I was also represented in each one and so this also provided a frame of reference for each one.
Again, I asked more questions in terms of which class had more birthdays in certain months, how many people's birthdays came before mine in each class etc.

Here's how the display looks up in class now...

I have used Mr Barton's revision notes to add a more 'realistic' explanation of stem and leaf diagrams for the benefit of my higher sets in KS3 and KS4 to look at.

The green post-it notes are from and stick to the wall without the need for glue or staples etc. The sticky notes are also reusable and can be written on, rubbed off and then written on again many times! I have used a load of their products for my class displays and highly recommend them.

Getting SMART: 'Pull Tabs'

Last week I saw a tweet that linked to the following blog On the blog was a downloadable ppt presentation that shows 38 interesting ways to use your IWB.

I had seen this before but having not really looked into using SMART software on my IWB didn't take too much of it in. However, over the past few weeks I have been using the SMART software a fair bit and am really liking the effect it is having in my lessons and the reaction of my students when I use a new 'trick' or tool on the IWB slides I have prepared - it still amazes them that I can magically make the answers appear by just rubbing the board (deleting the white text I have over the answers).

So, having re-read the ppt presentation on the above blog I decided to take a look at creating a 'pull tab' #17 on the presentation (slide 17 of 58).
Pull tabs allow you to group together a 'tab' (picture/shape) and a set of text. The shape/picture is then placed at the very side of the slide (with the text out of view). The picture/tab can then be dragged into the centre of the slide, with the grouped text to reveal hidden information. I decided to use this with my learning objectives and made a tab and copied this onto each slide of my presentation. I then was able to drag across the learning objectives at various stages of my lesson to refer back to what we should be learning and to do some AfL as to whether we had met certain objectives at stages of the lesson. It worked really well and there was, again, an 'Oooooo' factor from the class when I first dragged the learning objectives across.

To create the pull tab I:
created a semi-circle shape & put some text saying 'learning objectives' over it
typed in the learning objectives (the text to be hidden)
created a rectangle, with line colour set to white and filled this in with white too. I then sent the rectangle behind the text and then grouped the semi-circle, text and white rectangle together.

This then ensured that whenever I dragged the LOs across they entered over the existing info on the slide.

Here's some print screens of my first pull tabs...

 pull tab hidden on the right hand side
 pull tab then dragged across into the centre of the slide, revealing the LOs
on the next few slides, I referred back to the LOs, with the pull tab appearing over the existing slide's info (due to the backed white rectangle)

Mathematical Advent Calendar

December is here, which means it's advent calendar time across the country! So, in order to embrace the Christmassy nature of the month I have decided to get my Year 7 class to create their own 'Mathematical Advent Calender'.

I have created a blank advent calendar template that I will hand out to my class and then I'll get them to cut out the 'doors' on the template that I have pre-cut round some of the edges. They will then stick this template sheet onto a blank piece of A4 paper.
After the setting up of the calendar is done the class will be challenged to come up with as many mathematical problems, equations, calculations, sums etc to which the answers are the numbers between 1-25. The answers to their problems will then decide which door is numbered with which of the numbers between 1-25 and therefore what doors get opened on each day of the month, leading up to Christmas.
After the students have then written mathematical problems for each of the doors they will be given the task of filling in the inside of each door with a joke, fact, picture, cartoon, rhyme, etc  that will be revealed on each day when the doors are opened.

I have created an example to show the class where all the mathematical facts are what we have been covering so far in class this year. I will, throughout the lesson, give the students guidance as to what types of mathematical facts they can use to create the answers (numbers 1-25); we have been studying BIDMAS, sequences, expressions, substitution, area, perimeter.

*in the style of Blue Peter*'s one I prepared earlier...

I have uploaded the template onto my TES resources page, this can be seen here - I printed out the template sheets and then used a scalpel and cutting mat to cut out the horizontal lines of each door. This means all the students will need to do is cut the vertical line between them (right hand of each door) and then stick the sheet to another piece of A4.
Of course I could have got the students to do this but didn't particularly fancy having to borrow the scalpels from DT and allowing the kids to do this themselves!

Let me know what you think! I'm planning on putting these up on the class display after they've been finished off. My year 7s are the only one of my classes that don't currently have a display up in my room!