Chalkdust magazine

I visited UCL for a training course last week and I took the opportunity to catch up with the Chalkdust team, acquiring some copies of their magazine. This is a reasonably new ‘mathsy’ magazine which is being published by students in the mathematics department at UCL.

I’ve not had a proper chance to look thoroughly through it yet, but it looks both professional and full of exciting maths! Congratulations go to the Chalkdust team!

You can view an online version of the magazine in this link if you are interested!

Blogging for KS5

I set up a blog for my KS5 students a couple of weeks ago as a way of providing them with a reference for covered lesson content and extra resources (it also saves me some printing credit too!).

The posts have so far included all the resources used during the lesson (i.e. presentations, PDF of interactive whiteboard teachings, activities, etc.) along with a ‘run down’ of what has happened during the lesson. This provides an opportunity to remind students of how we overcame some misconceptions that may have been raised during the lesson. At the end I have included a homework/private study reminder (with links to worksheets when appropriate) and then some ‘follow up material’. This has generally been extra material such as links to revision videos, extra worksheets and the occasional STEP or UKMT question. Some students have really appreciated this opportunity to ‘stretch’ their knowledge.

This felt like a really good idea at the time and it has been well received by my students so far! I keep plugging it in lessons to ensure that they are all visiting the blog and using it to help with their studies. I hope to include some more posts when I start my KS5 enrichment club after half term as well!

Youcubed Week of Inspirational Math(s)

Since our year 7 classes are being taught in tutor groups until half term our department has been looking at finding good mixed ability lessons. We came across Jo Boaler’s (@JoBoaler) Week of Inspirational Math from the Youcubed website which has lots of tasks and resources relating to growth mindset and encouraging everyone to try their best in maths lessons.

This ‘Week of Inspirational Math’ consists of five lessons (and lesson plans) based on both thinking and group work tasks. Here I include a brief summary of the tasks involved.

The first lesson challenges pupils to share their ideas about what good and bad mathematical group work looks like before then tackling the four four’s problem (finding numbers 1-20 using four four’s only). Lesson two is called ‘number visuals’ and asks pupils to look for, share and discuss patterns in the visualised numbers provided. The third lesson encourages pupils to challenge each other through questioning and tries to help them develop their explanations and justifications. In the fourth lesson pupils are invited to look at Pascal’s triangle (with gaps) and to try and work out what is going on. They are also then expected to try and identify other patterns in the triangle. During the fifth and final lesson of the ‘week’ pupils must first think about what they see happening with the growth of a certain shape structure before then discussing ideas in their groups and then attempting to create generalisations.

I have done up to the third lesson with my year 7 classes so far, and the ‘number visuals’ lesson was particularly successful with many students coming to the front and explaining the patterns they had noticed (primes in circles, times tables, factors, etc.). These lessons seem to have been really engaging for the groups of student so far and all have been able to access it, as well as challenge themselves mathematically.

It has certainly been challenging, teaching mixed groupings, but it has also been really enjoyable to be able to support students in the same class with different aspects of the same problem.

Whilst I have used this with year 7 it is suggested on the lesson plans that it could be used right through to with year 10 groups and I can imagine it would be quite interesting to do that!

First two weeks as an NQT

So the second week of full time teaching has come to an end. I have had an interesting start and as a result of timetabling issues at my school I will be gaining (and losing) a number of classes. These changes result in me losing KS4 contact this year in favour of teaching classes in both year 12 and 13. I am looking forward to a tough and interesting year!!

This far I have managed to make use of a small number of ideas and resources which have, more often than not, been sourced through Twitter. The idea of this post is to share some of these ideas.

The first was immediately a revolutionary change to how I functioned during my PGCE year. Suggestions for use of the iDoceo app for iPad came up on Twitter towards the end of August and ‘how to use’ guides by @missradders and @MathedUp have made using my iPad at school incredible. Keeping track of ideas and planning has become easier and it has also given flexibility to quickly edit seating plans.

@missradders – My Favourite Resources: iDoceo Teacher’s Assistant App

@MathedUp – iDoceo ideas

Another idea, which I incorporated with the year 11 class I was teaching, was the #requestaworkselfie idea, also from @MathedUp. They enjoyed this and almost immediately book presentation and work quality/quantity went up – it is a shame I can’t continue working with this class, however I am considering using the idea with my KS3 classes later on in the term. I hope that I can spend some time making this easier by following some tips by @solvemymaths on this!

@MathedUp – Request a work selfie

@solvemymaths – My Classroom

During a #mathsTLP session before the first full week I asked for some place value lesson suggestions for year 7 with @DrBennison pointing me in the direction of The website has a wide ranges of mathematical statements and prompts to engage pupils in an exploratory inquiry based lesson. After finding this website I also came across which has a selection of pre-prepared mixed ability lessons which I will be making use of with our mixed ability year 7 classes until half term. A colleague at school also suggested which also has a selection of resources for growth mindset in the classroom.

Finally @mathsjem gave me some good suggestions, again during #mathsTLP, on how to start off with year 12 and it seemed to work very well with the class which was 35 strong due to our timetabling issues! The class size has now been resolved thankfully!

@mathsjem – Kicking off Year 12

I am very much looking forward to getting to know my new classes, and am particularly excited to be teaching year 13 first thing on Monday morning!

#GWRDay15 – The World’s Largest Maths and Science Lesson (3rd November 2015)

On Tuesday 3rd November 2015 Bubbly Maths are trying to initiate the world’s largest ever maths and science lesson. See the tweet below from Richard Cowley (@RiCowley):

It sounds like an exciting idea with the 100 minute lesson being designed collaboratively between the writers of and teachers from the Cambridge Maths Hub school. There may also be a possibility to be involved in the World’s Largest Balloon Class – learning to twist balloons and join them together to make a DNA double helix!

I like the idea of participating and have suggested it to my school. You can register your interest here.