#ChristMaths15

On the 21st December 2015 Jo Morgan hosted the first ever ChristMaths party event with CPD, networking and of course alcohol! This post contains some of my reflections after reading what I wrote down during the talks.

Strategies for teaching previously ‘Grade C and beyond’ topics to Foundation students – Mel Mundowney (@Just_Maths)

Mel delivered some interesting points in her talk, particularly addressing how many students are now playing ‘catch up’ with the curriculum changes due to different demands and teaching. One of the key things I noted were that there is a need to ‘keep things fresh’ as, more recently, there has been cyclic and repetitive content being taught in a disjointed curriculum. Another was that it’s ‘all about the questions!’ In particular how these differentiate tasks and how it can help develop pupils.

Flexible maths – The Michaela Community School Maths Team (@BodilUK, @danicquinn & @naveenfrizvi)

The Maths team from Michela school delivered a session discussing their approach so far (being a new school they have only year 7 and 8). They showcased their knowledge booklets which have been used to aid lesson teaching and have a strong focus on developing mathematical vocabulary and knowledge through ‘drilling’ the basics. It was interesting to hear their approaches and the booklets that were shared at the event will probably be a valuable resource!

Developing problem solving skills – Colleen Young (@ColleenYoung)

Colleen Young’s talk had a focus on developing the problem solving classroom. She suggests that the teacher-student relationship is a key aspect of this development. Additionally our use of vocabulary and students understanding of this could develop. When tackling ‘problem solving’ questions students should not fear just trying something; there should a resistance in the urge to rely on the teacher as ‘mathematical guru’. She provided lots of resource suggestions and her whole talk can be found on her blog!

A five year GCSE – Kris Boulton (@Kris_Boulton)

Kris talked about how we can better our own teaching, in particular discussing examples where he had not explained or taught topics well and had then adapted or radically them at the next time of teaching. He also identified that there is plenty of time to teach the new curriculum, but we need to focus on teaching well in the first instance and sequencing the content better. He concluded his talk by saying “Mathematics is mathematics!” This was a suggestion that we should be teaching students maths from (at least) year 7 through to the end of (at least) year 11 and we shouldn’t ‘start teaching GCSE in year 9 or year 10’.

Closing remarks – Jo Morgan (@mathsjem)

Jo was the concluding speaker raising some of her talking points and concerns about the new GCSE. One that stood out to me was the mention of Gove claiming the new GCSE would include fundamental mathematical content – but who decided what is fundamental (e.g. trig ratios in foundation)?

Evening networking

Having recently joined the Chalkdust magazine team Jo kindly allowed me to distribute copies around the room for people to take. It was really well received and I hope everyone from #ChristMaths15 enjoys reading issue 2 as much as I did!

The evening of the event saw maths teachers talking, completing Jo’s quiz and solving puzzles from Emma Bell (@El_Timbre).

An excellent ending to a very well organised and successful event! Well done Jo!

 

 

‘Evaluating probability statements’ Standards Unit task (S2) with year 8

Having moved on to the topic of probability with my year 8 classes this term I was reminded of my final university tutor observation of a year 8 probability lesson last year, which happened to be one of my better lessons during my PGCE. I had decided to ‘be daring’ and conducted the ‘Evaluating probability statements’ Standards Unit task (link courtesy of @mrbartonmaths) with the class. The feedback was good and I was able to get really fruitful discussions from the class.

The structure I re-used with my two year 8 classes last week, with some tweaks, which resulted in both classes being more engaged with mathematics and ‘real’ mathematical discussion than before!

The task encouraged students to, in pairs, discuss the validity of a number of probability statements. They were asked to ensure that following their discussions they wrote down their thinking in order to refer to it in a later whole class discussion. Some students found some statements difficult to interpret and these were left until the end where pairs were able to join together into a small group to discuss the leftover statements.

After the discussions I wanted to have some class feedback. Using iDoceo’s random student picker I was able to select a student to chose a statement and explain their reasoning as to why they had decided that it was true or false. This then allowed the opportunity to open up a discussion with the class as in many cases there was conflicting opinions or reasons behind pupil answers. It really helped to meet the task’s criteria of clarifying the misconceptions in the statements, and for almost every statement I was able to take a ‘back seat’ listening to my students argue their points and eventually reach an agreed conclusion through their discussion.

The Standards Unit tasks are probably some of the best classroom activities I have come across. They are challenging, promote mathematical thinking and engage all learners in the task. In addition to this they all contain a preamble with a suggested approach to the task which has been helpful on many occasions. If you haven’t used them yet, you should consider it!

You can find all of the Standards Unit tasks on mrbartonmaths.com.

First half term as an NQT completed…

… And hasn’t it been tough?! An ‘interesting’ start to the year resulted in a number of timetabling (and therefore class) changes, which meant having to go through the introductory stage with classes again after two weeks! I have enjoyed experimenting with a number of ideas and resources I have seen this half term, and the idea of this post is to document some of these, much like my previous post ‘First two weeks as an NQT’. I shall try to ensure that these ideas are ‘new’ and that I am not repeating things which are mentioned there!

First off I want to talk about marking. Whilst I have by no means found the ‘best’ approach to marking, this sticker shared by a member of my department has helped me to share feedback clearly with students. What I really like about it is not only the ‘RAG’ style effort rating bar, but that you can invite students or peers to assess work in their books using the sticker. I am still looking for effective marking methods, so please share your strategies with me!

We have used the diagnostic questions website (@MathsDQs) this half term with year 7 to assist with placing them into ‘appropriate’ sets after half term. These were an excellent resource and I would recommend use of the website across key stages. I imagine the GCSE collections would be invaluable to assist students and teachers in becoming (more) aware of what areas still need to be addressed, and where misconceptions are most often occuring. There is also a collection focusing on the new AQA specification which would also be of benefit.

Due to our mixed ability year 7 classes there were a few occasions when the work was not sufficiently challenging for some pupils. To tackle this I looked at the ‘My Classroom’ post from @solvemymaths which I mentioned in a previous post. I had recalled seeing a section called ‘extension activities’, and when reviewing the post I found the link to resources from mathschallenge. The questions are excellent and challenging, so I printed some of these out which solved the problem of not always having sufficient material to occupy students in the lessons!

With KS5 I have been making use of MEI’s integral maths on a regular basis as well as looking at Jo Morgan’s (@mathsjem) bank of resources on resoureaholic. I am awaiting word on login details for CMEP having seen a selection of these resources at an FMSP development session at UCL earlier in October. I have also started blogging for my KS5 students (see ‘Blogging for KS5’ post) after each lesson, providing them with access to the lesson resources and some additional follow up material. After half term I am beginning a KS5 enrichment club which is starting off as training for the senior maths challenge hosted by the FMSP before developing into a less specific enrichment club. I hope to continue improving where I go to find resources so as to provide my sixth formers with engaging lessons and encourage them to see the real beauty and excitement of mathematics.

Another thing I saw via Jo Morgan is the website Create A Test (@createatest). I consequently took a look and on finding it to be free, signed the school up. It is an outstanding resource for producing assessments and exam style questions with the ability to generate variations of one particular type of question. I really like the website and have already begun to encourage other members of my department to take a look and make use of this FREE resource.

Monday 19th October saw the second maths journal club discussion on Twitter (@mathjournalclub/#mathsjournalclub). This was a nice ‘break’ from teaching, diving back into the research and taking part in an interesting discussion. This focused on Colin Foster’s paper “Mathematical études: embedding opportunities for developing procedural fluency within rich mathematical contexts”. There were a number of great ideas in the paper which I hope to now implement in my future teaching. Check out the storify of the discussion put together by host Tom Bennsion (@DrBennison) here. Also, next discussion is on Monday 7th December!

I am still developing my bank of resources and ideas and the maths education Twittersphere has been one of the effective places for me to do this. Thank you to everyone who freely shares their teaching ideas and resources, so many of us appreciate your hard work!

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 inquirymaths.com. 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 growthmindsetmaths.com 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 youcubed.com 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 nrich.maths.org 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.