Sunday, 29 December 2013

Numbers Game! Countdown Math & Numeracy in Form Time

I have a game called 'Numbers Game! Countdown Math' on my phone and haven't played it an awful lot lately. My Year 10 Numeracy Leaders are in forms at the moment and want to do 'Countdown'-type activities.

I sat down to make some of these up earlier and I don't like doing it... I tend to stick to certain numbers and make them too easy/too hard. I then thought of the game and downloaded it to my tablet to start again at level 1, noting down the numbers and targets. My other option was to rewatch '8 out of 10 cats does Countdown' for some easy ones, but there's football on!

So... I now have approximately 90 sets of numbers to go off, split into 1-20, 21-40, etc. where each interval will represent a 'level'.

1, 21, 41, 61 and 81 are as follows:

They give space on the IWB for someone to write their solution on, just like on the show and I'm intending to do another five of these every week for use by my Numeracy Leaders.

(02, 22, 42, 62, 82):

(03, 23, 43, 63, 83):

(04, 24, 44, 64, 84):

(05, 25, 45, 65, 85):

(06, 26, 46, 66, 86):

Thursday, 12 December 2013

I'm a maths student... Get me out of here!

I follow a blog by @HoDTeacher called 'The View From The Maths Bunker'. This blog came up on my Feedly the other day and I love it...

Introducing... 'I'm in M2... GET ME OUT OF HERE!'

I'll put this in to SMART Notebook and put one of their timers beneath the 'Timer' bit and above our hosts, Ant & Dec ("Howay man!").  I'll add stars beneath the 'No. of Stars' column and assign questions to these. I was thinking that expanding single brackets would be a good one to use as 1 star could be assigned to 2(4x - 3), 2 stars to 2x(3x + 2) and 4 stars to 3(2x - 5) + 4(3 + x) as the 4 stars gives a good 'Risk and Reward' element.

It will be a competition between two sets of pupils (boys and girls, maybe) and the winning group will be aloud out of the classroom first - to break, lunch or ICT/English. Each group will be represented by a name picked at random using a random name generator and the 'opposing' group are to shout at the participants to put them off.

Will make a very exciting end to some rather dreary topics, I hope!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

And I've had succeeded too... If it weren't for those pesky kids...

I like my Year 11 class. They're wonderful kids, fun to teach and generally get on. Their homework record, on the other hand, paints a different picture. Homework is an issue at our school, from top to bottom.

I teach a Year 10 class too. They're nice kids, difficult to teach and generally get on my nerves. Their homework record is abysmal.

I've found myself writing some notes for parents evening about the kids in my Year 10 class, whilst considering how to get the most out of my Year 11s in the 5 months after Christmas.

I'll hate myself for the next bit, but we're measured on levels, and here it is: Only seven out of 20 of the Year 10 kids have made progress between their KS2 grade and the end of year 9. Only one of them is 1 level of progress and only one of them is 2 sub-levels of progress - the rest are only one sub-level of progress. Their targets for the end of this year are Cs, for all 20 bar one, whose target is a B.  At the end of year 9 all were working somewhere around a high G to a low E. I've some big conversations to have on Tuesday night, which will be made much easier by my five period day!

My Year 11s are an easier proposition. They sit a mock exam this week and next, to give them a grade for a 'Mock Exam Results Day' on January 27, 2014. I have given them all one higher paper to attempt and I have received one a half sets back - the full set achieved an A and the calculator paper was an A too.

The full plan with Year 11 is:
Stage 1: Full feedback on mock exam with overall grade and areas for development using The plan is for all students to achieve an extra 32 marks on their June exams compared to their mock - the grade boundaries on their mock suggest that 32 marks would be an improvement of one grade.
Stage 2: Another mock examination prior to Easter, with the same feedback. Ideally, all students will have improved their grade by a half grade (16 marks, essentially).
Stage 3: Analyse all previous 4365/H papers to determine the most common topics covered in the exams to date and focus revision on these topics, applying this to lessons, after school sessions and half-term revision days.
Stage 4: Organise revision breakfasts on the day of the examinations focused on the above analysis to ensure that the little tricks like 'Difference of Two Squares' are fresh in their mind and give them some focus prior to the exam.
Stage 5: Congratulate all 20 on their As in August.

Now, let's hope that these kids don't foil my plans!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Hunger Games... An adaptation of The Pirate Game

Sooner than I thought!

Here it is... The Hunger Games! Designed for use at Easter, because of the link between 'Hunger' and 'Lent' (tenuous, I know...), you can download the resources from the TES web site.

The Reindeer Game... The Christmas alternative to The Pirate Game

At the end of last year I did what everybody else seemed to be doing and played 'The Pirate Game' shared by @mrprcollins. I had a great time. Every session exhausted me as the facilitator but all the kids had a great time and so did I!

I had penciled in The Pirate Game for every end of term lesson with every class, but I then thought 'What do I do about Easter and Summer?'. I'd like to do The Pirate Game at Summer, so needed some options.

Meet 'The Reindeer Game'... because 'they never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games...'.

Download 'The Reindeer Game' from The TES web site.

There'll be one for Easter coming soon... with a twist.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Find The Time

I've had a lot of conversations lately about finding time. Finding time to do work things, finding time to relax, finding time to enjoy life. At work, it's mostly about finding the time to do that something extra you've been asked to do, but usually it's about finding the time to do what I 'should' already be doing.

I had written a long paragraph about my working week. I'll replace it with, simply, "I work a 60 hour week". During my week I teach six classes. I teach 20 lessons (four classes three times and two classes four times), so I get five 'non-contact' periods every week. Three of these are on a Wednesday and one each on a Thursday and Friday. I'm not overly enamored by Mondays and Tuesdays, but I battle through it. I accepted a TLR post last year and as a part of that I use two of my 'non-contact' periods per week dealing with my responsibilities (and much more time at home...) leaving me with three 'non-contact' periods to do my planning, preparation and assessment. For six classes, for 20 lessons, for (about) 150 children.

But, where does the time go? An hour-long 'non-contact' period becomes 50 minutes easily, by clearing up after the previous class and setting up for the next. I have to gather the books that need marking, my new stickers that (apparently) help me to mark, my stamp and my highlighters before flicking through and wondering why three of the kids were using properties of 'angels' in Year 7 and my year 9s couldn't write down the definitions for mode, median, mean and range. I make some comments alongside my stickers, but it's not what I actually WANT to say.

I like being a good teacher. It's why I blog, it's why the first thing I do when I wake up is get on Twitter and Feedly and the last thing I do before bed is check my e-mails. But, we're 10 weeks in to a school year (almost), and I'm yet to properly look over my Year 8, 9 and 10 exercise books, and this makes me feel inadequate. It's not that I haven't set aside the time to do it - it's that the time gets stolen - by cover lessons, by child protection issues and by those 'small' jobs that will 'only take a minute... would you mind?'.

I read a lot in the news about poor teaching and low standards and a massive need to alter and improve what we do in schools. That the GCSE isn't strong enough and we need a third extra content and an extra lesson, so kids have five maths lessons per week. But where will that time come from?

Last year I barely looked at my Year 9 books. I spoke to every kid, every lesson and I offered my time to anybody who wanted it. Two children out of 30 achieved below their target (one of whom missed 25% of lessons) and 7 or so were working at grade B. I delivered engaging lessons and built relationships. The lack of a comment saying that they needed to improve their presentation or that they could consider solving quadratics as a next step didn't bother them - the fact that I stood at my door and spoke to every child as they came in, went round and asked if they were OK and had a laugh and joke with them mattered.

I've bought a book called '100 ideas for Oustanding Lessons' that I've had in my bag for 5 weeks and haven't opened yet. Wouldn't my time be better spent reading this and improving my lessons rather than writing 'Great work X. I feel bad for ruining it with my green pen! Sorry! :)' in X's book?

Doesn't this need to addressed on a large scale? Use your time to do something constructive, like calling parents to invite kids to after school revision rather than writing 'This does not constitute an hour's work. We'll have to catch up...' which will just take more time any way...

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

My advice to NQTs...

I became a teacher because I wanted to be one. Since the age of 16. I didn't really know what it would entail, but tutoring family and a bit of a push from my GCSE English exam set me going. I went on to college (ICT & Maths), university (Maths) and my PGCE. I got my first job without any competition because of a friend who called me and told me to submit something (anything) to a school the day or two before the interview due to lack of candidates. I got my second job because I the aforementioned school merged with another and I got my third without competition after an assistant head became a deputy at my third post.

I don't remember too much about my first post. I remember the staff more than anything. Friday football and banter before registration. I planned lessons and did no revision sessions and kept my breaks to myself.
I remember a lot about my second post. I became frustrated at the school and began to turn my attentions towards the kids is a much more focused way. I gave up frees to take the Year 13s, I spent my lunch times with kids and I started to do a bit more after school. I remember the first kid I got a C for... from set 7. At this point, my focus really was changing, but I don't think I realised it.

I'm currently at the beginning of the fourth year of my third post - my sixth in teaching overall. I'm not saying that this advice is for everyone, but it's how I feel that I'm getting the best out of myself and continue to...

Do everything for the kids. Plan your lessons - not because you have to, but because it makes a difference. Structure your lessons - because it gets kids into a settled routine and they know what to expect from you. Do revision sessions - not because some people won't, but because you can easily affect 5 kids in a massive way by giving them an hour of your time per week. Speak to kids about everything - ask them about what they did at the weekend, recent films, songs, bands, their pets, their hobbies, holidays, where they live. Let kids know who you are - tell them your age, your girlfriend's name, your fears, your likes, about your most recent round of golf, about your experiences as a child - the good and the bad. Take a sports team - celebrate a win, but pick them up when they lose and have their back when there's a teacher bad mouthing them.

Do everything for yourself. Plan your lessons - not because it makes a difference to the kids, but because it makes your lessons better. Structure your lessons - not for the kids' routine, but to keep a routine for you and give yourself that practise in delivery. Do revision sessions - to improve the way that you deliver subject matter and expand your toolkit. Speak to kids about everything - because they hang on your every word and find even the most mundane rubbish mindblowing. Let the kids know who you are - it's nice to be asked how your golf's going. Take a sports team - kids have bundles of energy and putting your boots on and mixing it up is a great workout!

Have high expectations. Of the kids - the kids will respond to high expectations, whether it takes one day or five years. If you keep on at them saying 'You're better than that!' they'll start believing it.
Of yourself - being at school at 7am is not just for OfSTED. It's a choice I make to get myself ready for the day. It's a choice I make so that my lessons are planned. I did little different when OfSTED came to see us, because I go by the same routine and plan my lessons to the same standard. I believe that it's good enough and if OfSTED don't agree, then I don't care.

Go out of your way to do more. Not because you want a promotion, but because the kids would benefit from it. The Young Leaders Initiative wasn't considered because I wanted a pay rise, but because I believe the skills that they'll learn and the outcomes for the department are a fantastic use of my time and expertise. Help out at shows - I know you're not part of the PA department, but the kids involved will remember everything that you do for them.

Don't get involved in the staff room cliques. They'll wear you down and those life-sucking, negative Nicks will have you cursing your Friday P5 class every Friday lunch. I find that eating with kids stops this and I go in to lessons relaxed and ready to get going thinking '1 MORE HOUR!', not disheartened and thinking '1 more hour.........'.

I'm sure that when I started writing this there was a purpose. I'm sure that I've lost this and I'm now waffling. I'll end with a comment I gave in an internal interview last year: "I came from a school where I was unhappy and going through the motions and came to a school where I didn't know what to expect. What I got when I arrived was a bunch of kids crying out for that bit extra and what I could do was give them it. I give my all for these kids and they know it. Not only do they know it, but they respect it, and the way they respond to me shows it."

I'm sure you'll find your own way. But remember, it's YOUR way and not your colleague's way and not your SLT's way. What works for you, works for you, and if it works for you and it works for your students, you're onto a winner.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

How Tall is the Clock Tower?

I was chatting to a girl I tutored last year. She was entered early for her GCSE and we'd been meeting semi-regularly since Year 9 to keep her motivation and interest levels up. Closer to the exam we met once every week and worked through exam papers and I am so pleased to tell you that she got an A in her exam. As a reward, we went for lunch yesterday and for a milkshake - to follow up on the 'If you get a B, I'll take you out for Nandos' promise. Whilst there, she mentioned that her teacher had taken her class outside to investigate with trigonometry. Her exact words were 'It didn't work. No one had a clue what to do. I had to teach them all it'. I don't like the idea of taking my class outside to measure the height of the school, and so I've designed an activity that we can do without leaving the classroom.

I think trig is a very interesting topic and one that can be taken a long, long way. My thoughts about how I'll introduce trigonometry this year is to have groups investigate different triangles and discuss the ratios (poor explanation, but I have a lesson planned and it will go well, I'm sure...) before going on to this activity:

I made an inclinometer today with the help of a straw from the milkshake place yesterday and this resource.

Using this, I went out this afternoon and did some measuring...

I'll cover up the right hand side of this image before we get right into it. I suppose that here we ask if the triangle's the triangle we're supposed to be measuring and maybe get another picture from the side view with the triangle raised to my eye-level.

These were the measurements I took, and may be a little rough as my girlfriend read the inclinometer for me! I intend to have her take some pictures of the inclinometer looking up at the top of the the tower from both distances.

Distance from base of clock tower = 10m, Angle from inclinometer = 23 degrees.
Distance from base of clock tower = 20m, Angle from inclinometer = 40 degrees.

From this we'll get a rough height and be able to answer this question to finish:

Angle from inclinometer = 75 degrees.

Obviously, in between and afterwards they'll get the chance to do a lot of practise.

#makeovermonday - Modelling cost per minute

I've been following Dan Meyer's #makeovermonday over summer and I very much enjoyed Phil Aldridge's attempt at modelling cost per minute over at Like Teaching.

I've never done anything as exciting as travelling - the closest I get is going to local golf courses - so I've had to steal his idea and put it together as images that I feel I'll get the best use out of. Sorry Phil.

Here are my images...

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Which Voucher...?

After receiving a tweet from @MrNickHart regarding my last blog post, and having a quick read of his blog post here I decided to do something a bit more straightforward. Calculate the percentage saving and compare to the money saving - choose the voucher you'd prefer to use...