Sunday, 28 July 2013

Rule of the Room

Over a year ago, my girlfriend bought me a book called 'Pimp My Lesson'. I remember it being a while ago, as it was about the same time that OfSTED came in to see our English department. To aid my preparations, she gave me it earlier than she was going to, and I passed it on to the head of English to see if it could be of any use. She passed it back afterwards with a 'thank you' and I kept it in my bag.

I dipped in and out of the book for a long time and when Y11 had left this year I started to read it more often. I kept sticky notes inside it and made notes as I read and I'm yet to go back through this, but two of the smaller items on my to do list for this summer were to create a new lesson template loosely based on the cricket and to design a logo for 'Rule of the Room' for when I want to use it as a plenary.

Here is my logo:

I'm sure that many of you know what 'Rule of the Room' is, but it was new to me and I used it as a round in my end of year quiz for the kids assigning a different number of points for 4 different instructions (1 point for multiples, 2 points for responses in French, 3 points for redirecting all questions to another students, 4 points for responses being students' favourite song lyrics).

A student is sent from the room and all students in the room are told that the student sent out is to ask them questions - they can ask whoever they want, whatever they want, but that responses to their questions must follow the 'Rule of the Room'. The student sent out is invited back and told to ask questions and when they have an idea of what the rule was they are to guess.

In the quiz, multiples was done with ease, as was French. The redirection took a little more time and most teams picked up 2 or 3 points for song lyrics as they happened to guess particular songs. I think that the opportunities for a bit of fun as well as consolidating understanding are endless. These are a few of my thoughts:
  • Multiples - multiples of 3, multiples of 5, etc.
  • Factors - factors of 24, factors of 12, etc.
  • Shapes - names of quadrilaterals, properties of triangles, etc.
  • Prime numbers.
  • Square numbers.
  • The language of chance.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Race To Treasure Island...

I subscribe to a newsletter written by a maths teacher from Scotland named Chris Smith (@aap03102). As part of the newsletter he shares good practice and the issue that I recall (as I don't have them to hand) shared his 'Crack The Code' activity. (Sorry, can't find a link!)

My girlfriend and I hit Amazon and eBay trying to find a box that would look good and give it a proper buzz... We decided on this at £11.50 including postage from Amazon. There were others, but nothing that looked quite as majestic. I then tried to find a combination lock, which didn't go so well... Until yesterday, when we popped into Superdrug and a 3-figure combination lock was thin enough to fit the latch. It now looks like this (as tweeted yesterday):

Rather majestic, huh?

I will fill the bottom with these, and thought I'd introduce the task using these: 1 and 2. Whilst visiting Tesco about a month ago I purchased something like these, too, for group leaders to wear whilst working.

The worksheets will look (something) like this:

There are eight boxes en route from ship to the treasure. Each one has a question (all the same in this mock up) and will give a value for letters A - H. The final box will use the letters A-H to give a three digit value, set as the code to the combination lock. The worksheets will be covered in tea, crumpled and put in the oven to give it an air of authenticity. The path needs to be redone on my Smartboard, too, to be more curved and less jagged.

First group of kids to get the code correct will get the 'treasure' (Creme Eggs, refresher bars, mini bags of Haribo, Freddos, etc.). Group work, ticked off. Practical/Interactive work, ticked off.

Amazing! Thank you Chris...

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The Young Leader Initiative and The Mathia

So many things have happened this year and it's been difficult to find the time to write blogs when I'd have liked to. My intention was to keep everyone abreast of the YLI and #themathia on a regular basis and this just hasn't happened, unfortunately.
What everything seems to boil down to is time...
Why haven't we delivered all six units of the course within the year? Because the time hasn't been put aside properly. The time that has been given to us is, almost certainly, curtailed by somebody else and I haven't been able to achieve everything that I'd hoped to with #themathia.

That said, I am rather pleased with how things have gone thus far and this is a review of the YLI 2012-2013 and where we're expanding to.

The original blog regarding our Young Leaders was posted here. A weekend course never happened and Year 11 eventually ended up doing the day certificate in Sports Leadership, whilst the Year 10 course remains unfinished. That thing that I 'didn't see as a massive issue' has become 'a massive issue'.
I assigned each Y10 and Y11 Numeracy Leader to a Year 8 pupil, but despite reminders to both mentors and mentees, the majority disappointingly failed to show on a regular basis. The reports from class teachers on those mentees that attended regularly were positive, but 'playing out' is much more enticing than 'improving your skills', it seems.
Charity days or weeks didn't run as planned and were thrown together at late notice despite my planning, but a small number of the Numeracy Leaders raised a little money on Pi Day for Catholic Care.
Nothing extra has been a great success and even their involvement in Maths Computer Club has been lacking as there hasn't been the time available to really discuss things with them.

This might not seem like a positive blog post, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
In March I posted about 'Maths Rock Stars' and an update here. The short story is that Year 10 Numeracy Leaders (and 2 Sports Leaders to make 14) are in forms on alternate Thursdays delivering Maths Rock Stars. Recently we had OfSTED in to school and because the Young Leaders Initiative is something that the school are looking to expand upon, they decided to pay a visit to Year 7 forms (as well as Year 8 assembly). The feedback that was given to the kids was excellent, as was the feedback to SLT. Unfortunately, I wasn't given any directed feedback on it, but the OfSTED report says this:

Last week, due to 21 of my Year 7 class being out on a trip, or ill, or suspended, or off school for some reason, I managed to grab a short bit of Q & A time over MRS with 6 girls who said that it's going really well and that they enjoy doing it. I asked them what they'd like to do next and probed a little, and as a result of this we've decided that when the Year 10 (next year's 11s) go back in to their forms (as Y8) that we will run a 'SimLife' project.

SimLife will run as a task with a decided starting point (as a secondary school pupil) and each following week they will continue through different career paths - being a college student, working at a fast food franchise, going to university, owning a dog, getting a job as a mechanic, teacher, hairdresser, doctor, sales assistant, chef and anything else that the Numeracy Leaders can come up with.

The Maths Rock Stars resources are available for download by clicking the following links, or here in one go:

Week 1 - Small Grotty Pub [worksheet] [answers] [Frank Turner and Blur]
Week 2 - Local Band Venue [worksheet] [answers] [Nice Clean Cut and Green Day]
Week 3 - Less Reputable Touring Venue [worksheet] [answers] [fun. and Bastille]
Week 4 - More Reputable Touring Venue [worksheet] [answers] [You Me At Six and Imagine Dragons]
Week 5 - Arena [worksheet] [answers] [Oasis and The Killers]

(Note for printing: If you select 'Multiple copies per page' and '2', enter 1,1,2,2 and 'flip on short edge' on the new double-sided printers, it will do A5-size copies)

Each session ran the same way. Leaders set the 'timer' of two songs going and allowed them to play through whilst pupils worked on the tasks at hand, supporting those who asked for help. After the music had finished, pupils self/peer-marked their work and the leaders collected their sheets. Scores were counted up and recorded in the following week's planning session and inputted onto a central spreadsheet. Prizes are to be calculated from here and given out during the first few weeks back after the Summer holidays.

I'm sure that I'll follow this up with some SimLife resources at some point.

The way that we appear to be going is that we'll no longer be confined to numeracy, literacy and sports with our Young Leaders, but we will have a cohort that each department can tap into. I'm hoping for 14 numerate pupils who can go into next year's Year 7 cohort's registration on Tuesdays that can run Maths Rock Stars and then SimLife. The current #themathia cohort will continue into Year 8 with the current Year 7s to deliver SimLife at the request of their head of year and continue supporting the numeracy aspect of their registration programme. All of this will be supported by a residential in September, to train the pupils up and read them the riot act - anyone who loses interest will be dropped and replaced.

Here's to next year!