Monday, 2 November 2015

Disarm The Bomb - A revision activity...

My fiancée has been going mental at me for a couple of months now. 'Why's this not in the recycling bin?' 'Need it for work' 'Well... when are you going to use them?' 'When I get 'round to it...'

She's talking about the cardboard tubes from inside kitchen rolls. And I do have a plan for them.

I love my Race to Treasure Island activity, as well as the 'For British Eyes Only' one, that I use for revision (blogged here). The combination locks that I have allow for 3-digit combinations for the codes, which is quite limiting, however.

I had an idea towards the end of last year. What else uses a code? A mobile phone! Could I make something up that I can use a mobile phone's lock code for? Do I have a spare mobile phone? Apparently, no, but my old man did!

So, here is the idea!

I took 7 kitchen roll tubes. I had 6, so I took all the kitchen roll off the one that's currently in use and used that too. I made a (well, an 'as good as can be using kitchen rolls') regular hexagon after covering them in red paper. I taped them all together at the top and bottom, and created a flatter area to attach a mobile phone to. I bought black pipe cleaners to go in the top and sticky-backed velcro to attach the mobile phone to the flatter bit. The result is this:

It looks better in real life... Honest!

So, the lesson...

Write a number of questions. I have created a PowerPoint file to put 7 questions on the board (with an eighth for the code), which automatically continues to a second slide with a 'BOOOOOM' sound after a set amount of time.

I've also created a .notebook file to outline the activity with a link to a bomb countdown timer online, which runs alongside a worksheet with space for 16 questions and a final expression for the code.

You can download these resources on my Maths Resources web page at

Be careful with the questions, have students round to whole numbers to make it a bit easier if needed, and sit back while kids work individually, in pairs, or small groups in an attempt to save their school from destruction. You could even honour the child with a short ceremony and offer a bar of chocolate as a 'key to the school'.

After... The One Hundred Minute Lesson

I've (fairly) recently written a post about how we came to one hundred minute lessons, and a post about how I was getting on with them partway through the first half term. My intention here is look at the positives and drawbacks of moving to a new timetable, the challenges involved, and ways to go about overcoming those difficulties.

My overbearing thoughts about the last seven weeks are about how tired I am. I believe that it probably took 3 years to get (properly) used to planning lessons and being able to plan a good 60 minute lesson without much issue. During the first few weeks of this year, I no longer felt like the guy going into his 8th year of teaching, but that I was in (maybe) my second or third. I knew what I wanted to do, what I wanted the kids to achieve and how to go about it, but I struggled with the balancing act - what I wanted to do would've filled two lessons at 60m, but didn't fill 100m with one starter, one plenary and the lack of a need to recap the first bit of the lesson. I spent so much more time planning lessons and I struggled a lot.

I've become better at this, but one bit of that last part is still bothering me - only one starter. I expressed my concerns about fewer chances for repetition - and when they do get a chance, the depth of the activity is hindered because of doing so much in the previous lesson and giving them fewer opportunities to recap a greater number of skills, rather than more opportunities to master fewer skills. I'm still concerned about this, and I hope that (long-term) this isn't an big of an issue as I expect it could be.

I'll point out at this stage that my name has cropped up in many student committee meetings as pupils highlighting my lessons as buying in to the 100m, planning them well, trying to break them up to retain concentration and being very organised in my delivery. It's nice to be told, but I'm not overly happy with the way my lessons are and as such I'll continue to try to find some new things to go with.

Having a large bank of resources has helped, and activities that I've borrowed from other teachers who have shared them freely have been put to good use. I can't recommend highly enough, the following (amongst many others, but I favourite things on Twitter like there's no tomorrow and very little are coming back to me at the moment!):

Craig Barton's Diagnostic Questions
Don Steward's MEDIAN
Joanne Morgan's Resourceaholic
Ed Southall's Solve My Maths

100m lessons have, speaking of DiagnosticQuestions, given me much more of a chance to revisit homework without worrying too much about losing 'new learning' time and this has been especially useful with my Year 10 class who I've recently expressed my worries about.

Inspired by Kris Boulton's bit at MathsConf5 I've also tried to get as much storytelling into my teaching as I can. It's an engagement strategy that can really hook in some difficult kids to a lesson as all kids love a good story. I'm still looking for stories, though, and I think that there's a lot more work to be done here.

Another thing that has had some impact this year - I saw a tweet that suggested exam papers are marked twice - once with their actual mark, and the other a mark with silly errors awarded. I did this with my two year 11 classes who recently sat a Unit 1 paper. My top set, who I intentionally did the test with cold, achieved between a D and an A, but 12 had made silly mistakes to prevent them scoring a grade higher. With my new class the method wasn't quite so powerful, as they achieved 12/14 Us and 2 Ds, and including silly errors made no difference. I'll continue to do this, as it wasn't time consuming, but won't expect it to have a great impact with every assessment. Their mocks will be a good barometer.

Back to 100 minute lessons, the structure I have been using hasn't changed at all:
0 - 10/15m is a starter. This is typically a recap of previous learning, a starter from @mathschallenge or completion of their 'Next Steps' from an activity marked according to our school's PINS marking policy. I have the opportunity to get settled, get around the kids and ask about homework, or deal with any issues as students come in to the room.

10/15m - 20m/30m is my bit. The bit where I go through their starter (unless it's a PINS activity, and I do that later) before introducing today's lesson. 'This is what we're going to do, this is how we're going to do it, this is why what we're going to do works, this is how you're going to do it...' (we all know the drill).

30m - 40m might be a mini-whiteboard activity, which I'm trying to do more of this year. I tell the kids that unless I do, I can't be a good teacher, and they wouldn't want that (or this is what I've learnt from too much training, anyway). This will lead in to a 40m - 55m activity in books, or I might just go the whole hog with 30m - 55m in books. MEDIAN is excellent here, and has shortened my planning for some topics greatly.

At this point, the kids have gone a bit. There are the ones who can work for 100m, but your attention is taken up by the ones who are struggling, and as such the next bit of the lesson goes a few ways, dependent on time of day, day of the week, week of the term, whether there might be a fight at lunch or after school, whether two of the kids are now going out, or how close they are to an assessment.

Typically, 55m - 70m, is the time I'll take to draw the kids attention back to me and today's tasks. A recap of what we've done so far, self-marking their work, checking understanding with a few directed questions and bounced around the room. I'll then try to dig down a little further to enrich their understanding, or we'll go forward and extend on what we've already done.

By the time it comes around to 70m - 85m, the kids are working again. This might be another task like the earlier one, or might be a Kahoot quiz, or something I've stolen like Operation Countdown, an angle chase activity, one of the multiple area mazes going around, Don Steward's inequalities mobiles tasks according the topics that we've studied thus far in the lesson, or setting them on a revision worksheet before an upcoming assessment.

85m - 95m is given to exam questions, when appropriate. If not, it'll be a recap of all that we've done and a plenary to summarise. The exam questions have worked rather well - I try to find 10 marks worth of questions on ExamPro so that students work through all of the questions, and if I find more, I tell students that I want a certain number of marks achieved within the next 'x' minutes. The students are quite motivated to do well in exams, and as such work rather well here, despite already having had 1h25m in the same room, with the same mental mathematician in front of them.

95m - 100m is the time I use to go through the answers to their exam questions, self-assess their work for the day using Kev Lister's RAG123, have students collect their books together, their mini whiteboards and other resources we've used, write their homework down and be ready for break, lunch, or home.

A positive of having students before a break/home time are wide-ranging. A positive chat, detention, or catch up on work is rather easy to do when you have some downtime after each lesson!

I'm also getting a lot more out of non-contacts, as 100m running over a break/lunch as well makes it much easier to get a lot of work done, as the 10 minutes you wasted sorting yourself have less of an impact on the next 90 minutes!

The days are flying by. Before I know it, it's going to be Christmas. Then, Finland and my wedding. Every week, I'm surprised when The Walking Dead Day comes by once again. By the time you know it, it's home time after teaching 3 lessons. I'm scared of the impact this might have on our Year 11s, however, as we're currently 23% of the way through their year and too many of them don't yet get it.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Why I'm scared for my Year 10s...

As part of MathsConf5 I attended the AQA Maths/Mr Barton session on the new GCSE. I left with a plan - to order CGP revision guides for 9-1, to use the AQA-written quizzes on and to stress how difficult the new exams will be to those in my care.

I'm not sure whether this is tiredness, or a realistic idea of where we actually at, but having assessed my Year 10 set 2 using AQA's topic tests this week, I am scared for next year. I'm scared for our Year 10s and I'm scared for our Year 11s who'll need to resit in 2017.

I teach in a school where over 50% of our students are PP or 'disadvantaged'. With the nature of PP students, they struggle with comprehension more than their non-disadvantaged peers (according the constant training I receive). The new style of GCSE will hit them hard.

When we spoke about their DQs homework, and when they worked in lesson, the kids were flying. But when they did their homework misconceptions were flying and their assessments were poor (10% - 59%). They've since resat these, and I'm yet to mark them, but they were much more positive leaving the room yesterday morning.

I'm mostly concerned that their low reading ages and their ability to replicate but not to think for themselves will spell great difficulties with 2017's GCSEs andplunge our (recently defined) 'failing' department (~53% A*-C last year) into the abyss with little hope of bouncing back for (at least) a few years without major intervention and so much work and scrutiny.

This week I went through the whole assessment, revisited each question and allowed them to work on their issues and re-tested them to try to build a little confidence. Unfortunately, this cannot be a long-term answer to the issue and I need to do something. Unfortunately, with the lack of clarity around new grades, expectations around what constitutes a new 4 or a 5, what a 6 is and what a 7 is, the new papers being 50% A/A* (7, 8, 9) work, I don't see much positivity in maths teaching (particularly in my department, but I'm sure in others too) for quite a few years.

If I'm totally wrong on the topic, and there are answers to my concerns and problems, please let me know.

Friday, 23 October 2015

After... The first term.

It's been a long, long seven weeks. I don't remember a time when I've been under such scrutiny and pressure, and done as much work as I have in the last 50 days.

We've switched to 100 minute lessons this year, which has been quite the learning curve and required me to re-plan the lessons I've delivered over the last few years.

We've, in a search for consistency, rewritten the school's behaviour policy so that students receive four warnings before moving rooms, which they'll be returned from if they don't cause an issue there. (A later request from leadership asked for consistency and students were complaining that they were receiving fewer warnings in some lessons. For me, the complaint is '...but I can misbehave more in ... than ...' Hardly an argument to be listened to!)

As a country, we're delivering the new GCSE. I've a bigger blog about this to follow, but I'm finding that it takes more time to plan these lessons too.

I've worked two Saturdays, with MathsConf5 and our school's open day, taught 3 lunch times a week this term, lost my Year 8 class in favour of taking on a second Year 11 class in an effort to improve our maths results this year, written Year 11 college references. No wonder I'm exhausted.

This post (the 'After...') was intended to be a recap of my experiences of 100 minute lessons, so this will come soon too.

This post, however, will focus on what's to come... Parents evenings (only 3 this year!), mock exams, Christmas decorations, the important HT3 period, wedding in Finland for half term, the important HT4 revision time, honeymooning over Easter, the run-in to June exams, a Year 9 Young Leaders residential, Academic Smackdown and BREATHE.

At the moment, though, I'm just looking forward to a week of not needing to be at work, even though my to do list is as long as my arm. I'd best get this out of the way before Zombie Infection in Sheffield and Foot Golf next weekend!

Happy half term everyone!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

During... The One Hundred Minute Lesson

I woke at 4am on the day of my first 100m lesson. I remember it quite vividly. I had delivered a lesson, completely misjudged the length of it and pitched the material incorrectly too. I was sat in a colleague's classroom, crying, feeling shame at my inability and incompetence to deliver a lesson. Then I woke. I didn't go back to sleep, and it played on my mind a little.

I was apprehensive about teaching 100m lessons, and so were many colleagues, but only 5 weeks in to the year I'm enjoying them. The non-contact periods are great - attached to break/lunch you can get a lot done in two hours. Only having three lessons per day is also pretty good, as it's lunch before you know it.

I've been left with twenty minutes to fill, and I've run out of time, but having 100m to properly tackle simultaneous equations with a quadratic (graphically and algebraically) is extremely helpful. When I plan it right, it's great. When I don't, I cut a bit or I find something to fill the time (having 25GB of resources helps!).

Sometimes, particularly during the afternoon, the kids struggle. This was particularly apparent with a middle-to-lower ability year 8 set, but they've been taken off me to free me up to teach a second Year 11 class. I think the change in sets and the ability that the older students have to maintain their concentration and work ethic for longer is making me feel more positive about the last week.

I've stuck to my rigid lesson structure more often than not and I'm finding that the kids are buying in and largely enjoying being in my room for 100m. 10m starter. 10-15m chat. 25m activity. 5-10m mini plenary. 5m chat. 15m activity. 5m plenary. 10m exam questions. Wrap up and self-assess. The latter parts are typically an opportunity to extend on concepts of deepen understanding, which is great.  Challenging students, and raising the expectation on them, helps to maintain their focus.

In terms of exam questions, we've been giving them at the end of every lesson and I've been using this layout for a SMART Notebook slide:

Each quadrant has a question and the difficulty increases through from easy, to medium, to master to extreme. 'There are 10 marks on the board. You have 5 minutes to get 6 of them' or 'There are 12 marks available. You have 10 minutes to get all of them'.

I've also created this one for the last week of term (build up to Halloween) to indulge my nerdy side:
I ain't afraid of no ghosts!

I've got a large debt of gratitude to pay to Don Steward for his resources shared on Median, Kahoot for breaking up a few long lessons, Craig Barton for his work on Diagnostic Questions and many, many others who share their resources on Twitter and allow me to magpie them. I'm finding it harder to plan and resource 100m lessons than I did 60m lessons, but the shared resources and addition of Kahoot (including personal wifi channel!) has been great for activities during lessons.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Before... The One Hundred Minute Lesson

I was getting changed for football on a Friday after school when a colleague made a throw-away comment about something that was pitched at a Middle Leaders meeting the previous day. It didn't make a big impression on me at first, but my intrigue perked as someone replied and we were told that we'd find out on Monday and that those present had been asked not to divulge anything beforehand.

I waited over the weekend, taught on the Monday and went to a staff meeting where the idea was pitched: "50/100-minute lessons". There was a lot of negativity in the room, but I made a few points that were more constructive than destructive, shying away from my normal response of 'AAARRGH! CHANGE! NOOOOOOO!'

I think that in maths the kids need opportunities for repetition - my starter is always the previous lesson's work to test understanding and give an opportunity for consolidation. Taking my year 8s into account, they had 3 lessons per week last year and this gave a decent number of opportunities to recap. I thought that 50-minute lessons, and having four of them, would be totally worth the change and extra planning time, but that 100-minute lessons, and having only two of them, would limit the number of chances for consolidation. I also think that 50-minute lessons from hour-long ones wouldn't make too much of a difference to lesson structure, but that a change to hour-long lessons would challenge students' attention spans too much and make us totally re-think our lesson structure.

So, the decision was made... Mostly 100-minute lessons with some 50-minutes. Making us totally re-think our lesson structures.

Our curriculum leader and assistant curriculum leader visited Trinity Academy in Halifax and brought something that looks like the following back. I put our own slant on it and came up with:

The idea is that lessons are delivered in the same way so that any changes between sets have a limited effect on the kids who move.

I'll be putting these on my SMART Notebook files:

 'I do!' is the bit where I teach my bit. 'WE do!' is the bit where we'll do as a class, with mini whiteboards, class discussion and questioning. 'we do!' will be where students have the chance to work with those around them and 'You do!' is the bit where students will work independently on a task.

To go along with these, I'm looking at using these icons my .notebook files too:

The equipment icon and gold star will be on the front page of every lesson as a reminder for me to check equipment and to make reference to the school's 'Gold Standard' expectation of presentation. The homework icon will be used to remind me to collect homework and when setting homework to inform students that they'll need their learning journal out.

I've also thrown these together:

These icons will be used when students are set a task to highlight the expected noise levels and anything that exceeds those expectations will be reprimanded.

The whole lesson might look something like this:
0 - 10 minutes - Starter activity. This is likely to be a recap of work from the previous lesson or an appropriately chosen @mathschallenge starter.
10 - 20 minutes - Teacher instruction (I do!). This is where I'll do my bit, imparting wisdom and knowledge whilst students listen diligently.
20 - 30 minutes - Class discussion / Whiteboard work (WE do!). This is the part of the lesson where students will answer a few questions on whiteboards or I'll ask for hands up or direct questions at individual students.
30 - 55 minutes - Paired work (we do!) / Individual work (You do!) in exercise books. During this part of the lesson, students will work with those around them or individually on tasks set on the whiteboard or from a textbook.
55 - 65 minutes - A mini-plenary. An opportunity to share the answers to the tasks they've completed, as well as a chance to recap the key points to the first part of the lesson.
65 - 75 minutes - Teacher instruction (I do!). An opportunity to extend learning or go through a few problems relating to what has been covered in the first part of the lesson.
75 - 90 minutes - Individual work (You do!) in exercise books. A chance for students to show their ability to solve problems or their extended knowledge.
90 - 100 minutes - Plenary. A chance to recap on what we've done today, hand out any homework and 'RAG' their learning using the following:

I intended to write this post in a few weeks, but having shared the forthcoming 100-minute lessons on my blog yesterday, I was given advice from many on Twitter last night, and figured I should add this here. I'll also be posting a 'during' blog after a few weeks and 'after' during October half term to recap my experiences in the first half term of this year.

@emmaemma53: "Important to break up the lesson with lots of short activities", "challenge is to maintain the pace and focus"
@MrGibbsMaths: "Great opportunities to assess throughout - starting points, progression and plenary"
@WorkEdgeChaos: "You'll get to about 80 minutes and then their brains will give up", "just keep it snappy, lots of review, and anticipate brain shutdown"

Thursday, 20 August 2015

One in, one out... That's how it goes!

I've found this year difficult. Whether that's to do with the current climate around education as a whole or just the climate in my school I'm not sure, but the screws are being turned and I've struggled.

I've found it difficult to remove myself from work, but I'm determined that this won't be the case in the forthcoming year.

As for the previous year, I've found it difficult with my bottom end year 7 classes, but thoroughly enjoyed teaching year 8 and 9. I've loved having my first GCSE top set in Year 10 and they're making great progress, but my year 11 were hard work after getting them as part of a 'firefighting' mission.

They received their results today (Set 4/5ish, 80% 3LOP, 17/22 Cs from Ds and Es in September 2014 - not representative of the school unfortunately) and many barely gave me a second look as they left. This doesn't get me - I'll miss them less than they'll miss me - but what did was the response of one girl who threw her arms around me and let a few tears out at her relief at finally getting there. It's what makes 9 months of hard work worth it!

Aside from my classes, the second Academic Smackdown event was another hit and the Quizmas Smackdown was bags of fun too. I had a hard (but good) week away with next year's Young Leaders, and I've also been delivering Further Maths to 14 of my year 10s at lunch time.

Next year looks like it will be no different in terms of workload, but I must make a few changes personally.

I have some more time in school this year (thanks to my head, deputy and HOD) to complete tasks that have taken their toll last year and will be paid lunch duties for delivering Further Maths and the departmental AGT club, but my plans are basic:

* Stick to a homework timetable for my classes.
* Stick to a marking timetable to keep up to date with my books.
* Listen to, and follow, instructions more.
* Not get bogged down by the switch to 100-minute lessons and rethinking my delivery.

Personally, there's a lot going on this year, so I need to keep my head straight.

* Stag do in October half term (meat, Zombie hunting experience and golf).
* My previously posted Christmas plans.
* A week in Finland during February half term, during which I'll turn 30 AND get married.
* 2 nights in New York and a 12-night Caribbean cruise at Easter for my honeymoon.

I'm excited, but I'm apprehensive. Two more weeks to go, loads of work to be done and shared. On, on, on...

Thursday, 16 April 2015

First a Ratio Robbery, now a Jewel Heist...

Recently, I tweeted about my distaste at teachers being given the opportunity to sell resources on TES. I've gained a lot of good resources from TES that I still regularly use, which has been massively influential on my development as a teacher. I download resources for free and I share resources for free. That's the way it should be - teachers using their time to create and share resources for the good of other students across the world.

I've uploaded some pretty rubbish resources to TES, but this one gets excellent reviews:

I gave it to a new colleague to take to a meeting and he came back telling me that three other people had the same resource and accused him of downloading it from TES and taking it in. I had to take a screen print and e-mail it to him to convince him otherwise.

I like this resource. Kids engage with it and it's nice to wheel it out every year. But what about that same class the next year? You can't just wheel out the same resource...

Enter 'Jewel Heist'. It's nothing ground breaking, and almost exactly the same as Ratio Robberies, but gives another option to pull out of the bag. I've also been made aware of this resource too, which I'm hoping to pull out of the bag at some point.

You'll notice that this isn't a link to TES, but to the e-Library on the National STEM Centre. I'm intending to leave my current resources on TES (because I don't want to spend the time going back through blog posts to alter links), but won't be uploading any more because of the 'buying resources' thing. I've also uploaded 'Ratio Robberies' to the National STEM Centre too, so they can sit side by side.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

You MUST pass... Or welcome Government intervention.

I woke this morning to a story about students having to resit their KS2 SATs if they do not pass them as a part of the Tory education manifesto. Now, I'm currently in the middle of my first week of my Easter holidays, and I've worked hard for them. I had planned to take the first week off doing anything 'proper' to do with work - I've been for a few bike rides, walks by the canal and today I took in a round of golf with a retired ex-colleague.

We discuss education and school on a regular basis and because this story had broken this morning, we were discussing this.

In pure monetary terms... I reckon we have, at most, 40 students working below 4 based on KS2 data in our current year 7 cohort. Minimum of 30. At £500 per student (the figure I read earlier), that's between £15,000 and £20,000 per year for these students - which could pay the salary of someone to come in and work solely with our English & Maths L3 Year 7 students. These students would be removed from normal lessons and do only English and Maths, simply because they have between 1 and 6 years of things to catch up on so that they can pass their resit.

Thought: Resits are now OK at KS2, but not at GCSE? Weird.

In the above situation, we're removing kids from doing things that they might enjoy - the arts, sciences, language and humanities. It's OK, because they'll then have passed English and Maths... but at what cost to their rounded education?

We discussed the problems that are encountered on a daily basis. I compared all of them to my Year 11s this year - who I have been telling to revise since November's parents evening (they've needed to, given their grades), and download a revision 'Care Package', that only 8 out of 24 had until Easter started. These students won't fail Maths year because of a poor teacher - they'll fail Maths because they haven't cared for the last 5 years or more. Their main interest in school is to be with their friends - education is secondary to too many inner city school kids. They don't see it as something they get to do, they see it as something they're made to do. Too many have the aim of becoming an electrician, or mechanic, rather than changing the world through engineering or healthcare.

I don't see an easy fix to the problems that inner city schools face. It's engrained in society and something drastic is required to combat it. I think the best option would be to adopt the American school system of keeping kids back. The kids would hate it - 'I'm not staying in Year 8', 'Well, y'see, yes you are, because it's the law...'. The parents would hate it - 'I'm not having my child stay in Year 8!' 'Well, y'see, here's the thing... It's the law now...'. They'd be so embarrassed - two kids on the same street, same age, growing up together, one who's in year 7 and one who's still in year 4. They'd work harder, they'd study more and they'd want to move up through the year groups with their friends. They wouldn't want to be in the same room as kids two years younger than them. The parents would be so embarrassed - 'Jonny's in year 6 next year, how's Sandra doing?' 'Sandra's not past year 3 yet'. They'd support their child in their learning, in their homework, in their schooling, because they don't want to have a kid who's been kept back two years in a row because they're not focusing in school.

The first 5 years would be horrendous, but consider the long term gain.

All said, a large proportion of our 'below L4' students are EAL and have only recently arrived to the country and have missed the formative parts of their education. Others have other educational needs which were clearly not met throughout primary and have left them ill prepared for secondary school.

The above plan isn't a stick to beat kids with, though. It will ensure that they're learning at the level that they should be, progressing through at an acceptable pace and achieving grades that are appropriate to their ability.

Oh well. I'll look forward to teaching Sam next year, who's new to the country from Africa in Y6 and gets a level 2. I'll get to make sure he passes his maths, and when he doesn't fill in 5 and a half years worth of gaps in 6 months, I'll be excited to see what intervention strategies the Government put in place so that Sam and his peers have such amazing futures.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

My students survived a zombie apocalypse...

I've blogged (somewhat) recently about circus time. (Link). Short story: Pupils spend 5 minutes working on different skills by working in groups and move to the next table to complete a different recap activity, until they have completed 6 (or so) recap activities within the hour.

Here's my new idea for themed revision. To make it a bit of a laugh/an experience.

Recently BBC Three started showing a reality show with a zombie themeI decided that this would be my new theme for a revision lesson.

Setting the scene: I'll block the window with a 'don't open dead inside' board with a hat tip to the Walking Dead. 

The door will have caution tape across it requiring students to step into the room, creating an atmosphere. 

Blood spatter will decorate the room and the tables will be set out as 'rescue points'. Students sit at a rescue point whilst a video plays.

You will need the video (removed from my Dropbox due to the sheer size of it and it having my links suspended. I have uploaded to OneDrive, but please DM me on Twitter - @taylorda01 - for a link). It's a little large (about 800MB!), is 45 minutes long and runs the lesson. You'd also need 6 5-minute long activities (exam questions/quick skills recaps) and your tables in 6 groups.

Here's how the video works:
3 and a half minutes or so of 'broken TV' multicoloured screen and beeping.
Warning siren followed by the opening credits from BBC and a back story explanation from Greg James (also from the BBC).
Instructions are given: write the rescue point, you'll have five minutes at each rescue point, complete the work in the time given, move to the next rescue point when a new public address video plays.

Press play when kids start arriving. Allow kids to take a seat and have a pen out. Give them a piece of paper or put activities in piles on each desk. The beeping will make your board look broken - say that the technicians are on their way! The introduction will play, instructions given. The main part of the lesson starts now with intermittent zombie noises whilst students work. After five minutes the address comes on and kids move to work on the next skill.

The beauty of this, I find, is that this is massively open to any skills or recall of knowledge. With year 7 we can practice basic skills, but with year 11 it could be timed exam questions. Themed would be great, but not totally necessary, right?

I'd love to get your thoughts on this and any uses. I'll upload any themed revision resources that I make too! I'm thinking zombie tree diagrams, stratified sampling, averages, speed and others...!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

What does it all mean?

As a part of running the AGT Club on alternate Mondays, I'm on the look out for different discussion points and interesting facts/tricks we can do together.

In my searches, I found the Twitter account @etymathology and added a few tweets to my Favourites. I've gone through those this morning and a few other tweets and created these that can be added to PowerPoint/SMART Notebook files:

That said, I've been had before:

Which is apparently 'vulgar slang' for annoying person/asshole/prick/dickhead. Whoops!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Join the War On Error!

On Friday night, I was included in a tweet with this image:

I've always meant to do something with errors. I wanted to do an 'I've made a huge mistake...' display inspired by @JustMaths and Arrested Development, but I never got on to it. My plan was to have students go back through their mocks and find the basic errors, and add them to the display. Because it would involve mocks and be personal to one class, I decided that I wouldn't do it in the end.

I now have a better plan, inspired by an image I saw on Twitter or Pinterest or something.

Welcome to...

Here is the plan:
1. Back display board with black backing paper.

2. Print this image on A3 and put in the centre at the top of the board:

3. Print this image on A3 and put just below the image above:

4. Print these on A5 and add errors as they arrive:

5. Any student who makes reference to the War on Error during lessons will receive a sticker:

The errors I'm thinking of are...

a x a = 2a
3a + 3b = 6ab
2^3 = 6
A 'rhombus' (image only) is called a 'diamond'.

I don't want to put any answers up and when kids do assessments in class I'd rather this not be an answers sheet, but will make students think about their errors more.