23 August 2014

5 Maths Gems #3

Well it's been an emotional couple of weeks. A level and GCSE results kept many of us up at night and we experienced the usual feelings of joy, pride, relief and sometimes disappointment. But still we continue to prepare for the new school year and think about what we'll do differently.

The hardest thing about writing these weekly posts is deciding which ideas to feature. I have an increasingly long list of unused material because even when Twitter's teachers are preoccupied with results, the incredible creativity and spirit of collaboration remains. In this post I'll showcase just five of the very many ideas shared on Twitter this week.

1. Homework
Kathryn Forster (@DIRT_expert) shared a new set of homeworks that she has designed. Each homework consists of five sections: literacy, research, memory, skills and stretch. These homeworks would be followed up by starter activities such as spelling or memory tests and discussions about research findings. Kathryn has very helpfully shared four of her homeworks for us to borrow:
These are really good ideas.

If you're thinking about trying out some different approaches to homework I recommend reading Cav's (@srcav) blog posts Homework and Retention and Take Away Homework.

2. A Scavenger Hunt
Speaking of homework, the Mailbox (@TheMailbox) shared a 'scavenger hunt' which could be adapted as first homework for Year 7 or 8.  Alternatively you could bring a pile of newspapers and magazines into one of your first Year 7 lessons so your pupils can create a poster in class using this idea.

3. Oh for a room to call my own...
There's still a lot of classroom display ideas going round Twitter. One of my most retweeted retweets this week was this 'Change your words' display:
It's important to communicate these messages and a display like this is a good way of doing so. The idea originally came from Sarah Hagan's (@mathequalslove) post '2014-2015 Classroom Pics - My Most Colorful Room Yet!'. Sarah may well be one of the most enthusiastic maths teachers in the world! Her blog is very popular, and rightly so. Check out this lectern in her room - yes, a lectern! Is this standard in American classrooms? I must get one!

I saw lots of nice display ideas in Sarah's post - like the calculator posters below - and it made me long for my own classroom. Whilst in the baby-making stage of my life I'm having a brief spell as a part-timer. It's a mixed blessing. One disadvantage is that I don't have my own classroom so I teach in rooms all over the school. Between lessons I have to squeeze down crowded corridors with my huge bag of books and equipment (this was a nightmare when I was heavily pregnant!). There are lots of other disadvantages to being part-time such as missing important information from unminuted meetings and a total lack of career progression opportunities. Of course this is all outweighed by the massive advantage of getting to spend time with my children, so I'm not complaining... (much).

Another display idea I've seen this week is this classroom rules poster, shared by @TeachThought in this post. I think pupils would appreciate these very clear and reasonable messages.

On the subject of behaviour management, I enjoyed David Didau's (@learningspypost on school routines.

If you want to make your own classroom posters then recitethis.com is great for creating pretty quotes and notices - thanks to @mathminds for sharing the link.

And if you're looking to furnish your classroom, Stephen Harris (@Stephen_H) shared a couple of awesome write-on table designs: these ones are great for collaboration and tangram tables are perfect for a maths classroom.

And finally on display ideas, Mr Allan (@mrallanmaths) shared his RAG123 display, Chris Smith (@aap03102) shared a picture of his 'Mathematician of the month' board, and Mr Taylor (@taylorda01) adapted Spiked Math's Mathagasm comic so it's suitable for display. I'm going to steal all three ideas - if I ever get my own classroom.

4. Teaching ideas from #mathschat
Weekly maths chats take place on Twitter every Wednesday at 8pm, organised by @BetterMaths. This week we discussed our favourite topics, tasks, resources and investigations, so the good ideas were coming thick and fast! I've got a long list to sort through.

There were lots of ideas about getting out of the classroom. Jon Treby (@JonTrebyAAN) suggested teaching loci outside using buildings and string. He also puts tape on the floor of the school hall when he teaches angles in parallel lines. Dawn (@mrsdenyer) has a school treasure hunt for 3D trigonometry and Martin Noon (@letsgetmathing) suggests using a clinometer to measure the height of school buildings and trees.

There was also a lot of talk about popcorn! Dawn (@mrsdenyer) gets her students to design a popcorn cone - an activity that involves sectors and arcs, Pythagoras and volume. If students can work out the volume of their cone, they can fill it with popcorn! Miss Ren (@ReynoldsBSGD) shared Dan Meyer's popcorn picker task - 'all you need is A4 paper. I just stand back and watch the kids get stuck in!'.

5. Mistakes and feedback
I've written a lot about learning from mistakes lately so this tweet was very relevant:

And here's a great idea for marking from @ChrisHildrew.

So there you go - a small selection of ideas from a week on Twitter. I hope that's helpful. If you missed the previous two Maths Gems posts, you can find them here. I'll leave you with a nice question for your students from Big Ideas Math.

1 comment:

  1. @Miss_Skinner wrote about her experience of using the scavenger hunt idea here: