28 November 2014

Resourceaholic reflects

I began writing this blog when I started maternity leave seven months ago. Now that my maternity leave is coming to an end, I'm in a reflective mood. I fully intend to keep writing it once I return to work because writing a blog - along with joining Twitter - has been the best thing I've ever done for developing my teaching.

I've learnt more in the last seven months than I did in the previous five years. I've learnt that other teachers are full of amazing ideas. I've learnt how important it is listen to those ideas and to share them with others. I've formed opinions on what works well in the classroom and what doesn't. I've decided where my priorities lie. I've been inspired by the passion and dedication of others. I've learnt lots of new mathematics. I've also learnt about wider issues in education. I've learnt that it's impossible to agree with everyone but it's important to remain positive and be supportive of my fellow maths teachers. I value the advice and opinions of the Twitter community. I don't know how I survived without them.

Now I'm starting to plan lessons for the first time since May, I've been looking back through my posts.

I'm excited about getting back into the classroom to try out many of the ideas I've featured in my gems posts. I started writing this series of posts over summer when I felt a bit overwhelmed by the amount of teaching ideas I was getting from Twitter. I decided it would be helpful to keep a record of the best ideas and share them so others might benefit too. These posts have been really popular. In fact Gems 13 was my most popular post ever. Writing these posts takes me a good few hours each weekend - time that I'll need for marking when I go back to work. So my five weekly gems may become my ten monthly gems.
Ideas from Shanghai was the post that made the biggest impact. I'm very proud that the ideas I featured made their way into classrooms all over the world. Here's a small selection of the comments made:
These tweets suggest that my blog is an effective channel for sharing teaching ideas.

I was pleased that most readers understood why I chose to focus on mathematical methods instead of discussing wider issues relating to the cultural, political and structural comparisons.
And it was a good demonstration of the power of Twitter for sharing ideas on a global scale.
My topic specials have also been well received by teachers - they're a useful source of inspiration when planning lessons. In direct response to requests I received via Twitter, I wrote Thoughts on Teaching FractionsIntroducing Algebra and Introducing Differentiation. I found these posts particularly challenging to write - but worthwhile. For example I plan to totally change the way I introduce calculus to my Year 12s after researching alternative approaches. If I didn't write a blog I never would have taken the time to think about it. Other popular topic posts included Ideas for Teaching Circle TheoremsPythagoras' Theorem and Teaching Trigonometry. I welcome requests for future posts.

I've written 74 blog posts so far, so you might be wondering where to start if you're new to reading my blog. If you're planning lessons then I suggest you use the search function or the blog archive. I recommend that new teachers read Practical Tips for (Newly) Qualified Teachers which has loads of ideas that might make your life easier. If you teach A level then you might want to read Bridging the Gap to A Level which, thanks to Andrew Old, featured in the Academies Week column Top Blogs of the Week.

My post Why Teach?, which gives an insight into why I became teacher, was also popular. 

It was my post Long Live Stem and Leaf that first got my blog some attention. In this post I argued against Cav's opinion that Stem and Leaf Diagrams were a welcome removal from the curriculum. This was the first time I was brave enough to assert an opinion! Since then I've become a more confident blogger.
In August, Kathryn Forster tweeted some photos of her new homework template:
I thought this was a really good homework format - it would certainly work well with my students - so I asked Kathryn if I could feature her template in my next gems post (Gems 3). There was a great response to this post, so Kathryn and I started working on building up a large collection of these homeworks. I gave them a name - 'Pret homeworks' - and we asked for contributions through Twitter. I set up a page on resourceaholic.com to share contributions. This quickly became the busiest page on my website. I felt that these popular homeworks deserved their own dedicated site so I moved them to prethomework.weebly.com in October. We now have 69 homeworks (the collection grows every week) from 27 contributors. The format has been adopted by Science and English too. Again, this demonstrates the power of Twitter as a collaboration tool.
Sphere Pret homework by @_rhi_rhi
Resource Libraries
My resource libraries are full of recommendations. The Number page has been the most popular, closely followed by Algebra and Shape.  Interestingly, the Data resources are barely used in comparison. When I go back to work I think my Core AS and Statistics AS pages are going to be really helpful because it's hard to find good Post-16 resources.

I'm working on another project, a misconceptions website. You're welcome to have a look at it and give me some feedback, but bear in mind that it's very early days. I need to give it its own URL and I have loads more stuff to add. But if you have a quick look, you'll get an idea of what I have in mind. I hope it will be a useful tool, especially for new teachers. I think I might need a couple of volunteers to add posts once it's up and running so please let me know if you're interested in helping.

Still addicted?
I'm still very much addicted to searching the internet for maths resources and now I can add blogging to my list of addictions... Resourceaholic has become blogaholic! It's been a great seven months. I might have to cut down soon, but at least once I'm back at school I'll actually get to try things out before I recommend them. I can't write a good blog about maths teaching if I'm not actually teaching any maths.

Please vote for me!
If you're a regular reader of my blog then you'll know that lately I've been asking people to vote for me in the 2015 UK Blog Awards. The list of entrants in the individual/freelance education category is immense and many of the other entrants have tens of thousands of followers. Only one in five of the blogs in my category will get through to the final. If you could spare a minute that would be fantastic - please click here to vote. Voting closes on 3rd December 2014.

Thanks for reading. ☺

My daughters and my blog!

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