20 January 2016

Classroom Photos - #mathscpdchat

On Tuesday 26th January I will be hosting #mathscpdchat on behalf of the NCETM. During this chat I'll be calling on you to share photos of your classroom. Even better, take a wander around your department and take photos of absolutely anything interesting that you see - displays, student work, exercise books, resources, seating arrangements, equipment and so on. The idea is that we all get to have a peek into other maths departments.
Very cool... (source unknown)
I'm going to get things started by sharing some of my own photos in this post.

I have young children so I only work four days a week - this means I don't have a classroom to call my own. I never teach two lesson in a row in the same room - I'm always on the move, which means that at the start of my lessons I'm always frantically trying to login and sort out my equipment before my students arrive.

This is the classroom where I teach my Year 10 lessons - it's normally occupied by my colleague Jack:
I quite like teaching in here. It's not cramped - I can access all students fairly easily. Things to note include:
  • the small whiteboard to the right of the IWB (far too small for long binomial expansions with Year 12!)
  • the seating arrangement (in pairs - I like this)
  • the lack of displays. 
I asked Jack about displays and he said he doesn't really see much value in them. He thinks they are too time consuming to create and have relatively little impact on learning. I'm inclined to agree - though I know that many of you would disagree (please share your views in #mathscpdchat!).

Displays of student work can be nice (though they often get tatty). I spotted these intriguing 'Piems' on the wall in another classroom - I believe they've been there since 2012, when blogger Paul Collins taught in this classroom.
Back to Jack's classroom... On his desk he has a trick calculator (a 'gagulator') which deserves a mention because I accidentally mistook it for a real calculator last week and used in front of my students (oops). This is such a good secret santa present for a maths teacher!
Jack has an expectations poster at the front of his classroom to help with behaviour management...
... although he admits that he never refers to it anymore. This is often the problem with posters and displays - after the initial impact, students stop noticing them.

Although many of our classrooms lack displays, we do have some displays around the department - for example the now classic Mr Men display by Ed Southall, which I sometimes see students looking at...
... and the popular growth mindset display that originated from Sarah Hagan.
Every maths classroom at my school has a literacy display including 'Greek Letter of the Month'. I love this idea but it certainly doesn't change once a month - delta has been in place for well over a year now! :)
This is where I teach my Year 11s:
It's a bit dismal, but put a passionate teacher and 30 enthusiastic students in there and I don't think it really matters what the classroom looks like.

This is my colleague Lizzie's lovely classroom, which is much more cheerful:
My worst experience this year was when I had to teach a Year 12 lesson in an English classroom which didn't have a proper whiteboard. It only had an interactive whiteboard, and the pens weren't working. Disaster. Maths teachers, probably more so than teachers in other subjects, need something to write on when they're teaching. So whiteboard size and accessibility are important.  At my previous school every maths classroom had two very large whiteboards on runners. They could be pulled apart to reveal an IWB behind them. That was fantastic.

In general, the classrooms at my school are not spectacular, but the maths teaching is very good and my colleagues are awesome people.

Now let's have a quick look at some other classroom photos and ideas.

I always enjoy reading Sarah Hagan's annual post where she shares her new displays. Her enthusiasm for teaching maths is very clear.
I'd quite like a large calculator poster by my whiteboard like Sarah has - I think it would be a useful teaching aid.
Sarah continues to share excellent displays and resources so if you're looking for inspiration and ideas, do follow her blog.

In Gems 39 I wrote about John Corbett's (@Corbettmaths) idea to put photo frames and baskets of equipment on desks. The contents of the frames can be changed regularly to display key dates, star students, reminders and so on.
I like these sentence stems from @ExplainingMaths - I can see these being useful during class discussion.
Whiteboard walls
I long to have whiteboards on every wall of the classroom. Unfortunately this is not possible in most classrooms due to the locations of desks, windows, filing cabinets etc. If you want to know more about the use of vertical whiteboards, this post is a good place to start.
Inspirational quotes
At my previous school I briefly had my own classroom and I had just two displays:

1. My Year 10s created a circle theorems display during a lesson. I loved it but it was hard to ensure that students didn't look at it during assessments!
2. I also had a few quotes above the whiteboard - I was inspired by this tweet from @surreallyno.
There are hundreds of display ideas and posters for maths classrooms online. I'd love to hear what you use and why.
Hogwarts poster by Meg Craig via this post
Spotted on @sxpmaths' classroom wall - quote from Matt Parker

Please share your photos on Twitter at 7pm on Tuesday 26th January, using the hashtag #mathscpdchat (seriously, this chat will not work unless people take photos...!). Remember, I'm not just interested in displays. Equipment, books, resources - I'd love to see it all!

Classroom design from Andy Heffernan

1 comment:

  1. The Storify from this chat is here: https://www.ncetm.org.uk/resources/48449