21 October 2017

The Wonderful World of Maths Resources

Last week I spoke at the #powerofsix conference. This event was hosted by the six London Maths Hubs. Unfortunately my session was cut short so I didn't get time to finish my presentation. I promised the teachers in my session that I'd share my slides, so here they are:

Slides: The Wonderful World of Maths Resources

Do have a look through my slides and feel free to borrow them if you want to run a session for your department on maths resources. Although it's not ideal looking through these slides without my commentary, most are self-explanatory.

My session comes with a few caveats:

1. I certainly don't think that resources are the most important thing a maths teacher needs to know about. Subject knowledge (including knowledge of common misconceptions and how to explain concepts clearly) should always be our first priority. But I do think that knowing how to quickly access high quality maths resources is beneficial, not only because it saves time in lesson planning but also because it can enhance both our experience of teaching maths and our students' experience of learning maths. I really enjoy finding suitable maths resources for my lessons - in fact I think it's one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job. If I find a great resource for a lesson then I'm even more excited about teaching that lesson, and I think my enthusiasm shows.

2. There are many types of resources that I didn't talk about in my session - manipulatives, card sorts, videos and so on. Because time was limited my session had to have a narrow focus - I couldn't cover everything. Hence there are many many omissions from my slides. My main objective was to share websites that some teachers may not have seen before and talk about the ways in which I have successfully used particular resources with my own students. I have a much longer version of this talk that I wrote for SCITT trainees in which I also share all the classics too.

3. For the first time, I talked about the pros and cons of textbooks. I was quoted in an article about textbooks in The Times recently and I think I came across as anti-textbook. I'm not anti-textbook, I just think that some topics (eg shape transformations) lend themselves better to write-on sheets, and that being made to use a textbook in every single lesson would suck all the fun out of my lesson planning! There are certainly numerous advantages to using textbooks, as summarised below.
It's all irrelevant as we can't afford textbooks anyway. Until we get decent budgets in maths departments, there's no point in discussing it further.

In my session I asked delegates to share the websites that they currently use when planning lessons. Their responses are shown here:
TES is mentioned a lot here. There's been some anti-TES sentiment on Twitter recently which I think is a real shame. If you're not using TES then you're missing out on the amazing resources of Dan Walker and Susan Whitehouse! And without TES, new teachers wouldn't have the opportunity to share their own resources. I'll never forget how good it felt when as an NQT I loaded my first ever resource to TES and it got a good review. It was the first time I felt part of a wider community, and the first time in teaching that I felt that my work might actually be valued. I have a lot to say on this so I'll save it for a separate blog post...

My own resource libraries list hundreds of hand picked recommendations for every secondary topic. Please do check them out if you haven't already.

Thanks to everyone who came to my session. And sorry again for rushing!

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