Some pondering about workload and wellbeing…

Prompted both by the below tweet from Dr Emma Kell and the replies to a tweet I put out last night saying I didn’t have a problem with receiving work related emails in the holiday, I thought I’d write my first blog post of 2020 – in fact my first post in ages. So here are my ramblings on workload, wellbeing and maintaining a decent work-life balance.

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GCSE Maths Revision: Using visual prompts

Today I rolled out one of my favourite revision activities with one of my Year 11 group; using visual prompts. I’m always amazed how well these lessons go, so thought it was worth blogging about. I can take no credit for coming up with idea, I magpied it several years ago and have been using it ever since with groups of all abilities.

These lessons are super easy to prep as long as you’re prepared to “go with the flow” in terms of how the lesson progresses. The concept is simple;

1) Provide pupils with a diagram they may see on a GCSE paper

2) Ask them to jot down questions they may be asked about the diagram

3) Share these questions as a class and summarise on the board

4) Working in pairs or teams attempt to answer all the questions, which are possible? Are any impossible to answer? Why? What other information would you need before you could answer them?

5) I adapt questions as pupils contribute to refine the wording which you can see in green in the photo below

6) To tie the lesson together, I get pupils to answer the actual original exam question individually

The problems I am using here can be found here. The lovely Suffolk Maths also has sets which you can find here (just below Keyword Scrabble).

Classroom display: Maths Word of the Week

So, in a flash of inspiration as I try to prettify my classroom ready for September I came up with this. A little crowdsourcing of ideas on Twitter and I’ve managed to create a nice little display. Thanks to everyone who gave me inspiration (and taught me a few new words!). 

There are close to 60 words in the two files so plenty for an academic year or probably enough to last you the two years with a Key Stage 4 class without repeats. There’s a mix of words they’ll need to know as part of the curriculum alongside some lovely geekery. 

I’ve tried to pupil speak the definitions but if you see any glaring errors or typos please let me know in the comments or on Twitter

You can download the files here

#teacherpledge 2016

So the ever lovely Emma Bell created this hashtag over on Twitter (read about her epiphany here). This is something I’m pretty sure we all do every year but anyway it got me thinking about what my Teacher Pledge(s) would be for this academic year. Most of them are quite selfishly about looking after me; nothing is more important than work-life balance particularly in a job like ours where the to-do list is NEVER done. 
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A Maths Game: In The Bin

You’ll need:

A dice (preferably 0-9)

A competitive class

How it works

This was introduced to me as a place value game for low ability. They write 5 boxes in a row (to represent a 5 digit number) and a bin. You roll the die 6 times. Each number must be put in either a box or the bin as soon as it is called. Aim is to make the biggest/ smallest/ closest to a predetermined value. 

Possible Alternatives

I’ve used this for a variety of topics with the same premise. One number “in the bin” in all cases. All that changes in each case is how many boxes and the layout 

– written methods 

– four rules with fractions

– powers/ rules of indices

– solving equations. 

I’ll pad this post out with some sketches as soon as I can but I wanted to explain to the people following #mathscpdchat tonight 😃

My Favourite Resources: Dan Meyer’s 3 Act Math

At the moment both me and the colleague I joint plan with have ITE students teaching our Year 10 top sets for 3 out of 4 contacts a week. In the remaining lesson we’re teaching them a mixture of geeky enrichment and Level 2 Further Maths. I’ve been wanting to try some of Dan Meyer’s 3 Acts activities for a long time so a few weeks ago we dived in with both feet and gave one a go. My class loved it and left asking “can we do another activity like that, Miss” and “that’s proper Maths that is!”  


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Creativity and Challenge in the Classroom

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be invited to a course that Ed Southall was running for his ITE students at Huddersfield Uni. This was being led by Don Steward. If you’re sat there reading this and saying “who?” you need to go and look at his excellent MEDIAN website which is full to the brim of challenging and rich activities ready for use in the classroom. Why are you still here? Go. And. Look. You back? I know! The best thing since sliced bread, right? No need to thank me. Needless to say Saturday was amazing so I wanted to jot down some thoughts.

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