Sunday, 5 December 2010

Call of duty black ops - Functional Maths resource?

My lovely husband alerted me to the statistics that are popping up on the call of duty black ops load screen.
These are updated daily (he thinks) but today they include:
  • Players have run around the world 19127 times
  • 167 billion rounds of ammo fired
  • 132% of the worlds population have been killed
  • 11,178 years spent playing
  • 308% of the the GDP of Ireland in USD has been spent
Could be used for an interesting starter for a functional maths lesson or GCSE group?

Monday, 8 November 2010

Oops I forgot to blog - A level note taking?

My first November blog. Last week was our annual observation week so I have been a bit distracted by that. I passed my observation with a good. Strangely enough they did watch my AS level lesson. I did make a bit of a bodge of it by using resources that were too complicated and not having a back up. What I've been pondering recently is the best way to give notes to students. I've experimented with several options:
  • writing things on the board/smart board and they copy
  • letting them make their own notes from what I say/mymaths
  • giving out formal MEI notes at the end of lessons
  • giving out formal MEI notes at the beginning of lessons
  • giving out powerpoint slides for them to annotate
I'm not sure what works best. Any tips?

Thursday, 28 October 2010

MEI Mechanics Day

I went to the MEI Mechanics day yesterday. I really enjoyed it despite fighting against London public transport putting me in a bad mood. The presenter was friendly and knowledgeable. She was easily understood and not patronising. I found the graphical representation of the constant acceleration formulae fascinating. I wish I'd known earlier that you could derive most of the formulae from area under a velocity time graph. The man next to me was slightly irritating to work with as he didn't listen to anything I said. There is a nagging feeling as I undertake more of the TAM course that I don't know enough maths to teach it. I'm finding it increasingly frustrating as I don't know enough maths. I learn one bit and then discover I don't know a huge bit more. Also parts I thought I understood I'm finding I didn't really. I just knew procedures.

Frustration number two is equations with modulus functions. Why does mod(2x)+10=0 not have any solutions?

On a more positive note interesting debate on primary homework on woman's hour at the moment.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Observed Lesson

Right now this one's official. I need to make comments on my observed lesson for my TAM course. Now this was on Tuesday so I'm a little bit late. Hmm I felt I talked too much. I wasn't sure everyone understood particularly the new people in the group. Some of the kids on the front row weren't completely focussed. I intended to recap remainder theorem the next lesson. Which I did. I also let students write on the board which worked well. I need to let the students have more control. I think I like to control as much as possible but need to more of a facilitator but not be afraid who to talk more. Maybe I should have done this earlier in the week...

It's half term yay! Going to have the full weekend off and not think about work. Well I failed there then.  At work on Monday/Tuesday then on a course in London on Wednesday on Mechanics. Then two whole days off before observation week.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Functional Maths ideas?

No posts for a while as work has got predictably manic. Had a productive morning planning A level lessons ready for the two observations I have coming up. Now I'm teaching 27 hours a week I seem to be struggling to keep up with everything. The admin alone seems to fill my time and I have little time for actually thinking through the teaching and learning except on weekends. I probably have taken too much on which is my usual habit. My other hat is functional maths co-ordinator and I'm struggling to find interesting resources for this. I have a bunch of problems for them to solve but I want to create something relevant to engage them. Any ideas? I thought of something to do with alcohol consumption and when it would be safe to drive the next day but thought that could backfire on me.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Bad day

Ach had one of those dark teacher days where you try to convince yourself you're not totally useless. Had a confrontational functional maths lesson where a group of girls decided they wanted a fight with someone and today I was there chosen victim. So irritating, particularly for those you actually want to help. Then I had my A2 proof lesson which I was really looking forward to. I'd found lots of bits over the weekend I wanted to use including that lovely 1=2 proof. Came to the lesson and I forgot two of my demonstration proofs halfway through. Even though I normally know them like the back of my hand. I think it was a combination of being asked to be recorded and my confidence being shaken earlier in the day. So annoyed with myself. What is even more irritating is that I did a TAM session on proof a couple of weeks ago. It was my first proper taught lesson with this group and I'm sure I came across a complete numpty. Need to do a better job of the next session on logs to make up for it.  Think I will keep it nice a simple, work through every question carefully and write out my solutions clearly this time. Now need to try and relax and move on. If only I had mastered that skill!

On a positive note I've just found out you can get an index of all the slides on elluminate and skip to the one you want. Very useful. (You click the up arrow by the play/ fastforward buttons on the bottom left of the screen)

Saturday, 2 October 2010

It's the weekend

The dreaded cold has almost gone and I have successfully passed it on to my husband. I've been full of post cold efficiency today and the house is marginally cleaner and I've caught up on all those personal statements I promised I would amend. The comment from one of my students of would I check it through the plagarism test to see if it would pass was slightly worrying.

Is anyone doing Nanowrimo this year? I will attempt to sell it to my tutor groups again this year. I might have a go but with my TAM course and the possible call up to do functional maths marking (fingers crossed) I will be a bit overstretched already this autumn. Have two TAM recordings to watch. One on discrete and one on statistics. I've never taught discrete maths but I enjoyed the module at uni. Everyone just seems to do M1 and S1 for the pass rates. I'm also interested in how to make statistics more inviting to students as I tried and failed last year.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

It worked - What did I do?

So today I had a good A level lesson. I'm full of cold. Probably 3/5 on the grumpiness scale. I didn't plan anything extravagant. I used mymaths instead of writing out the examples as usual. I got the class to do a textbook exercise for the lesson instead of card sorting or deep thought problems. Why was this the first time I felt my lesson worked? Had the carousel mixed group work last lesson built up their confidence? Had the 30 min drop in help session before the lesson with another teacher calmed them. Was I less stressy because I was ill?

In other news I think I need a new hobby. One of my favourite bloggers:
is always talking about knitting and cooking. It's made me I think I need to be more well rounded like her. I also like her use of bullet points. 

Friday, 24 September 2010


So another week of teaching and I'm shattered. Stayed six hours late today and I'm still not caught up. Is it always this bad in September? Have I just blocked it out? Successful Newton-Rhapson lesson this morning. Now a TAM lesson on proof. Fish and chips when I finish is getting me through.

Monday, 20 September 2010

How do you make everyone talk?

So my A2 lesson went better than I hoped for. Next thing I want to improve is class involvement. Half the class talk half don't. I have a few ideas. I also want increase confidence for the quieter ones. Any ideas?

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Fixed point iteration Sunday

Spent the morning trying to figure out how to teach fixed point iteration in particular the rearranging the equation method. Trying to teach something really makes you learn it thoroughly. I thought I understood it until I tried to create a lesson plan trying to explain the method. I think I have satisfactory answers for most of the but why questions that might come up. Is there a better way of describing why the gradient effects diverging/converging apart from showing staircase/cobweb on the graph? Do others teach Newton-Rhapson first? Think I'm going to have to work every sunday to keep on top of this A level content this year.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Numerical Methods

How to make numerical methods more interesting? I need to do a better job than I did today. Additional chaos caused by timetable issues that had me scheduled in two places at once and half the class arriving an hour late. I think I stayed remarkably calm given this. Turns out I was meant to be in the other place and my A2 time has been cut my an hour 15 mins a week due to low numbers. A2 maths in 2 and 1/2 hrs a week this is going to be interesting. Yay it's the weekend.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

First AS lesson

Well I waited till this morning to blog about yesterday's lesson so I could be more positive. Also because I was exhausted last night. So positive things:
  • They enjoyed the first card sort activity
  • Most of them know how to draw y=x
  • By introducing midpoint as the mean and length as applying pythagoras didn't seem to get many input into formula type errors
  • Some of them are keen
  • No one was injured
Ok negative:
  • I was thrown by such a big class (20 soon to be 22) particular when I ran out of desks
  • I assumed too much knowledge (some needed reminding of plotting coordinates)
  • I was trying to more flowing and flexible but I think I need more structured questionning planned
  • A few of them were a bit bolshy
  • I probably came across as nervous
I think these things are fixable so we'll see how things go next Tuesday after some thorough planning.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Mini Meltdown

Well had my first mini meltdown of the year this morning. This job is so stressful at times.  Of course it was over nothing and gained nothing. Luckily I was not teaching at the time. It did mean I was not totally focussed for my first AS level lesson but as they were taking a test this was not essential.  I even forgot my red pen. First actual teaching lesson tomorrow. I'm rehearsing my questions in my head. I really want to take my A level teaching to the next level and not be too didactic or timid. Hopefully tomorrow will be the first step in this. Need to plan some better AS tutorial activities this year too.

Monday, 13 September 2010

First Meetings

So my teaching kicked off today and I met my new A2 group who are lovely. It has started off in my mind how can I best help these students to succeed. I haven't decided on my research project topic but I'm thinking along the lines of strategies to help those who are struggling or successful group work techniques. I will probably use my bigger AS group for my research project but hopefully anything I learn in this I can apply across to both groups. This week I really need to master Autograph and become more fluent in it.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The beginning

Hello world!
Right here we go my first post. I've started this blog to reflect on my A level lessons for an active research project I'm planning to do. This is part of the Teaching A level Mathematics (TAM) course I'm taking at Warwick University. I'm intending to blog about my A level teaching but I may blog about functional maths too or I may give up after a week. I'll see how it goes. I need to decide on what to actively research. It has to be connected to my A level lessons. If anyone has any suggestions they'd be most welcome. Right short and sweet to start off with I think.