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June 29, 2011

A Tribute

Can I just take a few minutes to talk about how completely, utterly amazing Laura Painter is?

I worked with her on PP2, and despite her being horrendously old and a bit "Country Life", we have got on really really well. She cracks me up with her jokes, and is so nice and helpful and she is an outstanding teacher who uses some "cutting-edge" techniques.

Above all, I have enjoyed working with her because she is a HUGE gossip! We have had some brilliant chats on Friday period 4 where we've put the world to rights.

I am sad to not work with her next year, but I am hoping our friendship will continue next year via emails and texts (probably on Friday nights when I'm at the pub and she texts me: "heard any new gossip yet?")

I thought I'd do a blog post rather than telling her any of this in person because I am incredibly unsentimental and I hate emotional situations. I also hate hugs (apart from Sam's hugs. They're good). But I've put enough distance between us now to reveal my true feelings about her. So Laura, this is a tribute to your amazingness. I'll miss you!


Emma x x x


June 18, 2011

The End of Emma's Adventures?

It's almost the end of the course, which means soon this blog will vanish into the deepest darkest depths of cyberspace, never to be viewed again. I know this will sadden my regular followers (by which I mean Laura P), but fear not!

Emma's Adventures in NQTland will be coming soon to a hosting site near you! Yes, I loved blogging so much this year that I will be carrying on next year, despite (gasp) it not being assessed. Saying that though, it will probably count towards some kind of CPD stuff because it will demonstrate that I am a "reflective practitioner".

Obviously on my new blog I will have to be really really careful about privacy because the whole world and his wife could read it. I will be completely professional (for once).


Just in case any of you were wondering:


How can I save my blog?

You will be able to save the content from your blog in a useful format or export your blog to another system. This facility will be available by the end of the academic year, so that you will be able to export your blog so and take it with you, even if you leave the University. This facility will be available on the manage your blog screen which can be accessed via the 'Admin' link in the right hand side of the utility bar on your blog.


I will definitely be saving my blog, it will be so cringey reading over it in a few years when I'm an experienced teacher.


June 14, 2011

Form Time

In PP2 I have been attached to a vertical tutor group of about 25 lovely pupils. I've made good relationships with most of them over the past two months, and I enjoy form time because I chat to them and we have a bit of a laugh.

But the original form tutor doesn't usually do anything with them: no circle time or games or debates or discussion of the news. I don't think there's anything wrong with this, as these things are optional at this school and there is no real guidance on what things to do in form time (apart from Wednesdays when it's silent reading, and Fridays when there's a quiz).

The problem with this is, I have had no experience of running a form time "lesson", and I know that next year (i.e. two and a half weeks from now) I will be expected to do this.

People have been blogging about good and bad maths lessons they've had, but no one has really mentioned form time. Similarly, when I talk to maths PGCEs in real life, we never seem to talk about form time, only lessons.

I'm not really sure what the point of this post is. If anyone's reading this, please could you leave a comment sharing your experiences with your form group? I'd find that really helpful.


Emma x x x


June 12, 2011

Maths People: End of Course Celebrations

EDIT 18/6/11: Apparently Jo is sorting out the Leamington side of things. I think the plan is this: go to Varsity first for a little while, to mingle with non-maths people (yuck) and so that those who want an early night and don't want to treck all the way to Leamington can still have a bit of fun. Then we will go to Leamington. I will be taking the number 12 bus (aka my second home) unless there is sufficient space in people's cars for all of us non-drivers to have lifts. The last bus home is 12:15, so that is when I will be leaving.


On the call back day there was some vague talk about going to Leamington for curry and drinks on the last day of the course (Friday 24th June).

You should have all received an email from Nick (thanks for sending that Nick - it is something we need to sort out) asking for someone who knows Leamington to suggest somewhere and make a reservation.

So if you know somewhere good in Leam, please sort something out for us and then email everyone letting us know the plans. Or if you have a better idea, I think we're all open to suggestions (I am especially open to suggestions involving Coventry, but that's just me being selfish).

I'm going to miss everyone so much when the course is over :( Please let's keep in touch!


June 10, 2011

SOHCAHTOA

Many of you have seen my amazingly awesome necklace that says SOHCAHTOA. I'm really glad I had it made, it has had a noticeable effect on all of my pupils (all years). My year sevens were really intrigued by it and really wanted to know what it meant, especially after I'd said, you'll learn about it when you're older! My smallest, cutest, highest-voiced pupil in year seven actually went home and researched it and came to me with a page of diagrams and calculations!

Walking through the corridor, I heard year 9/10/11 pupils saying "Her necklace says sohcahtoa!" and then, "What's sohcahtoa?", "It's where you have a triangle..." The pupils were revising in the corridors! Result!

Anyway, the purpose of this entry was actually to talk about the way we present the trig ratios to pupils. I've been told by HS that it's best to write sohcahtoa with the h under the o and the h under the a and the a under the o if that makes sense? But since tutoring some pupils one to one over half term, I've decided that I'm going to teach the ratios as formula triangles like they use in science. This is because I've found that grade B pupils find SOHCAHTOA questions hard, not because of the concepts are hard but because they cannot rearrange the equation sin 50 = 36/70. If you tell the them the trig ratios as a triangle, there's no rearranging involved.


The best way to teach solving equations?

I think this is one of the things that maths teachers argue over the most.

There's the "move it to the other side" method, the "do it to both sides method" and (one I'd not heard of until recently) the "cover up method".

Method 1 is what I was taught and what I use myself. I knew that it was not a very good method as it does not explain why you're doing that and how it works. I defended this method forcefully, sure that my way of thinking must be the best way (I'm arrogant like that). But since teaching both methods at my placement school, and teaching different methods to my one-to-one tutees, I've come to realise that the second method is much less confusing, more intuitive, and more memorable.

Here is how I would write a model solution:

3x + 5 = 10

    - 5      -5

3x       = 5

3x/3    = 5/3 (written as fractions)

And then I'd cross out the two threes in the fraction on the left because they cancel each other out.

Writing the -5 underneath makes it really easy for pupils to see what they're doing and it's really hard to make a mistake.

Doing the dividing bit as fractions is good because it encourages pupils to leave things as fractions, it makes division easier (instead of actually dividing, just cancel down the fraction as far as you can in easy steps), and it means that the whole side will be divided and not just the last term.

That is the method I would recommend for higher-tier pupils.

The cover-up method is one I cam across recently and I think it's really good because it's the way a pupil would intuitively try to work out the answer.

In equations like 10 - x =7, most pupils can just "see" that the answer is 3. In equations like 3x + 4 = 10, it's harder to just seei it, but using the cover up method you can. Cover up the 3x, and say "what add 4 gives you 10?" They'll say 6. Then you uncover the 3x and say, "well then 3x must be 6. So what's one x?" And they'll say 2 (after painstakingly counting on their fingers, if they're anything like my pupils!)

I wouldn't teach higher tier pupils this because it's hard to apply it to more complicated equations (although it obviously still works). But for lower ability pupils it seems to be less confusing.

I'm glad I'm starting to realise what methods I'm going to be teaching because I want to be consistent, so that pupils don't get confused with lots of different methods.


June 08, 2011

AP3 Result

I know the deadline for SCT6 has passed, but I love blogging and I'm not going to stop just because it doesn't count for anything now.

Today my mentor and I discussed and filled in my AP3 form. I was really nervous, because my final grade was going to be decided and I didn't know whether I'd hit my target yet. But I did! Yep, I'm the proud owner of a grade 1!!

I feel like I've made a lot of progress in the past few weeks, and just recently I've been planning much better lessons. I now constantly refer to the ofsted criteria for outstanding lessons whenever I plan a lesson, and make sure I try to hit them all (of course, some of these get lost in my sometimes shambolic delivery of the lesson) which is actually quite easy.


As for those year 11 booster sessions I'd been dreading - the first one on Monday was absolutely fine. Enjoyable, even. I'm actually somewhat looking forward to the five hour session tomorrow!

Just two weeks left! And I've got some great stuff planned: cryptography project with my year sevens, and some practical, outdoor loci stuff with year 8. I'll have some nice relaxed lessons for my year tens so they can recover from the exams.


Emma x x x


June 04, 2011

May Subject Knowledge

I know I've not been brilliant at blogging about my subject knowledge development, but in all fairness, that's because I pretty much never do any subject knowledge development. I probably shouldn't be admitting to that though, should I?

But I have actually done quite a lot this month, so I may as well blog about it.

Mechanics 1:

I took M1 myself back in 06/07. And I did pretty well, although it was my lowest mark (91%. Yes I know I'm bragging). However, when one of my tutees asked me to help him with his M1 resit, I was nervous. Especially as I did MEI's M1, which does not contain a lot of the stuff in Edexcel's M1, like momentum, which I'd never heard of until RWP's session on it. So before teaching my tutee anything, I first had to teach myself.

My first port of call when it comes to revising A level maths is always the MEI Integral website. However, as I've already said, MEI's mechanics is very different from Edexcel's. So I went on My Maths, which has an A level section containing M1, S1 and D1, as well as the cores. I did all of the online homeworks, and looked at the lessons, which were very helpful.

I now feel comfortable teaching Edexcel's M1, which is completely irrelevant to me because the school I'm at next year does MEI. But it was nice to learn something new. It was helpful to metacognise a bit, and think about how I learnt this new stuff, and what I found helpful. This will help me teach sixth formers in the future.

GCSE:

I have two tutees who are taking AQA's Higher module 5 exams on Monday and Friday. I really enjoyed going through these past papers: there's no tedious number work like there is on Edexcel's foundation linear paper (so much frac dec perc! So boring!) and it's all lovely algebra and trig and a bit of geometrical reasoning. I could do everything on these papers off the top of my head apart from one thing: angle bisectors. I knew it had something to do with a compass, so I drew a few random arcs until I sort of derived the correct method. I've since checked this out online and found I was correct, so that's good.


Emma x x x


May 17, 2011

Reflections on AP2

It was decided by me and my mentor that I have now met every standard, so I got all of those ticked off on my AP2 form. So that's a good start.

Strengths from section one:

-Good relationships with young people (my pupils mostly seem to like me)

-Very positive communication skills (although I'm very shy about talking to other members of staff still. However, I have improved massively since starting at my PP2 school).

-PPD is a definite strength (I am good at evaluating, improving, reflecting, coming up with new ideas)

Strengths from section two:

-Good subject knowledge (natch)

-Good assessment records (I do the whole APP thing)

-Good teaching and learning (but not outstanding, yet)

Strengths from section three:

-Good planning (when I get round to it)

-Establishes a good learning environment (a huge improvement from PP1)

Grades: 2, 2, 2, 2 (2). Target grade: 1.

I really really really want my final grade to be a 1, so I've drawn up an action plan for hitting all those criteria. Now I need to get my head down and try my best.

Emma x x x


May 04, 2011

How Lewis Carroll Would Vote Tomorrow

I've mentioned in a previous post that I love Lewis Carroll. He combines two of my favourite things: books and maths (Lewis Carroll is the pen name of mathematician Charles Dodgson. Please keep up!)

Dodgson became involved in college elections in the early 1870s at Oxford university where he was a professor. He became interested in the theory of voting, of the accuracy and fairness of different voting systems.

First Past The Post

Dodgson was not a fan of this voting system. He claimed "the extraordinary injustice of this Method may be very easily demonstrated". He then gives an example to show how stupid it is:

Suppose there are 11 electors and 4 candidates a, b, c and d. Each elector ranks the four candidates in order of preference. The 11 columns here show their choices:

a
a
a
b
b
b
b
c
c
c
d
c
c
c
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
d
d
d
c
c
c
c
d
d
d
c
b
b
b
d
d
d
d
b
b
b
b

It's easy to see that a is considered best by three of the electors and second best by the rest. But in actual fact, it is b who ends up winning, even though he/she was considered the worst by seven voters.

I don't think Dodgson looked at "Alternative Vote", alothough he did write about lots of other systems.

The Method of Elimination

In this method, each voter chooses their favourite, and then the one who gets the fewest votes is eliminated, and the process is repeated (a bit like Big Brother? The TV show, not the Orwellian thing). This method at first seems pretty flawless. However, consider the following situation:

b
b
b
c
c
c
d
d
d
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
b
c
d
c
d
b
b
b
c
c
b
d
d
c
d
c
d
d
d
b
b
c
c
b

Notice that a is everybody's first or second choice, and hence appears to be the best candidate. However, he/she will be eliminated first. c will be elected instead.

The Method of Marks

In this method, each voter is given a specified number of marks that they can divide between the candidates. Then the candidate who gets the most marks wins. Dodgson said that this method would be perfect as long as the voters divided their marks fairly: giving most to their favourite but some to the candidates that they wouldn't mind electing. But Dodgson commented that "since we are not sufficiently unselfish and would assign all our votes to our favourite candidate, the method is liable in practice to conicide with that of the simple majority [first past the post] which has already been shown to be unsound".


So how would Lewis Carroll vote tomorrow? I think he would vote no to AV. Because I think he'd think that AV is better than the current system, but still not good enough. If we vote in AV, we'll have no chance of getting Single Transferable Vote, because we'd have to spend a few decades getting used to AV before referendumming again, and I think he'd think STV was a far superior system.


Emma x x x

All quotes are from Robin Wilson's "Lewis Carroll in Numberland", a book I highly recommend.



May 01, 2011

Explaining the Fourth Dimension


Has a kid ever asked you what the fourth dimension is? What it looks like? Whether it could possibly exist?

No, no kid has ever asked me either. But I really wish one would one day.

Anyway, I was reading this book by one of my favourite authors, the hilarious Scottish crime writer Christopher Brookmyre. The book is called Pandaemonium and for goodness' sake don't recommend it to any of your pupils. The "c" word appears frequently, there's a lot special hugging* in it, there's really really gross violence and gore, and it's just generally very offensive. If it was released as an audiobook, it would be read by Frankie Boyle.

I loved every page.

Anyway, I'll try and get to the point. There's this bit in it where CB explains the concept of a fourth dimension really nicely. I loved it so much I highlighted it and wrote a little note (I LOVE my new Kindle!!). I'll try and paraphrase it here:

Imagine there are some ants crawling across the duvet on your bed. They are only aware of two dimensions: walking forwards and walking sideways. There is no up or down for them. So if you picked one of the ants up and suspended it in the air, all the other ants would think the ant had vanished. They would have no idea where it went. And then if you put the ant back down a few centimetres from where you picked it up, the ants would all think it had teleported.

Maybe there's a higher dimension out there that we can't comprehend. Maybe there's something out there that could pick one of us up and put us down somewhere else, and it would look like we've teleported. If we could access this fourth dimension, think of the possibilities: we could perform surgery without breaking the skin.

Back to the ants on the duvet: imagine picking up two opposite corners of the duvet and bringing them together. The ants are still only moving in two dimensions, but now they can walk off one edge of the duvet and return at the opposite end, walking in the opposite direction. This involves moving their world around in three dimensions, but keeping it as a two dimensional world, and without them noticing. Could something similar happen to us? Could we walk off one "end" of the universe and end up on the other side? Is dying walking off the end? Does God live in the fourth dimension?

Well, I found it interesting.


Emma x x x

*credit goes to Lizzie Bowen, drama-with-English trainee, for that very useful phrase.



April 20, 2011

AP2, Q Standards and Subject Knowledge Development

...Are all things I should be thinking/blogging about. But it's my Easter holiday and I'm too busy playing Portal 2 to care about those things right now.*


Speaking of Portal (it's an FPS puzzle game which is very popular with computer geeks- but also cool people like me), there is so much geometry/spatial awareness/lateral thinking involved in playing it. I would encourage your pupils (age 14+?) to get it and emphasise all the cool mathsness of it. But don't emphasise the maths stuff until after they've started playing it, otherwise they'll think it sounds lame and boring.

Actually, there's probably a way of using some of the puzzles in a lesson. Hmmm....

Damn, this blog post was supposed to be nothing to do with teaching. It was supposed to be like, "Ha, look at Emma being all too-cool-for-school with her irrelevant blog post". But somehow it came back to teaching. Have any of you noticed that recently EVERYTHING in your life comes back to teaching? And do you all dream of teaching every night? I do. It's horrible. Especially when you teach an amazing lesson and your pupils learn loads and behaviour is perfect and then you wake up :(


Anyway, I'd better go before I start to reflect on my subject knowledge development *shudder*.

Emma x x x


* I will blog about these things eventually. I promise.


April 12, 2011

No bad classes, just bad teachers

I've always thought that there ARE such thing as bad pupils and bad classes. Classes that are practically unteachable, classes that are impossible to manage. There's a year 9 class at my PP2 school that might have fallen into that category. But I witnessed a miracle recently.

Their class teacher is an NQT who was at Warwick last year. She is young and very calm, quiet and soft. She told me that she hated giving out punishments or even warnings, because she felt guilty. I suffer from this affliction too. Observing her has taught me so much about behaviour for learning. Let me tell you why...

This year 9 class was awful. Constant low-level disruption, everyone shouting out, little work going on, low motivation, etc etc. But this amazing teacher decided she'd had enough of that. She saw an opportunity and took it: the year nines were starting the GCSE course, so she decided that would be a great time for a reform.

Everything about this lesson (and the subsequent lessons, there's been 4 now I think) was meticulously planned and perfectly executed. Here is a blow-by-blow account:

> textbooks, exercise books and rulers had been set out before the pupils entered. The date and title were written on the board, along with the instruction to copy these down into their book.This was good because it let the pupils know that things were going to be different this lesson, and also it gave the lesson a nice, orderly and purposeful start.

>There was a new seating plan.This was good because pupils who are often silly together had been separated.

>She started the lesson by explaining that they were starting the GCSE course and hence were technically year 10s. She explained the importance of GCSEs and getting a C (this group is predicted Ds and Cs). This gave the pupils the impression that maths lessons had taken on a new importance. Calling them year 10s made them want to act more mature than normal.

>She then explained that as year 10s, the discipline will be stricter. She outlined her system of warnings and consequences. She emphasised that the class was a team, and they had to work together to achieve a good result. Outlining the consequences made sure the pupils were aware that they will be punished, and more strictly than before. Emphasising that their class is a team ensures that pupils pay less attention to the ones who disrupt.

>They started the work, and the pupils were impeccably behaved.

>The work was quite easy, so the pupils felt really motivated by the fact that they could do GCSE level work.

>She kept giving out positive comments to reinforce the good behaviour.

The transformation was amazing. What's even more amazing is that in the lessons that followed, they were even better.

Another good thing I saw:

>Before giving them a load of questions to do, she wrote on the board some grade boundaries for E, D and C. She told them to choose a target for the lesson. Then they did the work, and then marked it. Then they counted up the marks and see what grade they got for that lesson. This really motivated the pupils to work hard, and they were so happy to meet their targets.

What this has taught me is that "bad" classes can change. All it takes is a change of approach. Although this teacher had perhaps been too soft on them before, she was able to take back control. I've always been under the impression that if you're not strict enough from the start, the class will never respect your authority. I know now that that's not true.

We're starting a new term in two weeks. Why not use that as an opportunity to have a fresh start with your most difficult classes?

Emma x x x


April 08, 2011

Disgusted at the Injustice

People who are teaching in Coventry schools are now on holiday!! Whereas us poor people teaching in Warwickshire don't break up until Wednesday!

To make matters worse, they get TWO WHOLE DAYS more holiday than we get in total!!

Emma x x x


PS sorry if the title of this entry got you all excited and you're now feeling incredibly let down by the pettiness of my argument.


February 25, 2011

Alice in Numberland

You may have noticed that the title of my blog is a nod towards Lewis Carroll's oeuvre, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. This is pretty much my favourite book of all time. Why? Because it's FULL OF MATHS!

Lewis Carroll is the nom de plume of Charles Dodgson, who was a maths lecturer at Oxford. He was actually more famous for being a children's photographer, but his maths was pretty good too. He was really obsessed with Euclid's Elements and wrote textbooks to go alongside it. He loved logic too, which is what you see most of in his books.

"if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic".

Tweedledee says that. It's one of my favourite quotes from the book. The best logic puzzles appear in his other books, like The Hunting of the Snark.

Here's another favourite quote (it's just as Alice is falling down the rabbit hole):

"I'll try if I know all the things I used to know. Let me see: four times five is twelve, and four times six is thirteen, and four times seven is - oh dear! I shall never get to twenty at this rate!"

Alice's wrong calculations can be explained by using different base systems:

in base 18, 4*5= 20 = 18^1 + 2 = 12

in base 21, 4*6= 24 = 21^1 + 3 = 13

if you carried on the pattern, you'd get:

base 24: 4*7 = 14

base 27: 4*8 = 15

...

base 39: 4 *12 = 19

base 42: 4*13= 42^1 + 10 = 1X (where X is the symbol for 10 in base 42)

So Alice is right, she'll never get to 20!

Interestingly, it breaks down at base 42. Lewis Carroll seems to have a slight obsession with the number 42, it appears everywhere in all of his books. It has been suggested that Douglas Adams used the number 42 in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy because of this. Adams named his chapters of the radio show "fits" which is also what Carroll did, suggesting he's a fan.

My favourite maths thing that Dodgson did though, was his work on voting systems. This is really interesting, it's got some great maths in it, and if you tackled it in a lesson you would be hitting the moral, social and ethical aspects of maths.

So if anyone asks you to come up with ideas for a maths/English connected curriculum day, suggest studying some of Lewis Carroll's work. I love it when literature and maths combine, as they are my two favourite things. Another good mathsy book is Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which I love, but the maths in that is very separate from the story, and I don't think it would be good to use in class.

One of my favourite authors of all time is Louis Sachar, who wrote Holes, which is very commonly studied at secondary schools. He also wrote some great maths books, the Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School series, so if you have a year 8 class studying Holes, it would be cool to do some puzzles from that to run alongside it.

Finally, another of my favourite authors of all time is Koji Suzuki, the Japanese author of Ring, which was made popular by the abomination that is the film The Ring. There are two sequals, Spiral and Loop, and all three books are outstanding on their own or as a series. They include some brilliant codebreaking linked to genetic codes, and some discussion of meta-mathematics which is just plain awesome. I'm not saying bring them into your lesson, but suggest them to sixth formers who like reading and maybe need showing the coolness of maths. And you should read them yourself because they're sooo good!


Emma x x x


PS if you want to find out more about the mathematical life of Lewis Carroll, I recommend Robin Wilson's Lewis Carroll in Numberland. I have a copy if you want to borrow it. I also have copies of all the books mentioned above, but some of them are at my parents' house in Leicester, so I can't get them until Easter.


February 22, 2011

Birthday Equations

This idea started as a stupid facebook status but is starting to sound like quite a useable rich task.

I noticed that my birthday this year (today: 22/02/11) forms an equation 22/2=11. I invited my facebook friends to work out when the next time was that their birthday would form an equation. Quite a few people replied, including non maths teachers.

Then Lydia posed an interesting question: are there people out there whose birthdays will never form an equation?

Initially I thought no, because I thought addition would always work. But if you were born 01/01/03 then you'd never have a birthday equation.

So far in all my 22 years, I've only had two birthday equations. 22/02/00 was one because 22 mod 2 = 0.

When are my next ones?:

22/02/20 22-2=20

22/02/24 22+2=24

22/02/44 22*2=44

I'm having trouble thinking of other operations. 22 choose 2 is 231 which is too big. 22^2 is 484 which is too big.


I really know how to enjoy my birthday don't I?


Emma x x x

PS this rich task is copyright Team Hopper. When Team Hopper publishes their first book, this will be one of the activities included. You may not reproduce this task without the permission of Team Hopper.


February 19, 2011

February Subject Knowledge

This is the first post in an exciting new mini-series about my subject knowledge development (cue theme tune). Once a month I will be blogging about what I've done recently to develop my mathematical knowlege. This is because, of course, I am committed to improving my SK as part of my professional development. It has absolutely nothing to do with wanting to pass SCT6 and getting evidence for Q standards.

Tutoring

I regularly tutor two GCSE pupils and an A2 student. This week I was faced with the challenge of teaching the y10 about circle theorems.

**Rant about Circle Theorems**

I hate circle theorems!!! You only do them once in your whole life: for one module of GCSE. They're not in any A level courses I know, and I didn't even meet them tangentially (lol) at uni. Hence I had completely forgotten them.

Why do the text books etc insist on saying there are 6 circle theorems?? Three of them are exactly the same theorem in my opinion. The "arrow" the "bow" and the "triangle in a semicircle is right-angled" one. Why not teach the pupils these as one?

Anyway, I decided to prove the theorems myself just to prove I could, and that was fun. I think I get the theorems a bit better now. I still have trouble with the names because they're so stupid (the angle subtended blah blah blah).

My A2 student has been doing C4 stuff. Most recently it was parametric differentiation which is easy peasy. It feels good to be able to say dy/dt divided by dx/dt is dy/dx. This sort of crazy talk was strictly forbidden at uni.

At Uni

The differential equations activity with RWP was really useful for me because I never really did DEs at A level. I picked it up quickly and I'm happy with that topic now.

At School

I've been doing hours and hours of intervention this week. This involves taking a group of about four and just going through a higher GCSE module one paper (stats). I can safely say I know this module inside out now.

For Fun

In a year 8 class I observed this week they were doing a rich task about a chess knight on a 10x10 grid. What's the fewest number of moves needed to get from square 1 to square 100? The pupils discovered it was 6 after trial and improvement. They then had to work out a route going through every square number. Being the geek that I am, I was not satisfied with this and went away and proved 6 was the fewest. I then used induction to prove it for an nxn grid. And then I proved the square numbers one which was long winded but doable. I didn't know the actual answer to that one, which reminded me of Problem Solving lessons with Jenni last year. Oh how I both loved and hated that module.

That's enough for now.


Emma x x x


February 03, 2011

UPDATED: You'll All Love Me For This: QTS Standards

EDIT: I have updated it and now all lectures, seminars, workshops, CCTs and SCTs are included.


Here is my table where I record my evidence towards the QTS standards. I haven't finished it yet, you will see at the bottom a table of lectures and seminars I haven't put in the right place yet. I will be doing that soon, and will update this entry when I do.

standards.doc

**PLEASE NOTE** You can only count the SCTs for all the standards if you have ticks in those boxes on your feedback sheets, so check first! Also, you can't count lectures/seminars/workshops that you missed because you were absent, so remove them.

Emma x x x


February 01, 2011

PP2: First Impressions

I've spent two days at my PP2 school, which is just the right amount of time to make a completely uninformed judgement of it. Whatever opinions I'm about to give will have almost certainly change in three weeks.

These first two days have been induction days for me and the other 6 PGCEs. The days were properly arranged with a timetable and everything. I got a tour, a visit to the EAL centre, lesson observations, talks about safeguarding... I even got a thick staff handbook full of useful info.

Let me compare this to the induction I got at my PP1 school... Oh wait, I didn't get one. I didn't meet my professional mentor for a few weeks, and didn't have an actual conversation until my last day. My subject mentor was excellent, but of course he had a full teaching timetable so couldn't spare much time on my first day for stuff like that.

That's the weird thing: I haven't even met all the maths teachers yet. At PP1, the maths teachers spent all their spare time in the maths office. So I became close to them very fast. At PP2, there isn't a maths office!! All teachers hang out in the staffroom together. I met the head of maths who I've concluded must be my subject mentor. I'll be spending more time with him on Friday I think, and hopefully I'll get a timetable soon.

The school is so cool: it has so many extra-curricular things and some really random bits (apparently I can go and get my nails done on a Friday in the hair and beauty department!). The maths results are impressive, and the CVA is outstanding. Student satisfaction surveys show that the pupils love their school. It's really friendly, partly because it's tiny.

I think I'll be very happy here, but I'm not currently sure about the subject support I'll be getting. I'll have to wait and see.


Emma x x x


January 30, 2011

PP2 Resolutions

PP2 starts tomorrow, and I'm feeling very excited! I love fresh starts: a new term, a blank exercise book, starting a new save file on a video game... I love all of that. And hand in hand with fresh starts come my favourite things in the whole world: resolutions.

Astrologically, I'm a Pisces (yes I did just bring star signs into this) which means I love to make plans and am always having daydreams of future scenarios, but never follow them through. I have many discarded "action plans" littering my desk. For example, "masters essay 2: plan to start writing by the end of January". Let's see a show of hands: who thinks I've stuck to that plan? Anyone? No? Well done, you're all correct.

[Pause to consider whether the above paragraph might put off possible employers who have googled me. Decide they'd find out soon enough anyway.]

Anyway, tomorrow is a big fresh start for me, and as befits the occassion, I'm going to make some resolutions. I can then reflect (the magic word) on these later and hopefully that will do my professional development a lot of good (and tick some QTS boxes).

1. I will keep my folder up to date (no, really).

2. I will write up and file my observation notes, and these observations will be focused on something I have picked carefully so that they can count as evidence for the QTS standards.

3. I will outline my expectations in the first lesson I teach with each class, and establish my authority so that they respect and fear me (note to self: wear heels).

4. I will make careful notes on all the feedback I'm given. I'm ashamed to say I was one of those people who didn't write down their mentor's advice. I have a good memory and I hate loads of paper everywhere, so I try to avoid making notes. However, I realise now that my mentor probably saw that as me not caring about the advice. Out of respect for my next mentor, I will make written notes.

5. I will get involved in an extra-curricular activity. I went to year 7 choir practice last term, embarrassed myself by trying to sing along (eleven year-olds sing in an unnatuarally high key, which my alto voice can't cope with) and felt too ashamed to ever return again. I'd love to get involved with dance or drama, as I am actually somewhat qualified in those areas.


I think that's enough, I don't want to overstretch myself. I can add some more after I've been there a few weeks.

So guys, what are your PP2 resolutions? Similar to mine or completely different?


Emma x x x