There should be something philosphical to say about this. But I can't think of anything. I just like it.
Monday, 30 May 2011
This morning I logged onto the Teachmeet wiki to look at a couple of things. There are a couple of teachmeets coming up that I've got a hand in organising: Teachmeet Brum and Teachmeet Blackcountry. (Do sign up if you're interested!)
Thursday, 26 May 2011
Sunday, 15 May 2011
Just by way of contrast with the Daily Mail article that showed that bees were all dying from us using mobile phones, I observed the bees all enjoying my aliums this evening.There is a strong 3G signal in the area, most of my neighbours have wireless and we pick up a good connection to the local BT Opensone service. Oh, and I took the picture using my mobile phone. That might not be very good evidence, but it's about the same quality that the Daily Mail presented.
Thursday, 5 May 2011
- Don't use the equals sign as an operator. Many children see the equals sign and think Do something; Work that out; Add those. The equals sign represents balance, equivalence. Children need to learn that in arithmetic to support their algebraic thinking.
- Don't represent things with the same initial letter as the problem, like 'a' for apples and 'b' for bananas. All it does is reinforce the misconception that the letter stands for an object or a specific number, rather than a variable.
- Don't get tied up in knots about BODMAS (the order that operations are carried out). The context of the given problem will sort that out. It needs to be made explicit when algebraic notation is introduced - you can explain how different calculators work those our sequentially or using an algebraic precedence of operators.
- Don't limit thinking about sequence to the next number. See if the children can see the rule or the pattern.
- Teach patterns from an early an age as possible. Here's Marylin Burns fantastic lesson.
- Do give children plain paper for them to represent their maths graphically.
- Tabulate patterns and sequence so children can move from seeing the 'up-and-down rule' (the sequential generalisation) to the left-to-right rule (the global generalisation).
- Follow the previous step by asking 'what's my rule?'
- Use empty box problems (e.g. 4+□=11)
- Do encourage children to represent the problem, not just solve them. Then the numbers can be changed and children can use the same representation to solve harder problems (perhaps by using a calculator and a spreadsheet).
- Do use a trial and improvement approach. This is especially powerful when it can be done using a spreadsheet.
- Do use the fantastic free materials that exist free all over the internet. Here's some that help children to find rules and describe patterns that the UK government produced a few years back, stored on the website of Dudley LA.
On a school visit, 6 students are can go for every 1 teacher. There are t teachers, s students can make the visit. Describe the relationship between s and t.
Monday, 2 May 2011
I'm not the kind of teacher who always wanted to run a school. I've met them though. I met a PGCE student a few years ago on the 'fast track' program who told me that she wanted to be a deputy head within 2 years. Fair play to her I thought. And if the addage is true that good teachers make poor school leaders then she should be a really excellent headteacher by nowMind you, I was a pretty shocking student teacher myself (so I'm hoping that'll make me a good school leader ;-)). My tutor commented on the positive relationship I developed with my students, but aside from that my lessons were poorly planned and taught; differentiation was minimal. In fact I failed my first teaching practice. A year earlier I had had no idea of becoming a teacher, but my inability to sell anything as a salesman and the fact that no record contract was forthcoming for my band, conspired with other events (too long and tedious for the purposes of this post) to mean that teaching became not just an option but a preference. A few months later I started teacher training. Unlike the PGCE student I mentioned in the first paragraph I had no notion or ambition of school leadership. Since then I've worked for a whole range of school leaders in different contexts, all of whom have played a part in making me think I could do the job. It wasn't even a dream to begin with, but it did become a dream at some point. And last Thursday, at interview, the dream beame a reality when I was appointed as deputy head at Paganel Primary School, following two terms of 'acting-up' in that role. Apologies for any pride seeping through in that last sentence - it comes before a fall, I know. Aside from inspiring me (in their various ways) to take up school leadership myself, the school leaders have a further thing in common. There have been eleven in all, and nine of them have had broken marriages of some kind. The two that remain are the two that I'd least like to emulate. Now eleven is no number to base any kind of statistical sample on, and I really shouldn't be fretting. But I am slightly. What if it really is impossible to maintain a balanced family life and be a successful school leader? I don't have the personal experience to prove otherwise. Marriage breakdowns and unfortunate events happen in all walks of life, but in 15 years of my teaching I know a far greater proportion of teachers who have maintained marriages and careers than school leaders who have done so. So my personal experiment is this: can I blend school leadership with the rest of my life so that I'm still a good dad and a good husband? It seems easy at the moment, sitting in the garden on a bank holiday with the sun shining down on the children playing with water guns and the climbing frame, drinking iced squash. But tomorrow I'm deputy head again and the 'real work' starts...