My Classroom

Each year I try to refresh the displays in my classroom. I don’t have a huge amount of wall space and there are a few displays I like to keep up all the time. These have key facts and information that I refer to often including a number line, square numbers, prime numbers, question stems etc. Last year, I used the whole of the back wall as an area for storing revision worksheets for my classes. These were there for any pupil looking for extra practice on a topic and proved useful throughout the year. Other than topping up the folders, this will stay the same this year.

So what will be new in my classroom this year? I have one thing I want to add. I saw this on Twitter last week and instantly knew I wanted this in my room.

The idea shared by @AlexB19899 was to have ” 5 minute frayer time where pupils try it in pairs and using dictionaries to fill theirs in. Then a quick feedback where we fill the class one in together while they add to their own. Love hearing their examples/non examples.”

I can see me using this in a couple of different ways with my classes. The first being as a whole class teaching tool where I am introducing a new word/concept and I fill in the Frayer Model and then leave it up during the next few lessons as a reminder to the class. The second would be as a revision tool – I could ask the class to complete a Frayer Model for a given word/concept that they had previously met and then share the results on the class Frayer Model.

I am hoping that using this regularly with pupils will help improve their mathematical vocabulary as this is something they often struggle with.

August is here already

The last few months have been very challenging for everyone in many different ways. For me, it was adapting to working from home that was a big challenge as everything was different. Meetings online with awkward pauses and tech issues, estimating grades for exams pupils didn’t get to sit, worrying how this may impact their future, planning work for pupils not knowing who, if any, were actually completing the work, worrying about progress or lack of progress and trying to keep positive. It was tough but I actually think the next term is probably going to be tougher. We are returning to school full time from next Monday. What will this look like? At the moment, I don’t have a clue. All I know is that I have to keep 2m from all pupils unless I choose to wear a mask. This is going to alter the way my lessons are organised. I normally start to plan lessons for the first week back in the last week of the holidays but I don’t know what to plan for. It’s very confusing and unsettling. I like to be in control, know what’s happening and be completely organised and I feel very anxious not knowing what school will be like.

I don’t want this post to be all doom and gloom so I thought I would share a couple of resources that I used while working from home. My Higher class were working on logarithmic functions and I found this resource from Mathematics Vision Project. I had never used this before and particularly liked the number line questions so I put them together into a worksheet. Here’s the first two questions.

I loved the concept of placing the log expressions on the number line. Previously, I have found the pupils have trouble accepting the logs are just numbers and not some strange abstract concept. This seemed to be helpful. My worksheet can be found here but it is worth looking through the whole resource from Mathematics Vision Project shared above as there are other tasks to use.

The other resource I wanted to share was one I created myself. Still on the topic of logarithms, this task was further practice of evaluating logs but using the laws of logarithms. In the task, there are twelve expressions to be matched to fourteen answers. For the two unmatched answers, pupils have to write their own expressions.

I hope that my pupils enjoyed completing this at home compared to a more traditional worksheet. You can find a copy of the worksheet here.

Even though I am anxious about returning to school, one thing I am excited for is working with my pupils again. Setting work online and providing support is not the same as interacting in person, hearing discussions, silly chat and much more.

This week – no.8

This week was a pretty poor teaching week for me. I felt that most of my lessons were pretty lacklustre. I think the problem was that all my time was taken up with other school related tasks that my own planning got put to the end of my list. I don’t like when this happens but it’s the reality that occurs sometimes. After a tough week I was feeling like I didn’t want to attend the Moray Maths Conference on Saturday. However, I am really glad I went. The conference reenergised me and I came away with lots of ideas to implement. My only concern is that I won’t have time to do this – but I must try to make time as it is important to focus on teaching and learning.

So this post I am going to write about my takeaways from the conference instead of my lessons from the past week. Hopefully there is something useful for other teachers to takeaway too. Continue reading

This week – no.7

This week was one of those weeks where time disappears so fast and the to-do-list seems endless. I had lots of extra prep this week as a few in the department were off for a few days. I’m not very efficient at sorting cover work and it takes me twice as long as it probably should. It was also the senior parents evening (4.30-7pm) which took it out of me. By the last few appointments I’m not sure I was speaking in coherent sentences.

So, here’s what my classes were doing this week – although there were a few disruptions as I was running between various classrooms checking on other classes. Continue reading

This week – no.6

Monday was a holiday as part of our February break then on Tuesday it was back to work. I always find shorter teaching weeks odd as they feel longer somehow. I had a visit to one of our local primary schools to meet the p7s. I always enjoy seeing primary classes as they are so different to high school classes. One interesting part was that many of the pupils were reluctant to explain how they got an answer, claiming they guessed rather than be willing to talk through their method. Something to watch out for with our new S1s in August.

So here’s what my classes have been doing:

S2 – we were continuing our work with single brackets. To introduce solving equations with a bracket I showed this example with two solutions.

equation bracket

The class spent a few minutes considering how each solution worked and then discussed Continue reading

This week – no.5

This week was a slightly short week with us having Friday off as part of our February break. Although I did have reports due, a PT meeting on Wednesday morning, a staff meeting after work on Wednesday and study club after school on Thursday so I was kept busy and it felt like I had worked a full week.

Here’s what my classes were doing this week.

S2 – this week we were focussing on expanding single brackets. As a review from last week I set this as the starter.

brackets start Continue reading

This week – no.4

After the calm of having fewer classes for the past two weeks it was back to full on teaching this week. Things were even busier with a staff member off and having to cover classes.

Here’s the overview of the past week:

S2 – we completed our work on volume and surface area with further practice of mixed questions. I displayed the answers to the questions on the board to provide a self-check for the pupils. (Questions taken from Continue reading

This week – no.3

It was the second week of prelim study leave for our senior pupils so I had a reduced teaching timetable again. This gave me time to attend a meeting with our Primary head teachers to discuss numeracy and how we are going to work more collaboratively to try to raise attainment. It was a really productive meeting and I now have scheduled visits to primary schools to observe their teaching and help with numeracy lessons. Hopefully this is a positive step forward. I also attended training on how to use data from the SNSAs (Scottish National Standardised Assessments) to help raise attainment. Along with prelim marking, verification and discussions about results, it was a busy week. Continue reading

This week – no.2

I felt like a part time teacher this week. Our senior pupils were out of school on study leave so I only had my S2, S3 classes plus my S1 numeracy period. However on Wednesday there was a power cut so the school was closed by 12pm. This meant I only actually taught 7 periods in the past week. Despite that I was still busy – marking prelims, attending department meeting and SLT link meeting, doing lunch duty and more.

So here’s what my classes were doing this week:

S2 –  On Monday before starting the new topic we did a mini test on bearings. Continue reading