The week that was (no. 23)

It was a four day week this week but it still felt really busy. It was mostly due to having the S4-6 parents evening on Wednesday. I had a full schedule which meant I was talking from 4.30pm to 7pm without stopping. I always find it so useful to chat to parents and wish there was a way for us to be able to do that more often.

My classes have been studying the following:

  • S2 – expanding single brackets
  • S3 – factorising expressions
  • National 5 – vectors
  • Advanced higher – matrices

Struggle of the week

This week my N5 classes were learning about vectors. This is always an interesting topic as those who study physics already have a pretty strong awareness of vectors and how they work. We were looking at drawing vectors, which went well. The trouble started when drawing addition or subtraction of vectors. It seemed to really divide the room (in both my N5 classes). It seems that the pupils either “got it” and raced through the selection of questions or they didn’t have a clue. I found this tricky to deal with as I couldn’t get to grips with understanding what is was they weren’t understanding. The issue was not reversing for a negative vector but seemed to be where to attach one vector to another. I tried labelling the ends of the vector with start and finish but it didn’t seem to help. I’m hoping that I will be able to figure out another way to explain it to help those who were really struggling.

Topic of the week

I love algebra and I love teaching algebra. I actually changed the order of our course slightly so I could teach algebra before teaching more graphs!!. My S2 class had learned about expanding a single bracket last week and I wanted to spend this week reinforcing the skill as well as practising simplification and use of negative numbers. Here is the task that the class worked on.

don steward 7

don steward 8

This task is from Don Steward and can be found here. Although initially I thought it would require factorising, we discussed as a class that the expression would be a multiple of a number if all terms were a multiple of the number. I particularly liked Q17 – 20 which provided a real challenge for the few that got to them.

CPD of the weekend

I spent the weekend visiting family in the central belt of Scotland. This meant a 3 and a half hour journey there and back again. I love being able to use this time to listen to the latest podcast from Craig Barton and this weekend I was in for a treat. There were two I hadn’t listened to so I had one for each part of my trip. The first one I listened to was with Naveen Rizvi. This was about scripted lessons and so much more. I had heard Naveen talk about atomizing at a maths conference earlier this year so I was fascinated to hear more. I love the passion she has for maths and for making resources. I haven’t yet had time to process my thoughts but I have a few ideas buzzing around.

The second one was with David Didau. This was incredibly interesting and thought provoking. I find it quite difficult to read research papers and pick out key information. I tend to get bogged down by the technical language so I really enjoyed hearing David and Craig talking about current issues but in a way I could actually understand. Again, I still need some processing time and certainly have a lot to consider.

If you haven’t been listening but would like to then you can find the podcast here.

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