Author Archives: JemmaPDuck

Instagram and #teach180

I’ve not found much time for blogging over the summer since I’ve been moving house and deliberately trying to ‘wind’ down after a crazy busy year last year at work.

I’m back at work now and it feels like I’ve never been away! I’m enjoying my new timetable although it is jam-packed and I am sharing three classes which is a new thing for me – I’ve never had to share one class let alone three! I’m hoping to blog as I go this year as with previous years but there’s always a wee (big?!) stumbling block and that is time. There’s just not enough hours in the day, not enough days in the week, etc…

In fact I hardly ever manage to blog on a regular basis during term time so I know trying to commit to blogging is setting myself up to be disappointed and annoyed at myself… However, I take pics around my classroom almost every day. Pictures of good pupil work on sheets or in jotters, of unusual events such as yesterday’s school hike, of new displays, Puzzle club activities, etc. I usually save these pics and then take a couple of hours every few months to upload them to the department website so kids and parents can watch out for them. During the summer, however, I spent a bit of time with my sis who loves Instagram which got me thinking that I could create an account for my classroom.  So I did.

Here is my new Instagram account for sharing pictures from my classroom to the rest of the world.

I think this will make me feel better about not being a regular blogger although my heart wants to be! But more than that I have found the kids are eager to get their work photographed which has been a nice surprise and bonus 🙂

Ed (@solvemymaths) has shared his idea of work selfies on his blog which is really good; so I’m going to get the kids to choose one piece/part/question/solution/etc. from the day/week’s work that is their best and they draw a wee camera beside it as a plenary exercise which will help me identify where the kids think they’ve done particularly well (self assessment) or on occasion get the kids to swap jotters and peers can choose where the wee camera logo goes as a peer assessment tool.

Earlier today I was over at Sarah Hagan’s blog stealing(!!!) more of her awesome wall display posters and came across her #teach180 idea for Twitter which also stems from a lack of time to blog regularly. It’s a great idea and I will be checking it regularly as the ideas so far have been brilliant and very interesting. It is especially cool that she is collating some of her highlights on her blog every week. My twitter account is for myself as a practitioner so I’m gonna ‘lurk’ around this idea without taking part and I definitely couldn’t commit to everyday. I sometimes don’t even get round to tweeting my week highlight for the awesome #PedagooFriday some weeks!!!

So my new Instagram account is for my kids and their parents. It’s for me as a teacher to display their awesomeness outside of the classroom on a display that the world can see… That’s gotta be worth the pupils putting the extra effort in for 🙂

Area and Perimeter – Helpful resources

Kids struggle with this topic.  They find the area by adding all the sides and multiply to find the perimeter… Or worse they add then multiply in a complex calculation!  Now I’m not saying i’ve cracked it using the resource below my kids have spent the week wrestling with challenging questions that has had them deeply engaged and discussing the two to an extent that I hope will mean long term gain.

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Blank 100 grid game

I’m finding more and more uses for a blank 100 number grid and this wee game is fast becoming my S1’s favourite.  In pairs, pupils are given a blank 100 grid, two different coloured pencils and two dice.  They take turns to roll and what ever numbers they are given they have to draw a rectangle with those dimensions on the grid e.g. if they roll a 4 and a 3 they’d draw a four by three (or three by four) rectangle. Play until grid is complete – winner has most squares coloured in or for a twist – whoever draws the last rectangle.

What do the pupils learn from this?

  • Simple motor skills of using a ruler
  • Simple counting – it’s amazing how the really poor kids will draw a five by three instead of four by three because they don’t count the first box as “it belongs to the three boxes”
  • Timestables – kinesthetic practice of 4 x 3 etc.
  • Strategy – where to put the rectangles on the grids
  • Probability – some numbers come up more than others – so they say – investigations to be pursued!
  • Area of a rectangle – by default and without mentioning it for the first few weeks of playing the game… Bonus!!!

Extensions I have been mulling over and will look to introduce this week are:

  • Add the numbers instead of multiply to give area and pupils will have to decide the rectangle dimensions
  • Use of half squares
  • Don’t need to draw rectangles
  • The number from the dice (added or multiplied) has to be the perimeter

Here is a blank 100 grid sheet if you fancy giving this a go.


NRich Worksheet

With all the kids practice of area of a rectangle within the game it seemed appropriate not to get them doing a simple textbook exercise so I had a look on my hard drive and found this beauty of a worksheet:

NRich Website – Area and Perimeter

The kids worked in pairs trying to come up with rectangles and other shapes which would meet the criteria asked of them which resulted in far more practice of area and perimeter calculations than would’ve been carried out if they were doing a straightforward ‘find the area/perimeter’ type worksheet/exercise. More than that though; my kids showed great resilience and the ‘have-a-go’ attitude that I’ve been wanting to see for months!

They drew lots of shapes and started to think about half squares (I could’ve jumped on this, went off on a tangent and talked about Pythagoras’ Theorem but instead I just told them the length of diagonal was 1.4 and built the suspense of “we’ll learn how to work this out for ourselves next year”) and some kids got very creative with their shapes e.g. one pupil drew a robot where squares were removed from rectangle head to make area less without effecting perimeter.

They might not have twigged onto logical processes that some of their peers in higher sets would have; they were mostly using blind luck and trial and error but they were thinking about what they were doing and noticing some patterns and that’s all I ever want from my kids 🙂

All in all, they’ll probably still get mixed up between working out area and perimeter but they’ve had more practice using these two resources with not a bored sigh heard all week.  I’m calling that a success.

Tweet tweet twoo…

After recently conversing with the History teacher in my school I found out she had pupils creating facebook and twitter profiles of famous people from the past. What an awesome idea, I thought, for meeting the CfE Maths outcome MTH 3-12a. A few days passed and as all teachers do, I played with how to make the idea even better… After some mulling I decide that for my next S1 lesson I will use twitter as an exit pass.  I searched for a tweet template online for a while but nothing was catching my eye so with the help of an S3 pupil I created this template:

I put 3 on an A3 sheet, printed off, laminated (yes, I’m one of those folks!), guillotined and hey presto everyone in the class got one for themselves along with a wipe-off marker.

Firstly, I asked my S1s to tweet a fictional professor (@prof – I don’t think it’s in use!) to help him find the circumference of any of the planets from a given table.  Worksheet here.

Kids loved it and there was so much maths as a by-product (we discussed hashtags/trending, counting characters, how many re-tweets/favourites, advertising). I tweeted a #pedagoofriday post with a picture of them making their tweets which was favourited and re-tweeted.  When I showed the pupils they were so chuffed they have asked if @prof has any more questions they can help him with! They are desperate for more favourites and re-tweets next time.

I also used the tweet template for S3 pupils to summarise individual lessons and used with the S5/6 Higher class to try and get them to summarise a topic in 140 characters as a revision technique (this proved difficult in the end but hilarious frustration resulted in good fun).

In the future I plan to something similar, as requested by the pupils! … I also think that I might choose the best of the bunch and allow them to really tweet it if I create a class or school account.  I guess the possibilities are endless…

The tweet template mentioned in this post can be found here.

Hope someone finds this useful.  Any comments/suggestions/questions are gratefully received, especially the constructive ones…