So, in a bid to emphasise the need for students to have this equipment for their exams I will continue to dish out detentions for forgotten equipment, but I've also already sent a letter to all Y9 (going into Y10) students highlighting what equipment they'll need for their GCSE Mathematics and how to order them cheaper via the school shop. We had a fair amount of orders in before we broke for the Summer and so hopefully there will be more students this year that come properly equipped to lessons.
Today I saw the importance of this as one student in our Y11s, having got 32 marks on the non-calculator paper, only got 16 marks on the calculator paper, which seems very odd and was our only real 'shock' result in terms of what was expected. Now, the low mark could be down to other factors, but I'd be willing to bet it had something to do with them either not having a calculator in their exam (although I checked with our exam's officer and she couldn't recall anyone not having one) or they just didn't know how to use it properly?!
This year I may try giving homework to one of my classes every lesson, but just give them a small amount each night - say 1 or 2 questions to attempt before our next lesson where we'd start the lesson by going over the question in class and addressing any issues. I got this idea from a colleague I did my GTP with (@andydcodling) who is doing this at his school (my old GTP school). I liked the idea and so will see how it works with one of my classes and reflect on its benefits.
I'm also aiming to use the PRET homeworks far more this year than I have previously as I like the format of them and they cover a broad range of skills. @mathsjem has collated all of these homeworks on a website for teachers to use. Check them out at http://prethomework.weebly.com/.
All of last year we offered our students after-school and lunchtime support with their Mathematics every Friday (and, of course, teachers did other sessions as and when students asked for help) and this has made a massive impact for those students that turned up every week - outperforming some of their peers who didn't want to take advantage of the support. We'll be continuing this this year and I've put together a poster advertising the support sessions that will be put on display in each of our classrooms. This will hopefully encourage students to come and seek the support when needed and also get them to take a more proactive approach with their learning.
Wherever possible I will attempt to make these links in my teaching. Combining area of a rectangle with multiplying & simplifying surds by putting the length/width of the rectangle in surd form. Combining algebra with, well pretty much any topic - probability, similarity of shapes, volume of shapes, etc.
The most recent, quite controversial, example of this was of course...'Hannah's Sweets' (my ex-fiancé's name coming back in exam form to haunt me), a question that combined probability, forming expressions, fractions and forming and solving quadratic equations.
6 of the sweets are orange.
The rest of the sweets are yellow.
Hannah takes at random a sweet from the bag.
She eats the sweet.
Hannah then takes at random another sweet from the bag.
She eats the sweet.
The probability that Hannah eats two orange sweets is 1/3
(a) Show that n^2 - n - 90 = 0
(b) Solve n^2 - n - 90 = 0 to find the value of n'
Our students clearly need training and exposure to these sorts of scenarios and being able to link topics/concepts together to answer questions. So, where possible I will look to create scenarios/questions similar to the ones recently seen in exam papers in order to prepare students as best I can. The linked pair pilot papers, additional mathematics papers and exam board resources should all be rich sources of these type of questions.
We have purchased Pearson's ActiveTeach and ActiveLearn product and so will be using their assessments for our Y9 and Y10. Our Y11s will continue with the outgoing spec as the last few years have done and they'll be 'past papered' up until their actual exams.
As for KS3, they'll also be using Pearson's assessments, but as to how we'll be reporting to parents I don't actually know as of yet - so this is one area I'll need to get my head around when going back and I'll trust it'll all be explained when we get back, if not - we'll 'Matherise' their assessments to what we need and ensure we know where the students are to prepare them for their GCSE Mathematics.
I do know that in KS4 our students will be doing termly/half termly assessments, these will all be tracked, students highlighted for interventions and our wonderful HLTAs involved. We fit all our assessments around the school calendar so we always have a set of 'results' to report to parents either via interim/full reports or parents' evening and this will continue next year.
The frequency of my blog posts has dropped over the past year or so due to me naturally picking up more responsibility with the day job. I like to think I still make time as much as I can to blog about my teaching of Mathematics and will look to do as much as I can this year, although I am minded that being Head of Department will bring its own pressures and this may affect my blogging.
However, I am keen to share my department's progress, ideas and struggles - there are plenty of you out there who have supported me in my teaching career so far and I know that over the next few years as I try to figure out what I'm doing I'll need the support and expertise of the Mathematics teachers on Twitter/in my local PLN. I consider myself very lucky to be able to communicate with so many fantastic people all over the country and it is no doubt that I have developed as a teacher as a result. I can't imagine having taught the past 3-4 years without the online support, guidance and resources that I have received/used, so thanks to everyone that has tweeted me, commented on my blog, spoken to me at #mathsconf or local maths meetings or TeachMeets, etc - you're all awesome!
My school is one of 3 in our local area that is linked together in what I like to call a 'Tri-Wizard Tournament'. We have joint INSETs at times in the school year and have (I think) 3 joint planning meetings after-school this year. I'm planning on using these as best we can to share good practice, but as they are not compulsory I'm hoping that the other 2 schools do want to meet up and share their ideas - perhaps in a TeachMeet sort of fashion with each of us sharing, say 2-3 ideas each, from as many of our Mathematics staff as possible - I think it could be really quite good. But, when thinking about the 'Tri-Wizard' meetings I'm thinking 'why stop there'?! Why not invite our other local schools, where I have contacts, to join us and collaborate together. I've been lucky enough to work in 3 other local schools in my time either on placements whilst training or as a full member of staff. I've also been very lucky to mentor some fantastic ITTs this year/last (you guys know who you are) and their schools aren't a million miles away from ours! So, if I can, I'll look to gather everyone together - just the Maths departments, talking about Maths!
So there you have it - the whirlwind of thoughts currently whizzing their way around my head. All of the above are the things I'm going to try and be better at this year, the things I'll try to improve on in order to provide the best Mathematics education I can to our students.
I hope this post (if you've stayed with me and have actually got this far) is of use to others - it'd be great to read/see the thoughts of others as the school year approaches, so drop me a comment below or a tweet @mrprcollins if you've written anything similar or have any 'golden nuggets'!