Two weeks ago, I had a very nice trip down to Cape Town. It is a very beautiful city indeed. However, I did a series of sessions mixing HP Graphing Calculators, GeoGebra and Data Streaming to groups of maths teachers, trainee maths teachers and undergraduate engineering students at the Cape Penninsula Technical University and the University of the Western Cape. South Africa, in the post apartheid era has been trying to bring all of its education systems up to the level of the former elite schools. As you can imagine, this is a tough task, although the government’s commitment is clear having one of the highest proportional spends on education anywhere in the world. The universities I visited are excellent examples of that move to change and I was delighted to work with really enthusiastic students and teachers. Continue reading Cape Town Maths
The ATM/MA london Branch was treated to on of Peter Ransom’s barnstorming performaces last Saturday. A big message that we share with our PGCE students is that teaching is a performance art and ensuring that your lessons have a good dose of theatre will bring students in to your message. Well, Peter brings avery big dose of theatre. Right down to the brilliant stand-up touches … is he really going to drop the cannon ball? Well, yes, naturally. We got through transformational geometry, force functions in suspension bridge chains, cannon ball stacking sequences and the destructive impact of cannon balls by linear and quadratic scaling. So, no messing maths. Please come back soon to see the photos … and come to our next session which will be 10:30 Saturday 24th March (King’s College London, the Franklin Wilkins Building on Stamford Street, SE1, just down from the IMAX cinema), which is the Danny Brown maths Workshops. Read all about it at Danny’s site: www.makemaths.com
The ATM/MA London branch meeting today was a wander round Parliament Square, up Whitehall and Round Trafalgar Square. Four groups of maths teachers made the trek and were intrigued to see this most famous bit of London in a different light. The trail is one of a number that I prepared during my time working for maths Year 2000 and it’s great to see it used again. To support the session, I set up a new web sight with the great URL of www.mathstrails.org.uk . You’ll find PDF and Word versions of all of my trails plus links and details of a load of other trails and trail related materials. Please visit and most especially, please contribute, you maths trail fans with your own ideas, materials and stories.
In the end, it’s just great to get out and about and look at things in a different way. So, take the opportunity and get your students out too!
I was asked to run a session for PGCE students using a kit of parts we make called Maths-for-a-Day. Basically, we took the content of the kits I had produced for the shopping centre events I organised during Maths Year 2000 and packaged them up in a box suitable for a school maths event. I asked for 6 volunteers from the group to staff the activities and the remainder were punters. Continue reading Maths Events
I’ve done a lot of work with Fronter, I manage a number of Moodle VLEs e.g. The Education Interactive courses portal and the ATM/MA London Branch at King’s site LondonMaths . At King’s, I use their ELK (formally BlackBoard) system. So, what is it, that these systems sell themselves on? Really it boils down to one thing: anywhere, anytime access to teaching materials. Sure, you can make cute little multiple choice quizzes that are self marking and record and track progress, but you are clearly noit going to design and build your own set of these for your whole courses. Student protfolios are very neat, but they only work if students can SUBMIT their work Continue reading Virtual Learning Environments
To any teachers out there who come across my blog, we have a competition:
WIN 30 HP40GS calculators and a data streaming kit (worth £2000)
We are setting up an exemplar STEM teaching room for teachers. We need top quality activities to do in the room, which will be premiered at the Olympia BETT show. We need a detailed exposition of the activity together with any supporting materials (e.g. worksheets etc.) In entering, you give us permission to use the activity (suitably credited) in the STEM room and in a booklet which we will produce with all of the entries and which will be available free to teachers. We would like activities using HP39/40GS or 50G graphing calculators, but any other software which runs under windows (and therefore on the new HP windows 7 slate) would do fine. The activity must be an application which merges mathematics with science or engineering. Send one zipped folder of files with your full contact details to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Closing date is Friday 9th of December.
So, why do we teach students maths in school? How tempting it is, to say “because it’s useful”. Well, I defy anyone to respond to this post by finding a single example taking from a school maths text book, in which something happens that (a) could be described as useful and (b) happens in the manner that it might do if someone were actually doing it. Continue reading Applied Maths
Working with a group of aspiring entrants to the teaching profession is always an interesting opportunity. They still have the open mindedness about this noble profession that allows for certainties to be challenged and opportunities explored. The reality is that dialogic teaching supported by dynamic technology (meaning both parties: student and teacher, have control over how the narrative plays out) is a very rare event in schools. The mass of technology is either already booked out so kids can be trained to use MS office 2003 or is pre-programmed for zombie teachers to press the next button on their MyMaths lesson. Continue reading Why bother with technology in maths classrooms?
I am not unique in wishing to question the omnipresence of putting kids into different groups according to the teacher’s perception of their potential to achieve. Jo Boaler has been shouting this loudly for some time now (see The Elephant in the Classroom) and Anne Watson makes the case forcefully (see Raising Achievement …). So, how can it be that even primary school teachers feel unable to to teach a class of 7 year olds the same number skills at the same time – because there is such a great gap in their likelihood to succeed? Continue reading So, why do we put kids in sets?