Thursday, 25 December 2014


I first came across this acronym at Teachers College Summer PD at Columbia from a fellow teacher. I noted it down, but soon got swept up in the busyness of work. Then....on Facebook it popped up again. What I believe started as suggestions for managing actions on digital media (as seen below) - it can too be easily applied to our everyday interaction in the classroom.

Below are links to print ale posters that I would use in the classroom setting:

Monday, 22 December 2014

Post-It Debrief

To introduce slope intercept form (y = mx + b), I used an explore activity to get students thinking like mathematicians. Encouraging them to look for patterns and make generalizations. In this activity, they used the graphing calculator and instructions to be guided though sets of equations.

The next lesson, I had a prepared poster and two sticky post-it notes for each student. As a Warm Up, I allowed them to look back on their responses from the activity and write an observation, statement, something of interested or a question. Here are some of their responses. 
PicStitch of Responses
This type of routine, was an interesting alternative to a discussion - which can sometimes be dominated by individuals and not allowing every student to share. It made everyone accountable in a non threatening way to write something, have their option valued and encourage risk taking since it was anonymous. 

The end product looks like this whih we had hanging in our classroom. Each my Algebra 1 classes made one which I hung together in the classroom - LOVED IT.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Real life Family of Functions

In Algebra 1 we introduce the idea of different functions early in Functions Unit. We spend same time doing application questions from the Connecticut Tech High Schools. Afterwards I set my students the task of taking photos of these parent functions being modeled in real life. Its the first time I have tried this and worked well. It proved to create a striking visual collage for our room and extension to seeing math in everyday situation.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Beauty of Mathematics

Cool little clip showing some everyday occurrences though a mathematical lens. Really nice! Definitely watch it in FULL screen mode.
Shows an equation, schematic image and real life image simultaneously. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Types of Solutions to Equations & Funny Face

Had a fantastic lesson in teaching types of solutions. Inspired by my colleague last year, Better Lesson plan and some fellow bloggers:

Warm Up: Each student given "Equation Balance" sheet. Using something that they can see and intuitively understand to introduce the types, but also link back to when doing the examples.

Class Notes: an example of each, while also linking it back to the Warm Up Activity - to see how something we find intuitive can be linked with some thing more abstract.

Clap Clap: a routine learnt from the Columbia Math Camp... Ask students if there anymore questions? If not then it s 3 minute free write on how can they tell if an equation has one, none, or infinite number of solutions. If they can't do that - then they have questions! A quick routine to really check for understanding.

Practice: Funny Face
A creative activity where each student get a list of question with multiple choice answers. Depending not heir answer will influence what feature their person will have. These are our masterpieces!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Can I divide by zero?!?

Simple yet effective reminder to the question 'can I divide by zero?'.

This received a good reception from my insquisitve advisory (what's NOOK mean... Oh dear!) and Algebra 1 class. 

Tied in nicely with the introduction lesson to slope and undefined slope. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014


Today I turned my lesson on its HEAD! Seeing potential in the lesson on Relations I was inspired by Math=Love blog on foldables and interatcives.

It started with a Free Write on Relations. An idea picked up form the Teachers College PD. A free write asks students to write any words, connections or information about the key word. They can use resources (notebook and laptop) to create their own definition or understanding.

Next was elaborating the multiple representations foldable. This lends itself to visual and kinesthetic learners in the class - plus harking back to their younger years using foldables. (which they were quite positively nostalgic about!!)

Looking at some characteristic of Relations, next stop was some notes on Independent/Dependent Variables and Domain/Range:

This was also a nice time to talk about different memory tricks that could be employed to help remember new words or concepts:
Acronym to remember related words

With an exaggerated g, it almost looks like the y axis.
Using capitals the word DOMAIN looks like it has the letter "x" in it relating to the relevant x values of a relation.

OK, its time for ACTION! Interactive foldable to practice identifying the domain and range of a variety of graphs. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


This has been a pipe dream of mine. At my first UK school they had ink stamps which you could use to stamp a math workbook and provide feedback. One if my regents was never finding out where I could get one

When I collected books and forgot said stamp, I would resort to writing it by hand. It worked - but was repetitive and unattractive. 

I miss the stamps and felt it was a nice personalised and constructive feed back to students on the workbook which sometimes get overlooked. So determined, I googled if there were ready made stamps (there could of been a niche market out there?!) or design my own. Finally I came up with the idea of printing my own labels! 

Once the template was sorted it was fairly straight forward. It's good having them on hand ready to go and not having a potentially messy ink pad around. 


So far students have had a very positive response. They like that they are getting targeted and individual feedback on their work (workbook) which is clear and structured. 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

First Day Back!

It's that time of year again!

With one full year under my belt at my current school, I felt it went so good! Each desk was set with accordion folder, planner, info sheet and pen/pencil/highlighter ready for them in the morning. 

We had quite the full schedule - which was on display the whole day. Like the date?!?! :)

Teacher materials were ready. First icebreaker of the day, Human Bingo, printed and ready to go. Along with as you can see a packet of Skittles on hand to play the Skittles game if required! 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Facebook Stories: We Are All Daniel Cui

All I can say is ….. watch this

Great video showing the impact we can have on others - negative and positive. Illustrates how we as a community can push people down, but pull people up.

This was shown at my school as part of social media etiquette awareness, but also to highlight consequences of our actions (positive and negative).

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

New York

Very excited and grateful to be able to attend a week long workshop at Colombia University's Teachers College on adapting curriculum to suit the Common Core.

It was mix of instructional suggestions, hands on activites, resource sharing and modelling to look at best practices.

Practicing what he preaches, Dr Peter Garitty, started the day with "Do Nows" and classroom management tips to ensure you're getting the most out of the precios class time you have. 

A wonderful experience to share knowledge and ideas with other practitioners from all around the world. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014


I am so excited to announce that my UK curriculum work for TES is now ONLINE!

It has been my little side project that I have been working on over the last month. I have probably dedicated too much time to it, but am very chuffed at the result.

It's a published resource on the TES website with the aim to help teachers prepare for changes related to National Curriculum reform in England. My document focuses on KS3 science, in the area of Chemistry. It contains resources, activities and lesson plans aligned to each objective of the secondary chemistry curriculum for 2014.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Polynomial Dice

My teaching colleague is the absolute bomb! She is a google master and has absolute endless amounts of energy to creating new and exciting ideas. We are both big fans of teaching blogs and this was inspired by ......

Stations to review adding/subtracting polynomials, multiplying minimal a by polynomials, binomials by binomials etc.

Fun hands on way to get them collaborating and communicating!

My worry is, how do I know they are getting them right?! There's no key! Then why not have an exit slip with key concepts then check who has mastered it and who hasn't. I look forward to trying it out!! 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Gaga of Mathematics: Cedric Vilani

I was at a friends birthday drinks in a cool little bar in London when the question "So, what do you do with yourself?" is asked. When I replied "math teacher", the person who I was talking to pointed to a gentleman across the room to me. "That guy over there is doing his PhD in maths!" Ok, I am the first to admit that teaching math and doing a PhD in mathematics are very different things - but its not often do you get to talk about Linear Algebra, Topology and ….  Fields winner Cedric Vilani over a few drinks.

Coincidentally a few days before hand I had just read an article on Vilani which then led me onto some of his filmed talks. If you haven't heard of him or seen his clips its worth while taking a few minutes out of the day to appreciate and be captivated by math and the people who study it. As Villani says an opportunity to "share the light".

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Community: World Cup Sweep

Recently a colleague made a sweepstake for the World Cup

Not knowing anything about soccer (I mean) football, I certainly didn't have high hopes for too much!

The way it works is everyone puts in £5 and picks a name out of the hat. If your team comes first, second, third or fourth you get a prize. Also, if a player from your team is awarded like MVP for the World Cup (not sure what the official name is) you get a little prize too.

Fingers crossed. This is who I picked out .... Go Brazil! 

I was thinking this could be done with your advisory class if an event like this was during your academic school year. I wouldn't ask students to bring in £5, however maybe have prizes (erasers, chocolates, puzzles etc). It's possible to allocate prizes or alternatively give them the choice in teams finishing order. I prefer giving them the choice as then the student gets what they really prefer.

Advisory Folders

One thing I tried this year and was very successful was Advisory Folders

As like with any advisory/pastoral system, there are many topics to explore throughout the year. I decided to trial advisory folders to help organise and store students work, but also to help with advisory reports at the end of the year.

The picture above shows the students folder and some of the activity sheets completed in Grade 8 advisory. I printed invididal names on sticky labels and adhered them to the front. 

Some of the example above are: the 5 symbols start of year activity, Outward Bound preparation, goal setting work, Lower School Buddies human bingo sheet, and time capsule/letter to themselves (envelope).

I just place all folders snugly into another folder (picture above) and keep it on my desk or locked in a drawer.

Something I will definitely do (and develop further) next year! 

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Terry Moore: Why is 'x' the unknown?

I just LOVE the history of mathematics. I find it so fascinating to learn about the stories behind what we do, the theorems that we study and mathematics who discovered them.

A question that is commonly asked - and, I for one didn't know the answer to - why do we use x to represent the unknown.

Terry Moore explains why in his TedTalk taking us on a tour back to Arabic mathematics of the first few centuries CE to mathematics spread in Europe.

Enjoy :)  

Friday, 30 May 2014

Pict Stitch

Look! It is my first creation using the mobile app, Pict Stitch

I don't normally take many photos with my phone, but here's a pict stich from the school trip to Normandy, France.

Above is a Pict stitch contain snapshots from Honfleur, the water wheel at Bayeux and a panel from the Bayeux Tapestry. 

Within the app there are many different frames available, as well as tools to edit dimensions, aspect, effects and text. 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Fotor Photo Collage

On a recent trip to Bristol with friends I was introduced to PictStich. It is an app for smartphones that allows the user to mesh together two or more photos. An example of this can be seen below showing out delicious snacks and Brunel bridge:

Credit:Laura B
It got me wondering, is there was a online version that did something similar? I have found one called Fotor Photo Collage. I am sure there are more out there, but so far this is the one I am playing around with.

I have tested it our with a few images on this blog. It so far it has been easy to use, inutive, good features and reliable. The only thing I have struggled with is some of the sizing/resizing of images in the template. I am looking forward to using more of the photo templates and collage features. Its also worth noting it does have some "Photoshop" type features to freshen up or apply filter washes to photos.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Pythagoras Game: Have I got a hypotenuse for you!

This little gem was the first time I have had the opportunity to use this pre made powerpoint from TES - Have I got a Hypotenuse for you. (TES login required)

Today we just did finding the hypotenuse, and they got completely into it! I had my class into teams, where they could earn points or steal points from the other groups. They worked on whiteboards around the room. It made my heart sing to see them working together, collaborating, checking, discussing and analyzing their work (not to mention engaging and having some friendly rivalry on the side). 

 There are versions out to find the shorter side and mix.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Creating definitions: Card Sort Polynomial Definitions

I really have been experimenting with the idea of students owing rules and definitions rather than myself just telling them. See Similar and Congruent Post

In Algebra 1, we have just started Polynomials and Factoring. The first lesson has many vocabulary words that students should become familiar with. Trying to make it a bit more exciting and memorable, decided to tinker with a card sort I made last year.

The instructions to students were as follows:
Each group got a set of cards. To make it easier, each group had a different color font. The vocabulary words were bold underline in contrast to the definition plain which was in plain text.

Once time is up, it's time to go over the answers as a class, record and show some examples. 

Since students had already read (and read multiple times during the Warm Up activity) they were already familiar with the words and definitions that the link with the examples seemed quite fluid and hassle free - rather than potentially overwhelming done traditionally. Would use again for sure!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Twitter Response Template

As part of a discussion in advisory we watched Lupita Nyong'o's  (Oscar Winner for 12 Years a Slave) speech on beauty. The introduction on the link provides the context for the speech. Her message works for anyone, especially the adolescence in our advisories.

Afterwards, I asked my advisees to "tweet" about someone who inspires them and who has made a difference in their lives and outlook on life. The responses were honest and amazingly inspiring. 

Tweets about todays lesson pdf from Teachers Pay Teacher

Monday, 21 April 2014


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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Card Sort: Students creating definitions (Linear Functions)

I remember from a PEEL PD session in my first year about allowing student to come up with rules, definitions or generalizations to make it more meaningful and memorable.

One card sort I was inspired to create was types of Linear Functions. The idea is as a class (or small groups) students come up with ways of classifying the mix of linear graphs.

Yet to trial it, the aim is they come up with positive, negative, zero and undefined groups where we then can go back and formalize the definitions and connect it back with the rate of change.

Or watch the adventures of …..Slope Dude!!

Other card sorts: Similar and Congruent and Polynomials

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

First Padlet Attempt

My first attempt of using Padlet with my Advisory. I thought it might be a nice way to explore what it means to "be human" before starting a Service Learning activity - coined "Being Human". 

They seemed to of worked out what to do (even adding in pictures!!) far quicker than I did! Mixed success, but I did learnt much from it. I was able to send the link to students, have the page "locked" so only my advisory could access it with a password - how cool!!

Open to ideas on how this could be utilized more in Math and/or Science classes.

Thursday, 10 April 2014


Looking for an image? …Check this out!

"A morgueFile is a place to keep post production materials for use of reference, an inactive job file. This morgueFile contains free high resolution digital stock photography for either corporate or public use.
The term "morgueFile" is popular in the newspaper business to describe the file that holds past issues flats. Although the term has been used by illustrators, comic book artist, designers and teachers as well. The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits. This is the world wide web's morgueFile."

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Creating definitions: Card Sort Similar and Congruent Shapes

I remember from a PEEL PD session in my first year about allowing student to come up with rules, definitions or generalizations to make it more meaningful and memorable.

One card sort I tried for the first time was Similar and Congruent from The Dog Days of Math Blog (thank you!).

I gave each student a mini deck of these cards in which they were given about 5-10 min to decide how to group them into two groups. They needed to come up with properties or explanations to why they decided to group them that way. It was a great quick thinking and discussion activity before formally defining the terms.

A fun warm up activity that allowed students to have some ownership and connection with the definitions.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Skill Drill in Disguise! BINGO!

We had explored the exponential graphs of growth and decay from two investigations and followed up with a calculator investigation in previous lessons. I felt it was time to, as my colleague would say, do some "skill drill". With long lessons I am hesitant just to list questions on the board for students to do.

This isn't very inventive startergy but it allows students to do the drill but with elements of choice. The bingo board is made-up of selected questions from the text or questions inspired by the the questions. Students can choose to work in whatever order they like and there are also some options within a box, i.e. Multiple Choice. The boxes have been grade with one star ("plug and chug" type questions) to three star (questions that might require something, but by no means strenuous!).

It keeps students motivated as they get gratification of crossing off a box and don't feel pressured to do questions in order. It's also good for me to get visual feedback on students progress during work time.

This was a surprisingly successful lesson. I also learnt that there are many types of Bingo (according to my students) - as some took the liberty to re-title their page "Australian Bingo" after they discovered it was not just 3 in a row (!!). They told me this type of Bingo where they have to get all boxes is often called "Blackout" in the US - I guess you learn something new everyday!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014


Warning - This can be addictive!

A fun little game has emerged out of the blue called 2048. If you try, you can stretch to say it can link with mathematics and exponential growth (hey, I am a math teacher!)….slightly!

The premise is simple: pressing the directional keys will shift all the tiles on the board in a given direction, then add a new tile. Every time two tiles with the same numerical value collide, they merge into one, with a value equal to the two previous tiles combined. The aim of the game? Reach 2048.

Seems harmless enough….. haha

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Math Project Menu and WWW EBI Feedback sheet

Problem solving and worded problems can be one large mountain to climb!

Had a pretty fun session with my Grade 8's exploring Linear Functions and Models through a menu board of sheets.

We started by doing a class problem, 'The Growing Cube', to explore the steps of working mathematically in practice and encourage group work and collaboration 

We used a range of materials to explore, collect data and investigate a pattern.

After The Growing Cube, problem students started the menu board sheets. Students liked being able to do the activities in their own order and have some overall some choice in relation to the problems. As well as, optional bonus credit problems.

Then it raised the question for me  - how can I give constructive feedback and have some sort of record also. Yes, I could of just written ll my feedback on each sheet and taken some notes, but having a feedback form I thought might be useful to see patterns and a "one stop shop".

I produced a simple table, similar to a PMI to structure my feedback and ensure I am giving some balanced comments:

Then lightbulb moment - why, oh why didn't I think of this earlier?!?!?!….WWW EBI!! Such better language to use! It was too late or my class but not for my teaching colleague! Take 2 is much better! :D