Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Love these things!!

Working in different school and different educational systems has allowed me to experience a new world of stationary! Oh yes, its true! You might be surprised, but the educational stationary "norms" actually change! At my current school we have these useful document wallets. They are made of study plastic but open around two edges to allow for easy access to put templates, grids, visible thinking routines etc inside. Don't get me wrong I still LOVE mini whiteboards (and in some ways have advantages over these), but enjoy having the versatility to swap in and out different papers. The picture below shows some of the different situations I have used them for.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Monopoly mayhem

Inspired by CensusAtSchool (also on TES) I edited resources to created a fun series of lessons for teaching Grade 8 Statistics. It revolved around investigating a pattern between the house prices on a Monopoly board with their prices today. 

Starter: The monopoly playing board was projected onto the whiteboard. Each student selected a token (playing token, house or hotel) card and had to stick it on the correct place. A dynamic interaction to introduce and to smooth out an questions about Monopoly and the big idea. 

Activity: each pair got a game board in a plastic pocket and markets. They didn't have to use them, but for those who needed to write or count things out the equipment was there. They completed the table and graph to see if there was any pattern and asmwered associated questions. 

Closure: we discussed finding, outliers and extension questions. 

This was such a fun activity. One where the students connected in an engaging way with the work. Using something that all (if not most) students have played before but in a mathematical way was something new and enjoyable for me. A resource I will look forward to using again! 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Grade 6 Graffetti...

My room is shared with a grade 6 class. Sometimes we cross paths before/after lessons and sometimes they see what we are doing in Grade 8 and Algebra 1 on the board. We have a lovely relationship - with them leaving me a plate of homemade treats after one of their classes! 

One afternoon after their class I returned to my room to see Grade 6 graffiti! It totally made me smile - never underestimate what students take in! From the graffiti they have been paying attention to what I have been leaving on the board and what they classified as further mathematics! What a fun lovely graffiti to discover! 

Advisory Game: Blind Count Off

It's the start of a new school year! In Grade 8 we are getting to know our new students and prepare for our annual camp. Today I tried an activity with them called Blind Count Off. I had heard of this from a colleague, who sometimes uses it with her advisory and then at Back To School Night immerse her parents in the same activity (and to beat the students score).

I had two challenges for them - one to see how quickly they could get to 12 (number of people in my advisory) and whats the largest number we can get to.

It was more effective than I thought! We stood in a circle (facing outwards) and tried to count without saying the number at the same time as someone else. The first few time we got stuck on 8 - we just couldn't get past it! We had a moment to get some feedback/suggestions and with a strategy in hand we went from a time of 1min 36 to 10.1 seconds! For the next challenge, we got stuck in the teens. Again after a discussion...I couldn't stop the numbers from coming...they kept going! And before we knew it we had reached ONE HUNDRED! There were cheers at the end - thats got to be a good sign!

Friday, 19 June 2015

End of Year Activity: Angry Birds

An alternative to the Geometry Activity, I used the quadratic activity Angry Birds. Each group gets data on a bird in different forms - such as an incomplete table, equation, graph, a list of key features etc. They have to graph and decide which bird hits the king pigs (the baddies).

This year they took it to a new level (as you can see from the previous attempt)! I was impressed with their information, but also their execution on the posters - as you can see below!

They individually came together to created an eye catching final display.

What you need for this activity is: graph paper, coloured paper, sticky tape, coloured pencils/markers, instruction sheets. The instruction sheets I used were credited to Sergio Alvarez. There different sets (1st, 2nd and 3rd edition) which have the same set up but different trajectories. An example of the instructions/worksheet can be found here.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Four Corners

A routine that I heard of a while a ago, but my first opportunity to employ it. In advisory we were looking at stress. As a warm up we did the Four Courners discussion routine. 

Each person got a post it note where they could write their own reflection or response to the topic. Then in their table groups they shared and listed out patterns or key information. 

An example of one from the Grade 8's is here:

I like this because everyone has a day, enables the quiter ones to have a voice, can get a snapshot of all views in the class, forces everyone to be involved and you can then post then around the room or refer to them at another date. 

Friday, 5 June 2015

Alternative London: Masterchef

It's that time of year again! Many Grade 8 students are on Language Trips so we create our own Alternative London (rebranded from Time Out Day). Last year Julie and I designed a day out exploring the British Museum and Portrait Gallery. This year, Wendy and I took over the Masterchef Day!

Local industrial kitchens were hired and our resident Masterchef TV celebrity,  Sean, deigned a started, main and dessert for the students. 

Students and teachers met Sean at the kitchens as he transported all of our indigents n his car. He gave us a quick overview of the day, the kitchen, responsibilities and hygiene. First on the menu was the quiche starter. Student were given the common ingredients and booklet inspiration, but it was up to them what they put into it. The main was chicken escallop with a potato side. The desert was their twist on the Eaton Mess.

Fantastic day was had by all. At first students were frighten that they didn't have a recipe but it showed that cooking is not scary and doesn't always have to have a recipe. It can be fun and experimental!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

End of Year Activity: Paper Folding Geometry Vocabulary

Instructions have been produced by the Queensland Department of Education and Training (Australia) website - Geometry by Paper Folding - A step-by-step guide (the link since doesnt work but an alternative can be found here). I cannot express how straightforward the instructions were especially with photos and key vocal pointers. Amazingly easy!

First, I printed a circle on multi coloured sheets of paper. Rather than drawing by hand I used a template (page 4) in the document Get in to Shape (Dan Myers blog).

I wrote the words on the board to focus what Geometry vocabulary we were going to be looking at.

However, next time I might not write them in order (silly me!) and get them to cross them off as we discuss them/used them to describe what we see (Geometry Bingo).

We then decorated each truncated tetrahedron and pasted them together to form an icosahedron. This will be placed in my room as a reminder of the class.

Some interesting maths beyond the folding can be found in the document "Magic Circle" where is explores ideas of surface area etc with the folding.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Making Connections

Making connections explicit has really helped some of my students. An example of this is in systems. I present this quick flow chart at the beginning, but then revisit it at the competition. "Why?" you might ask. Well, it's because some students are "big picture" people wanting to know a rough guide of where will they be going to next. Other students need the piece by piece small steps and then time to look back reflect and see how its all connected. 

This year I have made use of flipcahrts to document learning. I have found these to be really useful in anchoring and summarizing big ideas to make our thinking visible. I leave them around our room as a reminder of what we have done and, in some cases, as a reference sheet if we need to go back.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Shakespeare Quiz

Quote of the Day: "Oh look at this.... If you want something organized - get Katharine to do it!"

I volunteered to take on the organization of the Shakespeare Quiz before our excursion to the Globe Theatre. Lucky for me the quiz was already made (phew!), but how it was going to be run and the collection of answers and points had to be prepared. 

Good news is it went really really well. Preparation before hand made the execution seamless and worthwhile. Its so nice when things go to plan and people appreciate it!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Math Cartooning: Systems of Equations

They say a picture is worth a thousand words....and this was tested out in our Algebra 1 class!! The math comic idea was shown to me by a colleague last year, Julie, from The Exponential Curve blog (Dan Wekselgreene). 

A interesting and fun way to get students creating and thinking about the process of solving system of equations algebraically (or change the focus to any other topic!).

Each student was given a black storyboard as per the worksheet here. Students could be as creative as the wish with the task. Some students created characters, while others summarised the similarities and differences between the two. 

I didn't have the chance to this with my class this academic year; however here are a few examples from my class the year before.

I really liked this activity, especially as it makes every student accountable while also allowing for creativity. The final products can be used as part of a gallery walk sharing exercise or complied for a great class display.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Jigsaw Postcards

One thing I use to love about Melbourne was you could often get your hands on free postcards. They would be at cafes, local library, information centers or randomly scattered at points around the city. It was usually a form of advertising, with designs frequently roaring. I use to always pick them up to use in the classroom. One nifty use was to group students. I would get a different designs and cut them into pieces. In class each student got a piece and had to find their group.

I use to like them as they had bold colors and designs and were made of study card so you could reuse them easily. Now I can't get my hands on them, and lift images off the net. There is one major advance is that I can choose images to link with the content - so once they have their groups they can turn and talk to their peers about why i chose that image and relevance to the topic. However, unless I get them laminated, usually its a single use resource. I find its always good to sometimes use something like this to mix up groups randomly.

Time Out Day 2014

Going through my iPhone I found some photos form Time Out Day. Time Out day is named after the popular publication called Time Out which keeps people up to date of events, attractions and cool stuff happening in their city.

The Grade 8 team teachers broke off in pairs to design a day where students can experience a different side of London. We had groups doing: Masterchef with a former contestant of the show, HMS Belfast, Design and Tate Museum, Outdoor Gardening and British and Portrait Gallery. We were in change of the last group. Below is a collage of the day!

We started out day gong over formalities such as the itinerary, reminders and what they might expect of the day. We then used the rest of our time to unleash their inner artist! Enter plasticine! We got them in groups to do some self portraits. Then showed them some high lights of the British Museum and National Portrait Gallery we got them to recreate famous artifacts - such as Hoa Hakananai'a using plasticine. We wanted them to interact with pictures we were showing them and wanted it to be interactive. The plasticine was a nice addition to the day - even if it meant I had to travel all around London trying to find it!

We set off by tube to the British Museum where they did a treasure hunt (fence competition with highly sought after prizes), we then went to the National Portrait Gallery and then the Real Food Market at Southbank. Yum!

All round a fun interactive day for all where we got to explore and appreciate some great sights that are right on our door step of this great city!

5 Pictures...Getting to know you

One activity I do with my advisory is 5 picture. They get a blank sheet of paper and have to come up with 5 pictures (preferably drawn) which shows different aspects of them.

As an example, I did one for me:
Picture of Melbourne (my home town), field hockey (I love playing sport - especially team sports), Angkor Wat in Cambodia (it was a very special trip for me), UK & Australian flag (my big life choice in moving over here), Travel Bag (one of my passions is hearing peoples stories and continually be amazing by the world).

Friday, 24 April 2015

Trip Packs

I have found my "thing" when it comes to excursions. Trip packs have essential information, but can be quite fiddly and frustrating when you quickly flip past a sheet your trying to find. My best solution has been to use the small Post It Notes as index tabs. An easy and effortless quick reference system! Boom. To prevent the pages being messed up (or blown away on an outside excursion) I hole punch and use two ring clips to keep it all in place. Our Grade level aid is a star, and she also puts them in a plastic water proof folder. Voila! 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Teaching in the UK

Since I have been over here for a while, its now started to become common for friends of mine to ask me to give advice to others on teaching in the UK. Here are a few main points:

I don't know how much you already know but, I was an Australian trained teacher who moved over to London about 2 years ago. I started teaching in the UK school system through agency work, before getting a short term contract at an international school which turned into an ongoing position and loving it.

Employment Options:
There are a range of employment options. You can apply directly to the school or work through a agency. Agency work can be short term supply (daily supply or substitute teacher), long term supply (term, semester etc placements) or permanent work. Short term supply and long term supply may give you a higher rate but you may not get paid for days you don't work or holidays (pro rata) - so make sure you ask your questions to the agency or school to clarify. You can choose what best suits you or mix it up. When looking at schools its good to do your research. There are MANY school in the UK and many different types of schools, areas, specialist schools, demographics and standards. Schools get inspected by OFSTED where you can see their rating and report. There are comprehensive (public school), grammar (select entry), catholic and independent schools.

UK Curriculum:
The UK has introduced a National Curriculum for math, science and english. The UK system uses "Key Stages" describe levels - if your high school, you will be looking at Key Stage 3 and higher. They have GCSE's and A levels for university entry. It all sounds confusing at the start but it makes sense eventually. When you get to interview round its good to have a little background and familiar with the terminology. If overseas, interviews can be conducted via Skype or phone.

International Schools in the UK:
As for international schools, they recuits mainly from recruitment expos, which I have heard are an experience in themselves - but they also use agencies to fill placements, like in my initial situation. I was a "local hire" as i was already in London and was found through one of their London based agencies. International school may follow the IB program or their own curriculum (i.e. US education system etc).

Teaching Agencies:
As far as teaching agencies go - it can be a real mix! Don't be frightened to sign up to a few - after all the wider the search, the better chance to find a school that fits you! Some can promise the world and deliver very little - best to go from others personal recommendations! ;)

Sunday, 29 March 2015

"Recess Unplugged"

This come up in my FB newsfeed. It struck a chord with me as this year we got rid of our morning recess break due to construction work. We hope to reinstate it once building works are done. However, Montpelier High School (MHS) has created a 15 minute recess "unplugged" time into their schedule.

This hit home too, as after two consecutive days of Parent Conferences last month I booked in a personal training (PT) session for 4.30pm on the Friday. Colleagues tried to convince me to cancel and have a drink at the pub (especially when I had forgotten my runners that morning and had travel faster than a speeding bullet home to pick them up) rather than PT. But I did my session, and I felt AMAZING. I felt refreshed, more alert, rejuvenated and put the day in perspective. Gave a definite closure. So could image the same benefits here.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Secret Santa

I was going through my phone and found this picture from December. My class was keen to have something to celebrate the winter holidays. Some may call it Secret Santa or Secret Snowflake - no matter what you call it, it was a nice way to finish up advisory before break.

I started with a Google Doc to see who was interested and collect some background interest to help out their gift giver. I found being able to collect and collate all in one spot and the ease to share/them input the data was great!! 

This was our end result which was handed out the session before dismissal. 

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Staff vs Student Basketball Match

I played my first staff vs student basketball match. The team who was to play pulled out. Rather than skipping the game, we had time to organise a staff team (plus a much needed interchange bench!) to replace.

Had a fantastic time! First basketball game since my Year 9 PE class in high school! It was so much fun and a great way to be involved in the community. Looking forward to the next one!

Also showing off some of my basketball skills ;) (and technology ;) )

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Where's My Mistake? System of Equations

First lesson back after break and we had finished graphical, elimination and substation methods for Systems of Equations. I also had a PD the last lesson before break - its been a little while between solving equations! Combining a warm up I did last year with a sheet I found online, I created a effective Solving Systems of Equations Analysis lesson. It was great to see them going one step further in their thinking and understanding of the solving process. Plus encouraging a good skill - finding mistakes and correcting them!

Warm Up:
Before they came into class I wrote two "solutions" on the board. Each one has been solved incorrectly and they had to find the mistake and re-work to find the correct solution.

Core Lesson:
This lead nicely into the next section. Handed out this wonderful resource online from Jackie Ballarini's blog, Continuities.

After students finished the error sheet I had already photocopied Common Core Application questions.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Crow and Pitcher Activity

This year was the first year I used the Crow and Pitcher simulation activity to introduce Linear Functions. And, LOVED IT! I have used it in Math 8 and Algebra 1. I have tinkered with it and available equipment to finally get it right (for my conditions anyway!). Its a hands on activity showing how rate of change is related to slope and slope-intercept form (y = mx +b) of an equation based around Aesop's fable of the Crow and Pitcher.

Firstly, students watched the fable Thirsty Crow clip as a hook, before rereading the text version (slide below  showing what equipment we will be using to simulate the situation.

Students used the sheets and water filed beakers (or straight drinking glasses - my version of  "take one!") and marbles to introduce investigate. We came together as a class to compare results and discuss conclusions. It was a nice was to introduce y-intercept in context, rate of change and review relevant domain and range in a limiting situation.

One tip I picked up form the Math Camp at Columbia, is whenever you have an activity its important to give students some responsibility to reporting out - otherwise whats the point or how can their reflect on their learning? In this case a poster showing the situation in multiple representations was a useful way to reflect on the activity.