# Christmas 2013

I can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas again; if you are planning for the last weeks of term I thought it might be useful to highlight the Christmas resources now. I will update this post in the run up to Christmas if I find any other resources and/or recommend particular resources having used them in class.

This year I thought I’d put all the Christmas resources I have come across together in one collection. All links have been checked / updated and new resources added.

Advent calendar by Alex Pett.

We’ll start with Alex Pett’s very beautiful advent calendar complete with history and problems for each day (and turn the sound on!). It is an ActivInspire resource but Alex has also provided a pdf version or use as a Google document.

Nrich Advent Calendar – Secondary

On the subject of advent calendars Nrich have calendars for both primary and secondary which link to posters of Nrich problems. Note that you can easily search on Nrich for the problem if you want to look at the teachers’ notes and solution. Take problem 1 for example – Special Numbers. Go to the Nrich website and enter special numbers in the search box, the first entry is the required problem.

Nrich 2013 Advent Calendar

New for 2013 Nrich have a calendar for secondary (11-18) where you will find an activity with a video behind each door. You can in fact find a whole collection of advent calendars on Nrich and clearly the year doesn’t matter! Note the different themes available – a Sudoku for each day perhaps? Or a tangram? Maybe you want to play a game?

If you want number properties for each day in December then you could of course use WolframAlpha, eg 19 or Tanya Khovanova’s wonderful Number Gossip site. I chose 19 because that’s a happy number! Happy Numbers – this has to be one of my favourite investigations – so much in it – certainly a valuable lesson in recording your results carefully to save you time later!

The Happy Numbers problem explanation I linked to above was from Transum Software who provide the popular Maths Starter of the Day activities. The site has some Christmas Starters and activities, try ChrisMaths for example or the Christmas Numbers activity. (Note that there is a complete index of starters on this very useful site including the topic of the starter. Many of the Shine and Write activities would also make good lesson starters.)

Operation Christmas Tree

Many resources are available from TES for all subjects including Mathematics. Some personal favourites include Christmas Countdown (which although designed for daily use I have also used as an end of term activity) and Santa’s Reindeer (logic and number properties) both of which I have successfully used in class. This Twelve days of Christmas algebra activity will be perfect for Year 7 (age 11-12) and with Year 10 (AGE 14-15) I have been looking at inequalities so they can describe the Christmas tree here! The same class can also try these Christmas grid puzzles as we need to review simultaneous equations. This Operation Christmas Tree Excel resource makes a rather nice starter and this very well presented PowerPoint advent calendar could easily be adapted for your students; another is available here, complete with work sheets for students and teachers’ notes; clear instructions are given for adapting the calendar for your own classes. I like the look of this Maths Christmas Activities Booklet and will certainly use some of these.

Mark McCourt has a selection on emaths.  Seeing the Winter Wonderland activity reminded me of this Christmas tree on the Desmos Graphing Calculator site. Note this is simply a collection of lines and circles, as you can see from the syntax it is very easy to restrict x or y values.

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For more on getting creative with Desmos, see Graph Art on Mathematics for Students).

If you are creating any resources yourself you might want to install some Christmas fonts! (shown here: christmas lights, christmas tree and kingthings christmas)

Why not take a look at this class clip from BBC Learning Zone and think about how much paper is needed to wrap a present?

We could do the annual calculation and work out how many gifts are received over the 12 days of Christmas.Murray Bourne has all the answers and more on squareCircleZ or have a look at this YouTube video.

On the subject of videos, try a video advent calendar from Numberphile!

Click on the graphic below to see just how hard Santa works! (Published: December 2010 by Advertising Agency: Benedict & Helfer, Hungary.)

Using the excellent MacTutor History of Mathematics archive we learn that Christmas Day 1642 was celebrated on Newton’s birthday in England.

Talking of dates, perhaps we should turn our attention to 2014, why not suggest your students make 2014 calendars from the nets provided on Teacher Resources on Line? I particularly like the idea of the fold and tuck variety – no glue involved!

click on the image …

Christmas 2013 WolframAlpha count and other information you probably are not too worried about for Christmas Day!

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year. Thank you for reading and for all the various comments. Have a wonderful and well deserved break when we get to the holidays!

# In class this week ….

Year 7 (age 11-12)
…had an Independent homework this week and I was really pleased with the variety of choices made. Some chose to use online resources / their text to practise a topic tested recently, others worked further on some investigations we have looked at in class, some chose to do a Junior Maths Challenge. A couple of students used the Diagnostic Questions site to practice their chosen topic. One of the investigations we have looked at recently was on the number of winning lines in a noughts and crosses game – the 2 dimensional  game was fairly quickly sorted out – so moving to 3 dimensions is the natural extension.

Some were fascinated by this and determined to find the number of winning lines in a game of 3D noughts and crosses – two students so keen that they made a model of their own to help them answer the question successfully! They made some counters as well!

I have read some great posts on feedback recently, see Alex Quigley’s Improving Written Feedback  and Verbal Feedback Given….. on Shaun Allison’s ‘Class Teaching’. Such a good idea, I couldn’t resist – so I bought myself the stamper and decided to try this with Year 7 – early days yet, but I love the idea so far..

Another student in the same Year 7 class mentioned above was determined to find the number of winning lines in a game of 3D noughts and crosses which she did successfully. She drew some clear sketches of the different groups of winning lines and after a discussion with me was the recipient of my first stamp! I was very enthusiastic about her written work on this as you can see from her response! I had explained to the class that if I discuss their work with them, then give them a stamp – they have to write down that feedback as Shaun suggests in his post.

Year 10 (age 14-15)
Year 10 and I have been looking at inequalities – using algebra and graphs. After a ‘self-check’ (somehow that sounds so much better than test and the emphasis is very much that it is useful to see what they can recall) in class, the feedback from the students was that most of the questions were fine but any problems seemed to be on working out the equation of a line when trying to describe a given region. The wonderful Desmos graphing calculator to the rescue – this page allows students to experiment with several variables. (Post for students here.)

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,Update – since writing this post, along came Desmos

and created a superior version! This shows many of the awesome Desmos features. I really must explore these further – note that where a folder is used selecting the arrow shows or hides the contents. This is a brilliant feature for creating pages to share with students.

Gradient of a straight line by Desmos

I mentioned feedback from the students – a simple feedback idea – I asked this class as the first part of a homework to email me with any outstanding queries from the mini test, having looked at the worked solutions on our homework blog. I have been impressed by their understanding and articulation of what they initially found tricky.

Year 12 (age 16-17)

zweigmedia – numerical integration utility

In Year 12 we have been studying integration. Teaching the trapezium rule I remembered some applets I used last year which demonstrate this well.

Graphs on WolframAlpha

The Year 12 Further Maths class are currently studying Decision Mathematics and a student asked what WolframAlpha can do?! Looking at the examples we can see that describing connections between nodes will generate images of a graph. I must explore further!

Normal Trainer – Mike Hadden

Year 13 (age 17-18)
Studying the Normal Distribution I showed students Mike Hadden’s excellent normal trainer which generates an endless supply of examples. I really like the step by step approach and the very clear page on the backwards problems.

With the Year 13 Further Mathematicians I was reminded of the huge variety of Tarsia puzzles around and that these are not just for younger classes. In Year 13 we use a Tarsia on De Moivre’s theorem.

# Diagnostic Questions revisited

It was a couple of  weeks ago I wrote about Craig Barton’s and Simon Woodhead’s brilliant Diagnostic Questions site. At the beginning of November I wrote that there were in excess of 1300 questions, just a short time later there are over 1600 questions – brilliant! There are some fantastic new questions - do explore all the recent additions.

I have been using this in class, with Year 7 we used some algebra questions; this led to some excellent discussions, not only did we discuss the right answers but all the wrong ones as well. We even decided on some alternative responses that could have been used. I feel a homework coming on here – we’ll write our own questions. Watch this space!

It is now possible to download a quiz you have created and easily create a PowerPoint slideshow for offline use. I have created a slideshow with instructions:

Diagnostic questions download and create PowerPoint slideshow from Colleen Young

Craig has created this video giving a tour and commentary on the site:

# Mathematics Books

Image – Klara Kim on flickr

I have enjoyed books for as long as I can remember and have been enjoying myself today organizing all the books I have in my Kindle library into collections on my new Kindle Paperwhite. I have several Maths books on my Kindle, many of which were free. Now you don’t have to own a Kindle to read Kindle books as the Kindle app is free to download for any device you may own: PC, phone or tablet. It is possible to search Kindle books by price, so a search on Mathematics books by price from lowest to highest will give all the free entries (worth keeping an eye on as these can change) first. It is worth noting that as I write 50 mathematical ideas you really need to know with a current price of £6.99 UK or \$7.98 US is available on Kindle for £0.56 UK \$0.89 US.

Looking at the books currently on offer for free, these include Five of Maxwell’s papers, some books from CK-12 (for more information on these see below), Mind Hurdles: Mystery Number – a set of ‘number mysteries’, one or more of which would make a good lesson starter and Henry Ernest Dudeney’s - Amusements in Mathematics a puzzle collection (with solutions). The first set of puzzles will offer a trip down memory lane for those who remember money – pre-decimal! There are several categories of puzzles available.

There are many other free Maths books online as you will discover with a little searching, see these for example. A couple of free books I have mentioned before but I think are worth another mention:

GCSE text from Clear Creative Learning

GCSE text from Clear Creative Learning

The first is a complete GCSE text from Clear Creative Learning, don’t be put off by the 2007 date – this is still useful, note the link to download a free pdf. The text includes numerous set of questions for each topic by grade with solutions for all the examples.

The other is ‘Street Fighting Mathematics‘ by Sanjoy Mahajan, with the excellent sub-title ‘The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving’ (note the link on the left to the free Creative Commons edition under Essential Info).

Any discussion on free Maths texts should include of course all the free texts available on the wonderful CIMT site (Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching).

Project Gutenberg  includes numerous Mathematics books, including classics such as Flatland. (Mark Twain’s comment on “Classic’ – a book which people praise and don’t read.” always amuses me!)

I wrote recently on the treasure trove that is the National STEM Centre; the resources here include books, the search function described in that post includes the facility to search by type and one of the options is textbook. This search for example is the result of searching for texts on equations.

Storybird – click the image to see the story on Storybird

You could even write your own! If publishing your own Kindle eBook feels a little too much right now – you could try something simpler!

# Questions, Questions …

#### Our lesson planning should include planning for some high quality questions; good questions help us know more about our students’ learning and help us to address misconceptions.

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An outstanding new resource to help us do just that is Craig Barton’s and Simon Woodhead’s Diagnostic Questions site. Already the site has in excess of 1300 multiple choice questions with carefully designed responses to address common misconceptions.
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The questions are very clearly categorized, there are numerous sub-categories under the main headings of Number, Algebra, Shape, Space and Measure, Data and Statistics and Post 16 – Pure.
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Registering is highly recommended as you can then create your own quizzes and save them for later use. I found that using the Instant Quiz facility provides a very easy way to do do that as it is possible to add any question to the Instant Quiz. Suppose we wish to create a quiz on Algebra – Expanding Single Brackets; head for the questions and select Algebra – Expanding Single Brackets. The questions will then be displayed and you will see as you hover over any question you have the option to select + which will add that question to the Instant Quiz.
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Once you have selected your questions select Quizzes and then the Instant Quiz, you will find that you can select all the questions and add them to a new quiz.

Once you are satisfied that your new quiz is saved you can delete all the questions in the Instant Quiz and you are ready to go for the next quiz you wish to create!

Teachers everywhere – this is a chance to collaborate – it is easy to upload your own questions – so far I have found the PowerPoint route the easiest way to go – here’s one I created earlier!

I think we all owe a huge thank you to Craig and Simon for making this happen – I really look forward to seeing how this develops.

I am pleased to say that the Rich Questions post is one of the most popular on this blog – so the Diagnostic Questions site has been added there. There also seems to be a great deal of interest in the 5 Minute Lesson Plan which quite rightly includes planning for questions.

Last word to Einstein: “The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

# Lesson Planning – Again!

Lesson planning – again, that’s what we teachers do and something I have been giving a great deal of thought to recently.
I wrote not long ago on the subject and since then have tried Ross Morrison McGill’s 5 minute lesson plan and decided I was right to like his idea! Using the template places a real emphasis on what the students are learning, how they will learn it and how will they progress from here.
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As I said in that post I wanted to adapt the template a little for my own use and have done so. Combining mostly Ross’s ideas with the Maths version I discovered (I originally found this on the Suffolk Maths site, I believe Emily Hughes is the author) and then tweaking a little for me I have my own version! I wanted a bigger box for Assessment for Learning, to include vocabulary and to have the option to complete the plan electronically. So I have modified the shapes and added text boxes to the various parts of the diagram to make it possible to use electronically.
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Knowing that this subject is one I will return to, I have given this 5 minute plan its own page (as part of the I’m Looking For.. series) which I will keep updated as I use this method for planning.T
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Thinking also about observing lessons I have been reading various articles and blogs and came across David Didau’s ‘Where Lesson Observations Go Wrong’. Many of David’s comments really struck a chord with me, particularly his comment ‘no one knows my kids in my classroom like I do‘. That is so true; I think we would all like to think that any observer coming into our lesson has that in mind. If I observe a lesson in any capacity I want the teacher to know that I appreciate how well they know their students.
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I do like David’s suggested questions (reproduced below – thank you David) for observation feedback – questions like this make for a good conversation between the observer and class teacher. If I have planned my lesson properly, thinking about all the aspects mentioned in the five minute plan above then I should easily be able to answer these questions and in fact be glad to be asked them. The questions emphasize quite rightly that this is but one lesson in a sequence of lessons and only a tiny snapshot of my interaction with that class.
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• Where does this lesson fit into your sequence of teaching?
• What have students had to learn in order to get to this point?
• What did they already know?
• How will you develop what students have done so far?
• How might the next lesson be adapted in light of what happened this lesson?
• How do you know if students are making progress?
• Why did you make the decision you made today?
• Is there anything you might do differently?.

These questions are useful for reflection – have an imaginary conversation with yourself even if you are not being observed. Actually come to think of it – isn’t that best of all – to get really good at observing ourselves?!

# From Year 7 to Year 13…

Such a busy week…

But I have written a weekly blog post since January 2011 when I made a New Year resolution to write a blog post every week, a habit I don’t intend to stop, so this week I simply offer two slideshows I created for my students recently.

With Year 7 (age 11-12) we have been studying Algebra. When solving equations, I included for a class of high ability students, equations with the unknown on both sides. Having given them one homework where they were exploring various resources for practising solving equations, a sudent asked in a comment on our homework blog how to use Duncan Keith’s excellent linear equation calculator for practising this type of equation:

The slideshow below shows how to use the calculator to solve equations where the unknown is on both sides.

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At the other end of the school, with Year 13 I had completed the various integration techniques required for our exam specification. Aware that students sometimes muddle differentiation and integration, I started the last lesson of the series with one of my ‘self-checks’ / mini tests to see what they could easily recall. I have stressed the importance of knowing the basics with this group. The questions I used are presented in the following slide show – a sort of KS5 mental Calculus test!

# Smarty Pants and other badges!

Near the beginning of this academic year I wrote that Year 7 (UK age 11-12) and I decided we would use Class Dojo this year to record learning behaviours. We have since adopted the term badges to describe our system which I rather like; it reminds me of the excellent work by the Mozilla Foundation on their Open Badges and I wonder if at some point in the future I can somehow link our system to an open badge.

Our system seems to be working well, particularly as it is very much ours not mine and it’s all about being the best you can be, which is quite different from being the best in the class. Year 7 have come up with many suggestions, I quote some of them here:

• Some of my ideas for a badges are: Well prepared, Contributes in class, Good Marking.
• I have an idea that maybe there could be a good effort/trying your hardest badge, so this doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has got 10/10 but when you know they are struggling in a particular topic and then they might get a just above average mark in it , you will still know they tried there hardest because they were struggling with it before.
• There could be a badge for a great badge idea! Also neatness. A tidy page is easier to read and mark.
• I think we should have an organisation badge because it’s important to have everything you need for a lesson.
• You could also include a gritty child badge.
• I think we should add a presentation badge, a best effort badge and a badge called Smarty Pants so if we get full marks for quite and few times in a row we can get a smarty pants badge!
• I think there should be a ‘happy to do my homework’ badge. Where we ask ourselves, are we ok to do our homework because I only really get my homework correct if I am motivated enough to do it! Also none of us want to feel like we ‘hate’ homework!
• Mrs Young, do we have an enthusiasm badge on classdojo? Because I think that that would be quite useful

…and the suggestions are still coming. We have discussed how these badges will be awarded, for example when I asked how will I know that you are happy to do homework, we decided that their homework would show care, would always be done on time and if they had any problems they would ask before it is due in. What has been so pleasing about all these discussions is all the talk about what it means to be a good learner.

I do like to get a class working immediately, I have written on Bell Work before; Year 7 are aware of this and just recently a student suggested a JDI! badge for those students who come into class and without fuss get straight on with their work. The student who suggested that was obviously listening to me at the beginning of the year when I mentioned that there were times when you just have to get on with things – just do it!

In our discussions on homework we have decided that sometimes it would be a good idea to have an independent homework where each student decides for herself what she will spend time on. This offers the chance to practise more examples of any topic a student feels she needs or perhaps try some extension work; there are many possibilities. I have reproduced below the instructions I have written for students (on our homework blog) on how this will work. I will report back in a later post on how this is working.

## Independent Homework

We decided it would be a good idea to have an independent homework sometimes, giving you the freedom to work on something of your own choice. This will enable you to demonstrate your independent learning skills. There are several suggestions here but you may choose any activity that will support your learning in Mathematics. Your activity should usually include trying some problems.

When we have an independent homework you should include in your work an introduction to say what you have chosen and why you chose it. You should also evaluate your chosen activity when you complete it. Was it useful? Have you achieved what you hoped? If you have used any particular resources would you recommend them to others?
Note that the independent homework gives you the chance to respond to feedback; for example you might want to try to solve some equations and present your solutions very logically and show that you are checking your work. It may be a response to your ‘self-feedback’. When you reflect on something we study in class, sometimes you might think ‘I’d like to practise some more examples’. Your independent homework provides the chance. Remember you could choose any topic, your homework offers you the chance to revise work.
Suggestions
A chance to practise a topic you feel needs extra work. You could use any of the following resources:
Your textbook: the Test Yourself exercises at the end of each chapter have the answers at the back so you can check your solutions as you work. You could also work through examples in the Yellow boxes or try some of the puzzles. If you do use worked examples – never just read them, work them out yourself.
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Online activities: if you choose any online activities you should show some working in your book.

1. MyMaths –  remember to use your second level password if you try any of the homeworks.
2. MangaHigh – the quizzes – not just games!
3. CIMT Tutorials Year 7 or Year 8
4. The Maths Teacher

The Maths Teacher – David Smith

David Smith’s site, The Maths Teacher has an extensive collection of videos to help you study Mathematics. Many of the foundation GCSE topics are also ideal for KS3 (age 11-14). For each topic not only is a video available but also a transcript and exercises with solutions. This makes the site ideal for revision – you have the choice of perhaps just trying the exercises or if you feel you need more help you can watch the video – whatever is right for you.

5. Any website of your own choice, many students like BBC Bitesize for example. There are other suggestions on this page.
• A chance to study any new area of Mathematics that we have not studied in class yet that interests you, you could use any of the above resources or perhaps you could try a problem from the Nrich websiteNote that you can search NrichSuppose you want to work on Algebra for example, you will find lots of activities here.
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• Try some Maths challenge questions – see this page. Note the challenges from the University of Mississippi, the Middle School Madness and Elementary Brain Teaser problems are for school age children, Middle School Madness for grade 8 (age 14 and under), the Elementary Brain Teaser for grade 6 (age12 and under). If you submit a correct solution by the deadline that week your name will be published on the website.
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• Work on your mathematical vocabulary, you will find the dictionaries here helpful. You may want to look at some other reference material, many students find these notes from Craig Barton very helpful.
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• Learn to use WolframAlpha to check your work.
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• Learn to use the Desmos Graphing Calculator
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• If you want to practise (and assess yourself) at a particular level then try Convinced from Kangaroo Maths. Also from Kangaroo Maths see the Levelopaedia and Level LaddersEmily Hughes has a clear and attractively presented guide for both KS3 and KS4.
• Are you guilty of making any of the Classic Mistakes here?
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• All the above are suggestions if you are not sure what to try. You are of course free to make any choice of your own as long as it supports your learning of Mathematics!

Remember that getting stuck helps you learn. Gritty students persevere and work things out when they get stuck, asking for help is fine too! Try and ask specific questions.

Do you have any observations / suggestions for independent homework? Please add your comments below.

# Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013

Jane Hart, Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies has released the list she has compiled of Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013 –  the results of the 7th Annual Learning Tools Survey.  Jane Hart compiled the list from the votes of over 500 learning professionals worldwide. See the C4LPT site for further details including an analysis of the list. The site includes a ranked list with links to all the tools mentioned and commentaries on each.

I thought it would be interesting to see where my own favourite learning tools are in the list – and also see if any of my personal favourites are missing! Note that Jane defines a learning tool as follows “A learning tool is a tool for your own personal or professional learning or one you use for teaching or training.”
My own favourites have been favourites for quite some time, I have detailed these below with their position in The Top 100 Tools List.

Evernote (6) – an outstanding note-taking tool and something I use every day. I have a notebook for each of my classes to which I upload any resources I want for that class; I also jot down any ideas I have for each class. I can use it on any PC or my tablet or my phone. It is also a good way to share for example a list of websites with students - using a shared notebook. (Blog post on Evernote).

WordPress (8) – obviously – you are reading a WordPress blog right now! I have several other blogs, GamesStarters and Mathematics Tools for example. I find a blog such as this an excellent way to share information with colleagues and students. For students I have created Mathematics for Students and something I am very pleased with is a blog I use to give the details of homework for each of my classes. I created ‘What was that homework?’ as a result of a survey of students across several schools where many students said that they would like homework details online. No student can ever say to me that they didn’t know what their homework was! I also regularly update blogs on useful tools for students and teachers generally. (The very first post on this WordPress blog - which includes some useful WordPress links).

Twitter (1) – great for professional development – I have contacts in education all over the globe and have been led to many useful resources by my virtual colleagues! (Blog post on Twitter).

YouTube (3) – there are numerous videos useful for Mathematics teachers – perhaps to show in class or for students to use at home, for example the Math Centre videos or those from Khan Academy. (Videos page with many sources of Maths Videos).

Google Docs (2)– I have used Google docs to collaborate on documents such as presentations with other teachers. Using Google Forms provides an excellent  way to get feedback from a group of people, their responses are all returned to a single spreadsheet. A comprehensive manual can be downloaded here.
For an examples of  forms see this one used to collect student self-assessments of their PLTS skills development in Mathematics and this to collect student feedback on their Mathematics experience at the end of their first year with us.
I’ll sneak in the fact here that I also use Google Search (4) and Google Drive (2) all the time!

Moodle (11) – I have a Moodle course for each year group in school; each course has links to any websites that we use in class so students can investigate further themselves if they wish. VLEs are sometimes criticised for being no more than ‘filing cabinets’; I would argue what useful filing cabinets they are – containing resources chosen by teachers for their students all in one organised place. For example prior to a recent GCSE Mathematics module the relevant Moodle course received hundreds of hits as everything students needed was available, not only syllabus information and papers but worked examples that we had uploaded. It is also of course possible to use forums and quizzes on a VLE. (Digital Tools blog page on Moodle).

Slideshare (16) – it is very easy to upload presentations to this (free) presentation sharing site. Any PowerPoints for students could be uploaded for example. There are several examples on this site, such as the WolframAlpha slideshows.

I’ll use this category to mention that I use PowerPoint (5) all the time (particularly as our whiteboard software does not export to any standard file types) and that I’m pleased to see that it is still so popular; whilst Prezi (15) makes a change, it’s the content that matters, not the tools.

Diigo (21) – I have saved many hundreds of bookmarks using this social bookmarking / annotation tool; I can even find them again! There are numerous examples of Diigo lists on this site – see this list on Statistics and Probability for example;  (Digital Tools blog page on bookmarking). I think it is because I find Diigo so easy to use that I still like it. Always liking the idea of a backup plan – all my Diigo bookmarks are sent automatically to Evernote (6) via ifttt (I also have Diigo set up to send the bookmarks to Delicious (60)!)

Wikispaces (80, and wrongly down in my humble opinion – this is really easy to use if you want a collaborative space and is fine for students of all ages as teachers can enroll users)- I have used wikis with Mathematics classes - for doing exercises together for a change, as journals for example where each student has a page; also for any collaborative projects as it is easy for a student or students to be responsible for a page of a project. (Digital Tools blog page on Wikis).

Screenr (45) – when trying to type Mathematical text is too slow, a quick scribble on some kind of screencasting tool can be the answer (graphics tablet essential). (Blog post on Online Whiteboards - consistently one of the most popular posts here).

So that’s 10 mentioned and it is not enough to mention what I use all the time, how could I have not included Excel (54) which I use everyday in my job to present data to staff? Of all the applications in the Office suite this stands out for me, the changes from Excel 2003 to 2007 with the massive improvements to conditional formatting for example make this one outstanding application. There are also many Excel spreadsheets out there too to help in Maths lessons – see Maths Files for example.
A new entrant, worthy of a mention is coursera with numerous free online courses and note the new UK siteFuture Learn.
Now obviously the list is not about specialist sites for various subjects (The Top >10 Mathematics Websites is another story) but for me the missing site on this list has to be WolframAlpha (this week one of my Year 13 students confidently told the rest of the class that she knew there had to be a typo in the textbook answers as she checked it on WolframAlpha which confirmed her own answer was correct – that is a result!). WolframAlpha is not just all about Maths though, it covers so many subjects and even though they would love us to pay for WolframAlpha pro, the free model still offers unlimited queries everyday!

# Lesson Planning

I seem to keep coming across Ross Morrison McGill’s 5 minute lesson plan recently and have decided I really like the idea. I’ll be giving it a try over the next week or so and will report back.

I discovered a version adapted for Maths by Mark Greenaway on his Suffolk Maths site (under Teaching pedagogy – Lesson planning & Ofsted). Actually I rather like this adaptation for any subject, I think I’ll combine the ideas from various versions I have found and refine a document of my own as I try it out, I certainly don’t want to lose vocabulary for example.

In the meantime I thought I would start thinking generally and adding some resource links under the headings on the 5 minute plan. This is very much a work in progress. I have listed the headings I intend to start working with and some initial thoughts / links below. (You’ll find explanations by Ross Morrison McGill on the page I have linked to above)

Context
This should also be for the learner not just the observer. I have started adding syllabus references to resources for my GCSE class this year for example, having supplied them with the specification and AQA’s excellent exemplification document and have noticed several students noting these down. We have calendars for the year with schemes of learning on our VLE.

Objectives

Engagement
I intend to use this section to plan the beginning of my lesson, this may include a settler on any topic before the first question or activity on the main topic of the day in which case I will include both.
Bell Work   Starters Ideas

Stickability
What do I really want them to take away from this lesson? Not just what though, but how will we make it stick and how will I know it’s stuck?! I have written more than once on the need for recall. Highlighting is a Waste of Time!

Links to other topics
Students sometimes make suggestions that a topic reminds them of something they have already studied. It strikes me that it would be useful to ask students what topic links they can make as well as noting them myself on the lesson plan.

Words
I regularly use resources to show definitions and have a link for my students here. The various dictionaries, the glossary for teachers and the document with exam terminology are all excellent resources and it is worth noting all the key terms relevant to the work currently being studied.

Student feedback / input/ discussion

Differentiation
Progression

Key Questions
Rich Questions   Random Name Pickers

Activities – include Assessment for Learning
I’m looking for …Problems and Activities    Assessment for Learning Resources

Homework
Homework Ideas

Thank you Ross (@TeacherToolkit) for the inspiration!