Tag Archive: mathematics

2009
01/09

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Teaching

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…and the wisdom to hide the bodies…

Had a situation today where, looking at decimals, I asked the class to stand up if the answer was greater than a number and sit down if it was less.

At one point, there was precisely one child who remained standing (sadly, incorrectly). I asked him to explain his thinking and he quickly realised his mistake. That should’ve all been fine, except for the prat who then decided to laugh at this one child – who immediately, of course, shut down for the next 15 minutes of the lesson.

I did, unsurprisingly, tear a strip off the prat for his behaviour. I pointed out that more than being simply ill-mannered, by his actions he had actually managed to mock the one person who had shown a willingness to have their own opinion. Without having to look and see what their friends were doing first. Without having to just copy everyone (a beat behind) in order to fell that they blend in. I commended the first child’s bravery and the fact that they were prepared to take a risk on *their* answer being the right answer in spite of considerable opinion against them. And I hope it not only rebuked the prat but help build-up the risk-taker.

Because it struck me that, no matter how hard we try to make our pupils willing to take risks, it only takes that one stupid outburst to knock them right back again into their comfort zone, unwilling to gamble some of their self-respect to stand up on their own in a class of their peers. I hope some of the class find that willingness to be wrong again, soon. We need more of it.

And I thought I was busy before?

Wow-ee! What a week! I feel confident in saying that even tho’ it is only Thursday.

For starters, my class teachers has a little boy (who incidentally, as it turns out, managed to poke himself in the eye with his drinks beaker on Thursday with sufficient force to draw blood and to warrant a three hour stop in ED) who had been very poorly all weekend, so when their GP said to take him back to hospital, in case of further complications following his bang in the eye, she understandably went with him.

Which, of course, left me high and dry!

Thankfully, cover was found for the morning as we had an off-site activity (planting at a local park with the “Streetwise” council group), but it meant I had to lead the afternoon again (thankfully ICT and a story time) on my tod. Ah well – all good experience.

Turns out the little fella has gastro-enteritis (and a fairly bad bout, by the sounds of it) so my class teacher duly turned up again on Tuesday morning, back to a normal routine, so I got to observe an RE lesson and a literacy session on riddles (at Y2 they aren’t very difficult, don’t worry) then lead the afternoon for mathematics and another story time (yup, plenty of them, which is nice).

Wednesday was interesting again, however, as my class teacher’s husband duly caught a dose of said g-e from their “little darling” which meant that my mentor (the head) had to take the morning session, then observe me teaching literacy after the break! Joy, oh joy! After feedback (best summarised with her quote “don’t get me wrong, it was good – but we can make it very good”) I then led science – an investigation into forces and movement – and my first ever “show and tell” (which was scary, but I escaped with only minimal maulings, thankfully).

This morning, still no class teacher – so the head once again stepped in and led the class in PE, then thankfully arranged for another teacher to come and assist for the rest of the morning (numeracy then break, followed by literacy).

*phew*

I was due to be “non-contact”this afternoon, which I had hoped to use for writing some of the assignment which is due in just under a fortnight, but after a quick meeting with my mentor I was “persuaded” to stay on the premises and catch up with the heaps of paperwork (lesson reflections, planning for tomorrow, etc) in which I had fallen behind.

The meeting wasn’t bad – my mentor was concerned that I was lagging with the paperwork, feeling unsupported and generally having a miserable second placement. Thankfully I was able to then state my position and between us I think we both left the meeting content that the situation wasn’t as bad as she might have feared.

I was able to mollify her further by pointing out that I knew I must have done better today as two of the children in my class came and gave me a hug at lunch time.

*sigh*

One week down – stress levels up

Well, that was the week that was… interesting. And a little, um, rushed.

It all started well, with an “inset” on Monday which saw me once more assuming a default position – in front of a computer! Tuesday went relatively smoothly – I had to cover story time at the end of the day, which went well (discipline is a lot easier at this level).

Wednesday was in college; a truly depressing lecture on applying for jobs. Basically, I need to be applying now and, in Nottinghamshire at least, the competition level will be high with some applicants being last year’s batch of NQTs. Eep!

Thursday started well enough, the literacy lesson was okay (I missed out a section, but the children won’t know as we covered it all in the plenary anyway) but the day ended with a particularly dreadful migraine. Ugh!

Friday was okay, I guess, with me actually managing to see my class teacher teach all morning before I then led the next literacy lesson and a further story time in the afternoon (as my class teacher had a review to attend in her role as SENCo).

So next week the fun begins in earnest!

2006
11/07

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Teaching

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A ple… what now?

Encountered a new situation today… the complete opposite of my last problem… I ran out of lesson! Yup – things went so well that I actually fell short.

It was in a numeracy lesson, the supply (my class teacher was out on a course for the day) who was a teacher at the school until last year (when she retired) had warmed them up for me, and kept them firmly and successfully in line. I had them up and about doing some “body maths” on sequences and suddenly realised that I was rapidly running out of lesson. So I extended the lesson to also explore some basic properties of numbers, in terms of odd/even numbers. Still falling short of lunch time, I, frankly, panicked.

I ended up playing a game of “buzz/beep”* with them and spent so long on that, that I then lost track of time and forgot to have a plenary!

I am assured that this is not the last time that something like this (or indeed, like Friday’s ICT fiasco) will happen to me. In fact MB assures me that it not only will happen, but it still happens to her, too… and that is some consolation, because she is a truly inspiring teacher for me to be training with.

* Which, for the less “up” on modern classroom games is a way of testing times tables at the same time as practicing listening skills… two times tables are specified, the play starts with a pupil calling “one” and then moving around the class the sequence extended. Each time the number would be a multiple of either of the two nominated tables, the child must say “buzz” or “beep” (or “buzz beep” if the number falls into both camps).

Bad end to a good week

Oh my… what a mess!

This last week I’ve been really diving into taking an active role in the numeracy lessons – I had to plan this week which I did, the week before half term. It was supposed to be a few days of co-ordinates, followed by the start of a sequence of lessons on, um, sequences. However, in the grand tradition of all best laid plans (see what I did, there?) it had to be amended on the fly. Between by MB (my class teacher) being impressed with how much the children were enjoying the main activity on Monday and then being in college on Wednesday the whole week ended up on co-ordinates (leaving me with only three days to plan for this week… which was nice).

Wednesday was… interesting… too. Seems the game is most definitely afoot now, with a great number of fellow students starting to come under varying levels of pressure. Some personal (a big blog shout out to Darren whose girlfriend has been rather unwell), some professional (again, a big blog shout of encouragement to Helen, who had a nightmare of a link tutor visit) but above all, mostly just stressful. Plus, between Darren and myself, I worked myself up into a “bit of a twizz” about my own upcoming link tutor visit (which between us we managed to bring forward by a week). And so I came back to school, still panicked, and it took me until lunch time to realise why I was feeling so jittery and get over myself.

The maths (I think we can call it maths again, as I’ve just noticed that the newly launched “Primary Framework” talks about literacy and mathematics) went well – very well, actually. My interactive whiteboard (henceforth, IWB) battleships was very well received, the use of the scale map of the acropolis that we’ve been using (note the cross-curricular links to the history topic) was suprisingly successful and the tangrams were rather fun (only one pupil managing to actually solve a tangram before we gave them the solutions so that they could do the actual co-ordinates work).

ICT on the other hand… eep! There I was… I’d been through the actual introduction, showing the children how to use the drawing package (OpenOffice.org Draw, actually, given that it’s free) and then got them seated where we wanted (for the differentiation, don’t y’know) and got to the first, brief, point of the main activity – get the children to copy the relevant file from the network into their local folder ready to start work editing… and… then the lesson ended. Yup. Th-th-th-that’s all folks. So, just to spell it out, I spent about 30 minutes trying to coach 29 children into copying a file from a shared folder on the network. Aargh!

On the bright side, I have a perfectly good lesson plan for this next ICT lesson; which, given that I’m being observed, can only be a good thing.

*sigh*

2006
10/24

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Teaching

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Half time *ahem* term

So here I am, on half term. For a break, I’m moonlighting back at my old company for the week (albeit on short days) to help with the luxuries in life, like paying bills 😉

It’s been a fantastic start, all things considered; my class teacher is giving all the support I could wish for, my mentor (the school head, as it happens) is similarly positive and helpful. I’ve been observed leading numeracy “mental starters” (which, for those who don’t know are the first 5-10 minutes of any numeracy lesson these days) and I’m comfortably leading lessons (I was going to put “confidently” there, but I don’t want to stretch your credulity too far).

That’s ahead of my expectations for the first half-term. Still, there’s a looooong way to go from here – thankfully I’m really enjoying the ride.

2006
09/28

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Teaching

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Another day, another lecture

Today was a college day (we’re on the “one day per fortnight” routine, now) with a fascinating lecture on counting (and how hard it is to teach) from KD in the morning and then another fun and interesting one on how children learn DR in the afternoon.

Apparently counting is actually rather hard to teach, because it’s hard to imagine not being able to count. So, for example, how can you imagine how a pupil feels who struggles to remember which way around to draw a “3”? Well, it turns out that a reasonable way is to have someone make you learn a new set of (patternless) names and symbols for representing the digits 0 through 9 in about two minutes, then test you on them. I, for one, got at least one symbol upside down… which does engender some form of sympathy with children having similar problems learning our own (patternless) numerical symbology.

The afternoon kicked off in a most depressing way – with a video from a Panorama report of 1999 regarding children who have, to all intents and purposes, disappeared from the educational system. There was a happy ending, though, as we considered just how important it was (in terms of learning, at least) to have safe, stable relationships with adults (read: teachers, at least).

A great day of lectures – I’m really starting to feel like I’m getting a handle on things.

*sigh*

Post Collegial Blues

A couple of days of lectures ended the week nicely. A bit more on planning (which, actually, did help – and provided some useful outlines on what to put in a lesson plan), followed by what was possibly the most tedious ICT lecture I’ve ever had the misfortune to attend (and stuggle to remain awake for). At the risk of appearing in any way to be suffering from “professional snobishness” the lecturer was a classic case of the self-taught “expert”, ie they’d dabble with computers from when they first hit mainstream, then his initial interests and requirements had been met by various bits of software… which they still use. For starters, having a presentation prepared on Microsoft Word (as opposed to, say, Microsoft PowerPoint) and not even neatly paginated, to boot! I mean, I ask you!

Friday’s lectures more than made up for the drab end to Thursday, however, with an introduction to a series on numeracy by a truly inspiring lecturer – honestly, we all had fun doing some fairly elementary mathematical games. Well, I was inspired and that’s what counts most for me. Then our final behaviour management lecture (a series I’ve enjoyed and which I find especially relevant given the “challenging” nature of some of the pupils in my clas) and a rather fun (more of a workshop than a lecture) session on voice management rounded us off nicely.

Ready for next week? Not ‘alf!