A peek inside my Back to School shopping basket
A quick post tonight to share Google Trends, an interesting little web app from Google that allows you to explore what people have been searching for online. I discovered this site a few years ago, and it's great for getting some interesting real-life data and graphs for short discussions in the classroom.
Exploring "The Language of Mathematics" to discover how primes are used in cryptosystems.
A selection of maths webcomics for classroom use and my "One Good Thing" for today.
I mentioned in my Pick of Twitter a couple of weeks ago that I'd found a link to blog post prompts. Well, we're on post 40 of 51 now, and I'm getting writer's block, so thought I'd pick a prompt and go with it for today's post. I thought this one looked interesting:
Read 3 posts from blogs you’ve never visited, give a quick take-away from each.
This seemed an opportune moment to refer to the recently created Maths Echo Chamber Twitter account (@MathsEcho) so I popped over to do a bit of random selection.
I blogged last week about discovering IFTTT and how I'd be using it to help with my Pick of Twitter every week - everything I favourited on Twitter last week automatically got saved to Pocket and tagged with "pick of twitter" so I could easily distinguish Twitter favourites from anything else I'd saved from other sites.
I'd put money on the fact that I get asked whether I enjoy teaching by at least four or five pupils every term. I started thinking about this and other related questions when writing my post about my journey into teaching a few days ago. It confuses me that pupils ask this - I wonder if they're going to lessons where teachers visibly look like they're not enjoying teaching, or whether they're just buying into the media picture of what the job's like.
I know how loser-ish this sounds, but I love stationery. I particularly love picking up bits and pieces for the new academic year - Wilkinson's is a great place to go for novelty Post-Its and patterned notebooks at a decent price.
If I've got to mark books, I'll make sure I do it in a pen I enjoy writing with, and if I've got to give visible feedback, I'll liven it up by using fluorescent pink stickers if I so choose.
So today's post includes some of my stationery must-haves - I'm sure there will be more as I do this year's big shop next week!
As I mentioned in my Pick of Twitter last Sunday, I've enjoyed a few stories about people's reasons for and routes into teaching, so I thought I'd post my own today.
Sometimes, you really need a basic practice worksheet - pure and simple, drill and kill, no fuss or problem solving. This might be for a five-minute heads-down skills practice in class, to source questions for a revision lesson, or simply to satisfy the rare pupil who asked where they can go to get extra work.
I use textbooks less and less in my teaching now, and I find that the exercises in most new textbooks aren't great for what I want out of the lesson. If I want basic skills practice, there's often bits in there I don't want the pupils doing (such as a substitution exercise which uses negative numbers before they've been taught this), and then there's the irritating bit of explaining that they need to start on Q3 and do up to Q5, then move on to Q21 on the next page, and it's all more trouble than it's worth. And let's not talk about having to hand the flipping things out...
If you're a regular Twitter user, there's nothing revolutionary on this list - these are the sites that I check first before scouring the Internet for other problems, and that's because they've usually got something great that requires little adaptation for the classroom.
However, if you're a regular Twitter user but you know colleagues who aren't, I really recommend sharing this list with them, as it may be that they've never heard of some.
A couple of days ago, @mathedup mentioned using IFTTT (If This Then That) for automating post sharing between Twitter and Facebook. I'm not a big user of Facebook for teaching stuff (yet), but was intrigued by the title of the app, so decided to go and have a play, mostly in preparation for setting up my own Facebook page soon.
I quite like playing around with technology, and, as I only got a smartphone a couple of years ago and my tablet about six months ago, the world of apps is relatively new to me. So I've quite enjoyed messing with IFTTT this afternoon - depending on what's ended up being useful, I'll post some more in-depth tutorial-type things later.