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20 Questions about C4 integration – A Book Review

July 15, 2014 Leave a comment

A while a go I got a copy of this fantastic little ebook authoured by Colin Beveridge
(@icecolbeveridge). The book is great and written in Beveridge’s usual style- accessible, witty and very informative.

The book covers integration. IT is based on the current Edexcel A Level spec and covers all the integration you need to know for that specification, not just the bits that are solely in that module. There are some handy mnemonics, some really clear and concise explanations and some very funny quips.

The book would work really well as revision guide, and is something students can dip in and out of if they are having trouble with a particular aspect of integration. I think the section on which integration to use is perhaps the most handy bit of the book.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book as a companion to anyone studying integration, but it should be used as that, a companion. It is written in a way to review stuff already learned and add clarity to areas you are struggling on, rather than as a book for the original teaching of the subject.

I hope Colin is planning an update for the new syllabus, and I would also love to see print copies available.

Observing, and cross-curricular ideas

July 13, 2013 Leave a comment

This week has been a good one. It’s been the last real teaching week before summer, as next week is ICE week (Immersion Curriculum Enrichment week) which means we are off timetable doing a week of activities around a theme. The theme this time us the environment, and the activities look to be fun. One of my favourite bits about ICE week is the chance to do something different and hone my teaching skills in an unfamiliar situation, but more on that later.

Back to this week. We have had most of our new staff in this week, including one of the new NQTs who I am mentoring. I am looking forward to the role of mentor, and have now informally observed him twice. Already there has been a marked improvement and a response to advice, which is pleasing. I was a bit worried about observing in this capacity but the mock observations project I completed with my PE colleague earlier this year and the ITT student observations I have done definitely helped. I also gained a good insight into my own teaching by observing and there are always bits to pick up.

Also this week I completed a joint observation with my HoD on a colleague who was kind enough to volunteer. Again this was unofficial and the purpose was so she could check my ability to grade and give feedback. This was great, my confidence as an observer was boosted as she picked up on exactly the same positive points and areas for development that I did and we agreed on the grade. I also learned a lot about giving feedback and she gave me some great pointers in that respect.

There were also tons of things from the lesson that I picked up, my favourite being this: During a traffic light show me activity he put three wrong answers up. The majority of the kids chose the nearest one and some assumed they must be wrong. This was a superb discussion point and there was some real good contributions from the class. I was unsure if he had done this on purpose, so asked him afterwards. He said that he had in this instance and often does this because he did it once by accident and the results were great. I think this is a superb idea that I will use myself.

Also in Thursday I observed a new y9 science lesson. A couple of my form were in the class and have been in trouble a bit in science so I went to see how they were and offer assistance if required. The lesson was on penguins (always a winner) and cooling rates and included an experiment where the pupils were simulating the huddles emperor penguins stand in to keep warm. It was good fun and the difficulties some members of the class had with graphing made me think that as a maths department we need to embed this skill better in KS3. It also got my brain flying about cross curricular lessons with science on graphing and I hope to implement those next year.

This is one of three cross curricular projects I have in the pipeline, all of which excited me. The second is with an English colleague (@goldfishbowlMM) and involves looking at “The maths of Shakespeare”, and is very exciting. The third is once that a music colleague has suggested to me and involves trying to help improve the times tables of our pupils using the medium if hip-hop!

With these projects and mentoring an NQT, next year is looking incredibly exciting already!

Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens

December 19, 2012 6 comments

Last night I attended a school production of Elegies for Angels Punks and Raging Queens. It was a production put on by pupils in Y11 and the 6th form from my school to raise awareness of AIDS and to raise money to fund a trip they are undertaking to Malawi next summer to help with many projects out there. The production blew me away, the talent and the passion shown by the pupils was immense.  This is the third school production I have seen since arriving at this school, and probably the best, although all three have been superb. The first was a whole school production of Cats last year, as far as I’m aware it was the first ever sanctioned amateur production of Cats, and it blew my mind how a school production could be so good, it was as good as some professional productions I’ve seen. Last week I went to a foundation school (Year 7 and 8) production of Bugsy Malone, that was superb. The head of school asked me afterwards what I thought and the first sentence that came to mind was “Imagine how good they’ll be in Y11 if they can do that now.” Last night though, was the pick of the three.

Before I started at this school I’d been to many, many school productions, at leafy lane suburban schools, at sixth form colleges, even some at the local grammar school where pupils are steeped in privilege. Most had been decent, some good and the odd one truly shocking. So the productions here were a real eye opener to how good school productions can be. Our catchment is one of the most deprived in the city, when the y11 and sixth form pupils started our school was in special measures (a lot of hard work from staff and pupils alike has meant we were judged good with outstanding leadership at last years Ofsted), these pupils are the life blood of the school. They have refused to conform to a stereotype that would see them become forgotten. They have worked hard to turn the school around and to turn their own lives around.

Watching these productions has reminded me how lucky I am to be in this profession, to be in this school, to work with such amazing pupils.

My year 13s say I’m well rounded because I love maths, music, theatre and rugby. They are my four principle hobbies, and here, at this school I have the opportunity to do them all. I teach maths, I play in the staff band performing at assemblies and the like, I get to see some awesome productions and I get to run the year 8 and 9 rugby training. There is no other job in the world that could be more perfect.

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