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Mid year review

July 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Right at the end of January I wrote this piece reflecting on 2013 and looking forward to 2014. There were a lot of others doing the same and it was nice to read all the reflection going on and to see people’s hopes for the year ahead.

A week or so ago Jill Berry (@jillberry102) tweeted to say shed enjoyed those pz
osts and would love to hear,some mid year progress updates. Again, many others have done this and I’ve enjoyed reading them so I thought I would jot a few things down here.

A review of those plans

Family

I have continued to watch my daughter grow, my partner and I have both enjoyed the education we are receiving and I do feel it is positively impacting my classroom practice, so they’re all ticked. We have also finally set a date and my daughter is looking forward to being a flowergirl.

Educational Events

I have been to more teachers, I did attend northern rocks and I also went to the ResearchEd York conference. All of which have been great and have helped. As you can see, I have continued this blog and I feel that us helpful too.

Reading and Maths

I have managed more reading and to investigate more areas of maths, but not as much as I would have liked, I guess this is still a target!

Education Policy

I’m fairly pleased with the new Maths GCSE Curriculum, it’s more rigorous and challenging than the previous one. I’m also pretty stoked about the proposed Progress 8 measure which I hope will take us away from the threshold pass. Now that Gove has gone all bets are off! I’m worried about the new Education Secretary, but am prepared to wait before making a judgement. It’s too early to tell if the new ITT systems will help retention, but 2014 hasn’t yet seen the amount of teachers I know leave the profession as previous years, so that at least is positive.

What else?

When I wrote that blog in December I had no idea that I’d be sat here today having spent my last day at the school I was at. It’s a crazy feeling. It all happened so fast, and although I’m majorly excited about the new challenge that waits at my new school I’m also pretty say about leaving too.

I wrote briefly about leaving here, but even then I didn’t quite realise what it would feel like when it finally came.

Saying goodbye

Saying goodbye was hard. It was really hard to say goodbye to year 13, the yeargroup included some of the most amazing people I’ve ever known, but at least this was inevitable. I would still have had to make those goodbyes, with my other classes it felt like a premature goodbye.

My year 12 class have spent the time since I told them I was going guilt tripping me, to great effect I might add, and it was incredibly hard saying goodbye to them.

My year 11 class was another particularly hard goodbye. It’s a strange one this, it’s one that in one teaching years has felt a natural goodbye, but this year the vast majority of them are staying on at sixth form and around three quarters of the class have provisionally chosen maths Alevel, so it did feel premature. Two of them called into see me on Thursday and that was really nice.

All my other classes were hard too, but particularly my coaching group. I’ve been their coach since they started the school in year 7 and I’ve seen them all grow from timid little children into confident young adults. I feel really guilty that I’m leaving before they have finished year 11, and I know they were all upset, but I think they understand.

Then there is the staff, over the years I had been there I have build many great friendships, and I will miss seeing those friends on a daily basis. And I will miss the afterschool joint planning and chatting sessions that happened on an almost daily basis too.

The last day was emotional, especially the last coaching session and the speech my friend and (now former) colleague gave about my leaving that had me both in hysterics and on the verge of tears. I think I need the holidays to recover.

Looking ahead

Looking forward I see excitement. I’m starting a new role. The school seems like a good fit for me, the role us definitely a good fit and I think the team I’m working in will be too.

I’ve got more responsibility, and a brilliant timetable. I’m already excited about some potential conferences and I’m really looking forward to the second year of my masters course.

But that starts in autumn, the summer is about recharging the batteries, spending time with the family and making sure I’m ready (with a couple if trips into the old school for results days if course!)

Fractal Christ-maths Trees!

December 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Yesterday was the 1st of December, and as such it was deemed time I our house to put up our Christmas tree. The tree itself is an artificial tree which my parents bought when I was a child sometime in the early 1990s and have since given to me. As such, I have been putting it up for more than 20 years, but this year I noticed something interesting that I hadn’t noticed before.

The tree comes in many parts, and fits together quite easily. The majority of the parts look like this:

 Branch

They are packed away flat, then you spread them out and attach to a pole (the trunk, as it were) and fit together to form a tree that looks like this:

Baretree 

As we were putting it up his year my partner said, “These branches all look like mini trees themselves, don’t they?” This caused a real revelation. The designer of this tree had harnessed the power of fractals to create the most real looking artificial tree I’ve ever known. And this would make sense, given that real Christmas trees do also have a fractal quality about them. Every year I’d been putting up this tree and never realised the mathematical significance it held!

Here is the (almost) finished product:

Finished

And of course, no post about fractals wold be worth it’s salt without the following joke: “What does the B Stand for in Beniot B Mandlebrot?” “Benoit B Mandlebrot, of course!”

Logic and conjecture

May 17, 2013 2 comments

A couple of months ago I was at my Gran’s house and I came across her copy of “Puzzler”. This instantly took me back to my childhood. Back then her and my Granddad lived on the Isle of Arran in Scotland and my mum, my brother and I would spend the majority of the summer holidays there. My dad would be there for some of it, but he wasn’t a teacher like mum, and as such couldn’t take the whole summer off. Granny was always a keen puzzler so there were always many of these compendiums around. She liked Crosswords and Wordsearches, but I much preferred these logic puzzles:

Logic1     Logic1

I also enjoyed the many number puzzles such as ken kens and sudukos. I think it was these puzzles at a very young age that might have been the first indicators of my love for maths.

When I came across this compendium a few weeks ago I immediately looked for and completed a logic puzzle. While I was doing so I realised that the reasoning being used was quite mathematical and that the able i was filling in was basically a two-way table. I decided that this would be a nice starter activity and so I made a purchase.

Compendium

I’d not used these as starters yet, and then this week Emily Hughes (@ilovemathsgames) tweeted this link to her puzzle of the week (http://ilovemathsgames.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/puzzle-of-the-week/) Tis weeks included this puzzle: http://www.ilovemathsgames.com/Flashpuzzles/logic%20puzzle.swf

Which reminded me of my compendium! I have used Emily’s this week as a starter for a few classes and they loved it, so I am going to incorporate more of these in future lessons. I’ve used it with a variety of classes from KS3 – KS5 and all enjoyed it, the faculty members i gave it to also seem to enjoy it too!

The mathematics of parenthood…..

January 25, 2013 Leave a comment

In July I became a father for the first time. This is an immensely wonderful, emotional and at times terrifying experience. After the birth you are very much left to learn by doing, and we have been enjoying parenthood ever since.

One of the things they give you when you become parents is “The red book” (http://www.rcpch.ac.uk/PCHR). In this book the health visitors/midwives and Dr’s keep everything they write about your child, and there are bits for you to fill in. The bits that captured my interest the most were the charts at the back pertaining to baby’s weight and height (length). My daughter was born at the 50th percentile (the median) weight for a little girl, but very quickly jumped up to the section of the chart between the 67th and 91st percentile, and is now moving along at the 91st.

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My partner and I were looking through the book last week and noticed that she (our daughter) had never been measured for length, I looked at the chart for her age and the 91st percentile and said, “she should be 68 cm long.” We then measured her, and she was ever so slightly over that (68.2cm).

20130125-164700.jpg

We were quite amazed by how accurate the chart had been. I wonder how they work it out? I assume there is a huge bank of data records and that these were probably normalised and the charts derived from the normal distribution, but I would love to see the full report on the maths. The databank must be massive! All babies born since ”records began” !!!!

We then got a bit carried away and extrapolated some data, hypothesising the following:

• When she is an adult she will be 5’ 7” tall and weigh 11 stone 5lb

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• If she were a boy she would be 70cm in length and weigh 18lb
• As a male adult she would be 6’ 1” tall and weigh 13 stone 4lb

Obviously hypothesis 2 and 3 are untestable, and as such a thought experiment. However, check back here in 20 years time to see how accurate hypothesis 1 is!

It made me wonder if this was relevant to my students. The school have had teen pregnancies, and the area we are in is a teen pregnancy hotspot. There are many pupils, generally female, who study health and social care and child development at our school, so there is cross curricular opportunities. The majority of the pupils will become parents themselves at some stage, as the majority of humans do. Given these facts I decided that this would be very relevant to them, and I am planning to investigate ways of incorporating this next time stats comes around! (Plus, it will give me an excuse to show off some baby photos!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wedding maths?!

December 23, 2012 11 comments

So, yesterday was my cousins wedding day, superb service and a great do. Not the sort of day where you expect to find maths lesson ideas, however, between the main course and dessert I was beckoned over to another table by another cousin. A young guest (13 year old) had foxed the entire table, and many others, with this little puzzle which he had plotted on a napkin:

20121223-120730.jpg

I’d seen many like this before, but never this one. The task is to fill the middle boxes with numbers between one and nine with no repeats so that all the equations hold true. The young puzzlemaster was impressed that I solved it, as were his audience, but we left the rest of them trying for a while before he let them know the solution.

Needless to say, that’s starters sorted out for each classes first lesson back after Christmas! I like it when I can run starters across all classes like this, i like to ponder who will be quickest to solve. Last year I ran this which came from my favourite maths teaching blog, and was pleasantly surprised to find the winner was from year 7! (he even beat all the staff!) it was made particularly fun by the fact his brother, who is on course for an A in year 13, took 3 times as long to solve it!

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