Things I Think I Think … 1

I know I haven’t blogged for ages. Sometimes it’s a bit daunting doing a proper post with loads of resources etc. So I’m just going to jot some thoughts down.

  • 1. Craftsmanship Videos

I’m a bit obsessed with videos like this at the moment.

There’s so much wonderful about them, but I’ve come to have a realisation about doing things in a very deliberate way.

The woman takes care and attention over every part of her process. Nothing is done in a thoughtless way. She is not doing things automatically. It’s kinda how I aim for myself to behave as a teacher (not saying I always hit that height) and how I want my students to behave. Taking care. Thinking. Not just doing an automatic process.

I’ve noticed that sometimes pupils are particularly prone to slipping into automatic mode in a test. This year I’ve really tried to point out and develop self-talk but there’s so much more I need to look at there …

  • 2. Old Resource Issues

Talking of a lack of care, I’ve been looking at some of my resources that are a bit old.. and I’m quite embarrassed. I really need to do a full audit of the site to remove the junk (more on that idea later) . Let’s talk about a particularly egregious one. This is my Solving Equations (with brackets) PowerPoint. It’s terrible.

First, let’s look at this example-problem pair


There’s so many things wrong with it. Both questions can be divided nicely by the factor outside the bracket. What happens when this isn’t the case? Clearly not a huge amount of thought has been put into these examples

And then you have the problem set

I have spent 100x more time trying to design some sort of fun thing here than on the actual questions. They’re terrible. And the ‘fun’ thing isn’t fun. It’s just fluff. No one wants to do these questions more because of the rubbish around them.

The engagement comes from the thinking about the questions and their differences/similarities and ‘ahh’ moments to point out. This question set has NONE of that. Sometimes I look through my previous work and am very embarrassed. I know how long I spent looking for images I thought were cool when I should have been writing better questions!

  • 3. Mr Barton’s New Book

Talking of better questions, I’ve been reading Reflect, Expect, Check, Explain by Craig Barton. It is, again, amazing.

I absolutely don’t mean this as an insult (hang in there, Craig, if you’re reading), but it’s full of obvious stuff. As in, you read it and think ‘Oh that’s really obvious. Why have I not being doing that?!?!’. It’s really made me reflect on my practise and how to improve what I do. I think a lot of what Craig talks about comes back to that Japanese craftswoman video. Doing things deliberately. Thinking deeply about what you do. Caring about the details. Craig is the king of this and I’m so glad he wrote this book.

  • 4. I am making new resources…sorta

I’ve been trying to freshen up my resources. Give them a bit of a nicer look and also rewriting a lot of the questions. That process has been rather slow. I’ve done a few. You can see an updated version of my adding fractions resource here. I’m also trying to add a bit of etymology to my lessons. It’s actually been rather successful, especially thinking about links between words. And it’s interesting.

On the other hand, I’m not writing a lot of resources. I was all ready to write some circle theorems slides and then I saw the ones on mathspad which are fantastic. Lovely interactive and really clear worksheets and handouts. Why make something that would be worse?

I’m also a bit

  • 5. Fed Up With PowerPoint

OK, so that’s not true. I still think having a PowerPoint is a way I like to plan. It’s easy to plan the narrative of what you want to do with slides. But I’m definitely removing my reliance on it. I grew up with technology and fall back far too often, even when it makes me inflexible.

For instance, I had been giving my year 8’s a Corbett Maths 5 A Day starter (which I am not having a go at and I think are ace). However it wasn’t quite working for my class. So I decided to write my questions. On the board. With a pen. Again. OBVIOUS. But I did teacher training in the age where this was a bit of a no no (downtime and all). It’s been GREAT. I’ve just been picking 5 questions of stuff from the things we’ve done this year, just written up on the board as they come in. I can be really flexible with the questions. If they struggled with something one day, I can make sure to include it the next. If they’re finding something easy I can leave it for a few lessons. I can be adaptable!

I’ve been teaching 10 years and it’s taken me all that time to realise that you don’t need to plan half a term of starters at a time. That not everything needs to be projected.

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