So the week 2 #MTBoS task is to talk about twitter. I’ve really enjoyed using twitter as a maths teacher. It has saved my bacon on a couple of occasions when I’m stuck on a question at 10pm, exhausted and my maths brain is simply no longer functioning but I need to understand to teach it at 9am the next day. I take a picture of the question, tweet it and within minutes lovely maths people will reply and help.
I love the feeling of a virtual staffroom but one where I don’t have to talk to people I don’t want to. I lost my closest maths teacher friend to cancer last year and twitter is a way to fill that gap without the emotional risk.
Has twitter improved my teaching? Well in some ways. I’ve got some lovely activities off twitter. I have had several embarrassing moments in the classroom where these activities have fallen flat. Being able to share these failures is cathartic. Overall I think twitter is the most powerful tool for teachers available at the moment.
My favourite open-ended problem always used to be – make 24 exactly using only and all of 3,3,8 and 8. I was taught this as part of my PGCE and I used to pull it out whenever my whiteboard wouldn’t switch on or when I finished my lesson too early. I realise it isn’t really open-ended but it was in a way because no class every solved it without several hints from me.
More recently I discovered Don Steward’s blog which is full of interesting problems. This week I’ve been using this – Four Operations and it’s gone down really well. I teach reluctant maths learners and they are particularly reluctant in the first few weeks. This is an activity that they can all do. I model it with an example to make sure it’s really clear. Then I let students work on it till we hear the first “Yes I got it”. Often that is the first maths success that learner has had for years and can be the start of my year-long maths isn’t torture campaign. I collate the different numbers students have tried on the board to help refocus the students and then we keep going till all three solutions are found. I prompt about the numbers dividing exactly if they are getting stuck but they have normally worked that condition out by themselves by that point. A satisfying and simple problem that is an easy win for students.
This is my first post on wordpress. This is a test.