Friday, June 20, 2008

"You make Maths fun."

It seems that I am very easily pleased, but doesn't it generally make you happy when people/kids say nice things to you for a change? (Apart from when their voice is pitched differently, which means that they want something!) I was working with a group of year seven SEN children today, and at the end of their lesson one of them said that "I made Maths fun" (it's meant to be a capital "m" by the way, which I wasn't previously aware of but am now. Or perhaps I did know but forgot?!).

Anyway, we didn't get that far with the questions, but the teacher felt we had which was a relief! The topic had been symmetry, and they had really enjoyed it for it didn't require them to perform any calculations in their heads. I think the one thing which students can't seem to do nowadays, is multiply in their heads. It's either their calculators or the timetables written in their planners.

Some of the SEN children count on their fingers up to 62 and then lose count and give the wrong answer. Other year 8, 9 and 10 students also are very hesitant and slow at this too. I'm not talking about calculations like 27 times two, but trivial stuff like three times six. Or even two times four! Obviously this problem is more evident in the lower sets, but how can we counter it? (I was with a year 9 set 3 class today, and I wasn't enjoying some of the answers I was getting for basic arithmetic questions.)

More importantly, what can I do to help the SEN students in particular, with their times tables? At first the students were slightly hesitant to ask me for help (what with me being a new face) but I'm glad that apart from one, they all speak up now and "shout things out". I reassured one that even if he wants his answer checking, I don't mind helping.

I wonder though, whether the school has any Gifted and Talented students. I was told that in year seven set 1 there are quite a few students on level 6, but since I'm in set 3 I wouldn't know. Indeed, there aren't any in year 10! That's perhaps a bit short sighted on my part, but the year 10s don't have any drive whatsoever. The teacher would also be better at telling me which students are great at mathematics, for I haven't see any of their work. One student who is obviously bright, has never written anything in her book, and laughs when I encourage her to work! So there is an obvious lack of motivation it seems, which may be because they have sat their exams. (I wish the year 11s hadn't left, because they would have been doing some interesting stuff).

A student also apologised to me to save himself from detention! I naturally forgave him (well if I had held a grudge, he'd set his big brother on me, who happens to be bigger than me!) but he still got a detention so HA. Whoops, I should be more mature than the children now...

What I have learnt today: to think about what question I will ask the students when they say they're stuck, and to ask one question at a time. That is wait for a response and then ask a different question. You know what my posts are like and today, thankfully, I noticed that I was saying too many questions in one breath (which confused the student). But we started again and got the answer much to the dismay of the student, for he had already worked out the answers without showing his calculations. (I'm evil because I try to make them write words).

Nothing else happened, but the English teacher checked my article and got me started on my abstract (which I sort of spoiled). I always seem to tend towards the History/Geog?, English, Art and Science departments when I go on work experience, for I always look for opportunities to quiz the teachers about certain things. This has its benefits for then it is not only the maths department who know me, so I can be more relaxed in the staff room.

Dare I mention BT today? Well the war has started. It's two-two at the moment, and if stays like that I'm happy. [BT was mentioning that she didn't think much about people she knew from secondary school, and then she did something which reminded me of a friend from secondary school. I pointed this out to BT which she wasn't best pleased about, and gave me "the" look! In my opinion, when BT is getting all the attention she is over the moon. During my first week I think everyone was curious about me, and wanted to know more about what I did and where I was from, so she didn't like that. What else could it be? When no ones around she's OK, but as soon as a crowd forms in the staffroom, she turns on me!

Anyway I'm not looking forward to tomorrow for I will have to "make an excuse" which is going to be difficult indeed. You might remember that last week I was given worksheets to design for the students. I haven't even got started on these, so when my link teacher asks me about this tomorrow I'm going to say that I left my USB stick at home! I'm not going to say that I haven't done anything, or I have done so and so, but just that I will show her on Monday when I bring the USB stick. What say you? (Or maybe I should give her my evaluation form first and then tell her the truth?)

Something amusing happened tonight, but it is not worth mentioning in detail for various reasons... It is enough to confirm my weirdo status and link this old post. (Although, for some reason I feel slightly unburdened now!)

PS: I also have another idea for a Galois Group lecture thanks to Steve, but I have to be careful to avoid making it similar to the first one. If anyone one has any suggestions of their own, then please throw them at me.


egm said...

I wonder why they don't insist on just hammering in the times tables like they did when I started school. I remember the hard work I had to put in to know that stuff. I'm sure glad that happened, since it would be a pain having to have to reach for the calculator each time I wanted to figure something out.

Beans said...

Hi egm,

I agree with you. Kids should be slightly confident in using the timetables when they start secondary school at least. I suppose that the calculator being part of the "standard equipment" required on a daily basis, makes its harder for the students to shrug it away.

When they're not allowed to use it, some have it on their laps!