Friday, 25 July 2014 the classroom? - 10 Bridging Maths Trigonometry

This term my 10 Bridging Maths Class is doing Trigonometry and Measurement.  I usually find that Trig has good, real world contexts, and measurement is nice and visual, but I still knew, when I was sitting at home the other day trying to plan for my first lesson with them, that it was going to be a struggle.

They don't have quite this same attitude towards it for some reason.

Our first lesson was a double, so I did some actually educational reading and tried to find something to jazz things up.  I found this video (below) about how there's no such thing as being bad at maths, you're probably just lazy (assumedly putting aside legitimate learning disabilities or imbalances in the brain), and I found that to be quite effective, more than I'd expected (hint: I don't necessarily expect a lot, students from year 9 to 11 are pretty apathetic).

I managed to get quite a few students to admit that they don't really put the effort in that they could when I explained that I am there to help them bridge the gap between them doing their best, and what they want to achieve.  I pointed out that for some people they might still be working on that bridge next year, but no matter how big the gap they're trying to fill, it can only work if they're putting in their best effort and have the best attitude they can, or else it's like building a bridge on a bad foundation.

Many students then put their hand up when I asked if they wanted to start fresh, and try and put in their best effort this term.  It was rather touching.  I nearly cried.

Once I had them focussed, I introduced out topic with this not-as-lame-as-I-was-expecting video which the students found amusing and I felt the need to dance to.  I wish this school's math (it's in America, so it's math, not maths) department would make more, but I have the feeling it's not going to happen, even though their videos are actually really good!

See?  You were expecting it to be lame, and it was actually pretty good.

I'm actually planning to use this throughout the Trig part of the unit to help them remember the sides and formulae.

With my bridging class I always spend the first few lessons doing foundational processes that will be relevant later on.  The digital copy of the textbook has worksheets related to 'review' questions at the start of the chapter, these are great to get the students warmed up in the first week, and to remind them that homework is actually important and that I expect them to do it.  I did an activity with them to get them practising Pythagoras' Theorem.  I actually came across the idea on a teaching resource site...but they claimed it took them 5 hours to make and it was for actual Trig questions, not Pythagoras, so I made my own in under an hour.

A this point I hadn't thought to check the difference between 'practice' and 'practise', shh.

9 Pythagoras problem were stuck on the walls around the room, and after I showed them 2 quick examples, they had to wander around and solve them at their own pace.  The first three to finish got a chocolate, the next 2 got bonus points.  It went really well, and a student who has had maximised bad attitude all year tried her hardest and didn't give up when she made a mistake and even got bonus point.  It was rather touching.  I nearly cried.

Falling off, horses etc.

I think the end of semester 1 and the holidays derailed me quite a bit.  The night of my last day of work last term, I developed a sore throat, and the next day I was sick, and proceeded to sleep away the first week of the holidays.  Not a lot of crochet projects got worked on, not much marking got done until the last few days of the holidays, not a lot of driving practice happened, and I hardly did any Warhammer 40k painting.  The second week of the holidays was a lot more fruitful: I did my marking, I finally got my Ps (only 10 years overdue, with a failed test one month before), we put a deposit on a block of land and started talking to a builder.  It was a fairly big week.

Now that I'm back at school with renewed energy, fresh independence and brimming with ideas, I'm hoping to ride a wave of being constructive for a while, ultimately leading me to make progress on the collection of my evidence for registration and perhaps also progress in my career.  I've had a few days in a row of almost feeling like a real adult who accomplishes things by herself, lives up to expectations, and has skills or gifts that are of use to others.  I've spoken with my Head of Secondary about ideas for creating a unique position for me at the school, one where I could use my penchant for enjoying fiddly, administrative tasks for the greater good of my peers.  Whilst I understand it could be a bit of a pipe dream, his positive reaction to the idea gave me some hope that I could be on the right track, finally, when it comes to my place in world of education, and also my place in serving God.

I'll endeavour to continue updating this blog on a weekly basis (that was my original goal, and that went a little by the wayside), and will make up for the recent lack with an extra post about a lesson I did recently that went rather well.  Look at me talking like I think anyone actually reads this thing.  Oh well, such is audience appropriate voice, says the English teacher.