ROTF – 2nd December 2013

Phew! Nearly at the end of term. Watch out for Thursday when the date is a Pythagorean triple (5/12/13) and if you’re teaching the first lesson next Wednesday…make sure you don’t miss 09:10 on 11/12/13!

Year 7 – Algebra and Equations

  • Collecting like terms pyramid worksheets – easy and a bit harder.
  • Why is x the unknown? A short video.

Year 8 – Working with number; Straight Line Graphs

Year 9 – Ratio; Direct Proportion; Simplifying Algebraic Fractions

Year 10 – Distributions; Quartiles; Measures of spread; Cumulative frequency; Inverse Proportion; Recurring Decimals


ROTF – 18th November 2013

Year 7 – Accurate use of a calculator; Introducing Geometry; Coordinates

Year 8 – Ratio

Year 9 – Venn diagrams; Standard form with negative indices; Four rules of fractions.

  • Wanna be in my gang? A nice introduction to the idea of sets. Could be expanded to having two students each choose a type of number, which introduces the idea of an intersection.

Year 10 – Sequences; Transformations.


How is the iPad really affecting my teaching?

Well, it’s been half a term now, and having just written a report for all the kids I teach,  I figured it was time for a report on the iPad as well.

Has it changed my teaching? 

Honestly? Not really. Or rather, not yet. I am sure in the future, when the kids also have iPads, I will be doing all sorts of jazzy and amazing lessons but for now I’m sticking to the same old chalk and talk. It’s simple. It’s effective. It doesn’t require much forward planning on my part because I’ve been teaching like this for ten years. And when you are in the middle of a busy term when time is a luxury few of us have, it’s the path of least resistance.

Occasionally, yes, I will have a moment of inspiration and deliver an (I think) outstanding lesson, but for the most part I teach and the kids learn and there are no bells or whistles or dancing monkeys. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Has it changed me as a teacher?

A resounding yes to this one.

Let’s be honest, every teacher has a shortcoming – something that you know is your weakest area. Come on, be honest…

Mine? I’m disorganised. I mark the work, but I sometimes forget to put the marks in my mark book. I take attendance (in my head) but sometimes forget to keep note of who is missing. I give verbal feedback, but I sometimes forget to make a note.

Does this affect my teaching? I don’t think so. But it does affect me when it comes to writing reports – and given that we write about 6 per year for each child, anything that could make my life easier in that respect would be helpful!

So what is the ipad doing to help?

iTeacherbook shows me my day laid out and ready to go. From that one page I can see who I’m teaching, what I’m teaching, take attendance, see what’s up next. Items from my ipad calendar are slotted in seamlessly so I shouldn’t miss a thing. I also use it to set homeworks and record homework grades. Is it perfect? No. Can I think of ways it can be improved? Yes, and I hope iTeacherbook will take on board the ideas I have already suggested to them, but even in it’s current state it does most things I want it to.


Evernote is an excellent tool for monitoring progress over time, and a fantastic way of having lots of evidence together in one place when it comes time for writing reports. I have a folder for each year group, and a tag for every student. It’s the tags that matter though.

A student has done an outstanding piece of work? Take a photo, upload it to Evernote and tag it with that students name.

A student has done an disappointing piece of work? Take a photo, upload it to Evernote and tag it with that students name.

You’ve been given an SEN report for a student, or have some MIDYIS data? You’ve guessed it…Take a photo, upload it to Evernote and tag it with that students name.

Anything that you might want to refer back to either for writing a report, or for a parents evening…upload it all. And then when the time comes, just select that students tag and it will all be there on one page for you to peruse to your hearts content.

Yes, of course there are other apps I use, but it is these two that are currently having the greatest impact upon myself as a teacher.

ROTF – 4th November 2013

Refreshed and relaxed after your break? Don’t miss Thursday’s very important date – 7/11/13 – this is the last time ever that we will get consecutive primes appearing (in the UK).

Also, Monday 11th November is Origami Day! If you have a spare 10 minutes, you could show some of this video.

Year 7 – Addition and subtraction of fractions and decimals; Multiplication and division of decimals. 

Year 8 – Multiplication and Division of Fractions.

Year 9 – Basics of angles; Constructions; Loci 

  • Worth reminding them of the correct terminology when quoting angle facts. This quiz makes a nice homework, although a couple may need to be deleted before you give it to them.
  • Find it difficult to get them to take good notes on how to do construction? Simply give them a QR code to stick in alongside the notes you give. 

Year 10 – Multiplying brackets; Factorising quadratics; Solving quadratic equations; Problems leading to quadratics.


ROTF – 30th September 2013

Week 5 – not long until half term!

Year 7 – Number and Patterns; Part of a Whole

  • A sequences alternative to ‘how many matchsticks’ can be found here.
  • Jim Ponds Mathematical Mission – maybe a good prep?


Year 8 – Linear Equations; Probability


  • An ‘improving learning in maths’ lesson idea addressing misconceptions in algebra.

Year 9 – The gradient of a straight line; Straight line graphs.

Year 10 – Proportion; Recurring decimals.

  • A cruise ship uses 1gallon of fuel to travel 6inches. In a 500mile cruise, how much fuel is needed?

ROTF – 16th September 2013

Into the third week of term already.

Year 7 – Directed numbers; Number and Patterns

  • A game to practice adding and subtracting negatives. I have a set of the dice needed at Kings.
  • An ‘improving learning in maths’ suggested lesson.
  • A starter to get them settled – great revision on the rules of directed number.
  • Factors and multiples game – you just need to print out some 100 grids.
  • Find the primes. An online game.
  • Why is 1 not prime? A good video explanation.

Year 8 – Multiplication and Division of Fractions.

Year 9 – Simplifying algebraic expressions, products and brackets; Solving equations

  • Expand and simplify matching activity.

Year 10 – Circle theorems; Probability


I’ll play you for homework…

Today, my class had worked really hard and so I decided to “play for homework”. I challenged them to a game of Nim which, if I won I would set homework and if they won they would get no homework. A class representative stepped for but, unfortunately for them, I won because I knew the strategy. However, within 3 minutes they had (as a class) figured it out and were begging me for a rematch so they could have no homework.

Having really liked how quickly they engaged when a night off from homework was at stake, I thought this is something I would like to do every few weeks but I need more games that I am (almost) guaranteed to win.

Please tweet me your suggestions! @mrsoclee

ROTF (Resources of the fortnight) – 2nd September 2013

This fortnight includes the first week of term, so there will be lots of admin to do as well as teaching, but here are a few ideas anyway. Just resources for Years 7 and 9 at the moment.

Year 7 – Addition and Subtraction of Integers; Multiplication and Division of Integers

Year 9 – Simplifying fractions; Directed numbers and order of operations; Percentages; Standard Index form with positive indices; significant figures and decimal places.



Setting up your ipad – twitter

Okay, I’m not going to go into great detail as there’s a fantastic document that you should read instead (below).

But probably your main question will be “Why would I want to be on twitter?” And all I’ll say is this. Have you ever sat having coffee with a colleague, and they’ve mentioned a recent lesson and you’ve thought “Wow, that’s a great idea, I must try that.” Well, being on twitter is basically like sitting and having coffee with 500 colleagues!

I have a purely professional twitter account – @mrsoclee – the only people I follow are to do with education, and the only things I post are the kind of things I would be talking about in the staffroom. Download the app, choose a username and give it a try!

Setting up your ipad – Evernote, Dropbox, etc

I’ll admit I was a bit sceptical about Evernote and Dropbox at first, but over the summer I have been using them, well, properly I suppose and I’ve become a bit of a convert…

Let me start by saying that I’m messy. To some of you, this will come as no surprise. Perhaps one of my worst crimes is to do with my pigeonhole – basically, I use it as a filing cabinet. “Ooh, that piece of paper looks important, but I’m a long way from my classroom so I’ll just leave it in there until I need it.”

Dropbox and Evernote do fairly similar things, so I’ll show you both then explain how I use them.

Dropbox first of all:

And Evernote:

I tend to use Dropbox for worksheets and other ideas that I come across on the web. If you are on your ipad and see something you like on the web or on twitter, there is usually an option to open and save it in Dropbox which makes it really easy to find new things. Similarly, if there is something on the school system that I might want to look at later at home, I can put it in Dropbox rather than email it to myself. It’s also very easy to share folders with other people, and there are lots of lovely people on twitter who have shared their own Dropboxes with me so I can steal use other people’s resources. Essentially I use Dropbox like I use “My Documents” on the computer – slightly disorganised, but I know everything is in there somewhere! (I should say you can of course keep things organised in your Dropbox using folders, but I might not always do so…)

Evernote I use in a slightly more organised fashion – I have lots of different folders, including one for each class. In each folder I have the scheme of work, maybe some lesson plans, any information on students that is important (like SEN statements). I use Genius Scan+, which basically turns your ipad camera into a scanner, to convert a picture of important documents into PDF files and save them in Evernote.

Those are just a few ideas, but download the apps and start experimenting!