I haven’t blogged anything in a while because BUSY. However, I thought I’d share how I set up my day-to-day teaching to make things as easy and efficient as I possibly can. I’m a big fan of ‘work smart’. A lot of the things I do and use have a big investment of time and effort initially (several hours in most cases, a few weeks in one or two), but the payoff is instant, and usually permanent.
- Seating Plans
As soon as I am able to, I create detailed seating plans using PowerPoint. This has evolved over the last three or four years, but essentially I do it like this:
Just to explain what’s going on here: Lots of copy and pasting! I have to get the photos from SiMS, and they only come as a block image of a whole class, so I screen grab that, then crop several copies of it down as shown.
The background colours can be altered to represent different information. I change colours depending on general behaviour / effort. Green for good, blue for less good.
Some names have bold or underline or an asterisk. This is simple codification of more sensitive information.
Because each student photo is grouped to its background and text, they are essentially draggable objects so changing the seating plan is no bother at all. T stands for target grade, C stands for current grade.
Alongside the seating plan, I make a QR Code class sheet. This is a list of all students in the class (with their photo so I know who’s who!) and alongside their photo is a large QR code. It has to be large as it contains a lot of information (simple QR codes can be tiny and still work. Complex ones won’t get read easily by a QR Code reader if they’re too small.
The QR code takes my phone directly to a pre-wrtten email, with the address of the parent already filled in. The email reads something like
“I am trying to improve parental communication and the quality of presentation in student work by trialing a new system I’m calling the #workselfie. Students can volunteer (or be selected) to have their work photographed and sent home. Your child has been chosen this week. Kind regards Mr blah. ”
This took a good few hours to set up. Email addresses are hidden away in the depths of SiMS and we’re not at a point where a class list of emails can be reeled off. So i copied each one into a spreadsheet and did this, using the website www.qrstuff.com
I cannot emphasise enough how handy a screen grabbing tool like… erm, screen grabber, or ‘preview’ on a mac is. I grab the QR code rather than download, insert etc.
Each class took about 45 mins to set up:
That’s obviously a big investment. But here’s the payoff…
I tried the #workselfie idea last year, but it was REALLY hard to maintain. I could send about 6 photos home a week to consider it manageable. But that involved taking a photo on my phone, emailing it to myself, downloading it onto my work computer, going into SiMS to find the child and the email, etc. The whole process took about 10-15 minutes per photo. A pain.
Here is how long it takes me now:
You’ll have to imagine the seating plan on paper rather than lifting from the laptop screen. I sent 6 in ten minutes today! Parental feedback has been great.
I keep all of this stuff on a clipboard when I teach.
Anyway, moving on…
2. Extension Activities
I find that the thing I need at my disposal at all times is resources. The more the better. Finished early? I have resources. Finding it easy? I have resources. And so on.
The extension resources I use are taken mostly from mathschallenge mainly because they’re awesome and the answers are provided.
I printed each difficulty level in sets of 4, with an answer booklet for me:
They sit on my desk, ready for action. You’ll also notice I have my own puzzles as stickers. These are for challenge homeworks (alongside typical ones) if students are finding stuff too easy. I occasionally just stick them in books if students finish early too.
3. Physical Resources
I have very few physical resources. I don’t do the whole sort cardy stuff very much. I try to keep things simple with these few tools:
That’s a whole load of dice, a whole load of blank dry-wipe dice, blank dry wipe cards, decks of cards, and scratch-card stickers. These things are very versitile and most can be appied to any topic on the curriculum. It’s just about imagination. Rounding numbers? Roll a dice 4 times and put all the digits together. Then round it. It stops everyone copying each other, and it’s just a bit more interesting with almost no effort from me. I don’t use any of them a LOT, but I use them more than anything else I suppose.
4. Text Books
I don’t use purchased text books. I collated my favourite resources and ones I had written mysel into my own version of text books. They are fairly crude, but the students like them A LOT more than normal text books. I keep them held together with simple clip binders so that I can add and remove pages as and when I need to.
I have a set of 18 of each book. These took me a long time to collate and produce, but I’ve used them for years now.
I also have equipment boxes on each desk (as seen in the photo above). These have typical stuff in them. The main thing is mini-whiteboards. I use them pretty much all the time. To the extent that I sometimes forget that students should probably write something in their exercise books. I’m not convinced there’s a better way to teach, question, assess, progress all in one, all together.
I don’t use the school system anywhere near as much as I should. I just use these badboys mostly:
6. Digital Resources
I have *so many* digital resources I cannot begin to describe it. I have collated these, and purge them once or twice a year. They are all on a datastick that sits on my keys. The way to make this very effective is meticulous organisation:
And the most used folder is definitely the ‘generic starters’ folder. Full of powerpoints chock full of puzzles like these and so on. Great for *any* point in the lesson.
Hope you found all this useful.