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Secondary maths teachers - Is there a more painless way to write resources and lesson plans?

(54 Posts)
queensansastark Fri 15-Apr-16 23:24:49

Just had my first interview day for teaching secondary maths. Fingers crossed.

So as part of the selection process, I had to write my first lesson plan - I used Word and Excel. Literally from a blank sheet, it was painful and time consuming, the formating, having to generate tables then graphs in Excel then pasting it into Word. Then trying to write all the signs and symbols and formulae which Word is clearly not geared up for.

I am clearly missing something! I feel I wasted too much time on formatting and word processing instead of the actual maths.

Any tips?
What software to you use for creating lesson plans and resources?
How does that work with the interactive whiteboard (which I have not had a test drive on yet).


OP’s posts: |
noblegiraffe Fri 15-Apr-16 23:46:02

I've been teaching maths for ten years and barely ever write resources because I use textbooks or the internet (e.g. or TES resources)
But if you want to write formulas in Word are you using Equation Editor? Just press ALT then N then E then I and it will bring it up.
I don't have an interactive whiteboard, I think they're probably on their way out.

If I do want to create my own resource with graphs, I sometimes use Autograph, but mainly I take pictures from other people's resources and stick them into mine - the snipping tool which comes with Windows is great for that. I've got a mental database of places where I can get stuff from though which helps - you'll need to build that up over time.

queensansastark Sat 16-Apr-16 10:44:19

Thanks for that noble.

That's a great link you sent, i'll save me hours of trawling through the internet.

I don't understand why teachers don't use text books more in this country. Any recommendations for good textbooks for the new maths GCSEs?

I've bought myself the Letts maths KS3 & GCSE guides from WHSmiths to reteach myself some of the stuff. I don't like them, too many words, the maths is lost in the words. They are not written the way they were. Some maths books are defo better than others.

OP’s posts: |
queensansastark Sat 16-Apr-16 10:45:37

Also, any good tips on how to organise the lesson plans?

OP’s posts: |
Ramaani Sat 16-Apr-16 13:21:32

Do you know LaTeX?

A bit of a learning curve - but custome designed for writing maths - and beautifully typeset output. It's what mathematicians use to write maths.

queensansastark Sat 16-Apr-16 14:58:18

Latex. Googled it.

I think I just have used it at university but that was over 20 years ago...looks complicated.....confused

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Ramaani Sat 16-Apr-16 15:30:58

It's not really - once you accept that its a markup language (ie you type out the typesetting commands, and only see what it looks like at the end).

What you 'do' is not actually learn the typesetting commands, but 'borrow' documents that people put up on the internet, and alter them to match what you want.

You need to install software, but I think there are online compilers if you just wanted to dip your toe in.

It is much mre stable than MS word, and you'll get really fast at it with experience. You can also then start reusing your own little code fragments without needing to squint at those awful tiny MS word superscripts.

G1raffe Sat 16-Apr-16 15:34:19

(off topic but why are interactive whiteboards on the way out? Our adult ed is just phasing them in. I still prefer paper, pens and a board to PowerPoint as it seems more flexible.but I'm probably now regarded as v behind the times.)

ABetaDad1 Sat 16-Apr-16 15:43:03

I am not a teacher but could anyone explain to me why if we have a national curriculum and accredited exam boards why there is not a national database of standard teaching materials. Especially for maths which hardly changes in a decade. Calculus is still calculus.

It seems incredibly wasteful of teacher time writing your own materials.

As a parent with one DS revising for GCSE and another two years younger just finishing KS3 and revising for summer exams they both ditched their school text book and note books and used online resources as well as revision guides from book shops.

All those resources they had given to them in class created by teachers unused and standard exam guides with perfect diagrams in colour, labelled and easily accessible are there readily available.

Maths they get the revision guides and do practice questions like all their friends do. No idea in maths why teachers don't just hand out the course outline plus published exam revision guide at the start of the GCSE and focus on getting the children to practice questions. Most of the class seems to be listening to teacher doing 'chalk and talk'. Its very old fashioned. The kids just go online. Its what they do. Its their life now.

A few of their teachers have gone completely electronic and have great materials which they update and link to other online materials - the rest are years behind.

I have been a university lecturer so I know about producing course materials and nowadays it really is being increasingly done online with a course book and downloadable material all coming as part of the publisher package.

noblegiraffe Sat 16-Apr-16 17:29:03

why there is not a national database of standard teaching materials

Because the companies who charge a fortune for their teaching materials would not be happy

No idea in maths why teachers don't just hand out the course outline plus published exam revision guide at the start of the GCSE and focus on getting the children to practice questions.

Because the kids need to be taught how to do the maths before they can practise the questions and a video on the internet isn't as effective as a skilled class teacher. Plus relying on students to learn the material at home before the lesson is a non-starter in many cases.

noblegiraffe Sat 16-Apr-16 17:30:51

For organising lesson plans look up the '5 minute lesson plan' which contains all the elements you need to think about when planning your lesson. New teachers will need something more structured with timings but your PGCE provider will probably have a lesson plan pro-forma you'll be expected to use.

queensansastark Sat 16-Apr-16 18:37:12

Good point beta dad. I agree. I wonder that myself.

I intend to make a lot of use of set textbooks from the exam board.

This country has an ideological war against text books.

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noblegiraffe Sat 16-Apr-16 18:52:44

Don't buy any of the current textbooks out for the new GCSE, they are not only bad (and I mean really bad, and I've seen a lot of textbooks over the years) but also inappropriate as they were written before the sample assessment materials were deemed too hard and scrapped by Ofqual so are written to the wrong level. There are also errors in them, as there are in the new CGP revision guides, which are missing topics.

Maths teachers don't usually avoid textbooks because of ideology, but because the textbooks are crap, and the school can't afford new ones. My school forked out for a set of Formula One textbooks for KS3 a few years ago and they've barely been used because they've only got about three questions per topic. We can't afford to replace them.

ABetaDad1 Sat 16-Apr-16 19:01:57

queens - not sure what stage of your career you are?

Just to clarify, my point of view is of a parent at a reasonable but not fantastic private school. My DS1 is on for A* GCSE at maths but well off natural maths genius level. DS2 is just finished KS3 and above National Average attainment although struggles with some algebra concepts.

From my understanding they have barely used their text book but sent a lot of time copying notes form the whiteboard into their note books. They do a few questions in homework form the back of the text book.

Now they are both revising for exams we have bought exam revision guide for DS2 and worked through that with him. DS1 is using past papers.

It seems little different from my experience 35 years ago.

I find the revision guide material really readable and clear. I know the teacher has to explain the concepts of course but I have great sympathy for teachers having to produce their own materials. It seems madness.

There is so much potential to use online resources as a tool to support national curriculum that I wonder why the Govt hasn't forced the exam boards to produce it as a condition of their licence.

noblegiraffe Sat 16-Apr-16 19:28:26

Interactive whiteboards are on their way out (for maths at least) because they don't actually add much to the learning experience, often go wrong, and if it is an IWB you can't write in in whiteboard marker, then is actually a hinderance as you cannot easily write notations onto presentations etc as you are teaching.

Handwriting on an IWB electronically also usually looks bloody awful.

The whole 'getting kids up to the front to interact with the IWB' is more a behaviour management issue than anything else, and if you really want them up at the front, you can just hand them a pen.

We ripped ours out a couple of years ago and no one has missed them. Just a projector is fine.

noblegiraffe Sat 16-Apr-16 19:32:49

Betadad there are tonnes of online resources out there to support the national curriculum, e.g, mymaths, kerboodle. Subscriptions are around £400 per year. You can buy a complete maths curriculum including lesson plans and resources from Complete Maths for £250 plus VAT per teacher.

Then there's free stuff, like by hegartymaths who was a finalist for international teacher of the year for setting it up.

ABetaDad1 Sat 16-Apr-16 19:35:52

noble - interesting what you say about IWB. I first saw them when DSs were in Yr 4 and thought they were a bit of a novelty thing and perhaps useful for young children but not so much older children.

In university teaching its common to use a projector running off a PC and an ordinary whiteboard at the side to use for ad hoc explanations. Seems that's what you do - although having good electronic presentation material to run off your PC to talk to and demonstrate problems is essential I suspect.

G1raffe Sat 16-Apr-16 19:36:56

Oh Nobel I am pleased. I'm not planning on returning to secondary at the moment but If I was I'd not like the drive to present everything with special interactive quizes etc.

Honestly I teach adult ed and we're supposed to be moving towards iwb and making our materials online! And interactive! Id rather be able to use my board the way I want.

G1raffe Sat 16-Apr-16 19:38:14

I've spent ages creating PowerPoint material and honestly would rather sit around the tables with some articles/case studies/notes and discuss then together.

queensansastark Sat 16-Apr-16 19:38:19

Yes I was wondering how, now that I'm thinking about it, how you actually interact with the teaching material on the white board and writing with a pen during the lesson etc., I can see how the issues you mention can arise but I thought it might be because I don't know how to use it properly yet.....

Delivering a maths lesson is not, and cannot be, done imo the same way as delivering a PowerPoint presentation.

So how do you deliver the lesson? Project a word document and write model answers onto it? Again, I could be missing something.

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queensansastark Sat 16-Apr-16 19:42:10

There is almost too much resources online...not all good, and you could disappear into a black hole for hours trawling through trying to find the exact thing. That's also a problem.

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ABetaDad1 Sat 16-Apr-16 19:44:14

noble - just seen your post about online resources. I have heard about Kerboodle. Not the others. Why don't schools just buy that in rather than text books? Is that £400 per annum per school?

I guess a teacher's time producing their own materials is regarded as 'free' once you have employed them?

I am interested in this partly for my own children but also as a way of reforming the way teachers work. It seems to me if Govt wants a different school year and school day then teachers have to have all the burden of lesson planning and making their own materials off them. Why not have national online homework that is marked automatically with feedback to teachers to flag up pupils who are struggling that parents can also see?

I very often find my DSs struggling on something at maths but only at the end of a year when they do a summer exam. I would like to help them earlier and perhaps talk to the teacher and get some extra homework we can work through together at a slower pace.

queensansastark Sat 16-Apr-16 19:46:54

Noble - surely maths is maths, and it doesn't change? How wrong can it go curriculum wise with GCSEs maths textbooks?

I admit, some books I've seen are just badly written, the acid test being if I can understand what the are trying to say ( even if I can do the maths already, let alone if I can't).

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noblegiraffe Sat 16-Apr-16 19:53:28

One of the main problems with online homework for maths is that you type the answer into a box and don't actually get into the habit of showing your working. My school subscribes to mymaths so we do set online homework, but only every other homework as a maximum to ensure we do actually see written methods.

G1raffe Sat 16-Apr-16 19:55:12

If hate to have my materials prescribed to me! I like preparing lessons and delivering them, even choosing materials. That's all the fun bit of teaching

However the having to show evidence of all the planning and then all the data recording and showing progress and showing your plans have taken into account differentiation and equality and diversity and whatever I'm not so keen on.

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