While I've been organising over the summer, I realised that my resource collection has grown exponentially again this year. I made the move to storing resources electronically this year, which has meant I'm drowning in far fewer bits of paper and it's much easier to find the worksheet I want than rifling through folders. Despite this, I still have my entire cupboard under the stairs full of bits and pieces that need transferring or updating - I think it's going to be an endless task.
Finding, developing and trying new resources is one of my favourite parts of teaching, which is one of the reasons I started the resources pages on my site - it's far easier to link to a page at home, then find that again at school, rather than email things to myself, which I then forget about the following year. As above, this project is still unfinished, but I hope to put a big dent in it over the next few weeks. But what makes a good resource?
For example, I wrote this worksheet for interior angles in polygons for my first observation for my GTP, which makes it about six or seven years old. It was originally designed for a group of Year 9s with high literacy needs, so it's a write-on sheet with plenty of step-by-step guidance and help to structure answers, but it works every single time I use it, so I continue to do so.
Sometimes you have to be careful though - due to my magpie-like tendencies to keep everything, I do keep some stuff that, quite frankly, is either rubbish or needs serious adapting. I look at resources and think "oh, I'll adapt that at some point" - I've just checked the dumping folder on my computer and there are currently 462 files in there waiting to be updated or changed. With the huge wealth of resources available on the Internet now, it's easier to just delete or bin a sub-standard resource and find something better.
While I've been writing and updating our KS3 and KS4 curricula this year, I've been pulling in a lot of "old" resources. Tidying up my storeroom at school, I found a load of pre 1990s textbooks (which makes some of them older than me!). Before I binned them, I had a flick through - lo and behold, lots of Venn diagram questions! They've joined the shelf marked "resources useful for new GCSE", along with a purple box with some superb-looking investigations from Maths O'Level during the 80s sometime. I'm hearing SMILE maths cards being mentioned an awful lot too - they're all available from the National Stem Centre, and well worth a look.
I've discovered a few fantastic resource websites this year, mostly through Twitter. These are:
- Resourceaholic (@mathsjem): Jo does a frequent "Maths Gems" post, which picks out some lovely ideas from Twitter and makes sure they don't get lost in the digital mire. She also has some great resources uploaded and linked - I've particularly enjoyed her A Level ones this year.
- Solve My Maths (@solvemymaths): A great source for stretching problems (for pupils and teachers!) - I've now heard this site mentioned on three separate training days.
- Miss Brookes Maths (@Stacy_Maths): Stacy and I seem to share a common goal, which is to catalogue all the resources on the Internet. It's been interesting as both our sites have developed this year that she and I have very little overlap in the things we post, which just goes to show what a diverse world of resources we now have to pick from. A massive time-saver with planning.
- Educating Mr Mattock (@MrMattock): Peter has written some brilliant blog posts with creative lesson ideas to try. Bearings in the hall might get an outing next year...
(I feel the need to add that this is not A LIST... well, it is, but I've only listed stuff that's new to me this year and is primarily about resources rather than general blogs - I may do a longer post about all the other fab stuff out there at some point).
My biggest tip for student teachers and NQTs has to be "borrow what you can" - often, the most experienced teachers have taught their lessons hundreds of times in their careers, and know what works and what doesn't. Adapt where necessary, but don't be afraid to use someone else's stuff (with their permission, of course!).
About halfway through this year, my classroom was awash with paper. This seems to happen every year, and it's down to having Year 11, I reckon. At some point, you have to start giving them practice worksheets and booklets tailored to their specific needs, and organising these can be a pain. Something I found very helpful to combat this was copying paper resources onto coloured paper depending on strand - so all of the "Number" resources got copied onto blue paper (similarly, Shape is green, Algebra is yellow and Data is red/pink - I have no idea where these colour associations have come from, but that's how I see them mentally). This meant that pupils could narrow down which pile of worksheets they needed to look in, and made it much easier for me to put everything away again at the end of the lesson, as all the blue sheets went in one box, yellow in another, and so on.
Similarly, I've previously copied non-calculator and calculator papers with different-coloured front pages, so pupils could find these more easily and see links or similarities between papers and questions.