Thursday, 7 June 2012

Bringing 'Phil' in to the classroom

Today I've been trying to think of different ways that I can make my personality more visible in the classroom. Its a tricky business because chatting about myself seems unjustifiable when there are standards to be met and skills to be learnt (and there always are of course). I do feel that it is important, though, for both mine and my pupils' enjoyment of our classes. I've come out of my first full year in a single school regretting that I hadn't worked harder to get to know my pupils better.

I started by writing a list of my hobbies and other things from my/their lives that I would like to bring in to my lessons:

  • Sports:   MMA,  Football, Judo,  Cycling,  Swimming,  Any others
  • Computing:  Gaming,  Coding,  Creating websites
  • Travelling
  •  Languages - I speak Spanish and am currently learning Bulgarian
  •  Music - Playing and listening, helping friends who are musicians ‘make it’
  • TV
  • Parents’ professions
  • Books
I then started thinking of lessons I could do which would include these things whilst still having a maths focus
  • Show my average day in a pie chart. Pupils make a pie chart for their own average days
  • Sports data. I have an app on my phone to collect info about the sports I do. In previous years I have shown this to pupils in my annual report, but I could easily have the pupils make the graphs and speculate why I stopped all exercise over Easter, etc.
  • “I want to cycle to Ben Nevis for half-term. Is it possible? How fast would I have to go/How much time each day? Plan it including rest points and campsites” I could then cycle it and have pictures.
  • Analysing computer games for variability etc. Got the idea from this article about level design analysis. The idea would be that as a homework pupils play a computer game (or watch a 'lets play...' video on youtube). Beside them they have a timer that goes off every two minutes where they record what they are doing in the game (what type of gameplay, how many people on screen, what sort of area etc.). From that data we will be able to make graphs, charts, comparisons with other games/levels, etc.
  • Analyse race tracks for difficulty. Looking at how to measure the steepness of curves on a race track, then come up with some score to rank tracks in order of difficulty.
  • Create and fill in surveys on google forms. At the start of this week I'll have them filling in a questionnaire that should help me to learn some initial things about my pupils. I also want to do a variation of this lesson where each pupil eventually chooses one question they want to know the answer to from their classmates. We put them all in one big google form at the end of the lesson and everyone then fills it in.
  • Plan and cost a trip round south America and then compare to actual cost. Here I can include pictures from places I went. Say I want to get to Macchu Piccu, etc.
  • Stats about me learning Bulgarian from Anki. Anki is a program of flashcards that I'm using to help me to learn Bulgarian words. It keeps all sorts of stats about how many new words I'm learning each day, how well I remember them, etc. Plenty of things that will make good questions in a class.
  • African polyrhythms using fractions that add up to a whole. I want to make a flash applet for this, where you put together fractions and each fraction makes a drum beat. The one bar then repeats. You add a second and third set of fractions that add to one to create polyrhythms. It's kind of difficult to explain the idea, so click here to see an example.
  • Can music kill you? This is a lesson I used from when it was still a free site. I wont go in to too much specifics but the idea is to play some different songs and plot a graph of your heartrate vs. bpm of the song. From there you extrapolate the data to guess how fast the song would have to be to increase your heartrate to dangerous levels.
  • Bring parents in via skype to give assignments. This was an idea I read from 'Empowering Students with Technology' where you get pupils' parents to give real-life or real-life style assignments from their profession over skype. They may also be involved in the assessment of the work. It sounds like a great idea for motivating pupils and making parents feel more involved in their child's education, but I've yet to try it out and work out the logistics of it.
  • Plan some pre/post-workout meals to meet dietary requirements. I've recently bought a set of fitness DVDs. With it came these pie charts:
From this and some nutritional information site, pupils make up recipes I should eat to meet these requirements. Whoever makes up the tastiest sounding working recipe gets a prize.

That all I could think of today. Please do let me know if you have any other ideas about this.