This weekend I have been running up my own proverbial backside, and seriously haven’t stopped. It was so mental (and if ONE more person mentions how much they are getting done in “gain time” I swear they will get both barrels!) I had to plan todays lesson during period 1 which has always been the lesson I set aside to deal with any issues about the whole school one to one programme but luckily there were no issues!

Anyway, back to the weekend: Friday night started with a trip to Coventry train station on my way to Warwick University (my old uni if you’re interested?) for the pre-amble evening prior to Edexcel’s annual maths conference. It was great to meet up again with the Edexcel team, but more importantly it’s always good to meet with fellow teachers that I’ve met over the last few years .. even if a somewhat late evening (it was ok for those that stayed over as they didn’t have a 30 minute drive to face at 1am!!). As you can imagine, it was no mean feat for me to arrive on time and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to the proceedings on Saturday.

After an introduction by Maria Hoather, Graham Cumming did the opening presentation which included lots of cats (yes really!) and I thought he was brilliant – he genuinely looks at ease presenting in front of a room of people … and then we were off. The format of the day is such that there are 8 workshops, so you get to attend 3 of them. There was a choice of the below (and I’ve shown the ones I went to in bold below)

(A) Developing algebra through visual representation – Sheila Eastwood.

(B) Making problem solving the focus of the curriculum – Grahame Smart

(C) GCSE 2015 – Key changes at Higher Tier and their implications for teaching and learning – Pietro Tozzi.

(D) An Introduction to the new GCSE Mathematics for first teaching in 2015 – Graham Cumming/Rob Cackett

(E) Conquering Anxiety and Developing Confidence in Mathematics – Dr Naomi Morgan

(F) Strategies to re-engage disengaged middle ability pupils with GCSE Mathematics – Seager (OK so the programme said “Christian” Seager, but I can’t bring myself to call him that. Funnily enough I didn’t attend this session as I have to listen to him all the time… sorry day-job boss!!)

(G) Innovation in A level Further Mathematics – Mo Ladak

(H) Creating and Distributing Lesson and Exam Screencasts – Geoffrey Stewart

For me, I don’t expect to agree with everything that’s said at these type of things – I really am not that naïve but I always come away questioning myself (which is a good thing!) and there are always a couple of golden nuggets that I can use in my day-to-day practice but let’s be honest, the reality is that we all go back to work and then get sucked into the reality of our jobs. However, what I expect above everything else from a conference “thing” is to come away enthused and motivated and most of that comes from the interaction with other teachers, doing the same job as me – day in and day out!

My first session was about developing anxiety and developing confidence and I have to say Naomi was fab with just a couple of things that made me go “hmmm” and for no other reason, than I just don’t know enough about the subject. I have summed up my notes below:

Maths anxiety

The second session was by Pietro and the best part for me was the inclusion of a possible list of resources to help teach the new GCSE and I am currently scouring ebay for some of them (I might share the list after I’ve bagged my copies … supply and demand and all that jazz!!). During the session we were given some questions to have a go and I failed miserably – I just have no spatial awareness and struggled to see the “shaded area” in one of those triangles in a square question, which made me realise how some of the mistakes get made by students!

There was a glaring “elephant in the room” so to speak, in that if the grade equivalencies are as expected with an F equating to a 1 … then where is the current “G” grade? Nearly 4.7% of students got a G in 2013 and if these type of students  are potentially going to not get a grade in the “new world” (and I’m not saying that is the case – just musing!) do we need to be considering entry level certificates with lots more students? And how on earth will that get explained by the government?

last one

The final session was Graham and Rob, who after going through more of the key changes at GCSE they spent some time going through some of the SAMs (I left this one before the end as I had somewhere I needed to be. I do have a social life too you know! Hard to believe but seriously I do! Honest!!)

Intro 1

intro 2

Overall the day was fab, and I wish I could have attended all the sessions – I was on a roll in terms of tweeting updates and also making notes during the sessions which I absolutely adored doing! My little notes to myself on the presentation slides attracted lots of Twitter attention and I’m wondering if I will be allowed to attend again (I’m sure I will!), but like I’ve mentioned before I feel like I have some kind of “writing Tourettes” that means I have absolutely no control over what gets written down (or typed!!). Towards the end of the day I was buzzing with ideas about what we (JustMaths) can do to support other teachers in terms of this transition, with the main one being:  I’d love to produce a suite of teaching resources and revision videos  for those topics that are “assumed prior knowledge” at GCSE in readiness for September. By this, I mean those topics that the current year 8’s (and probably 7s too!) won’t have been taught at key stage 3 as they are being taught according to the old programme of study yet won’t get taught them at GCSE as they are being taught the new programme of study – our potential “mind the gap” generation that are caught between the changes. EXAM BOARDS: I’m not bothered which of you do it, but I would love a definitive list of these topics to save me some time … anyone? I will be eternally grateful and of course I’ll be sharing! PS: Don’t you dare pinch that name for any resource ideas … I’m ‘aving it!! I like the idea of calling them “mind the gap” topics!!! You have been warned!

I do have some other random thoughts – all the exam boards are expecting feedback from ofqual about their draft specifications this week – and no doubt these ramblings will make their way to print at some point, but this post is long enough as it is … short attention span! To be honest I also have to rush off and get some cocktail sticks (about 20,000 of them) for our new intake day later this week for the midget gems and cocktail stick “build a bridge” challenge!

PS: Last year Graham set up a folder on the emporium with all the presentations and resources in and I am sure he’ll do the same this year … if he hasn’t already done so!