Using blogs to engage boys in learning

We all know that it can be quite difficult sometimes (or all the time) to engage boys in learning. One strategy being used at Allerton CE Primary is to use a “Football Manager” blog to encourage boys who are interested in football (and girls) to write and do arithmetic.

I well remember working for 6 months as a student with a young lad called Karl who had left school with no academic qualifications. He was working in a meat processing unit of a frozen food supplier and was supplementing his rather low pay by betting. His ability to calculate the odds and potential winnings was amazing, and he was also pretty good at calculations to do with weighing meat. All he had needed was to see a use for the skills and he acquired them.

Since football is such a huge motivation for young lads it is a great way into engaging them in their learning. Blogging about their team, players that they want and building a fantasy team on a budget in order to get results exposes them to brilliant opportunities to write and do maths.

Have a look at the ACE Football Manager site and see what you think. And if you need help getting into blogging do contact me.


Spreadsheets and food security

In primary schools I find that spreadsheets are often glossed over, staff often aren’t aware of the power of spreadsheets in modelling and performing repetitive calculations and they can’t think of appropriate examples.

Likewise, food security is an issue that is hardly touched on, it is seen as a difficult concept and a political one.

Recently I was working with a school studying World War 2 and they had several propaganda posters on their walls including “Dig for Victory” and appeals for scrap metal to build more ships. WW2 saw Britain being blockaded by the Germans, u-boats were sinking our cargo ships and huge quantities of food, along with ships and lives, went to the bottom of the sea. As the recent Wartime Farm program has reminded us, Germany was trying to starve us into submission and our farmers had to grow as much food as possible if our population was going to survive long enough for us to win the war. Food security then was about growing enough food in a resilient and sustainable way, an issue which we are becoming aware of again as we wreck our ecosystem.

Besides farmers, local people turned every green area over to food production, parks, school grounds, gardens and even grass verges – something we see happening today in places like Todmorden and is now beginning to happen here in Leeds.

20121120-092357.jpgThe task I set some pupils in year 6 was to look at the school grounds, identify areas that would be easy to grow potatoes, measure these areas and calculate how many potatoes we would need to plant the areas up and the cost of the seed potatoes. This they managed very well with a little help from Mr Google who supplied the price of seed potatoes. Two of the pupils then wrote reports to the head asking her for the funds to buy the potatoes! You can see their reports on their class blog.

The Four Nations Maths Challenge 2012

Naace and Mathletics are organising the “Four Nations Maths Challenge 2012” to run on the 13-14 November. This is a free competition which will involve the largest online UK Maths event.

Over the two days schools from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will compete to reach the top of the Maths leaderboard. The aim is to find which students and schools will make the most improvement in their maths ability over the two days.

More details are available on the Naace website and you can register for the challenge on the Four Nations Maths Challenge website

iPad and Mathletics

At last it is here. Mathletics can be downloaded and run on the iPad. I will be giving it a good test run tomorrow with some pupils and will let you know how it goes, in the meantime aMathletics mad friend has been testing it out and there are no negatives so far.

The iPad app has a slick new interface with 10 new levels written especially for the iPad with more to come. A Mathletics Teacher app is also available which gives you access to live class data from your iPhone or iPad and allows you to edit lessons. An Android version will be available soon.

More later!