A Classroom Toolkit

Thinking about some of the daily tools I like to have to hand………..

Calculating FinancesTop of the everyday tools list has to be Desmos and Wolfram Alpha; there are also numerous calculators and resources available; this collection is on Mathematics for students which means students can use anything themselves at home having seen it demonstrated in class. I also like to display definitions, the Reference page on Mathematics for students has very useful dictionaries and glossaries.

An annual job for me is setting up my homework blog. I always put homework details online as well as explaining it in class. I use a blog (which doesn’t turn up in web searches) with a page for each class. I find publishing the details online for students makes me think about explaining it carefully and I can also give any links to resources which may help. None of my students can ever say to me that they didn’t know what the homework was!

I want to easily lay my hands on any of my resources so Evernote is ready to go with a notebook for each class where I can put any resources or ideas / random thoughts using my phone or computer. I was reminded of the wonders of Evernote search recently – I will be looking at Surds with Year 10 – a search on surds in Evernote rapidly returned every resource I had ever created. It also returned any document, specifications for example with the word Surds in it. I want to make sure I tag notes really well this year to make things even simpler to find.

I also us my own blogs! For example I can remind myself of all the Starters I like, Problems & Activities or ways to end lessons, find Rich Tasks….the list goes on! You can see the various page tabs near the top of the blog. Certainly – however you do it, make sure you can rapidly find anything you need so you can really concentrate on thinking about your students’ learning; see Lesson Planning.

Mike Hadden - Random Student

Mike Hadden – Random Student

If you want to make sure that you include all students in your class then some kind of system for choosing students is very useful, for a simple and very effective low-tech way then read Harry Fetcher-Wood’s excellent post and make some lolly sticks cards! Harry’s post includes discussion on the fact that this can be contentious; I think the key is to use this technique when appropriate and be very clear that it is OK to be unsure but good to contribute in some way. I let students know that a suitable response includes a question back to me. Another offline option is to use one of Mike Hadden’s many excellent spreadsheets – look at the ‘Other’ section for the Random Student spreadsheet. You can easily create a spreadsheet for each class.

Random Name Selector - Primary Technology

Random Name Selector – Primary Technology

For an online option this random name selector by John Mclear on Primary Technology will randomly select a name from a list you can easily input. Once you have input a list of names you can then save the list as a link. It is possible to remove a name from the list once it has been chosen.

You can save a list of names so have easy access to lists of all your classes by just having the link somewhere easy to access.

Classtools.net Random Name Selector and Countdown Timer

Classtools.net Random Name Selector and Countdown Timer

classtools.net has numerous flash templates which allow teachers to create diagrams, activities and games. As with the previous random name selector the resource on classtools.net also allows you to save a list of your own for easy access later. ClassTools also has an excellent countdown timer which gives you a choice of soundtracks of varying lengths; this is a Flash resource an alternative HTML5 timer where you can add a video and save a link to your customised timer is also available.

stationeryYou may need some specialist paper – coordinate grids, isometric or polar paper for example. See For (Online) Stationery Geeks! I always have a set of whiteboard flipcharts to hand where I already have pages with coordinate grids and any other stationery / background I want.

Whiteboard toolsFor online options check some of the whiteboard tools in the Writing Mathematics Online post including  the interactive whiteboard manipulative from Glencoe  (I came across this in a Google search). Note all the backgrounds and manipulatives available.

For demonstrating ruler and compass constructions look at Bruno Reddy’s lovely Geometry toolbox which can be found on the teachers’ section of his excellent site.

For some fun with crayons try this Crayola colouring application or amuse your students with the writing repeater!

Name card

I will be using my name cards again this year as I found that these really helped me learn the names of my students – collecting the cards at the end of the lesson is a further chance to fix the student names in your head!