To improve one's craft we need to find ways of harnessing it. What best way to do this than to learn from the experts!
I had always toyed with the idea of attending a Maths Conference but never really gone round to it for various reasons, ie too busy, too far, not convenient etc.
In the end, I told myself, that if I don’t make the effort now, there will never be the right time. I had read a lot of positive feedback about it on social media and thought that March would be a good time to attend one as just before the exams in May so might be able to get great advise/information to help my pupils with their revision.
And attend I did my very first Maths Conference. Called MathsConf14 held in Kettering on 10 March 2018 organised by La Salle Education, I booked myself a place for the conference at the very last minute. I was put on a waiting list as it was already full by the time I stopped dithering. Fortunately, I managed to get in! I booked myself a hotel near the venue to stay overnight as the Conference was to open at 8.30am the following day and it would take me just over two hours to get to Kettering from Derby.
On the day of the conference, everything was buzzing! I was so excited to be able to talk about Maths all day without anybody scampering away or yawning as what happens usually! Everybody was talking my language! I reported to reception, got my badge with a list of workshops I signed up for and a little bag with the day's programme.
I went to browse through some Maths resources on display from various stalls. Aside from the numerous Maths books and various publications I managed to collect as I went through the various stalls, I also secured for myself, two packs of Corbettmaths revision cards (one for Foundation and one of Higher GCSE). It proved to be a very invaluable buy as I had been using it on my lessons ever since. It has a barcode which you scan with a bar code scanner uploaded from any computer's App Store.
The day started with a speech by Mark McCourt, Chief Executive of La Salle Education, then by Andrew Taylor of AQA, the main sponsor. We then had what they called 'speed dating' where you find a partner and you present a Maths resource to each other for about 2 min each time. I have quite a few Maths videos and blog so presented that. It was a really enjoyable activity, networking with other mathematicians and learning new Maths activity. Then we went to our respective workshops.
Workshop 1: Being Efficient at Finding Resources
Presented by Luke Graham. This is as the title says, a presentation on how to filter through the overwhelming number of maths resources, how to select resources and modify them to help our teaching and planning.
Workshop 2: Everything You Wanted to Know About Grade Boundaries
Presented by Andrew Taylor of AQA. This workshop addressed a few questions which are frequently asked such as: Why are we obssessed with grade boundaries, what are the alternatives to grades and the various changes the grade boundaries went through. We were given a historical tour of grade boundaries all the way back to O levels to the modern day system.
Workshop 3: Desmos in the A-level Classroom
Presented by Tom Bennison and Edward Hall. Very interesting and interactive, we got to explore the use of Desmos and the clever features which made it fun to use. I actually already have the Desmos app on my ipad and laptop, just didn't actually know how to manoeuvre around it. But this workshop showed me exactly how to. Looking forward to sharing my newly found knowledge to my pupils.
Workshop4: The Wonderful World of Revision
Presented by Julia Smith, who as somebody said was a force of energy! Never a dull moment here. Great tips to take home with me.
There was also a competition on the best Maths cakes which showcased some very impressive looking cakes, looking too good to eat!
I came out of this conference, not only laden with a great selection of resources but also with all my initial inhibitions gone. I have networked with a lot of brilliant mathematicians and some people I have only known through the great work they do. I am now looking forward to attending more of this CPD building conferences and courses. Maths rocks!