I would like to welcome you to the nilsbird training blog. Although I have tried blogging before, this is my first proper attempt, so please bear with me!

The purpose of the blog is for me to share news about what I am doing with nilsbird training, interesting facts and other useful stuff for education. You can access the blog directly by using davidnilsbird.com. You can also contact me directly using any of the contact information shown in the side bar.

One of the first things you will notice is the Mathematics Questions – Newsletters category.

I am now up to Mathematics Questions – Newsletter No. 4. This can be found in the Mathematics Questions – Newsletters category. Previous versions are available for download at nilsbirdtraining.com/mathematics-resources, where all the questions the newsletters refer to can also be found.

Now that Christmas is nearly upon us, I’d like to offer TWO weekends of free webinar watching:

12:00 am (midnight) on Saturday 18th December 2021 to 12:00 am (midnight) Monday 20th December 2021

12:00 am (midnight) on Saturday 25th December 2021 to 12:00 am (midnight) Monday 27th December 2021

All times are GMT.

On both weekends you will be able to access previous material delivered by great trainers. The list of webinars is as follows:

Developing a Mathematics Professional – days 1 to 4

Nilsbird training offers Developing a Mathematics Professional as a way of inspiring mathematics teachers to consider different ways of approaching the teaching of mathematics. It covers: why mathematics, strategies, problem solving and questioning techniques.

Educating the 21st Century Student – days 1 to 3

Nilsbird training held the online conference Educating the 21st Century Student in August of 2021. It brought together six great trainers who covered: what’s the best way? multi-topic mathematics questions, active learning and science, which is more important: content or skills? engaging large classes using low resources in secondary english, thinking mathematically, active learning in a social context, using an analogue clock in mathematics, adapting mathematical tasks for use in the classroom, science enquiry for active learning.

Helping Students Learn Subjects Through English as an Additional Language

This webinar provides help for those teachers who support students who learn subjects through english as an additional language.

Teaching in the classroom on a single computer with no access to the internet

The webinar provides help for those teachers who are trying to teach using only a single computer in the classroom.

Free ICT toolbox

This webinar provides information about what free software etc. is available for teachers to use.

During the two weekends, more detailed information about the content of the webinars will be available.

To gain access to the two weekends of free webinar watching, email conference[@]nilsbirdtraining.com to register your details.

I do hope you will make use of these great opportunities for free training!

From today nilsbird training has changed! You might be wondering what I mean! Well, I had a think and thought: should I take the plunge and become, what we call in the United Kingdom, a limited company? Now there are advantages and disadvantages to this, which I won’t go into, but I felt it was worth a try so here we are: nilsbird training is now the trading name of nilsbtraining ltd. Not a vastly different name, I have to admit, and, in fact, my twitter and facebook handles are @nilsbtraining.

So, what will the change of status mean for the work of nilsbird training? On the face of it, not a lot, to begin with but, as I move forward, and potentially grow, you might see a greater range of options for training and, maybe, some provision for your students as well.

Thinking skills seems to have taken a bit of a back seat since I last wrote some posts! With the marking season around the corner (and, in fact, I have already gone round it, really!) that seat will stay filled until December now. Hopefully I can pursue some good, positive ideas then!

Blog post themes will expand, over the next few months, as I embark on pastures new. Do sign up for the blog email notifications to know when a new post has been put up.

Finally, my next blog post will be about a special weekend in December where I will be allowing access to previously broadcast webinars – for free. Sign up for the blog email notifications to know when the next post has been put up.

“From Mathematics Question – Number 17, onwards, I plan to post each question on the blog, as well, with extra comments that will then appear in the Mathematics Questions – Newsletters. So, basically, each question, plus comments, will become part of the blog and then the newsletter will appear periodically, bringing together, each time, three questions plus comments (as it does now). Hope that makes sense!”

The above didn’t materialise! Oops! What will happen is, I will be publishing the questions as normal on my website, nilsbirdtraining.com/mathematics-resources, and then the newsletter will be published in this blog.

So, here goes with Mathematics Questions – Newsletter No. 5.

In the previous blog post, I mentioned about the publication of Mathematics Question – Number 18. Now Mathematics Question – Number 19 has been published. Download it here. It is the third question in, “The skill of thinking” series. As with Mathematics Question – Number 17 and Number 18, it is written for Grades 5 to8. It asks students to think about different ways that four friends can spend time at a ten-pin bowling alley, over a six month period.

Also in the previous blog post, I mentioned about upcoming webinars and a week-long mathematics course. The dates for these have now been published:

As with all the training nilsbird training tries to provide, the fees for attending the above events are being kept low so that teachers from different economic backgrounds can attend.

The standard price for a webinar is $7 (£5.11). However, until 48 hours before the training is due to take place, it is heavily discounted to the amazing price of $2.50 (£1.82). The standard price for Developing a mathematics professional is $35 (£25.54). However, until 48 hours before the training is due to take place, it is heavily discounted to the amazing price of $10 (£7.30).

Finally, nilsbird training’s first live stream event of this Autumn will be at 16:00 GMT on Wednesday 6thOctober 2021 on it’s YouTube channel. The topics will include CPD (continuous professional development) and active learning: https://youtu.be/je0DgWZZRP0

So, apologies for another information-sharing blog. My next post will be about the mathematics questions so, hopefully, there will be something of interest for you in that. During October I would like to continue to discuss the idea of thinking skills, mentioned in the previous blog post.

A new mathematics question has been published – Mathematics Question – Number 18. Download it here.

The question is the second in a series called, “The skill of thinking”. Written for Grades 5 to 8, the question asks students to think about different ways of purchasing books; from an online store, or a physical book store. There are membership schemes and discounts for students to think about. As with Mathematics Question – Number 17, the idea of the question is not to work with complex mathematics, but to bring together related information to solve a problem.

How important are thinking skills to you as a teacher? Do we just take them for granted when working with students, or do students actually need support with developing them? There is even a Thinking Skills examination provided by Cambridge Assessment International Education (17/18 year olds).

I think there is a new topic for a future blog coming here. What are thinking skills and do we need them? Let’s see what I can do!

The webinar preparations are coming on and the dates will soon be published. Just looking at providing three webinars in October, plus a week-long mathematics course.

Don’t forget to watch out for the live stream event in October – via YouTube. The focus will be CPD and Active Learning.

Well! This post is just a brief, short post to share some new ideas for 2021/2022. Here goes!

The mathematics questions are back! Question Number 17 has been published. It’s the first in a new series called, “The skill of thinking”. Question 18 will be published on Monday 20th September 2021. All the questions can be found at here. (Don’t forget the Mathematics Questions Newsletter is now part of this blog.)

Supporting CPD/Professional Development returns with some webinars in October2021. Watch out for a blog post with all the details. The high standards shown in Standard for teachers’ professional development are what nilsbird training wants to aspire to!

Nilsbird training is embarking on a new venture – live streams via YouTube. The first will be on October 6th at 16:00 GMT. Themes will be CPD and active learning. Watch out for a blog post with all the details.

Thinking again about CPD/Professional Development, complete these three statements and let nilsbird training know what your needs are for 2021/2022:

1) Over the next year I want to learn more about … so that I can improve my students progress in the classroom. 2) Over the next year I want to improve my understanding of … so that I can improve my students progress in the classroom. 3) Over the next year I want to improve my … so that I perform more effectively as a teacher and support my personal well being.

For this post on telling the time (my last, I think, for the moment!) I’m going to look at some of the written approaches I took.

Depending on the age/ability of the students, I tried to go as far as I could with my written approaches. At the start, it was important that students knew the basics.

This information was put into practise.

As I linked in fractions with telling the time (see the previous post), appropriate questions were used.

As some students progressed, harder questions were given, mixing in fractions when appropriate.

The most able students were set the task of planning a journey involving time.

I did not shy away from asking higher-level thinking questions, such as 15 minutes is the answer, what is the question? (The students did find this question particularly hard!)

So, the end of the posts about telling the time. I hope you found them interesting. I certainly learnt a lot that I didn’t know before!

The multi-topic mathematics questions are returning next week, so the newsletters will appear again. Something to look forward to!

Well, what a resounding success Educating the 21st Century Student online conference was! Great live keynotes and workshops, plus prerecorded material, led to feedback comments such as:

“Great thanks to the organisers”

“It was really my great privilege to be part of this conference again and I cant wait to tell others about it and to implement in my class.”

“I just have to encourage you to continue working hard as you are improving the life of a teacher by giving us nourished information which can help us to be good teachers. I really enjoyed this conference just looking forward if I will have another opportunity to attend another conference.”

“The conference was awesome and very insightful and really helped me to build my thinking perception to the teaching and learning process. Am looking forward to more conferences from Nilsbird. Thank you David.”

nilsbird training and Chingola Private Schools Association intend to pursue more of the same, next year.

This new post focuses on some practical steps I took to support the students understanding of how to tell the time.

I have always been a great believer in kinesthetic learning; students actively engaged in their learning (as opposed to focusing on a particular style of learning because a student is deemed to learn best in that way). I have always felt that if you can immerse a student in an activity, it will very likely support their understanding.

With the above in mind, I tried a couple of ideas, both based around the students having to visualise the layout of a clock on a carpet. For example, for some students (either because of their age or ability) that were just learning about the clock face/I was just trying to consolidate understanding, I placed a chair/stool on the carpet and said it was the centre of a clock. I then asked them to sit/stand at particular numbers, having told them where 12 was. To do this, they had to visualise where the numbers would be. So, for example, students were asked to stand at 2, 4 8 and 10.

I then asked questions, such as, who is standing at 10? Or asked a student to go and stand where 7 would be. To make the activity slightly harder, I would remove the chair so that the students lost a point of reference.

My other idea was to ask the students to stand, individually, on a carpet; all facing in the same direction which was 12. I then gave them instructions, such as, turn through a 1/4 of an hour, clockwise, and then asked, where are you facing? Or, turn through 1/2 an hour, anticlockwise, and then asked, where are you facing?

This second activity opened up a lot of possibilities for the content of questions/extension material. For example, students could start the activity facing, for example, 4 and then be asked to turn/say where they were facing. Or the amount of turn could cover all the factors of 60 – 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/10, 1/12, 1/15, 1/20, 1/15 and 1/60; plus multiples of these, for example, turn through 5/6, or 37/60, of an hour. (This got even harder if you asked students to turn through, for example, 3/8 of an hour, or 17/12 of an hour.)** ** We must not forget that minutes, as well as fractions of an hour, will all be part of this work as well.

The responses the students had to give to questions, such as, where they were facing, were certainly challenged, if they had to clearly describe where they were positioned after a challenging turn. So, here is a particular scenario:

Teacher: “Ok. Let’s move to the carpet.“

Teacher: “Everybody find your own space. Face the green wall. That’s 12.“

Teacher: “Turn to face 3.“

Teacher: “Ok. Turn through 3/5 of an hour anticlockwise. Where have you ended up?“

Student: “21 mins to the hour.“

Teacher: “Great. That’s correct.“

Teacher: “Can anyone describe where they are facing in a different way?“

Student: “1 min before the 8.“

Teacher: “Yep! That’s correct.“

Now, maybe you can begin to see why I said in my introduction to this series: “The journey I have made has made me realise how telling the time can be taught and all the mathematics that can actually be taught using a clock!“

Whilst trying out these practical activities, things such as fractions, were beginning to play an important role. As a result, I decided to focus on fraction understanding, as well as time, but that is another story!

When considering the use of fractions when telling the time, factors/multiples/primes, as well as the manipulation of fractions, can also play their part. So, the scenario above could become:

Teacher: “Ok. Let’s move to the carpet.“

Teacher: “Everybody find your own space. Face the green wall. That’s 12.“

Teacher: “Turn to face 3.“

Teacher: “Ok. Turn through 4/5 of an hour anticlockwise. Where have you ended up?“

Student: “27 mins past the hour.“

Teacher: “Great. That’s correct.“

Teacher: “Can anyone describe where they are facing in a different way?“

Student: “2 mins past the 5.“

Teacher: “Yep! That’s correct.“

Teacher: “Now. Turn 2/3 of an hour clockwise. Where have you ended up?“

Student: “7 mins past the hour.“

Teacher: “Can anyone describe where they are facing in a different way?“

Student: “2 mins past the 1.“

Teacher: “Yep. That’s correct.“

Teacher: “So, what do you think we have just done? What calculation have we done?“

Student: “4/5 – 2/3.“

Teacher: “Great. So, where’s the answer to this calculation? Where can we find it on our clock?“

Student: “How far we would turn anti-clockwise from 3 to where we ended up – 8 mins.“

Teacher: “Great! Can anyone say what fraction this 8 mins is? A clue is: it’s 8 mins out of 60.“

Student: “8/60. I think, cancelled down, it’s 2/15.“

Teacher: “Yep! If we did 4/5 – 2/3, we’d get 2/15.“

I agree the above is a little contrived, but I hope you get the idea!

Other topics that could be integrated with clocks are angles (not just values but names, such as, right-angle and acute), transformations (for example, if the line of reflection is from 12 to 6, what is the reflection of 4 o’clock?) and multiplication tables (Hopefully this last one will be talked about in another blog post.)

That’s it for now. My next post will talk about further written work I did with clocks.

Don’t forget, via supportforteachers.com, you can find out all about the online teacher training conference, Educating the 21^{st} Century Student, 26th to 28th August 2021.

For those of you who like regular posts, I must apologise for not being that regular at the minute! Life, as mentioned before, is always busy and so, currently, posts happen when they can! (Look out soon for the sign-up form that will enable you to be kept informed when a blog post has arrived.)

So, when you look at the cognitive difficulties that adults with dementia suffer, it sheds some light on the cognitive development of children; the clock drawing activity showing what development is/has taken place. Why has the student not drawn the numbers at the edge of the circle?

One thing I wanted to get across to the students, at the start of my teaching, is that time is continuous; it does not stop. (I feel that this is really important, as just reading a digital clock does not actually allow an understanding of this.) I also tried to get some basic facts over to the students:

Some students were able to work with these facts:

Next time (part 3) I will talk about the practical approach I used to reinforce the students’ understanding.

Don’t forget, via supportforteachers.com, you can find out all about the online teacher training conference, Educating the 21^{st} Century Student. I now have an additional workshop on Saturday 28th August, delivered by the very capable Sanjit Chimber. It’s all about maths activities for 16 to 19 year olds.