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Welcome to nilsbird training – the blog

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. (You can still access the newsletters if you sign up for the mailing list here and want them sent straight to your inbox.)

All the questions the newsletter refers to can also be found at nilsbirdtraining.com/mathematics-resources

So, as I say, welcome to my blog.

Please come again!

David Bird
nilsbird training

Telling the time – part 1

Today I’m writing my part 1 to the posts about telling the time. In my last post I introduced what I did in the Primary school and mentioned that “… putting numbers on a clock (the first challenge for the students) is harder than you might think and that’s what I’ll begin with next time!” So, more on this now!

As I started to work with the primary students I began to see the difficulties some of them had with placing numbers in the correct place round an analogue clock. (It wasn’t so much the order that the numbers had to be placed in; it was more the correct spacing between the numbers):

To enable students to have a chance of any accuracy with their clock layouts, I said, “Place the 12 and 6, 9 and 3 first; then put the other numbers in between.” This did help and some of the students took the idea on board as they created their clocks over a period of time.

Now, in doing a bit of a searching on the internet about the difficulties of drawing analogue clocks, I have discovered that, apparently, there is a drawing-clock test that is used to check for things like dementia. One article talks about clock-drawing errors, including what I have mentioned: https://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.neuropsych.12070180

Maybe my next post (part 2) will be a little more about this drawing-clock test. We’ll see!

Don’t forget, via supportforteachers.com, you can find out all about the online teacher training conference, Educating the 21st Century Student. I have some great live speakers lined up: Alison Borthwick (alisonborthwick.co.uk), Dr Alan Cross, Dr Tony Birch (bircheducation.co.uk), Sioban Parker, Stephen Atyeo and myself. Speakers who will provide pre-recorded workshops: Ann Starks, Joseph Hubbard (creationresearchuk.com) and Sheba Moyo.

Thanks for now and see you next time.
David
nilsbird training
PS As always, you can always contact me using the details in the side bar.

Telling the time – an introduction

A slight delay to this blog post but, fortunately, the marking season and the National Tutoring Programme support I’ve been doing in a primary school are coming to an end, so I can now concentrate on a few other things.

This blog post is titled Telling the time – an introduction. During my time at the primary school, I have tried to support student understanding of how to tell the time using an analogue clock:

Because of the covid pandemic, students in the UK missed a lot of face-to-face lessons and one of the casualties, for some primary students, was being taught how to tell the time. So, when I started my support, I made it my mission to try to teach the students how to tell the time using an analogue clock. (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!)

Now, the thing is, some of you reading this post might question why it is important to teach students how to tell the time using an analogue clock, when they all have a phone! Well, throughout these posts on what I did I will try to explain why I think it is! (If you ask students if they can tell the time, they might, happily, tell you yes and confidently say, “It’s 1:17 pm”; getting the time from their phone! However, if you then showed them 1:17 on an analogue clock, they might not have a clue where to begin! I have a theory about whether this is a problem: being able to read digital time but not analogue. But I will say more about this in another blog post.)

I began my mission by drawing clocks on paper/creating flashcards for o’clock, half-past, quarter past and quarter to; then practising these with the students, getting them to draw their own clocks in their books. (To begin with I resorted to them drawing round something circular!)

Now, putting numbers on a clock (the first challenge for the students) is harder than you might think and that’s what I’ll begin with next time!

Don’t forget, via supportforteachers.com, you can find out all about the online teacher training conference, Educating the 21st Century Student. I have some great live speakers lined up: Alison Borthwick (alisonborthwick.co.uk), Dr Alan Cross, Dr Tony Birch (bircheducation.co.uk), Sioban Parker, Stephen Atyeo and myself. Speakers who will provide pre-recorded workshops: Ann Starks, Joseph Hubbard (creationresearchuk.com) and Sheba Moyo.

Thanks and see you next time,
David
nilsbird training

Engagement and repeating myself!

In a previous post I’d talked briefly about those students who lack motivation and seem to rule the roost! Do you know who I mean?

In the past, I have seen older, secondary-aged students (who lack motivation etc.) being given jobs to do, so that they are occupied and focused on something. I think I also recently experienced this with primary-aged students. That makes you wonder what can we do with those who are disengaged?

I seemed to have posted about the Zambian teacher’s conference (twice) already and mentioned that I would talk about teaching telling the time in a particular post (and never did!) To be clear, my next post will be about telling the time and there will be a lot more information about the conference as soon as it becomes available. A number of conference speakers are already arranged – see via supportforteachers.com.

David
nilsbird training

Life is still very busy but please see about a great online event!

Life is still very busy, with marking and teaching, but one thing I must mention is:

Educating the 21st Century Student, an online teacher training conference for Zambia, and beyond – Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th August 2021.

This event is an amazing opportunity for teachers based in Zambia, and beyond, to have three excellent days of training from some high quality trainers. Find out more about this event via supportforteachers.com.

David
nilsbird training

Life is still busy but great news today!

Life never gives up on what it throws at us and, in my case, that’s the marking season, which is now upon me! So, things like my maths questions have taken a back seat for the moment. Do keep an eye out for number 17. I’ll let you know when it will be available.

This short blog post is really about the great news I have: Educating the 21st Century Student, an online teacher training conference for Zambia, and beyond – Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th August 2021. This is a conference I am putting on in partnership with Chingola Private School Association – based in Chingola, Zambia (in the Copperbelt Region!).

© OpenStreetMap contributors, https://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright

All the details about the conference can be found via supportforteachers.com. You can sign up there to be kept in the loop about all the arrangements for the conference. There are some amazing speakers lined up (including me!) and it’s a great price too – $30 for all three days!

I still need to write about how I’m teaching the time and fractions at the same time, but that will have to wait. Back to the marking!

See you next time.
David
nilsbird training

A lack of commitment!

As I work as a tutor I get to see a lot of different things concerning learning. With online tutoring I work with older students who, for example, are genuinely keen to improve their mathematics knowledge/want to get the right grades. With face-to-face tutoring I work with younger students (as mentioned previously) who vary in their enthusiasm and commitment.

Recent experiences in the face-to-face environment have shown me that some students seem to ‘rule the roost’ when it comes to not cooperating and just doing as they please! No doubt such students might have genuine behaviour problems but certainly they show a complete lack of commitment to their learning needs. (I would say they are definitely old enough to know how important learning is!)

So, what are to be done with students who just ‘can’t be bothered’ and will leave the classroom whenever they please?

You thoughts, as always, are welcome!

David
nilsbird training
PS How would you teach telling the time to those who have missed the opportunity in the curriculum? My thoughts on this in the next post!

Motivation – how to engage students? Part 4 (and life is rather busy at the moment!)

I am writing this post, after having provided my next bit of support, as a tutor, on a course. Before that I was doing some marking (where I fell asleep!) So, life is proving rather busy at the moment. (Have I taken too much on? – maybe!)

With my reference to Part 4 of motivation, I had a pleasant surprise from one of the 9/10 year old’s today. They said that they were now beginning to enjoy maths, when it comes to telling the time. (They have even been practising at home, it seems!) Another student, however, said they hate maths!

There seems to be such a disparity between different students’ perceptions about maths when they are young. Some like it and some hate it! I wonder if other subjects are the same?

Just so that you are aware, my Mathematics Question – Number 17 might be a little delayed due to how busy I am. Please keep an eye out here and on my website.

Bye for now.
David
nilsbird training

Motivation – how to engage students? Part 3

Today, I’d like to add some more thoughts to this engagement question.

Thinking about some 9/10 year olds I worked with this afternoon, I began to think about what level of our UK GCSE (16 year old examination) they might sit in 6/7 years time. (Assuming this examination still exists!) It is clear to me that the students are already pretty good at mathematics and therefore I would predict they would sit the highest level.

So, assuming my prediction is correct, how do we keep the engagement going/keep them interested for another 6/7 years? (I think this is especially important to think about, when work the students can do/cover now will be revisited during the first few years of high school, and then within the actual GCSE examination.)

What would you do with such ‘bright’ students, as they progress through school?

Let me know your thoughts!

Thanks,
David
nilsbird training

Mathematics Question – Number 16

For those of you following the Mathematics Questions, Number 16 is now available to download from https://nilsbirdtraining.com/mathematics-resources.

As I said in a previous post, from Mathematics Question – Number 17 onwards, the questions and any additional information that would ordinarily appear in the Mathematics Questions – Newsletters, will become a feature of the blog. The newsletters will then become a summary of the blog posts. You can sign up to receive the Mathematics Questions – Newsletters here.

A new feature, coming soon, will be a dedicated domain name for the Mathematics Questions.

David
nilsbird training

Motivation – how to engage students? Part 2

This week ended, after having spent my first time in a Junior School (7 to 11 yrs of age in the UK) since a few days of supply teaching I did 2/3 years ago. I am in the school for around 10 weeks; again as part of the UK Government’s National Tutoring Programme. I am working with groups of 3. (Students having been selected for extra support because of the education they have missed over the last year.)

One thing that struck me, from my first few days, was a comment that one of the 9 year olds said to me. They confidently declared that they don’t like maths. They like literacy instead. So, it makes you wonder what it is that has given the student this opinion? They are only 9 and they have already made the choice! What does this mean for the student, when they have another 7 years to study this subject? They have already decided they don’t like! (It makes you wonder how long a 14 year old, who is disinterested in maths, has held their opinion?)

Can we blame a teacher for the choice the student has made? Was maths taught in an uninteresting way and this caused the student to make their decision? We will never know. How are we now to bring the student to see the importance of the subject? The annoying thing is, I think the student shows promise of being good at the subject (with support).

I have just googled a phrase I remember. Something along the lines of, give me a child of 7 and I’ll make a man of him. One website says it’s Aristotle who said it: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/709859-give-me-a-child-until-he-is-7-and-i. Another talks about it being the motto of the Jesuit Order: https://breakingspells.wordpress.com/2008/01/01/give-me-a-child-until-he-is-seven-and-i-will-give-you-the-man/

Does this phrase also mean, what I learn in the first few years of schooling can make or break my interest in a subject? We will ponder.

Your views, as always, are welcome. Connect with me using the contact details shown in the side bar.

Thanks,
David
nilsbird training