Creating a new subject

This one’s going to be mostly about ICT, but I promise I do tie it into maths at a few points. In my defence, the tagline to the blog is “maths and stuff“.

I created a new ICT subject this year. I guess technically I created it couple of years ago, but that was really just a name and a short description. First semester was the first time I had to actually plan and deliver it.

The subject was “ICT: Web development”, a semester long elective subject for Year 9 & 10. There’s been a gap in our school’s ICT offerings for a while. We have compulsory ICT up to Year 8, and I teach VCE IT*. Which is weird: we keep getting kids choosing IT in Year 11 without choosing the ICT electives in the two years prior. The existing ICT subjects were poorly defined and didn’t link that well into VCE (and from what I gather, involved playing “Zoo Tycoon” a lot in the past). So the P-8 ICT teacher and I discussed how we can improve the subjects and came up with two new ones, to alternate each year: “ICT: Web Development” and “ICT: Software”.

So how did it go? Well…

I saw some great successes, as well as a lot of things I need to work on for next time.

One benefit was the fact that this was an elective, so of course everyone was intrinsically motivated in it from the start, right? OK, not really. But even if I hadn’t stated it as such at the start of the year, I think deep down that was an assumption I was making. That’s not to say there weren’t highly motivated students; some were very motivated, keen to build their own creative websites and learn what they could about how the internet works. But in some of the others I think I mistook enthusiasm for playing around with computers for enthusiasm for the subject matter.

As an aside, I think that’s an easy mistake to make in any subject, especially maths. This has been stated a million times before, but I’ll say it again: we need to ensure that technology is used in a way that supports learning, not because “it will be fun”.

I basically split the semester in two parts – first term was learning basic web development concepts such as HTML, CSS and a little JavaScript, as well as introducing the fun sounding ‘Problem-solving Methodology’. (This is a compulsory part of VCE IT, so if any of these students pick up IT in Year 11, they’ll have a head start on understanding a lot of theory. It basically describes four steps in producing IT solutions: Analysis, Design, Development and Evaluation.)

The second term was focussed on a major project of the students’ own choice. Some of them worked on projects for real clients (usually businesses or organisations run by their parents), and some produced “fan sites” about things they were interested in.

I gave them a choice of working in groups or individually. I don’t know what I’ll do in the future. I was hoping that the groups would find ways to divide up the workload, and some managed to do this well. Unfortunately the groups found it difficult to communicate decisions clearly, and often forgot to share all their work with each other. One group successfully used a shared folder on Dropbox to collaborate – they also shared the folder with me so I could see their work and help them quickly if they needed it. Then with another group, a student spent a whole lesson looking for an email account they remembered the password to so they could sign up to Dropbox.

I’m not against kids working in groups, but I’m not sure it works as well for projects as large as this. Some showed it can work, but I think others didn’t produce projects as impressive as they would have by themselves.

Next time I’ll need to spend more time encouraging kids to experiment with their work. Working with code can be a scary prospect when it’s new, and students reacted differently to it. Some dove in head first, willing to try different things and see what the results were. The quality of the feedback computers provide to students in other subjects is somewhat dubious, but they are fantastic at providing feedback when computers themselves are the subject.

Some students would try different methods in their code, and when their website didn’t work as they expected, they tried something else. When they ran into problems they couldn’t fix, they could ask me specific questions about how to deal with it.

But other students weren’t willing to experiment, and would only write code when they new exactly the way they were supposed to do it. When these students asked for help, they often phrased their question as “My website doesn’t work.” As a result of their unwillingness to take risks, their understanding developed a lot slower than that of the risk-takers.

So here’s a question I have that’s just as relevant in the mathematics classroom: how do we get students to take risks? How do we un-train students from thinking they need to know exactly what to do before they can make an attempt?

(I was going to say that’s relevant to all subjects, but you probably want to hold back on the risks in, say, Chemistry pracs.)

Overall, I still don’t know how to judge my first effort at the subject. Did I do what I set out to do? Yes: we’ve now established links in the ICT curriculum all the way from Prep to VCE, my students produced some very impressive projects and even if some students weren’t as enthused as I’d hoped, they should have a better understanding of what VCE IT involves than students in the past. Am I perfectly happy with how it went? No: there are lots of areas I can see to improve.

That said, the day I ever say I’m perfectly happy with the way I teach a subject is the day I should resign.

* For some reason we refer to the subject as “ICT” up to Year 10, but it’s “IT” in VCE. I don’t know why. I always thought the “C” was redundant anyway.


Differentiation Posters

I’ve never been that good at posters. In my defence (and take this for the lame excuse it totally is), my school doesn’t give teachers their own room. My year nine and ten classes are in a room that doesn’t have any spare space on the walls, my IT Applications class has three different rooms, and my Maths Methods class…

…has a giant wall with not much on it.

I’ve said to the students many times “we really should put something on that wall”, but then haven’t done anything about it. Until today! I finally got around to making some posters with some rules from differentiation.

EDIT: And there’s a mistake. The derivative of cos is -sin, not sin. Gah! The downloads at the bottom should be fixed, I’ll fix the image when I get time.

Poster 1

Poster 2

I know these are black and white and boring. The plan, once I get them printed, is to attack them with coloured markers. In particular, the diagram on the first page needs a lot of work before it makes sense. It’s supposed to show the gradient of the line approaching the derivative as the points move closer together.

So, that’s one set of posters done, but the room needs a lot more. If you want to ignore my complete lack of artistic sense and make use of them, feel free!

Downloads:


Algebra snap

Only a week left of school holidays. I’d better get started on the huge list of things I mean to do over the break!

I spent some time at school today working on an idea I had last week. My next topic with year nine (once we properly finish off Pythagoras) will be Expanding and Factorising. I plan to include some work on simplifying expressions, but I’ve noticed that some students struggle with recoginising ‘like’ terms. Some get mixed up between terms like x and x2 terms, and some don’t realise the differences between terms at all and try to do things like 4x + 5y = 9xy. I wanted an activity that let students practise recognising when terms are like or not.

So I came up with “Algebra Snap”:

algebra snap

It’s basically what it sounds like – “Snap”, but with matching like terms instead of numbers. (Everyone knows how to play Snap, don’t they? EDIT: Sorry, I shouldn’t make assumptions like that! I’ve tried to explain it below.) I haven’t had a chance to test it out yet, but I’ll post here again once I’ve used it in class. The cards are simply laminated coloured paper, with different colours so I don’t get the sets mixed up.

An extension to this activity could be to play the game the same way, except that students have to state the sum of the cards they’re snapping before they get it.

Even though I’ve printed “Algebra Snap” on the back of the cards, I hope there will be chances to reuse them in other activities too. One idea I had was something around factorising – draw two cards, and have students decide whether they can be factorised or not (and have them do the factorisation). I wish I’d planned the coefficients a bit better – if I’d used 6 more often instead of 5 and 7, then there would be more opportunities to factorise. I guess that’s what permanent markers are for.

If you have any other ideas for these cards, or any improvements, let me know!

Downloads (both files are the same thing, but last page of the Word document looks weird unless you fix up the font):

EDIT: How to play Snap:

  • Divide the cards between each player, who holds them face down.
  • Players take turns to reveal the top card and place it in a stack in front of them.
  • If at any point two stacks have matching cards (in this case, cards with like terms), the first player to shout “Snap!” wins both stacks and places them at the bottom of their hand. (Don’t shout if you don’t want to disturb the rest of the school. But it’s more fun if you shout.)
  • The winner is the player to get all the cards.

There are rules for dealing with wrong and tied calls, but there seem to be many different versions around – google it to find one you like. The version I played growing up involved everyone putting their cards into one stack, which would be won by yelling “Snap!” and slapping your hand onto the stack if the last two cards match. It used to get a little violent, so it probably isn’t a good way to play with rowdy 15 year olds.


Random grab bag

Here’s a few things I’ve been meaning to share, but I can’t really justify a post for each of them. So here we go, in no particular order:

My little sister has a job!

After finishing training to become a primary teacher last year, my sister just got her first teaching job! I travelled with her on Wednesday to go visit her new school. I didn’t see much of it because I went shopping while she had important stuff to do, but she was positive about it! She has a lot to do before she starts in a couple of weeks, including finding somewhere to live and setting up her classroom (which is completely empty at the moment).

She’s nervous about it, but I’m really excited for her. Teaching comes to her much more naturally than me, and she’s always known she would be a primary teacher, since she was in primary school herself (as oppossed to me who decided halfway through second year of uni). Also, she’s going to teach maths really well, partly because she’s good at maths herself, and partly because I’m not really going to give her a choice.

Maths shopping

As I mentioned above, I went shopping on Wednesday, and it was an opportunity to do something I call a “maths shop”. That is, I wander through shops looking at stuff, seeing if anything inspires any teaching ideas. I didn’t really really get any specific ideas this time, but I did buy some stuff under the vague notion that something might be useful eventually:

  • A couple of buckets. (Because really, when do you ever have too many buckets?)
  • A whole bunch of coloured electrical tape.
  • A roll of EFTPOS machine paper. (I have no idea why, but a really long strip of paper seems like something that might be useful for… something.)
  • A bunch of stationery supplies – my town’s only newsagency closed down a while back, so it’s often hard to get stuff. (I get a little crazy when I get the chance to buy stationery. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live anywhere near an Officeworks.)

I did also buy some non-teaching related stuff, but who really cares about that?

About page updated

So if you visited the about page for this blog before today, you would’ve only found three short bullet points (and the last one was just a stupid comment about how I couldn’t be bothered writing anything else). But now, it might actually be worth reading!

I’m slightly more important according to Google!

OK, I know I blog so I can improve as a teacher, not to become famous. But it would at least be a little nice if my blog could at least be found by googling it?

Well, if you google the prime factorisation of me now, this blog has reached the fourth page! It was on the seventh, so progress!

Honestly, I’ve always felt a little hard done by from Google. If you search for my name, you’ll find someone a lot more famous than me in the top spot (and his name isn’t even spelt the same as mine). At least Google doesn’t insist my name is spelt wrong like it used to.

I’m starting to ramble, so I’d better leave it here.


Blogging? Absolutely.

This blog is one month old! Woo hoo! I know that might not seem like much, but I have a bad habit of thinking of great ideas then not really sticking to them. This is something I really want to keep doing, because I can already see it making me a better teacher.

Case in point: I had an idea for an activity on the absolute value function this morning while still in bed. Problem is, on my usual timeline, I cover it in February. So under normal circumstances, I’d think “That’s a good idea, I should remember it.” Then I’d proceed to go back to sleep and immediately forget it (it is school holidays now, after all).

But this time, I actually got out of bed and starting testing the activity. Because now my thoughts and ideas aren’t just dumped in the back of my brain – I can use this blog as a way to process those ideas into something useful.

So I’ve created this thing which I’m dubbing the “Absolutamatron”. (I know that’s a horrible name. Please let me know if you have a better one.) I’ve often described the graph of the absolute value function as “flipping all the negative y-values to positive y-values”, but for some reason it had never occured to me to physically flip the graph. So I made this thing:

Original function

abs of original function

It doesn’t really matter what the function is, but this one is supposed to be f(x) = (x+3)(x+1)(x-2).

So I’ve never used this in class myself (as I said, I only thought of it this morning), but I think learning value for the students would be in making it themselves. I deliberately created the absolute function graph by tracing over the original graph, which is what I would have students do too. So this is how to do it:

You will need:

  • Three identical blank Cartesian planes (which you can download here).
  • Scissors to cut out the planes.
  • Markers that will “bleed” through the paper (I used Sharpies). Use colour, because you don’t want to be boring!
  • A pencil.
  • A glue stick.

Step 1: Using a marker, sketch your first graph onto one of the planes. The function can be anything, but it needs both positive and negative values (polynomials work well).

Step 1

Step 2: Cover the graph with another plane, being careful to line up the axes. Trace over the positive values only using a pencil.

Step 2

Step 3: Flip the original graph so the bottom is at the top. Trace over the negative values (which are now positive).

Step 3

Step 4: Remove the original and draw over the pencil markings using a marker.

Step 4

Step 5: Fold each graph in half along the x-axis. Glue the top half of the original to the top half of the blank graph, and glue the bottom half of absolute graph to the bottom half of the blank graph. (Alternatively, you could just glue each half directly into a notebook.)

Step 5

Step 6: Glue the middle bits together. Now you have your very own Absolutamatron!

So it’s really a simple little idea, but it’s an idea that I can guarantee I would have forgotten about by next year. I’ll put a warning on this in case it wasn’t clear: NOT CLASSROOM TESTED. Yet. But if anyone does give it a go, I’d love to know how it went 🙂

(And seriously, if you think of a better name, please tell me that too!)


Back home from Canberra

We made it home and I’m incredibly tired, but now it’s school holidays 🙂 After re-reading my post about going to Canberra with Year 7 & 8, I’ve realised how pessimistic I sounded. In fact, it was a really good time, and our students were very well behaved. There’s a few things I want to write about in detail, eventually, but for now I’ll just make a note of a few of the things that happened:

  • I really enjoyed the National Portrait Gallery. I know! Not really what I expected either. A lot of this was from our tour guide, who didn’t just show us the artworks, but involved a number of different educational activites and got the students to think about what they meant within a theme of “Australian Identity”. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she used to be a teacher.
  • The War Memorial continues to be one of the most moving places I’ve been to. I really need to find an opportunity to visit Canberra again so I can spend a whole day there.
  • Questacon is still one of my favourite places in the world. Of course this was always going to be my highlight, but I think it was for a lot of the kids as well. If you don’t know what Questacon is, it’s basically a gallery of a whole range of hands-on science demonstrations and activities (including a decent smattering of maths).
  • Also from Questacon, I probably spent too much in the shop. I don’t get many opportunities to buy books about maths where I live, and my collection consists of mostly uni textbooks. So I picked up some holiday reading. (Admittedly, one of them is about physics).

Books from Questacon

  • Also: pi mug!

PI MUG!!!

  • After I scored better than the kids at ten pin bowling, some of them have taken to calling me “Mr. Skills”. They starting talking about me similarly to how the internet talks about Chuck Norris. When we visited Parliament we met our local member – after they saw me chatting with him, these kids became convinced that I “know him from way back”. They started telling stories about me secretly being friends with the Prime Minister and actually being the one in charge of federal politics. I’m a little worried about where this might lead…
  • Other than the strange rumors being started about me, it was great to get to know these kids and to have them get to know me. I don’t actually teach either of these classes, so a lot of them have previously just been names and faces to me. If I teach them in the future, it should make the start of the year a lot easier.
  • I spent all week limping around Canberra after being hit by a hockey ball on my ankle last Saturday. But it’s OK now – it’s been balanced out by being hit on my other foot today. I think it really is time to have a rest.

Ten pin bowling and Combinatorics

This is just an idea I had tonight while on camp with Year 7 and 8. It doesn’t relate to anything thing I’m doing in class at the moment, but I wanted to get it written down somewhere before I forgot.

So we went ten pin bowling tonight, and I noticed that after each bowl the scoreboard showed a quick video of the pins getting knocked over (I wish I’d gotten a photo of it). Maybe this is pretty standard and you all know exactly what I’m talking about, but we don’t get to see much bowling in a town as small as ours.

Anyway, initially I couldn’t tell if the video was really recorded live with a camera I couldn’t see, or if it was faked by showing a prerecorded video with the appropriate pins being knocked over. (I’m pretty sure the videos were real, but that’s beside the point). It got me thinking – how many videos would need to be prerecorded in order to be able to show every combination of pins falling over?

The simple solution is this: there are ten pins, and each pin has two possible states, standing or knocked over. So the total number of combinations is 210, or 1024 as any addict of “2048” would be able to tell you. Or if we imagine a more general sport called n-pin bowling, then the number of videos needed is 2n.

The thing is, this is not the first solution I tried. Instead, I tried to use combinatorics:

  • There is C(10,0) = 1 combination with no pins knocked over.
  • There are C(10,1) = 10 combinations with 1 pin knocked over.
  • There are C(10,2) = 45 combinations with 2 pins knocked over.

etc. Then we add them together. This is much more work than the other method (particularly when trying to do it in you head while supervising a bunch of excited 12-14 year olds), but should give us our result. We can make this simpler by remember that combinations are contained in Pascal’s triangle, so we can just add the numbers in row 10 to get our result:

1 + 10 + 45 + 120 + 210 + 252 + 210 + 120 + 45 + 10 + 1 = 1024

But this should always work for our hypothetical game of n-pin as well, by adding the entries in row n. Because the number of videos should be the same regardless of which method we use, this leads to the following result:

The sum of the entries in row n of Pascal’s Triangle is 2n.

So that’s kind of cool. A more typical proof of that statement is to consider the binomial expansion of (a + b)n with both a and b set to 1. So now we can relate the problem to algebra as well!

I know this isn’t a lesson yet, but I wanted to get it down while it was still fresh in my mind. Hopefully I’ll remember to look up this post later in the year, when I actually have to teach this stuff! There’s also few possible extensions to this problem I thought of:

  • Are there any combinations we can eliminate and not make videos for because they are impossible to occur?
  • My 2048 reference was really just a joke. But thinking now, 2048 is all about powers of 2. Pascal’s triangle is (in a rather sneaky way) also about powers of 2. Is there some hidden connection between 2048 and Pascal’s Triangle?

For the record, I scored 133 and 126 in our two games of ten pin. Not great scores, but pretty good for me. I did start with two strikes, so now some of the kids think I’m some sort of bowling genius.


Midyear feedback: Year 9

I had a student ask me the other week, “Teachers are always writing reports about us. When do we get to write a report about the teachers?” Well, I thought, why not?

Actually that’s a lie. I’d already decided to gather feedback from my classes weeks ago, but the fact that one student asked this question was a convenient way to start this post :). But seriously, isn’t the whole point of writing student reports so they know what they need to do to improve (well, that’s the theory at least). Though they really aren’t the experts they think they are on what teachers do, students are more than willing to let us know what they think of how we do our jobs. If we want to improve as teachers, it might be a good idea to at least listen to them from time to time.

I decided to use the “Keep, Change, Start, Stop” format and set up a Google docs form to collect responses from students. I thought I might share some of the feedback I got and maybe even respond to it. In each section, I’ve tried to order it from most common to least common feedback. The first class I got responses from was Year 9.

Keep

New Things Thursday. YES! YES! YES! This was overwhelmingly the most popular response. If you missed it, I introduced New Things in this post. I will absolutely continue it in Term 3.

Monday Science Pracs. Something I haven’t explained yet on this blog: our school has a slightly different Year 9 program, the result of which is that I actually teach a combined maths and science subject we call “Exploration” with another teacher. I mostly focus on the maths, but we have one lesson a week with both teachers in the room on Monday, which is when we tend to do science pracs.

Pythagoras’ Therom or however you spell it. Good. I wasn’t planning on getting rid of it. Not that I’d have a choice in the matter anyway. But more significantly, I’ve been trying a few different things in this unit (including New Things), which students seem to be more enthusiastic about.

Your beard. I grew a beard over the last school holidays, which has split student opinion between “It’s awesome” and “It’s scary”. I’m sorry to the jealous boys in my class, I think it’s only going to be a one term thing.

Change

Less book work. I’m pretty sure you meant “less textbook questions” by this. I agree – I’ve been guilty of falling into the too-many-textbook-exercises trap on a few occassions. I’ve been trying to get away from using it as much as possible lately – I promise I’ll keep doing that.

Let us leave class to fill up our water bottles. No. Just no. You know it’s a school rule, and you know you have recess and lunch to fill it up. Don’t waste my time just because you can’t mangage yours properly. (Can you tell I’ve had this conversation a lot over the semester?)

Make questions easier. If you mean “make questions clearer and more approachable”, then yes, I will try to do that. If you mean “let me not have to think in your class”, then no.

Make maths more fun. I’ll keep trying to do this. But my idea of this might be a little different than yours. I believe that maths is fun (because I am a crazy person), and my job is to help you understand it better so you can see how awesome it is. (But if you mean “teach us with different maths activities”, then sure, I’ll make more of an effort to do this).

Start

Most of the feedback here was repeats of the first two questions, but there were some new points.

Short quizzes at the start of the lesson where you time us. I’m pretty sure I did something like that two years ago when I had your class in Year 7, and you guys hated it! But OK, I’ll think about it.

Free time on Friday. No.

Give us more feedback on our work. I agree, this is something I need to work on.

Yes. Ummm, what? (This really was one of the responses. The same student wrote “No” for Stop).

Stop

Stop counting. I assume by this you mean the thing I do to get your attention when you’re all too noisy? (I quietly count by fives, which lets the class know I’m waiting for them. I go up by five because I used to say “five seconds, ten seconds, …” but they kept correctly pointing out that I usually only take three seconds for each count). There’s a simple solution to this – if you’re all quiet when I ask you to be, I won’t have to do it 🙂

Nothing, I guess. Well, that’s good to hear! But I’m under no illusions. Even if I get to the point where my class thinks I’m perfect, I know there will be improvements I can make.

I think that’s a good start for thinking about where I am with my teaching at the moment, but there’s a lot more reflection to do over the two week break. (And anyway, this is only one of my classes). If you’ve never gathered feedback from your students before, it could be a good idea. It’s a little scary giving students permission to examine and comment on your teaching practice, but they know what you do in the classroom better than anyone else. But it can’t stop here. The only feedback of value is that which leads to improved pedagogy – and I think that’ll take harder work than just letting students write a few things about you.


The calculus of glue-sticks

One of the VCE Maths Methods topics I don’t think I’ve covered particularly well in the past has been the estimation of definite integrals using rectangles. By the time I get up to it, we’ve usually had so many interuptions during the first half of the year (this year is no exception) that I’m trying to catch up and often rush through the material with some short board notes and a few textbook questions.

This year I made a conscious decision to improve the way I introduced it. As much as sketched diagrams help a little, I think they still leave the concepts pretty abstract. I wanted to make my examples more concrete. I wanted to set the stage for explaining the definite integral as the limit of a sum. Hopefully this will also later help draw attention to the significance of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.

My solution (which I’m starting to realise is the solution to pretty much everything!) was cutting and pasting. Initially my students weren’t terribly keen on it, and thought it was a waste of time when they could just draw it, but I think they came round to the idea – kind of. One of them asked an off-topic question, which they started by saying, “Since we’re not really doing maths today…”. That’s OK, I’ve still got a semester to convince them that cutting and pasting absolutely is maths. (Actually, the question was a really interesting one, but I’ll wait until another post to write about it.)

I gave the students a sheet with the same graph of y = -x2 + 4 repeated four times, on grids where 1 cm = 0.5 units. I also gave them coloured paper to cut into strips 2 cm and 1 cm, to use as the rectangles. The result is below:

Estimating using rectangles

With more time, I would have liked to have also done left and right endpoint rectangles, as well as midpoint rectangles and trapezia (I stuck to the boring smartboard for these). Personally I prefer upper and lower rectangles because you can talk about how they, besides being an estimation, form upper and lower bounds on the actual value, and you can demonstrate that the bounds get closer as the number of rectangles increases. But that could just be my pure maths background – I’m sure I’d prefer a faster method for calculating if I had an applied background.

Thinking ahead to next year, this could be followed up with some sort of technology to quickly demonstrate with even more rectangles – maybe using Excel or Geogebra, or maybe even the CAS has some way of doing that. I’ll need to investigate those options. That way we could experimentally find the limit, and hopefully comfirm it matches the definite integral we find using calculus.

EDIT: I meant to include a link to the worksheets here, I’ll add them once I’m near a computer.

EDIT (23-6-2015): A year later (to the day, apparently), I finally got around to adding those worksheets!

Downloads:


Mr Carter Goes to Canberra

I taught my last lesson for the term last Friday. Reports are written. My year 12s have their holiday study homework. My desk is tidy (well, tidier than it was). My list of paperwork to get through is significantly smaller than it was. There’s only one more thing to get done before I can go on holidays:

Go to Canberra with years 7 & 8 for a week. Hooray?

I have to admit I’m not really as excited as I should be right now. We left school at 6:30 (and I never cope that well with early starts as it is), I just had to growl at a couple of kids who were getting overly excited over a game of Mario Kart, and my leg hurts after I failed to jump out of the way of a hockey ball on Saturday. Plus I know how little sleep I’m going to get over the next week, and I remember how stupidly cold our national capital was last time I went on this excursion – and it’s already been stupidly cold at home.

But I really am trying to focus on the positives. Above all, we put ourselves through things like this to give our kids experiences they can’t possibly get by just staying at school. One of the problems our kids have growing up in a small town it that they sometimes don’t really think about the existence of the wider world – hopefully visiting Canberra gives them a better sense of their place in the nation. But these are some things I’m personally excited about:

  • As crazy as it might sound, I’m looking forward to spending a week with these students. I haven’t taught either class before (aside from a few replacement lessons) so I don’t really know them that well. This is my chance to get to know them before I probably teach them in the next few years.
  • Even though maths is “my thing”, I do tend to nerd out on history a bit. I’ve been to the Australian War Memorial a couple of times, but I’m keen to explore there again. I’m also a bit of a politics nerd (I’m not that political, I just find the process fascinating) so I always get a bit of a kick out of Parliament House and the High Court. (Maybe I should have left this point as “I’m a bit of a nerd” and that would have summarised it all?)
  • Questacon! (aka the National Science and Technology Centre.) Last time I was there, I just wandered around with the kids, which was awesome enough by itself. This time, hopefully I can get some lesson ideas out of it.
  • I’m really looking forward to not going ice skating as we’ve done on previous trips. That’s the kind of stress we really don’t need.
  • I’ve had a coffee since I started writing this, so I’m actually awake now.
  • When I get home, I’m going to sleep for a week.

Should I be worried that the last two points were about how tired I am?

Weirdly, I’m also looking forward to the hours spent on our coach today and at the end of the week. I really haven’t had any spare time for a while now, so I can finally sit down and write a few blog posts that I’ve been thinking about. Stay tuned to either read my reflections of the first semester, or to watch my sanity slowly drain away. Could be either, could be both.