Over the last two years I have had two external harddrives fail on me, and forgotten/misplaced my USB memory stick countless times. Each time I’ve thought that I should look for another solution, but never quite managed to do so.

Enter Dropbox.

For those who haven’t heard of it, Dropbox is an online storage tool that allows you to access your files anywhere, so long as you have an internet connection. Signing up for a Dropbox account is simple, and free. If you go to the Dropbox website you will be able to sign up for an account that gives you 2GB of storage space for free. If you use this link, however, you will get an extra 500MB of space, giving you 2.5GB. (It also gives me an extra 500MB of space too!)

Installing Dropbox on your computer results in an extra folder on your computer which you use in the same way as any other. Any folders or files put into the Dropbox folder will be uploaded straight away and made available to any other computer you have installed Dropbox onto.

My work computer doesn’t allow me to install programs. That isn’t an issue though. Dropbox also works via their website and gives you the same functionality plus extras. Dropbox remembers thirty days worth of changes to files. The Dropbox web interface allows you to track those changes, and restore previous versions of files – even if they have been deleted.

Why use Dropbox?

But what if you use a laptop? Why would you need to use Dropbox? Where Dropbox really excels is the way it allows you to share files and folders with other people.  Every individual folder can be shared with other invited Dropbox users. Once invited, every member of a shared folder will be able to add, edit, and delete the contents inside but will not be able to access anything outside of that specific folder. This makes it perfect for collaborative projects; rather than e-mail files backwards and forwards just pop them into your Dropbox. The trackback facility makes sure everything stays safe – if something is deleted by accident, you’ve got thirty days to restore it.

Files and folders can also be shared with users who don’t have Dropbox via a hyperlink – perfect for sharing albums of photographs with family, or sharing a presentation with the whole of your PLN on Twitter.

Increasing your free space

As already mentioned if you sign up for Dropbox straight from their website you will be given 2GB worth of free space. By following these easy steps you will be able to increase that limit significantly.

Step 1: Sign up via a referral link = +500MB

Step 2: Complete at least 5 of the 7 getting started tasks = +250MB

Step 3: Allow Dropbox to access your social media accounts and complete the tasks = +625MB

Step 4: Use the Camera Upload facility to upload photos = +3GB in 500MB blocks (you are required to upload 3GB worth of photos, but they can be deleted afterwards to free up the space.)

Step 5: Invite your friends to Dropbox using your referral link = +500MB per referral, up to a limit of 16GB.

So there you go; reason to use Dropbox, and easy ways to increase your free space. What are you waiting for?

Data Analysis

Magnifying glass looking at data

Data Analysis: love it or hate it, it is a vital part of the role of the modern teacher. Unfortunately it can become a wearisome, time-sapping activity that many dread. It can easily take up hours of your time leaving you feeling tired and frustrated.

In preparation for line management meetings this year I’ve developed a spreadsheet that does most of the data analysis for me, leaving me with more time for interpreting and acting upon what is shown by the data.

Ofsted would like us to keep an eye on the progress of a large range of vulnerable groups. From the 2012 Ofsted inspection schedule:

Inspection is primarily about evaluating how individual pupils benefit from their school. It is important to test the school’s response to individual needs by observing how well it helps all pupils to make progress and fulfil their potential, especially those whose needs, dispositions, aptitudes or circumstances require particularly perceptive and expert teaching and, in some cases, additional support. Depending on the type of school, such pupils may include:

  • disabled pupils, as defined by the Equality Act 2010, and those who have special educational needs
  • boys
  • girls
  • groups of pupils whose prior attainment may be different from that of other groups
  • those who are academically more or less able pupils for whom English is an additional language minority ethnic pupils
  • Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children
  • looked after children
  • pupils known to be eligible for free school meals
  • lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils
  • transgender pupils
  • young carers
  • pupils from low income backgrounds
  • other vulnerable groups.

My spreadsheet works out for me, by class as well as for the whole cohort, the following:

  • The number of students meeting 3/4 levels progress (dependant on G&T status)
  • A breakdown for SEN A, SEN P and SEN S
  • A breakdown for G&T pupils
  • A breakdown for free school meal pupils (FSM)
  • A breakdown for English as a foreign language
  • A breakdown for looked after students.

Feel free to use/tweak/edit/improve the spreadsheet. If you think there is something missing, let me know in the comments and I’ll see if I can implement it. Even better – have a go at editing it yourself and send me a copy of the improved version!

Download data analysis sheet

Why am I blogging?

I first signed up on Twitter in November after a colleague told me about @SteveBesley’s tweets about education policy. I soon started following other maths teachers and discovered how fantastic Twitter was for professional development.

Often in teaching subject specific professional development opportunities are few and far between. In service training tends to be about generic whole school issues rather than specific subject development. Twitter has allowed me to find out how other subject specialists teach particular topics, allowed me opportunities to discover other people’s amazing resources and allowed me to share my experience with others.

Reasons to blog

Image credits: http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/why-blog/

After discovering other maths teachers on Twitter I started to read their blogs and began to incorporate some of their ideas in my classroom and share them with other members of my department. One of the things that I thought was particularly useful for other bloggers was the reflective nature of some of their posts – using their blog to facilitate their own thinking and reflection on their teaching/ideas/resources/etc.

Almost as soon as I started reading other people’s blogs I started planning my own blog in my head, and so registered the MrMathsTeacher.co.uk domain name. Since then time has flown by, and my plans have been left on hold, until now.

Now the blog is set up I want to it to reflect on my own teaching, to share resources I’ve created, and as a record of ideas to use in the future. Hopefully, as time goes on, I’ll be able to use the experience of the readers as they critically comment on what I post.

First Post

Green start button

My first post – the start of my blogging life! Future posts will offer something useful for the reader. However, for the moment, this is just a celebration that I’ve managed to overcome the technical hurdles involved with getting a blog up and running for the very first time.

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