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#UMFac Chat summary and future plans

September 11, 2012

Back on the 30th August, I and @mrsulemanmaths hosted the first #UMFac chat as a way to collect ideas for the future just before we all went back to school and got too busy. It was a great success with 28 separate people tweeting a massive total of 285 tweets in just 45 minutes.

So, what has come out of it?

Having looked through the archive (thanks to @ICTevangelist for helping with that) I’ve pulled together some themes and action points.

Getting other people on board and do they need to be on twitter?
The first discussion point was how best to introduce the #UMFac to a real-life maths faculty in school.
Naturally there is no ‘right’ way to do this but a common theme seemed to be the plan of sharing the col laborative documents first so that others could see there was useful ideas/resources in there. Once people have got used to the idea of collaborating with people they’ve never met, it may be a good chance to introduce them to the world of twitter. Another viewpoint was that it’s difficult to get the most out of #UMFac without being on twitter and I have to say that I do agree with this view, but as a starting point, I’m happy for anyone to contribute to the #UMFac documents as long as they buy into the intention of them being ‘ultimate’ (more on this later).
@teachertoolkit commented that by sharing the documents, it may well be enough of a draw for those that have thought about tweeting to actually do something about it.
@missradders shared a common concern about technophobes in her department and the possibility of a need for a meeting to demonstrate the use of google docs. A couple of others said that they would get their faculty into a computer room d uring a meeting and let them have a go then.

The discussion developed onto whether it was necessary to be on twitter to make use of the #UMFac. I don’t think it necessary but it would help as one of the beauties of twitter is that it would nudge to go and have another look once in a while and any great new resources/ideas would do the rounds. If you’re not on twitter, it’d be easy to forget to check back every so often. Three comments regarding this theme were:
@icecolbeveridge I think it’s tricky for technophobes ?????? but #UMFac might drag them kicking and screaming into the future :o)
@Davideo07 I think I’m the only member of my faculty that uses twitter so I’ll be introducing that on our first inset day and then move onto the #UMFac
@mrsulemanmaths @reflectivemaths I think it is possible if you get staff but in and possibly create a department twitter account #UMFac

The idea of a departmental twitter account is one that seemed popular with some teachers. I know that my school is prepared to go for this yet but @chris_1974, @ilovemathsgames and @L1v1n9byNum63r5 have all taken steps towards this. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind you contacting them about it.

Quality versus quantity
This lead to @mrprcollins suggesting another way of getting others involved by having the #UMFac linked to the TES (@mrprcollins and I are both part of the TES maths panel). This suggestion, in turn lead to a discussion about maintaining the quality of the resources and links. @tj007 had this thought:
@tj007 @missradders Should ideas have a reflection to go with them too? Just so we know it has been tried and tested. Others add refl too? #UMFac

I think this is probably a crucial development for the #UMFac. It really (for me) is about having awesome ideas, knowing that they have been tried and personally recommended by someone else who is willing to make the effort to add them to a document because they were so, well, ultimate. I absolutely want to have quality over quantity and this is why some of the documents are a little bare. I’d rather they sat semi-dormant until some genuinely ultimate teaching ideas came up than just throwing something in to fill up the space. (That said, some of them have been sitting for quite some time with few additions…)
So, one action point for anyone that uses the #UMFac is to try and link to blog posts where these ideas have been tried out or, perhaps, add more reflections on how the ideas went into the document.

Next topics and new page ideas
Moving things on in our 45 minute chat, I asked Which other topics do we need to tackle next/soon in the documents?
@L1v1n9byNum63r5 suggested negative numbers and, later on vectors
@missradders suggested a common misconceptions page
@ceejaypee was very keen for help with circle theorems
@icecolbeveridge liked the idea of “10 costly things that are easy to put right” [meaning exam tips]
@mrsulemanmaths would like algebraic fractions
@pamelaaobrien suggested coordinate geometry
@ilovemathsgames wondered about a list of resources that promote self-reflection and progress-awarness
@mrsulemanmaths wanted to build games into lessons such that they had a specific outcome from doing them

Other uses of the #UMFac

And then, rapidly running out of time, I asked How else can we make use of the #UMFac?

The first response was:
@taylorda01 @reflectivemaths To be perfectly honest, I think the #UMFac is doing exactly as it needs to. A chance to share practice on a wider level.
Which is very nice. Thanks.
By far and away the most popular idea here was, if you’re on twitter and need help with a topic, add #UMFac help please and @icecolbeveridge instantly interpreted this as a #UMFac Bat Signal. A very popular idea and it’d be great if someone wants to try this out.
Interestingly, this was one of my very first uses of the #UMFac as I was struggling for ideas with teaching coordinates to bright yr 9s who would be able to do it instantly. I rapidly got loads of ideas from people kind enough to help out on twitter so I know this Bat Signal idea can work really well.

Final thoughts
As a nearly final thought, @missradders asked whether we could have a more user-friendly landing page url and, thanks to @liketeaching , we have 

And we were done. @tj007 said that the time had flown and the 45 minutes had felt like 0.45 hours.
As a nice little bonus, @vicgoddard (the head teacher from Educating Essex) popped in to say he liked all the great ideas.

And, with that, I promptly collapsed! I have no idea how anyone moderates #ukedchat but great respect to them.

If you’ve any doubt to the speed of twitter, the attached batsignal image was created by @mrprcollins before the chat had even finished!

Some time in the future, around half term, I’ll organise another #UMFac to see how you’ve all got on with introducing this to your faculties in school.
Until then, if someone would like to make a “How to make your department awesome by using the #UMFac” video, that’d be cool.

Now, back to my #UMFa c Cave…

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