The title for this post came from something which was almost a throw-away comment I made on #mathchat on 11th October.  I was basically annoyed at the discrepancy of tolerance levels in relation to homosexuality as opposed to being bad at mathematics.  Why should other people’s sexual preference be something that needs to be stated publicly to gain tolerance or acceptance?  Why should anyone take pride in publicly stating that they are bad at mathematics?  We need to be clear about what we are tolerating and what we are accepting, and what should be tolerated and what should be accepted.

As a teacher, I find it painful when “famous people with lots of money” start opening their mouths and spouting forth about education, because most of their experience comes from having been at school, if they actually managed to get the diploma/qualification required/expected of them.  I find it more painful when “elected officials” start opening their mouths and spouting forth about education, because most of their experience comes from having been at school and, probably, university, without actually having taught anything in their lives, but with a very clear idea about what should be taught and how it should be done.  You can find your own examples, but you won’t go far wrong if you choose Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Michael Gove and Nick Gibb (hmm, an accountant as minister for schools…).

Pizza Hut in the US ran an outrageous commercial that it seems was withdrawn by pressure from social media, but the initial perception was misguided:

Hey folks, Chris Fuller, Director of PR for Pizza Hut here. I wanted to let you know that we hear you loud and clear. In fact, my wife is a math curriculum specialist, so this topic hits close to home. We, of course, meant no ill will with the ad. It was meant to be playful and funny around the easy value our new $8, $10 and $12 pricing provides. More than a week ago we pulled the ad and we are replacing it with an entirely different theme. We sincerely apologize for any unitended [sic] offense.

The fact is, phrases like: “My wife is a math curriculum specialist,” and “We, of course, meant no ill will,” and “It was meant to be playful and funny,” are as empty as “Some of my best friends are black/gay/women…”.  The damage has been done, and it was clearly done years ago if the people who put this ad together thought they were being “playful and funny” about something that others have genuine fears about.

There are still perceptions that maths is boring or somehow getting all the funding, which seem to go uncommented on… Sir Ken Robinson (the ‘creativity expert’) gave a 55 minute speech at the RSA. It is a great pity that the RSAnimate’s edited extracts video (Changing Education Paradigms) chose to visualize maths as boring, and maths and science as being the subjects that were separated out, as well as editing or reframing Sir Ken’s original speech – why not geography, history, English, art, music…?  I generally admire the work that RSAnimate produces, but it is all the more ironic that Sir Ken actually spoke about “taking certain ideas for granted” about 7 minutes into his speech at the RSA…

It’s the things we take for granted that we need to identify and question. (Sir Ken Robinson)

Maybe the reason so much funding for the Arts has been cut is because ‘ordinary people’ do not see piles of bricks, or cows cut in half, or unmade beds as being art.  Why does so much money get spent on soccer rather than archery or bowls…?  How does a respected composer become an enfant terrible at the age of 60?  Why is there a Nobel Prize for Economics but none for Mathematics or Dance or ..?  The main challenge is for those of us at the teaching edges of our subjects to impart some of the passion and love we feel towards them, so that the general public can get back in touch with what they are really about, instead of living with perceptions from the past.  There is science and mathematics in the arts, just as there is beauty and creativity in mathematics and science.

So, let us take pride in what mathematics, science and art have given us together, in synergy, because we do better when we collaborate and value everyone’s works and creations equally:



Hyperbolic parabaloids

The Möbius Strip


Dedicated to the memory of Benoit Mandelbrot who showed us that there is no such thing as smooth…


I have been reflecting on the past few #mathchat sessions, as well as other education chats and comments, and more and more I am coming to the conclusion that education may be reformed, but it will never work.  The problem, as I see it, is that education is basically an institution, a collection of vested and disparate interests all fighting and pushing against each other for limited resources.  In the process, teachers get ‘bashed’, subject areas get sidelined or cut from budgets, schools start scrabbling about for crumbs of support… in all of this, the student seems to have been forgotten.

I am somewhat disheartened that, as of the time of writing, my top post (10 reasons not to be a teacher) has had 245 hits, but its companion piece (10 reasons to be a teacher) has had only 47.  We know teaching can be difficult, but it can also be rewarding…

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though, and it’s not an oncoming train.  Interactions I have had with colleagues on #mathchat suggest that it is possible to change your style of teaching even in times of close scrutiny and limited finances.  The secret is at the same time simple and difficult – total focus on the learner.  For most of us on #mathchat, the sharing of stories about how we came to love mathematics, the pain of hearing about those who are physically sick at the thought of mathematics, the pride we take in fighting our corner are not just cathartic experiences for us, they are also signs that others like us can do something to bring about change, within our own classrooms and our own community, to make life better for our learners.

Yes, I am all for improving the system in which education happens, but learning of something will always happen despite, or because of, the system.  We have an opportunity to determine what that ‘something’ is going to be.  What I am going to focus my energies on is transforming the learning experience for each of my students, and I include myself in that group, such that the learning environment is safe, friendly and conducive to becoming better people.  There are always ways to tweak a lesson or a situation towards a more positive learning experience, it is a matter of being prepared to look for them.  I am already picturing my Monday morning class, with eager faces ready to share their weekend with me and looking forward to another week at school.  That’s probably not a normal image for a maths teacher, or any other teacher for that matter, but I am convinced that the shift to the positive we want to see on the outside, has to begin on the inside.  Learning is, or ought to be, a life-long process that people see as being useful and valuable for them.  Education is a product.  Everyone has the ability to learn, whether or not they are given the chance to is where the real transformation of the system is going to happen.  I, for one, am going to work a lot more on the content and the process.

So, I am expected to give grades and marks – does that mean I can’t also give formative comments too?  So, there’s no budget for CPD – does that mean I can’t find my own ways to grow as a teacher?  So … [insert your idea here]

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think.  Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.
[A. A. Milne]

So what do you like best?


View ImageI keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

Rudyard Kipling

Your assignment – compare and contrast the following answers in relation to learning:

  1. Go to fullsize imageWho?
  2. What?
    Anything I choose to
  3. Where?
    Anywhere I’m presented with the opportunity
  4. When?
    Anytime I am open to it
  5. Why?
    Because it’s interesting, it may save my life, it may help me help someone else, it may be useful, I just want to learn for the sake of it
  6. How?
    Online, meeting new people, watching other people or videos or TV, listening, trying something for myself, exploring ideas, reading books
  1. Who?
  2. What?
    Anything they are told to
  3. Where?
    Anywhere except in class
  4. When?
    Anytime except in class
  5. Why?
    Because they are told to and it’s good for them
  6. How?
    Goodness knows but usually despite the responses to questions 2 – 5

Now, next time you teach, ask your friends to join you before you start… or maybe I’m just an old cynic!

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This post is just some prompts about the areas I covered during my Skype presentation to TeachMeet Memphis.  It is intended to help anyone who may be deciding to set up and/or moderate a chat using Twitter, with a primary focus on my own experience of #mathchat.  Feel free to comment or ask further questions if anything is not clear or you need some help!

  • What type of chat is it going to be: a one-off special for a conference or something more regular?
    #mathchat is held twice a week, on Thursdays at a North American-friendly time, and again on Mondays at a more Euro-friendly time
  • If it’s a regular chat, how will you choose the time?  Is it going to be for one world region or more than one?
    #mathchat was decided by a Twtpoll
  • What hashtag are you going to use?  Is it unique?
    #mathchat had been used before, but for a similar purpose.  My #mathgeek experiment, however, required a slightly different approach
  • Have you set up an archive for the chat?  How will it be organized, maintained and accessed?
    an archive for #mathchat was set up on TwapperKeeper and a second was set up on WhatTheHashtag?! which is also used to produce the ‘public’ record on the Wiki
  • How will you handle tweets on the hashtag outside discussion times?
    Tweets are usually answered directly by people monitoring the hashtag, but links, blog posts etc are not specifically recorded outside ‘official’ discussion times
  • How will you help newcomers to get the most from the chat?
    Help pages have been set up on the Wiki, and I have recorded a short video guide to both the main Wiki and the archive Wiki
  • Do you need a special Twitter account for the chat?
    #mathchat has @mathchat to make announcements related to the next discussion and to advised of changes to the Wiki.  For people who do a lot of tweeting, having a second account can help avoid API count limits impacting on your ability to Tweet and RT
  • How and how often will you publicize the chat?
    #mathchat uses @mathchat to publicize and tweets are generally scheduled for 6-hour or 8-hour intervals to allow for different time-zones.  It is usually tweeted out to #edchat #ukedchat #elemchat #scichat #ntchat #nqtchat and #gtchat since these Twitter discussions often have issues or interests in mathematics education
  • How will you generate and decide on topics for discussion?
    #mathchat has a Google document which is shared through the Wiki, and topics are usually voted on using Twtpoll.  Occasionally, a special topic will be chosen because of a current interest or because of a guest moderator

Other things you may need to consider are how you will participate as a moderator – with prompt questions, by RTing without further comment, by asking for further information… If your chat takes off in a big way, you will also need to consider how many people you need to help you manage the moderation.  At the moment, #mathchat seems to be bubbling along with a small group that tweets and comments on each other, we also have a lot of lurkers too!  It’s good to have a break from moderating every now and again though, so having a small team of three or four people to help out can make things a lot less stressful.

  1. Seeing someone leave the nest or walk by themselves for the first time is inexplicable, unless you’ve experienced it for yourself.
  2. Being in a learning environment encourages you to continue learning.
  3. Having something to care about and share is, almost, as important as having someone to care about.
  4. You have the chance to open yourself to 2,000 different opinions and personalities every day.
  5. You can be the change you want to see in your students.
  6. People ask you what you think, or they ask you for help, and they genuinely want to know the answer or be helped.
  7. You deepen your understanding of yourself.
  8. You meet others who share your enthusiasm for learning and help you on your way.
  9. You decide how you are going to teach and have control over your methods, and can change them at a moment’s notice in your own classroom.
  10. When people say thank you, you know they really mean it.

I always try to be balanced in my views, but usually love wins out in the end!


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  1. image Despite your training and experience, everyone you meet tells you what you are doing wrong and how you can do it better.
  2. When people find out you are a teacher, the first thing they mention is the long holidays and the short working days.
  3. The legal system tells you that you have responsibility for someone else’s child in loco parentis, but the parents are the first to complain if you do something that they are incapable of doing themselves.
  4. You have to teach things over which you have had no input or control because some ‘authority’ has decreed that it must be so.
  5. Governments continually cut budgets and spending in areas which would genuinely help children become better people, let alone better educated.
  6. One teenager at home is bad enough, so let’s give you 2,000 to deal with.
  7. Your subject area is so interesting that you really love it and want to share it with others, but you spend so much time managing classroom behaviour that you don’t get to teach it so much.
  8. Students just don’t seem to get the reason why they are in your class, instead of doing something more interesting, and it’s all just for the exams and tests at the end, isn’t it…
  9. ‘Industry experts’ have all these great ideas about technology and applications that will make your lessons “Awesome!”, and everyone tells you that you  should be doing this, without understanding the local circumstances or providing the funding or support to help.
  10. Most of your students, colleagues, parents, friends, don’t really want to listen to how you really feel about your job because, after all, you’re just “unloading” on them, and teaching is easy, and you get all those long holidays, and their children are angels, and …

Why do we do it?


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Brainfreeze Sudoku puzzle for Pi day

Brainfreeze Sudoku puzzle for Pi day

Every year, on her birthday, Maria Droujkova celebrates her birthday by holding Math Storytelling Day.

She usually sends a tweet to invite contributions.

I know it’s her birthday, so I retweeted the link with a message of my own.

In her own inimitable way, Maria sent me a response and a challenge!

Now, 140 characters is very difficult to tell a story in, because it can be too long to retweet and share with others, as Peter Rowlett tried to do.

Sometimes, people actually link to the wrong thing and so the connection gets lost or broken.

Instead of pointing Noel-Ann to my tweet, Peter sent her to his blog post, which was the original inspiration for me to tweet him.

So, because the tweet I sent to Peter never made it to #pihunt, I sent a new, slightly longer one to improve on the original.

And they all lived happily ever after…




International Freelancers DayI might as well continue the ‘tradition’ of an Ivanhoe-based title, started in my review of day 1.  As I did there – bearing in mind my comments about my background – I will give a brief review of each of the presentations, as they happened, and direct the comments to the presenters as much as to other readers, before I make some more general comments.  As before, I’m not going to pull my punches either!

  1. David Meerman Scott:
    Real-Time Marketing & PR: How to Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products that Grow Your Business Now
    This was (probably) taken from a book-launch presentation.  The camera was focused almost entirely on David, so many of the slides he was commenting on were not visible, and/or not on-screen long enough to get notes.  A summary slide of key points at the end would have helped, but there were some interesting ideas as take-aways – the clearest one for me being that “Social Media is a mindset – not a set of tools”.  Again, like yesterday’s first offering, this was a gentle ease into the rest of the day.
  2. Jason Womack:
    7 Productivity Secrets To Make Your Best BETTER!
    There were technical issues for me with this video, which meant that it was chopped up and buffered so much that the time limit was reached about ⅔ of the way through the presentation.  This was a pity, because Jason paced his presentation well, including a mix of live-to-camera with overlaid captions to highlight key points – much better than some of the talking heads from yesterday.  I actually only saw 4 of the 7 secrets live – as it were – but the lively group of tweeps on the #IFD10 hashtag helped out with what I missed.  I liked John’s great sketch-notes!  I am certainly going to go back and review this – without the chops, I hope – once participants get access to the watch-again opportunity next week.
  3. Ann Handley:
    Content Rules: What Stories, Blogs, Video & More Should Be Doing For You
    This was another information-rich presentation, with lots of set-up before going into nine points about how to produce the kind of “killer content” Ann was describing.  Slide design was a little ‘quirky’ at times, but there was enough dynamism and variety of pacing to keep the audience engaged – I could have done with a little less Chinese drywall though!  I’m going to go and check out some of the sites Ann mentioned, and re-view this presentation, after I’ve watched Jason’s.
  4. David Siteman Garland:
    How To Build Your Business By Creating Your Own Smarter, Faster, Cheaper Web TV Show
    Since David was presenting on a visual topic, I had high expectations of this presentation before it started, and I wasn’t disappointed.  It’s very difficult to talk to a camera and make things seem natural, and David’s experience clearly came through, adding another layer of credibility to his message.  Boy was this packed with information, though!  We fairly zipped through lots of useful ideas, practical advice, do’s and don’ts, useful tools, etc.  Although I am not planning to start my own TV show, I certainly got a lot of good ideas for approaching a video product and I plan to implement many of David’s suggestions very soon.  I liked having the video ‘embedded’ in the slides – it added a new dimension to the majority of audio+slide presentations.
  5. Jill Konrath:
    How to Land Bigger Freelance Clients
    This was originally scheduled as number six, but was switched.  Jill clearly knew her subject matter, but her presentation was talking head only.  No slides or short bullet-points to summarize content.  There were some nuggets buried in amongst it – but I did feel a little like a fossicker!  The tweeps were getting good information though and, judging by their comments, many found Jill’s presentation extremely helpful – despite the comments about the colour coordinated glasses, lipstick and shirt!
  6. Ed Gandia:
    5 Proven “Low-Tech” Ways to Land Profitable Clients
    Ed started off with a whiteboard introduction, complete with cuts and zooms which gave a slightly surreal quality overall!  He then went on to talk about each of his five points – introducing each segment with a slide which gradually built up through the presentation.  This was a useful ‘signpost’ to where we were in the presentation, but the slides could have been on-screen a tad longer.  It would have been really helpful to return to the final slide as a summarizer/reminder before the close.  Integrating the sponsor’s message with the actual presentation also got around the irritating ad overlays/cut-off.  This was clearly a problem that the conference team had not expected to happen, based on an email sent out to participants, and worked on to eliminate.  Later presentations certainly didn’t seem to be so badly affected.
  7. Rebecca Matter:
    5 Tips for Increasing Your Competitive Advantage Over Other Freelancers
    Rebecca’s was yet another informative presentation.  Her slides were on-screen long enough to absorbed and she moved through concepts at a good pace.  She also offered a free report to supplement her message.  I still find it hard to believe that 75% of freelancers fail to meet deadlines, though… Eek!
  8. Nick Usborne:
    Become an Expert at Optimizing Web Content for Social Media
    This, too, was another information-rich presentation.  It was very well-paced and dovetailed beautifully with the ‘star’ presentation give by Mari yesterday – well I thought it was the ‘star’ anyway!  There was lots of good, sensible, practical advice here, and Nick’s understanding of the importance of the visual element was demonstrated in his slides too.
  9. Michael Huggins:
    Transitioning from Freelancer to Creative Business Owner
    As an interview, this presentation differed in format from all of the others.  The questions were helpfully displayed on slides as they were asked, and Michael’s responses were general enough to be useful to those not involved in graphic design.  One or two slides to summarize key points before moving on to the next question may have helped, but that’s only a small gripe.
  10. Peter Bowerman:
    12 Strategies for a “Well-Fed” Freelancing Career!
    Now Peter’s presentation was definitely quirky!  It was clearly home-made – up to and including the paper slides! – and audio-video synchronization problems caused one participant to tweet that it was “like watching a Japanese cartoon”!  This was almost just another talking head – even if it was saying things without moving its lips – but was saved by Peter’s dry sense of humour and clear enjoyment of sharing with us.  The slides could have been held up a tad longer though – or maybe his arms were too tired!
  11. Michel Fortin:
    Negotiating Your Way to Success
    This was an effective, no nonsense delivery about a subject which is very tricky for many people to handle.  There were some gems to take-away, and Michel specifically pointed participants towards two particular blog posts – about getting the fees you deserve and how to negotiate better fees – which complemented his presentation.  Some of the slides were on-screen a little too long for my liking – maybe some sub-heads or bullets to supplement the point would have helped – but this is another mini-moan on my part.
  12. Bob Bly:
    How to Write and Design Winning Landing Pages
    The conference blurb warned that this was going to be a ‘bleeding chunk’ – as I call them – from a longer workshop/seminar, so I was prepared for a slightly more variable style of presentation. “Next slide” – definitely shades of Larry Ellison here!  Was it my imagination or did some of the content really need to be updated?  Did he really say: “OK there’s a grammatical error, but that’s not a big deal?”  There were microphone issues here, with another presenter interrupting on a completely different, much lower, audio level.  Some of the slides from the presentation were helpfully overlaid/interspersed – but some of them were not all that easy to read and the one with the 10 key points delivered towards the end of the presentation should have been left up much longer.  Very much a Curate’s egg, and I am not surprised some decided to leave, make dinner, etc. before the end.

I felt most of today’s presentations were considerably better in terms of content and engagement than most of yesterday’s.  I came away with stacks of information, loads of URLs and action points to take or investigate further.  I feel drained and energized at the same time, which is always a sign of a good conference to me.  I also got a lot of new followers on Twitter too, many of them on this list!  If you missed the Twitter discussions, don’t forget that I set up two archives (TwapperKeeper and WhatTheHashtag?!) so you can go back and catch up on some of the action.

Final thoughts – let’s do this again, let’s keep in touch, let’s act on what we learned!  A big thank-you to the organizers, presenters and sponsors who gave us so much for free over the past two days and an extra-special thank-you to Crystal, the event planner.


Thoughts on International Freelancers Day 1.

International Freelancers Day

If you haven’t read Ivanhoe, then you will have no idea where my title comes from, or that Sir Walter Scott introduced the word free-lance to the English language and, as a Scot, this has a special resonance for me.  I have just taken part in the first day of the first International Freelancers Day online webinar.  Having sat through all 12 presentations from the first day, and I intend to sit through all of the presentations on day 2, I wanted to record my immediate thoughts on what I saw, for the benefit of those who may have missed some or all of the sessions.

I come to these sessions with no background as a freelancer, but as someone who may be considering going into some kind of freelancing or consultancy – whether that becomes full-time or part-time is another matter.  I do come to these sessions, however, with over 30 years of presentation experience, aside from school (= up to 18 for US readers, since school ≠ university in the UK!), and I based a lot of my acceptance of the message on the quality of the presentation – not the reputation of the speakers.  I know absolutely nothing about the reputation of any of the presenters in the 24 sessions, so I am basing my opinions of what they have to offer on how well they delivered their message online – or not, as the case may be.

Three points, before I go any further:

  1. I don’t care who you are, or how many books you’ve sold, or how many people say “You were awesome”, if I think you were rubbish I will tell you.  I will not do so without saying why, because any criticism should be directed towards improvement.
  2. I respect the judgement of the people who organized this opportunity for us, at whatever level, and clearly worked to bring together a wide range of speakers and subjects to try and make the whole event engaging for most of the participants, at least some of the time.  I want to thank them for their efforts and the time they put into this, whether or not it becomes an annual event – I hope it does!
  3. There were some technical difficulties, probably due to underestimating demand, which were surmounted fairly quickly.  Communication about this could have been better, but there was enough back-channelling to keep people informed – the main page should have been updated with the revised schedule, though – or registrants emailed with a notice that the schedule had changed…

OK, a brief review of each of the presentations, as they happened, and I am directing these comments to the presenters as much as to other readers, before I make some more general comments.

  1. Michael Stelzner:
    How Facebook Can Supercharge Your Freelance Business
    This was fine as a gentle introduction to the day.  Maybe no-one was sure what was going on or how things were going to work.  It was mostly “talking head”, but I did make a note about Facebook FBML, and I wasn’t overly disappointed by the introduction to the day.
  2. Pam Slim:
    Create a killer network to build and boost your business
    I missed about 5 minutes of this because of connection issues, but there were basically 3 slides and a talking head.  I got the idea, but this could have been done in 2 or 3 minutes with some kind of expansion.  I thought at least 25-30 minutes of each allocated session would be filled…
  3. Brian Clark:
    SEO Copywriting Made Simple for Freelance Writers
    Again, I missed the beginning because of connection and ‘refresh the browser’ issues.  I don’t know if Brian covered this, but what is SEO?  Did all of the audience know this?  I am playing Devil’s Advocate here, but if anyone in the audience, like me, is completely new to everything in the conference, speakers need to explain terms.  OK, I sort of worked out that SEO was search engine optimization… but that was nowhere in the blurb for the sessions or referred to in my experience of the presentation.  I got some useful information from this presentation.  I agree about blogs needing to have good content, and specifically designed landing pages – which I do with my Twitter URL link.  I am a little unsure about ‘advising people’ to RT 3 times, however, if this is the message that people take – I look at this as Twitter-spam, unless it is done with consideration to time-zones and target audience.  Brian did give participants enough time to write down information from his slides and the pacing was reasonable, as well as providing incidental background that could be ‘skipped’ if you wanted to write things down.
  4. Pete Savage:
    How to Determine if There’s a Viable Market for Your Freelance Services!
    I thought this was a good presentation.  It highlighted six questions to consider, provided approaches based on the answers to the questions and gave enough time to take notes without missing much.  There was a clear message I took away from this, and it did what it said on the label!
  5. Mari Smith:
    Facebook Marketing Success Secrets for Solo Professionals
    I thought this was a brilliant presentation.  It was clear from the outset that, not only did Mari know her subject, but she appreciated the fact that she was presenting a video to an online audience which could not interact with her.  As with Pete’s presentation, I took away six points (which is what I would expect from a 20-25 minute presentation), but there was also a dynamism in the ‘live’ how-to demonstration which made Mari’s presentation engaging, and I almost believed she was actually there at the time.  To me, so far, this is an ideal model of how to deliver online presentations to what was basically an ‘offline’ audience, and it only reinforces my belief that Mari actually knows what she is talking about.  You should go to her Facebook page and like it immediately, if you haven’t done so already!  Yeah, how’s that for marketing, Mari!
  6. Mike McDerment:
    Workday Nirvana: How to remain inspired and productive when you work alone
    Mike had a lot to offer.  This was another, mostly, “talking head” presentation.  He did provide some slides, but didn’t give participants enough time to write down all of the information.  I think there was a missed opportunity here.  It would have been so much more effective if Mike had actually been in, or shown us, a ‘home office’, instead of standing in an environment which is clearly totally different from the one he was trying to tell us about.  I got a visual/aural conflict of message at times.
  7. Steve Slaunwhite:
    The Master Marketing Formula™ to Landing Great Clients
    OK, I have to say I start coming into this with an “oh-oh!” because of the ™ in the presentation title – I appreciate that people have a right to trademark their intellectual property and/or brand name, and I come to this as someone who has never heard of the presenters, however, I still get an “oh-oh!” moment when I see people ‘trade-marking’ things which seem to be everyday phrases…
    I didn’t allow this to affect my judgement of the presentation because, to be honest, I just clicked on the links to watch the videos without paying too much attention to titles – at first!  I thought this was average – kind of what I would expect an experienced person to deliver to an unknown audience.  From that point of view, it was fine.  It was informative, and Steve gave participants enough time to take notes from his slides. The offer of additional support through the 25 worksheets (e-mail: was also a very nice addition, and I am going to say that you should take advantage of this!  I think, I would have listed the Business Information Services on the slide, rather than just saying what they were, though.
  8. Michael Martine:
    How to Attract Freelance CLIENTS with Your Blog (Not Other Freelancers)
    Very informative, but way, way too much information for the time allotted!  Anyone watching this session could take notes, because Michael allowed time for note-taking, but you’d get writer’s cramp, if you wrote fast enough…  Slide content was variable, and largely uninspiring, to say the least, but dynamic at any rate.  Judging by the tweets, Michael’s session seemed to go down very well with the audience, and many took away useful tips – for family members, if not for themselves!  I think Michael tried to ‘give away’ too much information, but I’m not going to criticize him for that, and I am certainly going to investigate his website/blog!
  9. Liz Strauss & Carol Roth:
    What Kind of Entrepreneur Are You? Knowing the Rules of the Game You’re Playing to Win
    Two talking heads, not just one – this did very little for me.  I took away some points but, unfortunately, the word ‘jobby’ has completely different connotations for me, as a Scot… again you need to think about your audience if you introduce ‘new’ terms.  I wondered what this was about, most of the time, even knowing what the title was – it actually came across as being very unprofessional or ‘put together at the last minute’.  It might as well have been two friends discussing some subject I wasn’t particularly interested in.  Not impressed.
  10. Jonathan Fields:
    How to Trigger The Big 5 Subsconscious Buy-Buttons Without Feeling Like A Slick Idiot
    [OK, that should be subconscious… title typo not a good start!]
    It was clear from Tweets before, during and after that Jonathan was a ‘name’ to some people – whatever… I did not start paying any great attention to what he was saying until about 10 minutes in.  Largely, this was because he was another talking head, the 5 points (the ‘buy-buttons’) were not made clear enough – and I am still not clear what they were, big minus points on presentation.  I got a lot of useful information from Jonathan’s presentation, though, as did many others – judging by the Tweets, although I have to say I take them with a pinch of salt.  This could have been 100% better with a couple of well-designed visuals and clearer reinforcement of the five buttons – did anyone actually catch what they were, by the way?
  11. Dan Schawbel:
    How to Build Your Brand As a Freelancer
    This was originally scheduled for earlier – number 8 – so some people were a bit disconcerted by seeing presentations ‘at the wrong time’.  I though this was particularly unimpressive as a presentation.  Clearly a ‘name’ who was ‘spouting knowledge’, without taking the time to adjust video balance or audio, or consider how the presentation was being delivered.  I was totally unengaged with this presentation, which seemed to be covering ‘old ground’, compared to the rest of the day.  If he has a brand, why do I not know who he is or what he does?  Again, why no visuals?  Only marginally better than the two women having a conversation with each other, and that’s only because I made a few more notes.  Not impressed.
  12. Dan Poynter:
    You Want to Write a Book – An Introduction to Writing, Publishing and Promoting
    Dan’s presentation was a nice way to end the day.  I have already self-published/edited a collection of fiction, as well as worked for a major publisher, so much of Dan’s presentation was not new to me, but I liked the way he explained things for the ‘absolute beginner’.  There was a good deal of useable information and, of course Dan’s website to investigate!

Overall, I think this was a very valuable and useful day.  The organizers are to be congratulated, despite any shortcomings that I or others may have pointed out.  The fact that this is being offered as a free resource to participants is also to be applauded, and none of us should have reason to complain too much about something we didn’t pay to get!  The adverts before and after each video are annoying, if you have attended every session and because they cut into the video presentation time itself, but it’s an irritation I am prepared to tolerate.  Some people decided to go into a chatroom at one point, I don’t know if they stayed there all day, but my experience as #mathchat founder suggests that chatrooms and Twitter don’t mix simultaneously.  I am also surprised that there was no archive of the conference chat set up beforehand.  So I have done this.  You can find conference related tweets on TwapperKeeper and WhatTheHashtag?!

I am looking forward to day two and, who knows, I may even blog about it!
Register now, if you haven’t already, and get access to the free replays – see if you agree with me or not!

Lego Darth

This is just a short post to explain about the 101 manipulative lessons with LEGO® page.  So far, I have added six ideas/samples out of the projected 101.  Since this has been set up as a permanent page, though, you won’t be kept up-to-date through your reader if you are subscribing to my blog.  To get round this, I will add a comment to the page as I add new ideas or concepts.  So, by subscribing to comments, you should at least be advised of additions.  I will also advise of updates now and again on the #mathchat hashtag in Twitter.

If you would like me to provide lesson plans or further details on specific ideas, leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do, but I still think it’s more fun if you try to work it out for yourself!

One point – I find it is a good idea to try to be consistent with colour/number relationships, but this is not always going to be possible.

The images were made using the LEGO® Digital Designer – if you haven’t checked it out, do so now!  It can provide an alternative for those with limited budgets.  I still prefer to play with the real thing though! 😀