- Ina Is Irreplaceable
For three years we have been trying to transition management and distribution of Mathematics Centre resources to a new owner. We have had discussions with teachers, education suppliers and one teacher association and last year we placed the business on the open market through this News page, all without success.
Ina Koetsier has done this work through Black Douglas since 2002, but now she is moving towards retirement. We can only assume Ina is irreplaceable.
The consequences are:
- We must downsize our range of resources so that Black Douglas can continue professional development and manage distribution of remaining resources.
- Tasks, the world's only extensive source of ready-made invitations to work like a mathematician, are the most labour intensive resources to manage and distribute, so our stock of Tasks is, from now, limited to what is currently in house.
- Maths With Attitude, the world's only extensive and integrated source of problems for a Working Mathematically core curriculum, are task-dependent, so our stock of MWA is, from now, limited to what is currently in house.
- We estimate that current stock of Tasks and MWA will last six to twelve months.
For now, all our other resources, most of which are unique to Mathematics Centre, will continue to be available.
See Link List below to connect to our Resources page.
- Planning Senior School Mathematics
Has your teaching in Years 11 & 12 got under way? Are you in a good place to reconsider how you might go about it this year?
At the MAV December conference, Damian Howison, St. Mary Mackillop College, Swan Hill presented a session titled Same or Different and other VCE appropriate tasks. The blurb for the session was:
This workshop is about some of the tasks I have used from the Mathematics Centre (Doug Williams) and Maths300 to provide learning experiences in Math Methods Units 1/2 where students can work like a mathematician, solve problems and construct a deep understanding of some of the important concepts introduced in the syllabus including combinatorics, probability, function, trigonometry and calculus. Allowing participants to grapple with the tasks themselves, I will illustrate ways in which I have explored the icebergs of these tasks to enable learners to encounter some of the senior mathematical concepts in a working mathematically culture.
St. MM College builds a Working Like A Mathematician curriculum from Year 7 (see next item) which makes a Working Mathematically approach in Years 11 & 12 quite natural. Damian has provided the slide show from his session for us to share through Mathematics Centre. With most of the year still ahead, Years 11 & 12 teachers will find taking time to review the slides and follow up the references will provide considerable food for thought.
The slide show outlines the use of Gradient Functions, Biggest Volume and Trigonometry Walk from Maths300 and the tasks Making Monuments (180), Farmyard Friends (129) and Same or Different (18). His last slide references the Same or Different task cameo through which Damian has previously shared a slide show and spreadsheet related to the task, along with extensive background information.
Many thanks Damian for your continued collegiate support.
See Link List below for Damian's slide show (15Mb PDF) and links to these task cameos.
- Learning to Report in Mathematics
From Year 7, students at St. Mary MacKillop College, Swan Hill, are learning to work like a mathematician. All staff are involved in developing this curriculum and a significant part of it is delivered through Replacement Units. Replacement Units build in the expectation of extending a task and preparing a report of the investigation.
As staff representative, head of department Damian Howison offered a workshop at the MAV December Conference entitled Jack and Jill's Buckets and How to Write a Maths Report. The blurb for the session was:
Jack and Jill went up the hill ... and were faced with a mathematical conundrum. We will learn about that problem and how it was solved. At the same time we will learn about one particular model of writing a mathematical report. Maths teachers often don't feel very qualified to give learners advice about writing. But when learners have worked like a mathematician on an interesting problem they should also know how to communicate this work to others. This workshop aims to give those learners and their teacher the tools to publish a report as well as delve deeply into a simple but very interesting problem.
There is no doubt that student literacy skills improve significantly when teachers shift their teaching towards Working Like a Mathematician. In fact, research shows that doing this is a three way win because mathematical skills, problem solving skills and literacy skills all improve, as shown in the INISSS research (see Link List below).
Damian has shared background to the school's approach, documentation to support teaching how to write a report, the school's assessment rubric and examples of student reports, all of which we have woven into a story you can find in the Link List below.
- Teaching Craft Improves Learning
Learning Officers from the Canberra Goulburn Catholic Education Office began their year in mid-January with two days of professional development in Working Like A Mathematician (WLAM). Not just the numeracy officers - the group included those responsible for literacy, special needs and learning with technology.
The session began with a Poster Problem Clinic using Kids & Cup Cakes (see Previous News below), followed by an investigation of Task 139, Squound, and trying out some activities from Calculating Changes, such as Ten Friends and Plug Catcher. When asked to identify features of the activities likely to encourage learning the officers produced the lists shown here.
These professional officers were thrilled to realise that WLAM is imbued with literacy learning.
- Improving Learning With i-Screens
Questions are beginning to be asked about teaching practice connected with using i-screens.
- They isolate students to their own machine making collaborative learning less likely.
- They involve about as much kinaestheic learning as licking a window.
- For all their magnificent graphics they are only two dimensional.
- The criteria for placing an 'app' in the education category of 'app shops' appears to be that the developer (usually not a teacher), places a tick in the education box.
On the plus side there is no doubt that the technology fascinates, captivates and absorbs kids.
Just as with the introduction of mini-calculators decades ago, which also fascinate kids, we must ask about capitalising on the fascination in the best way to improve learning.
||With its guiding principle of one screen, two learners, concrete materials and a challenge, Picture Puzzles offer one response to improving learning with i-screens - any screen - smart phone, pad, tablet, netbook, laptop, desktop. Twenty Picture Puzzle investigations are currently available, in four menus - Pattern & Algebra, Number & Computation, Shape & Measurement, Shape & Space. More are in development. As you would expect, all are built around learning to work like a mathematician.
Two examples and the full teaching notes for Pattern & Algebra A menu are available in the Free Tour section. See Link List below. From March 1st access to Picture Puzzles will be $330. February is the last opportunity to order this resource at the introductory price of $220.
Picture Puzzles are also now available through the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT) catalogue.
See Link List below.
- Tasks of the Month
Two new cameos this month.
The Task Cameo Content Finder has been updated to include these tasks.
- Decimals With A Tape Students are given four textbook-like exercises, one for each operation, and are asked to estimate the answer. Estimates can be checked with a calculator and the challenge is to use the measuring tape which is marked in metres, centimetres and millimetres to explain how the calculation is done.
- Peg & Tape Fractions uses a length of herring bone tape as the whole and asks the students to place a peg where they estimate a given fraction to be along this 'number line'. They then have to check their estimate by folding to see who is closer. The challenge is to become increasingly better at estimating fractions. The outcome for teachers is strong visual evidence of students' understanding of fractions as part of a whole.
Click a photo to access its cameo, or access all current cameos through the Link List below.
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Continue exploring our history back to July 1992 through the Sense of History link.