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Task Centre News

November 2008

818 tasks placed in schools during October.
310,201 placed since the project began in July 1992.

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In this month's News you will find:

Sue Davis Moves On

Moving On with the MAV Professional Learning Review

Tasks at Moonee Ponds West

Tasks of the Month
Task 127, Highest Number 1
Task 161, Soma Cube 2
Task 182, Jumping Kangaroos

Maths on the Move Update
Note Paper
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  • Sue Davis Moves On
    Over the past 15 years or so many of you would have spoken with Sue Davis when you have made an inquiry about the Task Centre. Always cheerful, buoyant, enthusiastic and helpful, Sue has made many 'telephone friends' over the years. Once or twice we have managed to talk her into helping with our display at the MAV December Conference, she's even been a participant in one or two workshops, so a few lucky ones among you have been able to meet her personally. Well Sue is moving on to an exciting business of her own and although there is sadness in that, there is also an expectation that new corners in new roads will reveal new vistas.

    Sue has been working with a team from Queensland developing a tutoring program to help immigrant Australians pronounce English correctly, so they have a better opportunity of moving forward in their chosen careers. It's all one to one, or small group, and she has some wonderful contracts established to power off into 2009. The program includes a kit for ESL teachers which is available from Curriculum Corporation.

    On behalf of everyone you have touched Sue, in your various roles at the end of the telephone, a huge thank you. We wish you well in this new opportunity.

    Sue is irreplaceable, so when you ring the Task Centre now (03 9726 8316), you will certainly be talking to Ina or myself. We will do our best, as always, to help you out with any question.

  • Moving On with the MAV
    We have just completed our co-operative venture with the Mathematical Association of Victoria (MAV) involving moving all our common interest material related to Tasks to this site. We have chosen to refresh historic material as we have migrated it and over recent months some very valuable articles have 'come home'. You will find them all in the Research & Stories link.

    This month we moved the last of these, a wonderful article written by Michael Richards in 1995 as a keynote address to the MAV December Conference, offering, at that stage, a retrospective look at his ten years of teaching with tasks in secondary schools. See the Link List below. If you are, in 2008, 13 years beyond the publication of this article, looking for support in teaching with tasks, Michael's article is compulsory reading. It has a permanent place in our Research & Stories link.

    Also as part of this final transfer you will find some very special Tasks of the Month below.

    It was the MAV that approached us with the idea of including the problem solving section of their site with the work we have been doing. As we see it, their generosity has enriched our site immensely. We wish them well with modifications to their own site intended to offer members even more support; support that includes curriculum documents from Years 3 - 10 which address all the official VELS requirements and use our Maths With Attitude kits as their core. Victorian teachers, these documents are available now to MAV members and this is a great time to be looking at the possibility of using them to guide and integrate your 2009 curriculum.

  • Professional Learning Review
    Our role in mathematics education is simply to find and bring to you stories of success from best practice classrooms where students are learning to work like a mathematician. Much of our retelling of these stories is in professional development sessions designed to invite participants to continue to review their teaching craft. Lisa Cairns, Launceston Christian School, was recently involved in a a Task Centre Package workshop organised by the school. Everyone present was given the opportunity to reflect on the day. Lisa chose to do that with a brief, pertinent and valuable review that has a story to tell in itself. Take a look using the Link List below.

  • Tasks at Moonee Ponds West
    Recently Moonee Ponds West Primary School set up 100 tasks so they were easily accessible for use in classrooms across the school. Vicky McCormack has done a great job and the staff are already making use of them. Their organisation system might help you. Take a look at the photographs using the Link List below. These photos will be permanently stored in our Photographs link.

  • Tasks of the Month
    Three new cameos this month and additions to some already published.
    • Highest Number 1 is an easy to state, easy to start place value game with amazing depth. Place Value, arithmetic, probability, statistics and problem solving strategies are all involved. We have included two investigation guides to extend the task, with discussion notes for teachers, and a step-by-step plan for a whole class lesson to model how a mathematician works.
      This Cameo provides support for all three lives of a task.
    • Soma Cube 2 has a long history as a 'coffee table' puzzle for good reason. The initial puzzle of making a cube from the pieces encourages the development of 3D spatial perception and adds a time-based competitive element. The broader challenge stimulates the imagination further by asking for other objects that can be made from the pieces. Perhaps your students will invent one not previously known.
    • Jumping Kangaroos is a classic that has appeared in one form or another in many cultures. Its solution doesn't require mathematical content (in the text book sense) - just application of 'chess-like' logic, but asking the mathematician's questions, Is that the least number of moves? and What happens if we change the number of kangaroos?, introduces an pattern and algebra experience richer than that provided by any text book. An Investigation Guide and a Discussion have been provided.
    Highest Number 1      Soma Cube 2
    Jumping Kangaroos
    Click a photo to access its cameo, or access all current cameos through the Link List below.

    Additions to Cameos
    The three cameos above, and the additions here, replace the information about these tasks that was available through the MAV site.

    • Task 8, Addition Totals
      Notes for a whole class lesson have been added to illustrate the core material in a Maths300 lesson.
    • Task 43, Number Tiles
      Information has been added to show a proof for the sum of the digits in the answer line being 18.
    • Task 45, Eric the Sheep
      Additional information added to the possibilities for extending the task.

  • Maths on the Move Update
    Just when we thought Professional Development for 2008 was done and dusted Mt. Eliza Secondary College, in conjunction with two other colleges in the district, negotiated to begin the 6 day Engineering 'aha' Moments 5-10 course. The same group of teachers will investigate engineering their classrooms to develop more 'aha' moments in algebra for students. Two days in November, with time to trial before the end of the year, will be followed by two more in February and more classroom trialing, before a further two days later in 2009. These schools are to be congratulated for planning this purposeful, long term approach to curriculum shift.

    The diary is certainly filling up. We have also added another MOTM session in New Zealand. Lincoln College, Christchurch, has chosen the course Working Mathematically in Pattern & Algebra. See 2008/09 Courses and Maths on the Move Workshop Library in the Link List below.

  • Did you miss the October News?
    If so you missed information about:
    1. Two interesting letters from teachers reflecting on the influence of our professional development on themselves and their schools.
    2. A great article from Aaron Peeters on the Menu Model for integrating tasks into the curriculum.
    3. Two interesting articles - one researching task use and one retelling the early history of task centres - which have been transferred from the Mathematical Association of Victoria site.
    4. Detailed photographic examples of how Fregon Anangu School has recorded classroom learning experiences in scrapbooks for teachers.
    5. Iceberg Information about two Tasks of the Month (Tasks 74 & 75).
    6. ...and more...

Keep smiling,
Doug.

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