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News

February 2022

In this edition of the News you will find:

Red Square  Encouraged by Colleagues

Red Square  Black Douglas Video

Red Square  Corresponding With Danielle (#2)

Red Square  Get to Know a Cameo
     ... Matching Cards
     ... Time Swing

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  • Encouraged by Colleagues

    We collect and retell stories of success from classrooms. Our stories focus on learning to work like a mathematician in fascinating, captivating and absorbing classrooms.

    December 15th
    As previously mentioned, I am retiring at the end of the year.
    I would like to thank you once again for the wonderful, practical and very useful resources that you have developed. They have provided me the opportunity to engage students and differentiate activities to best support student learning.

    Jennifer Merriel
    Classroom Teacher (Foundation)
    During the 20/21 lockdowns 74 of our stories, for the most part chosen from either Calculating Changes or Mathematics Task Centre, were rewritten and published in Maths At Home as extensive activity guides for learners from K to 10. The expectation is that parents / care givers work with their early learners, but the notes are written so older learners can be self-directed.

    During January Johanna Buijs contributed photos of her younger children's work on the Calculator Walk activity and an extension that made the activity purposeful for her older children.
    January 22nd
    I had planned to do this activity with my children when you first posted it but we only just got around to it. I've sent photos for your gallery of our pasta numbers. We used a spare white tile as a 'white board' base so we could write about our learning and large penne pasta for the numbers. Thanks again for all the great ideas! Hopefully more families will learn about all the wonderful activities you have there. This is what I have written on Instagram for my extension...
    (See Link List below.)

    So far in February, three more eTask Packs have joined the hundred or so elsewhere across the country (and a few beyond). Two went to teachers (Joanna from Tassie and Briana from NSW) for their personal use and one to Jerrabomberra Public School, NSW. Welcome to all.

    Joanna told us about the background to her purchase:

    February 8th
    All downloaded thank you very much!
    A colleague I worked with many years ago had sets of some of the tasks and she lent them to me when I had a grade 4 class. The kids absolutely loved them. I am going to be doing some relief teaching this year so I thought they would be a great thing to have to work on with the students.
    All the activities, ideas, investigations, stories, photos and more on our site have come from classrooms - mostly from teachers; sometimes from kids. This extensive collection has been created simply so they might encourage and support colleagues. Perhaps you will be a teacher who adds to the story collection through 2022.

  • Black Douglas Video

    Black Douglas Professional Education Services, which manages Mathematics Centre, has recently expanded into video creations and has just released a series of Video Books to support and encourage 4/5/6 year olds as they learn to read. The series is titled What Did Dora Do Today?. There are 7 Video Books in the series.

    Video Books uniquely unite printed page, audio and video as an MP4 file to produce a re-imagined reading experience that enriches content and context.

    • In the family, cuddle up with a notebook computer or pad.
    • In the classroom, read one on one, in groups or from the class display screen.

    Piper will show you how to read a Dora video book. We suggest you watch her video first. Then Book 1 is freely available to trial at home or school.

    Learning to read is encouraged as much by the questions you ask, the challenges you suggest and the follow up activities you introduce as it is by speaking, hearing and analysing the words. What Did Dora Do Today? is rich with print and visual stimuli to support these 'more than the printed page' extensions.

    If it works you might want the full set. (See Link List below.)

               

    Any Maths?

    Of course!

    • Number - cardinal and ordinal...
    • Experiences of time - passing of time (seconds, days, seasons), days of the week...
    • Location - next, before, behind, beside, in front, inside, outside, left, right...
    • Sequencing
    • Sorting & classifying
    • Wallpaper patterns
    • and more

  • Corresponding With Danielle (#2)

    We published a conversation with Danielle in the May 2021 edition of the eNews. She teaches at Laconia High School in Laconia, New Hampshire and tells us 'I taught there when I first started teaching for 6-7 years and then left when my oldest was born.  I have recently returned and am very happy to be there!'. Danielle wrote again in January, which began a new conversation that you might find interesting for both its mathematics and its COVID back story.

    January 9th
    We ... are working on solving proportions. Can the Sphinx be used for that? Or perhaps a different task? They must be writing and solving proportions by cross multiplying for it to cover curriculum. Any thoughts?

    G'day Danielle,
    Good to hear from you again. Best wishes for a healthy and stimulating 2022. If you go to the Task Cameo Content Finder (see Link List below) and scroll down looking at the alphabetically organised left column, you will find a cell titled Ratio and Proportion. Beside it is a list of tasks involving that content in some way and Sphinx is one of them. However, you will have to adapt any of them to tease out the specific content of cross-multiplication to solve proportion exercises.
    Generally speaking, skill development like that is not our focus. Rather it is exploring captivating investigations which develop concepts behind the skills and often the need/opportunity to highlight the skill and the value of practising it. So look at Sphinx and also 4 Bead Mix (which could become say 4 pasta mix or 4 bean mix to make the equipment easier to prepare) and perhaps Time Together.
    I hope something in what's available at the link will work for you.
    Keep smiling,
    Doug.

    Excellent...thank you! I love that your tasks allow for rich investigating where the other skills kind of "pop" out. I am just having trouble justifying it to this strict curriculum and time structure they have me on. I think there would be more flexibility in a normal year, but COVID has had a large impact on our schedule and we are trying hard to cover too much among these extensive absences. It really is a problem. I am keeping a list of the tasks that I want to incorporate but don't have time this year and am hoping that next year will allow me a bit more flexibility. I do think there is opportunity for some ratio work in Sphinx and I will look at the others as well. The tasks I have been able to do are a big hit with the kids, and so much better than rote practice. I will keep trying!

    January 10th
    Hi Again,
    I spent some time looking at the Sphinx, and I think it is going to work! We are going to start by building the size two sphinx and determining if they are similar shapes (by determining that the sides are proportional and showing that the angles are congruent). That will cover my similar figures requirement. From there, we are going look at patterns for the number of shapes needed to build larger sizes, perimeter and area. We can find the patterns and prove them using proportions. We will finish by trying to build the size three. I think the kids will love it. I will let you know how it goes.
    Thank you,
    Danielle

    January 20th
    Hi Doug,
    We had a nice time exploring the Sphinx! We didn't get to do as much as I had hoped due to some disruptions in the school schedule, but we were able to build the second level and then we proved they were similar figures.
    COVID has been the source of disruption for quite some time. In March 2020, our schools went fully remote. At that time, we did the best we could but that was something we had never done before. It took some time to get the technology in place to provide quality instruction. Everyone thought it would be temporary, but we ended up finishing the school year fully remote (March 2020-June 2020).
    The fall of 2020 brought a start to a new school year. Most schools in our area switched to a hybrid model. Students would attend school every other day in smaller groups. Most schools used Monday or Friday as a full remote day where all students learned via zoom. The technology was better this time and in many cases the teachers would teach to a half full room with the other half of the kids on zoom. Not ideal, but we gave it our best shot. That went on for much of the school year last year. In the spring of 2021 students were allowed to go back with restrictions (distancing, masks, etc). That is how we finished last year.
    This year (fall 2021) we went back as normal. We didn't even have masks. That didn't last long at all. Within a week or two cases were climbing fast and we put in mask mandates. We are no longer remote, but we do have the mask mandates in place.
    Unfortunately, attendance has been a huge issue this year. Today alone I was missing 6/18 kids from block one, 10/18 kids from block 2 and 5/18 kids from block 3. The kids that are out are out for long stretches of time. I never have a full class. It is nearly impossible to deliver the curriculum with such turnover. Staffing shortages and sub shortages are also a problem. Just too many people out for too long a time.
    As a teacher, I have seen the effect of COVID in many ways. Students have learning gaps, but maybe bigger than that are the gaps in knowing how to be a student. The distance and lack of structure has really made it hard for them to learn. It is incredibly surreal. We are lucky where I live. All students have a computer and we have the resources to make a go of it, but there are other districts that are not so fortunate throughout the country.
    I have started looking at tasks for next semester and we will be using some fun ones.
    Thank you,
    Danielle

    Probably much of Danielle's situation sounds familiar. Are you also looking to tasks (or perhaps Maths At Home, Picture Puzzles, Calculating Changes, Professor Morris Puzzles, Menu Maths, Maths With Attitude, Sphinx Album...) for inspiration for yourself and your learners?

  • Get to Know a Cameo

    Task 12, Matching Cards
    This task is a pedagogical surprise. In some ways it is more for teachers than students. In the first instance it shows what a task for infants might look like. The content - making matches - is age-appropriate and there are several suggestions for extensions at this level.

    However, as soon as you ask for the number of not-matches, the problem jumps to another level. The cameo includes several such questions so there is good reason for teachers at levels way beyond infants to take a look at the task. Probability, similarity, scale factor and perspective are some of the possible challenges teachers have suggested.

    In the eTask Package this task is in the 'more work' set because there are extra pages of printing, laminating and slicing to prepare.

    Task 85, Time Swing
    This task invites the learners to design an experiment to try to find out what makes a difference to the time it takes for a pendulum to complete one swing. In the first instance it is about defining the problem, then designing the experiment. It is deliberate that they have not been told how to do this. However the experiment is designed there will be time and length measurements to be made - also the mass of the nuts might matter - data to gather and organise, hypotheses to make, conclusions to draw and a report to write. All elements of the work of a mathematician. The practical nature of the task is likely to appeal to many students.

    In the eTask Package this task is in the 'easy' set because lengths of light cord and nuts are easy to obtain.

Keep smiling,
Doug.
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Link List

  • Did you miss the Previous News?
    If so you missed information about:
    1. Maths At Home: An Incredible Resource
    2. Video Workshop to Start 2022?
    3. Get to Know a Cameo
      ... Time Together, Flowers In The Field

Did You Know?

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