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November 2023

In this edition of the News you will find:

Red Square  Got A Minute?

Red Square  Curious About Assessment?

Red Square  Reading and Maths for Young Learners

Red Square  Get to Know a Cameo
     ... Who Owns The Monkey?
     ... 64 = 65

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  • Got A Minute?

    Yes in less than one minute this video presents images of almost all the content in the DIY workshop video Aiming High? Dig Deeper, released last month. Perhaps you haven't found time to review that video, so this quick taster might encourage you to create the time to dig deeper into the Dig Deeper video. See Link List below.

    The workshop video could be a valuable in-house professional development tool to round off this year or bring the team together to start next year.

  • Curious About Assessment?

      ...     ...  

    I recently came across this curiosity. The photos are of actual documents given to the same child who participated in both assessments in the same term of 2023. (Click any image for an enlarged version.)

    The child's name has been changed to the mathematically acceptable name X so the child remains unknown. For the same reason the school's name is Y.
    The child was in Year 2 at the time. Not realising that AMC was for students in Year 3 and above, the school entered some Year 2 students in this assessment.
    The documents show that Student X, while a student in Year 2, received a credit in the middle primary division Year 3 level and, at the same time of the year, a below average score in the ICAS assessment at Year 2 level.
    This data seems curious to me. Is it enough to dismiss the apparent difference in results with:
    • They are testing for different things.
    • It's two different testing styles.

    Or do these responses beg more questions?

    With colleagues, I invite you to:

    • List questions this data generates for you.
    • Discuss.
    • Record key points from the discussions.
    • Take action in your context as appropriate.

    If you can create the 15 - 30 minutes it might take to run this professional learning activity, then it would be great if one of you take 5 minutes more to send me your questions/key points/consequent actions. I am interested personally, but my request is also with a view to publishing a composite of responses for a future eNews.

  • Reading and Maths for Young Learners

    The video (see Link List below) is evidence that the video book series What Did Dora Do Today? was a strong influence in Piper learning to read. Cuddled up with an adult, she began reading Book 1 in the last year of kinder and read Book 7 in the first half of her first year in school.

    Immediately she finished Book 7 she used it to teach her doll to read.

    It isn't really surprising that a video book can support learning to read. It's a text. And any text has the potential to assist reading development. However, text with context relevant to the age and experience of the learner has even more potential.

    Piper teaches Dora to read using a video book on a touch screen notebook computer. (See Link List below.)
    These video books are modern picture story books in which the pictures are high quality, real life photos of a toy's world; text is presented through an image of a mobile phone screen; pages turn automatically but can be paused or restarted by touching the screen (or using a mouse); page turning is animated in a way that encourages prediction and expectation; and a secret sound, which is revealed at the end of the book, accompanies each page turn.

    • Picture story books harnessing modern, everyday stimuli to provide a rich context likely to motivate learning.
    • Modern picture story books that can be read on all screens from phones to the classroom big screen.

    And this series can help develop mathematics learning.

    Here's a few suggestions for Book 1 (see Link List below). Most can be used in a whole class situation or with a small group. Try them, refine them. Could you send a paragraph and photos for us to share?
    Maths from the Storyline
    Piper is looked after by Oma and Grampa every Tuesday. Her doll arranges for Grampa to send Piper photos of what she does each day until Piper comes back.
    Read & Retell
    • Read the book through, close it and start a read and retell discussion.
    • Tell me what you remember. Can someone tell me more about that?
    • In advance prepare label cards with the names of the days.
      Develop and record hypotheses about what happens on which days.
    • Look for opportunities to ask questions like:
      Which day comes ...after Friday? ...before Monday?...between Tuesday and Thursday?
    • Work towards recording a timeline of remembered activities - it doesn't matter if there are gaps.
    • Do you think we have good memories? How can we check what what really happened?
    • Re-read What Did Dora Do Today?. Discuss and extend as appropriate.
    • Repeat the whole activity again a day or two later, emphasising predicting what comes next.
      Let's read Dora again and I will choose someone to stop and start the pages.

    Your Special Day
    • Who can tell me which day is special for Piper? Tell me why?
    • Tell the children which day is special for you and why.
      For example, Friday because we always have fish and chips on Friday.
    • Tell me your special day. Record childrens' names and reasons with their day.
    • Take the time to connect each child to their day and their name on the board. One way is to use the label cards in sequence across the floor or board and ask children (one at a time) to stand in front of their special day.
    • Look for opportunities to ask questions about this data.
      Which day is special for most of us?
      Which day is special for both Jacko and Artemis? Does anyone else think this day is special?
      If I tell you Karen's special day is Saturday, can you tell me who has their special day one before Karen's?
      Who would like to think up a question about our special days?

    What Will Our Toy Do Today?
    • Bring along a 'special person' toy and choose a pair to make it do 'an activity like Dora'.
    • Photograph the activity and display the photo on your class screen along with the day name and a caption.
      If you use a Word document, or slide show program, each day can have its own page.
    • The next day another pair creates the activity situation and a class story begins to build.
    • Opportunities develop for questions about 'yesterday', 'the day before', 'tomorrow'. 'two days ago'.

    Maths from the Photos

    Pause and study each photo and you will find opportunity to involve mathematics at an age appropriate level.


    • Tell me what you see on the back of Piper's car.
    • Discuss and record suggestions.
    • Tell me what you remember on the back of your family car.
    • Draw a picture of the back of your car.
    • Highlight the number plate.
      Do you know anything about this part of your car?
    • (This activity works very well in small groups, each with a buddy from an older class.) Walk to the school car park with a calculator each. Touch and talk about some of the number plates. Choose one of the number plates and write its numerals on the calculator.
    • Back in the classroom give each child a piece of paper or card which is roughly the shape of a number plate. (Talk about it being a rectangle.) Make your own number plate. You can use any numbers you want.
    • Display the results and remember to refer to the display for activities. Kabul please touch a number plate that has a 0 in the numbers.

    • What is Dora doing in this photo? Perhaps she is digging a hole. Perhaps she is helping Grampa plant something.
    • Walk to the sand pit taking plenty of containers of various sizes, including a normal laundry bucket, toy spades and other diggers, and objects to put in holes.
    • Each group fills a container with sand. Use a variety of containers across the groups. First they guess the number of shovels of sand it will take to fill their container, then test by doing it. Lots of one to one correspondence and keeping track of oral counting.
    • Predict and test for heaviest and lightest container by hefting.
    • Grampa needs this bucket filled with sand for his garden. (Use the laundry bucket.) Predict, then test, which containers will need to be emptied into the bucket to fill it up.
    • Groups are given an object. Make a hole that you think your object will just fit into. We want the top of the object to be just inside the hole, but not sticking out. An informal activity in estimating and checking volume.

    If you want to take the planting pathway and you can supply each child with a planting container such as a small tube seedling pots used in plant nurseries. Now you have the opportunity to build experiences around arrays. All the pots are the same and the children plant a seed or seedling in their pot. Putting them together on the table near the window builds a garden. Because the pots are all the same, the garden is an array of rows. The array can be changed and discussed each day. For example if there are 15 pots they can be arranged in 3 rows of 5 or 5 rows of 3 or 1 row of 15 or 15 rows of 1, or spilt into 2 rows of 6 and 1 row of 3 or...

    15 is also one of the number of pots that can be arranged (not arrayed) into a triangle shape.


    Dora can't play outside in the garden because it's raining. At first she is a bit sad about that. Then she has an idea. "I know, I will build the garden inside.".
    • Draw attention to the garden walls. There are two quite different patterns. Construction bricks and pop sticks are two materials that children might choose to build their brick wall and their fence wall.
    • What other materials could you make available for the children?
    • Consider limiting the equipment for each child; perhaps 10 sticks or 10 bricks. They build their walls and compare their lengths and/or heights.
    • What happens if we put all our stick pattern walls together? Predict, discuss, carry out.
    • What happens if we put all our brick pattern walls together? Predict, discuss, carry out.
    • What happens if you use much larger equipment, for example, 1 or 2 litre milk cartons as bricks?
    Your Turn

    Now you have the idea of looking into the photo to see possible maths connections, try fleshing out these ideas in a team meeting.

    Jumping Puddles

    Comparing jump lengths using informal units?
    Standing jump? Running jump?
    Making puddles?
    Informal experience of volume and capacity?


    Hanging Washing

    Class clothesline and pegging out clothes cut from paper?
    Pegging coloured kinder squares? Counting pegs used / pegs not used?
    Sticking numerals on pegs and pegging out a number line?
    Using coloured pegs and pegging out colour patterns?


    Reaching for Toys

    Comparing arm lengths?
    Finding all the steps around the school?
    Counting steps forward going up? ...backwards going down?
    Using numeral labels for steps?
    Finding steps where all the children can stand for a photo?


    Out for a Drive

    Sit in your chair and pretend to drive ... brrrmmm
    Sit in your chair and watch the clock for one minute.
    Hide the clock. Now drive for one minute?
    There's a mirror in Dora's photo. Explore mirrors?
    They are going to mow the lawn at church.
    Experience area by 'mowing' parts of the playground?

    Using The Series

    All of this mathematics potential is waiting to be explored in Book 1. But there are 7 books in the series. What happens if your children are interested enough to share another Dora book ... and another ... and another.
    • The time line becomes 2 weeks, 3 weeks ... and gradually builds as a time grid like a calendar.
    • New time language can be modelled: last week, next Thursday and so on.
    • Familiar mathematics reappears in new contexts.
    • New mathematics appears in stimulating contexts.
    • Discussion begins to develop about favourite books or their pages. Data collection?
    • ...and more.

  • Get to Know a Cameo

    Task 116, Who Owns The Monkey?
    This language and logic task is one of the most popular in our Task Library. Partly this appears to be due the story line, partly because the task is free of traditional mathematics content and allows all students to display their reasoning skills - which are a mathematician's most important skill set - and partly its popularity seems to be related the solution only falling into place in the last throes of the investigation.

    We have a special affection for it because it so naturally encourages working together. These days, attempting problems in teams is essential to the work of professional mathematicians.

    The solution is provided in the cameo, but students usually much prefer to be allowed the time to find it for themselves. Keeping good journal records (phone photos too?) means that the problem doesn't have to be solved in one session.

    Once solved and journal entry has been made, an obvious question is How did the designer think up the problem in the first place?. The cameo includes a totally new set of clues contributed by one student who followed this question through using the cards provided. Some students might also like to try designing and trialling their own similar problem from scratch. The cameo also includes some creative suggestions for using Who Owns The Monkey? as a whole class investigation.

    In the eTask Package this task is in the 'more work' set because several masters have to be printed, laminated and cut.

    Task 155, 64 = 65
    Four 'jigsaw' pieces make both a square and a rectangle. In itself, that is no big deal. Any four polygon pieces with some common sides would make more than one shape. But we should expect that the areas of any shapes formed in this way are the same. In this case they are not. What??

    The first part of the card sets up the apparent contradiction and asks for an explanation. Depending on age and experience an explanation 'by eye' may be enough. However proving what is seen by a careful eye requires content skills such as gradient, square roots and Pythagoras; even the Sine Rule.

    Extending further depends on noticing what is special about the numbers highlighted in the Challenge. Being able to explain how they are connected (they are a subset of Fibonacci Numbers) leads to asking about the possibility of creating similar missing square puzzles with other numbers in this set.

    In the eTask Package this task is in the 'easy' set because apart from the card there is only one additional page to be printed, laminated and cut.

Keep smiling,
Green Line

Link List

  • Did you miss the Previous News?
    If so you missed information about:
    1. New DIY Workshop Video
    2. Grab
    3. Get to Know a Cameo
      ... Dominoes, Pentagon Triangles

Did You Know?

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