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February 2024

In this edition of the News you will find:

Red Square  New eTask Schools

Red Square  Princess Catharina's Trinket Chest

Red Square  Times Tables: a couple of thoughts

Red Square  Get to Know a Cameo
     ... How Many Things?
     ... Hearts & Loops

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  • New eTask Schools

    Two new schools since the December eNews. Both looking forward to putting the time into creating a Task Library to support students in learning to work like a mathematician.
    Welcome to:

    • Gina and the team from Epping Secondary College, Victoria
    • Janine and the team from St. Mark's Anglican Community School, Western Australia

    Perhaps you will find time later in the year to share a paragraph or two about your experiences with the creation and implementation of your library.

  • Princess Catharina's Trinket Chest

    Inspired by the trinket chest on her dressing table, Princess Catharina teaches us the most important concept in understanding fractions - that fractions make sense when you know the whole.

    This 2 minute video begins with visual learning supported by written language and develops into a problem solving experience for a small group or whole class.

    Discussing, drawing and writing mathematics is encouraged to establish a whole based - rather than parts based - approach to all fraction work, and the use of written fraction language (such as 'one third') before symbolic language (such as 1/3) so symbols develop meaning over time.

    Princess Catharina also shares her love for her trinket chest and working like a mathematician in the Maths At Home investigation:

    • Princess Catharina's Gold Rings (The link is shown in the video and in the Link List below.)

  • Times Tables: a couple of thoughts

    A friend rang in the first week of school with a question many of you have probably heard. I am recounting our conversation because there might be something in it for you.

    Friend: Y has just started Year 7 and is going to need help with maths. Would you have time to help?
    Conversation led to being available as concepts that need clarifying come up. Then...

    Friend: They seem to have started the year by revising arithmetic like adding and multiplying, so she's all right at the moment. Although she commented the other day that she probably should have made more effort to learn times tables in primary school.

    Me: Ahh.That could be a starting point. You said neither of you have a lot of time at the moment, so how about I show you an easy to explain and easy to start activity for times tables learning. You can do it together for just a few minutes every couple of days and if it works it will help to build her confidence.

    Friend: Okay

    Me: All phones have a calculator app. You find yours, I'll find mine and we'll put our phones on loud speaker.

    Friend: Done.

    Me: I'll teach you the activity by doing it with you. You know your times tables so we'll use the 13 times table.

    Friend: Oh.

    Me: I'll tell you what I am doing on my phone. You don't do anything yet. Right, I am pressing 13 ... now times ... now a secret number ... now equals. Now I will tell you that the answer on my screen is 104. You can write that down if you want to. Now, you repeat what I did as I say it again. Clear your calculator first. Now, enter 13, press times, now enter your best guess at my secret number, then press equals.

    Friend: ... now equals. Awww.

    Me: Tell me what happened.

    Friend: I got 117.

    Me: Good that's a piece of data. Does it tell you anything?

    Friend: I guessed too high. I guessed 9.

    Me: Do it again with a different guess.

    Friend: I'll try 8. ... Yes! (accompanied by a hint of excitement).

    Me: Great. You took 2 tries to get it, so you get two points. Then we repeat the game but you challenge me with a secret. We play for a number of rounds and the person with the least points wins.

    Friend: I like it. I can do that with Y. She's got a pretty busy after school program already, but we can fit that in. It'll be a bit of fun together.

    Me: Did you feel a little buzz when you got it? It sounded like you did.

    Friend: Yeah I did.

    Me: That's a positive for learning.

    Friend: Yeah and I wasn't wrong with my first guess. I was just collecting data. That's not scary.

    Me: Excellent you two work on that for a while and get back to me when you're ready. Two more things to back it up. Firstly get hold of a times tables chart, or write one out. Get Y to highlight all the one's she's confident with. You know what I mean. You call them out in any order and she whips back the answer in a blink. And, I'll send you a link to a terrifying activity called Times Tables Torture that was designed in lockdown to help parents support their kids. It's pretty scary, but have a look and see what you think.

    Friend: Thanks I'm looking forward to helping her now. Bye.

    Later I sent:
    I hope you have made time to introduce Y to Six Times today. Here's the Times Tables Torture link (see Link List below). You can get started from the short version which begins the notes and includes a terrifying video. If you need more detail about any of the steps it's in the section following the short version.

    Working with both for a small amount of time a couple of times each per week, will make a difference to her confidence and fluency with times tables. As she becomes confident with new ones, she highlights them on the chart.

    Tables are certainly not the be all and end all of mathematics, but either you know them and can use them as an efficient and effective tool in the real work of a mathematician, which is investigating interesting problems, or you don't know them and are creating a stumbling block for yourself when you start investigating patterns.

    The next day I was pleased to receive:

    Thanks so much for all of that! The terrifying video is really good - and the explanations are very clear!
    Note: Six Times is available in both the Calculating Changes Members section and Maths At Home as a variation of Six Plus. (See Link List below.)

  • Get to Know a Cameo

    Task 99, How Many Things?
    Originally titled 'How Many Beans?' the task is easy to make with beans, beads, macaroni, or other similar size material, a medicine cup and a small takeaway size container.

    The card first asks students to estimate and record the number of things. A commitment that results in the motivation to find out how close they were to the actual answer. Riding on this interest, the card then introduces three ways of estimating that number before actually counting. Estimation is a vital mathematical skill, especially in the 'real world' and this is an easy to state, easy to start task that helps with its development.

    The cameo notes suggest several extensions and include and easy to arrange hands-on whole class investigation.
    In the eTask Package this task is in the 'easy' set because the objects and the containers are easy to find.

    Task 143, Hearts & Loops
    This is one of the most popular and successful puzzles in any school's Task Library.

    Initially it is about separating the two wire shapes which appear to be inseparable. That part doesn't have to be done at a first sitting. It can be revisited, just like a favourite book in a reading library.

    The sign that a student has control over the solution is when they can not only take the pieces apart, but can also put them back together. Then the next phase starts.

    Working like a mathematician means not only solving a problem, but also explaining to someone else how to do it. In this case the extension challenge is to explain to someone else how to do it while sitting on your hands. Now efficient and effective maths language becomes the focus.

    The cameo has more information about this aspect and includes three short videos of Year 4 students not only demonstrating how to solve the problem and put it back together, but also teaching the teacher how to do it.

    In the eTask Package this task is in the 'special' set because it does need someone with special skills and equipment to make the two pieces. However, it is absolutely worth it to find such a person. You only need one copy of each piece to make the task, but if the maker has the time, creating a class set opens the door to a whole class lesson described in the cameo. A guidance sheet is provided for the person who does the making.

Keep smiling,
Green Line

Link List

  • Did you miss the Previous News?
    If so you missed information about:
    1. New eTask Schools
    2. MAVCON23 Workshops
    3. Five Cards
    4. Get to Know a Cameo
      ... Lining Up, Smooth Edge Tiles

Did You Know?

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