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Current News

In this edition of the News you will find:

Red Square  Poly Plug in Stock

Red Square  Calculating Changes Activities
     ... Ten Friends (Free Tour)
     ... I'm Odd: You're Even (Members)

Red Square  Get to Know a Cameo
     ... Unseen Triangles
     ... Decimals With A Tape

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  • Poly Plug in Stock

    Recent orders for Poly Plug came close to wiping out our stock. One went to Bindoon Primary School, an hour or so north of Perth, and the other to the G.A.T.E.WAYS Queensland office. G.A.T.E.WAYS is a respected provider of programs to meet the special educational needs of gifted and talented students. Queensland Program Coordinator Ang Langford wrote: We have two full class sets of Poly Plugs circulating at G.A.T.E.WAYS in Victoria and NSW at the moment, and this will make it possible to start running some of the programs in Queensland too.

    As you can see from the photos, Poly Plug is in stock again and if you're curious about how they can be used (the short answer is 'extensively across primary and secondary schools') you can investigate further using these links:

    • Problem Solving Polypluggers
      (Years 1 & 2 G.A.T.E.WAYS children)
    • Harry's Holes
      (a game invented by a G.A.T.E.WAYS five-year-old)
    • Poly Plug
      (our home page for all things Poly Plug)

    from the Link List below. The Poly Plug link includes further links to NRICH activities designed around Poly Plug.

    Quality control check completed on the yellow/blue boards and they all passed. Then the red boards are checked and each is matched with a yellow/blue board.

    Neatly stored in sets ready for schools. High density press-seal plastic bags are included when an order is shipped.

  • Calculating Changes Activities

    Ten Friends ... (K-1/2 Free Tour)

    Children love to play this easy-to-state, easy-to-start co-operative game based on a ten frame. It includes a wide range of content including 1:1 correspondence, addition facts to 10 (and beyond), complementary addition, estimating number, mathematical conversation, recording both written and on a calculator and visual & kinaesthetic representation of number. The context, as always, even at this age, is learning to work like a mathematician. You will find that evident in the questions modelled in the notes and the extensions teachers have developed beyond the introductory activity.

    The activity is also designed to be threaded and the depth of content can simply not be mined unless it is used in this way. That is, at least three times a week for around 10 minutes over 3 or 4 weeks. Threading can be explored further from the activity notes.

    Although designed to be used with Poly Plug, Ten Friends can be adapted to other materials and some are shown in the notes. The activity is also available in the Maths At Home activity library, where it includes a contribution from a parent using Ten Friends around the kitchen table with his young sons.

    I'm Odd: You're Even (3-6 Member)

    Another easy-to-state, easy-to-start game, this time competitive, using just a calculator and number tiles 0-9. One player chooses to be the winner if the final calculator screen is odd, the other if the final screen is even. Players take turns to choose one of the four operations and use it on the calculator with a number tile value they then turn over. The aim for each player is to force the final screen to be the type of number they chose.

    The photo shows the start of a game. With the calculator screen showing zero when turned on, Player A has pressed + 2 = to get 2 on the screen. Then Player B followed with x 5 =.

    Therefore the screen shows 10 so far and digits 2 and 5 have been used, so are turned over.

    Members can read more including how the game can also include playing with plugs to model what distinguishes odd numbers from even and a report from Nichola Brandon's Year 4 class, which explains how she threaded the activity. Nichola also writes:

    The conversation happening in my room around this activity was that of little mathematicians!
    And she has included an interesting recording sheet for members to share.

  • Get to Know a Cameo

    Task 179, Unseen Triangles
    This is one of several tasks which begin with an easily accessible concrete, visual pattern that leads to an extensive range of algebra content outcomes. Students are asked to use match sticks (or equivalent) to create a 'mountain range' where each mountain, except the first is partially concealed by the one in front of it. The challenge is If I tell you the number of peaks can you tell me the number of matches needed to make the mountain range?.

    The challenge moves on with the question Can you explain it you me another way?, which is essentially the mathematician's question, Can I check it another way?.

    The task cameo provides the answers to the questions on the card and three ways to explain how to work them out. It goes on to explore the significant algebra which can be developed from the problem, clearly showing how oral explanation followed by writing what is said, can build a confident bridge into symbolic representation. The three lives of a task are explained and links are given to student reports of similar tasks which have developed from the Investigation Guide life. Practical guidance is also offered for exploring the task in its whole class investigation life.

    In the eTask Package this task is in the 'easy to make' set because it only requires match sticks or popsticks or similar which are easily acquired from a craft shop if they aren't already in the school storeroom..

    Task 204, Decimals With A Tape
    This task is about encouraging learners to discover for themselves how the four standard arithmetic operations work for decimals. After all that is something mathematicians had to do at some time in history. Unfortunately, once discovered, rules were laid down and teaching became learning the rules 'because' and the original challenge, adventure and discovery experiences were considered unnecessary.

    To support and encourage students to rediscover some of the decimal adventure, the task begins with estimation not calculating. The estimation is checked for reasonableness with a calculator and a reason for discussing 'how the calculator did that' flows naturally.

    The task develops further when a concrete representation is added in the form of a dressmaker's or carpenter's tape with a decimal scale. The metre is the whole and parts to hundredths are marked. In fact, learners have one of these tapes each - two tapes means two numbers can be represented. For example, one might be the first addend of an addition and the other the second. Then if the start of the second was placed at the end of the first, the end of the second would show...

    It is not intended that the task be completed in one session. It can be revisited over time, perhaps exploring one operation at each visit. There will be many opportunities for teachers to be involved in 'point of need' discussions. The cameo also links to a partner Maths At Home lesson which adds a Recording Sheet / Investigation Guide which can be used before the task. In fact the MAH version means that this is a task that can be used at home at any time, as long as the household has a couple of measuring tapes.

    In the eTask Package this task is in the 'easy to make' set because it only requires two tape measures and a calculator.

Keep smiling,
Doug.
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Link List

  • Did you miss the Previous News?
    If so you missed information about:
    1. Negative Approach to Negative Numbers (Part 2)
    2. Times Tables Learner
    3. Get to Know a Cameo
      ... Fold Up Houses, Pascal's Triangle in Asia

Did You Know?

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