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Task Centre News

February 2008

2311 tasks placed in schools during December & January
302,028 placed since the project began in July 1992.

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In this month's News you will find:

PD 2008 Maths All Day

Maths With Attitude
Painted Cubes CRTRA Plastic Boxes

Tasks of the Month
Task 56, Challenge
Task 57, Two Squares
Task 58, See-Saw
Task 59, 13 Away

Note Paper
The material that we access and use supplied from the Mathematics Task Centre is tremendous. Congratulations to everyone who maintains this fantastic resource. I hope you and your team have a great year churning out more fantastic resource materials for teachers everywhere.

Mark Stirling, St Raphael's Central School, Cowra, NSW

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  • Professional Development 2008
    The phones have been warming up with enquiries about professional development for the year. PD is our core work, so we are pleased. However, there are only limited spaces in the diary and the time to act is now. In particular, consider the Maths on the Move courses. They have been used by many systems, districts and schools over the years and never fail to stimulate.

    If you want to encourage significant, sustained changes in teaching practice, our six day courses have proven very powerful. Usually they are arranged for a system, district or cluster but they can be adapted to a school situation. There are two six day courses:

    • Engineering 'aha' Moments K-8 for primary teachers which focuses on number.
    • Engineering 'aha' Moments 5-10 for secondary teachers which focuses on algebra.
    We also have a suite of one day programs which can be used individually or built into a sequence, and we can tailor programs to suit your needs. See Link List below for more information about all aspects of our professional development work.

  • Maths All Day
    Our professional development year started at Maidavale State School in Queensland. John Eade, principal of this one teacher school, organised a student-free day for himself and other local schools, then two days of maths with his students. Yes, maths all day for two days with 12 students from Year 1 to Year 7. The second day the school population was doubled when Sue brought her Year 3 to Year 7 students from Millaroo State School to join us. Read John's story about the experience from the link in the list below.

  • Maths With Attitude
    Maths With Attitude kits are proving popular across all levels of school from Years 3 - 10. Perhaps it's because:
    • schools are looking for a genuine alternative to text-based mathematics learning
    • teachers have pretty much everything they need in one box
    • people like the idea of lessons from Maths300 to model how a mathematician works combined with tasks to invite students to apply the model for themselves and skill practice in context
    • busy teachers appreciate the scope and sequence chart in each manual that maps out several weeks work
    • department heads like the 'in the classroom' professional development encouraged by the kits
    • the kits are flexible and not intended to 'gobble up' every week of the curriculum
    • kit by kit, schools can build a refreshed curriculum without massive budgetary outlay
    • official curriculum documents are highlighting the importance of the higher order thinking and personal and social skill development embedded in Working Mathematically
    We don't know. We were just trying to collect the best of years of work and organise it into manageable units that encourage learning to work like a mathematician in happy, healthy, cheerful, productive, inspiring classrooms.

    For whatever reasons 62 kits were placed in schools during January and the photo below is of another 32 (and a box of other equipment) on their way to a shipping company to begin their journey to Dubai.

Ina and her team spent hours packing this order for just one school.

  • Painted Cubes
    A critical learning that develops when students are learning to work like a mathematician is their literacy - no, not just mathematical literacy, language literacy. Students discuss more, debate more, question more, report more, publish more (and do better in testing situations) when Working Mathematically is the core of the curriculum, than when texts and skill practice are the objective. This month we have added PowerPoint publishing to the Recording and Publishing Album. Specifically a wonderful report on Task 160, Painted Cubes, from Becky and Lydia, Year 8, Settlebeck High School, UK. See Link List below.

    What routine do you have in your classroom when you are using Tasks? Are they used purposefully as a component of a curriculum built around kids learning to work like a mathematician - in fact, as an invitation to investigate an interesting problem in the same way as a mathematician works? Within the Principles link (see Link List below) you will find advice on daily management that may be useful in building such an atmosphere. The clue is CRTRA.

  • Plastic Boxes
    Many schools still store their tasks in transparent plastic boxes. We have updated our reference to this item. Wayne at Plastics & Storage Warehouse is a reliable source of these. See Link List below.

  • Tasks of the Month
    Four new cameos this month.
    • Challenge involves the visual challenge of placing numbers 1 to 8 on a network so that the difference between any two numbers joined by a line is never 1.
    • Two Squares is based around the mathematician's question Can I check this another way? and it encourages the partition of areas to find visual representations for calculating the difference between the areas of two squares. It leads into a well known algebra rule.
    • See-Saw is an open investigation giving a broad range of students the opportunity to discover principles about balancing objects on a see-saw. It is underpinned by a formula, but the thrust of the task is more on discovering and reporting principles.
    • 13 Away starts as a game and becomes a challenge to find the winning strategy for the game. Successfully doing so leads to recognition of a number pattern and exploring hypotheses based on that leads to algebraic generalisation.
    Challenge      Two Squares
    See-Saw      13 Away
  • Did you miss the December/January News?
    If so you missed information about:
    1. Tribute to Charles Lovitt
    2. Checklist of features which encourage learning
    3. Message of thanks to Chris Seabridge
    4. Iceberg Information about two Tasks of the Month (Tasks 54 & 55)
    5. ...and more

Keep smiling,

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Previous News

November News ... October 2007
August/September 2007 ... July 2007 ... June 2007 ... May 2007 ... April 2007 ... March 2007
February 2007 ... Dec. 2006/Jan. 2007 ... November 2006 ... October 2006
September 2006 ... August 2006 ... July 2006 ... June 2006 ... May 2006 ... April 2006
March 2006 ... February 2006 ... Dec. 2005/ Jan. 2006 ... November 2005
October 2005 ... September 2005 ... August 2005 ... July 2005 ... June 2005
May 2005 ... April 2005 ... March 2005 ... February 2005 ... Dec. 2004/ Jan. 2005
November 2004 ... October 2004 ... September 2004 ... August 2004 ... July 2004
June 2004 ... April/May 2004 ... March 2004 ... February 2004 ... December 2003
October 2003 ... August/September 2003 ... July 2003 ... June 2003 ... April/May 2003
March 2003 ... February 2003 ... January 2003 ... December 2002 ... November 2002
October 2002 ... September 2002 ... March 2002 ... December 2001 ... October 2001

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