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Task Centre News

March 2008

2128 tasks placed in schools during February
304,156 placed since the project began in July 1992.

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In this month's News you will find:

Maths With Attitude
in Scotland
Why Maths With Attitude?

Maths With Attitude
Starting a Task Centre
MacKillop College
Working Mathematically

Tasks of the Month
Task 60, Back To Back Building
Task 61, Double Staircase

Home Schooling with Tasks

Note Paper
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  • Maths With Attitude in Scotland
    This email from Marc Barry, Port Glasgow High School, Scotland speaks for itself:
    Hey Doug,
    Just a note to let you know how things went at the Stirling Maths Conference. It was on Saturday 8th March and about 500 Maths teachers from all over Scotland attended. I was on the programme as 'Maths with Attitude' and about 80 delegates chose to hear me speak, spread over 2 sessions. Each session was only 50 minutes so it was all a bit rushed.

    I took your advice and used one of the investigations as the core of my talk. So after a short intro I launched into the Knight's Tour (Maths300 Lesson 82, see Link List below). I chose this one as I thought that it illustrated the software quite nicely. For the rest of the talk we had a look at the Tasks and I allowed them to choose a few to work on in groups.

    The feedback was very positive. Lots of good questions about the need for good resources that promote Mathematical thinking and collaborative learning. I think that you can expect quite a few hits on the site and hopefully we can get more schools in Scotland involved.

    I already have 5 schools in my own local authority signed up to Maths300 and we are hoping to have 'Users Group' up and running next session, ie: August 2008.

    The good news is that I have been asked to repeat the talk at next year's conference.

    Marc Barry

    Seems like Scotland is becoming the place to be for quality maths education in the UK. But I suppose there are those asking When was that not true?.

  • Why Maths With Attitude?
    Following on from our article last month wondering what is attracting schools across the world to Maths With Attitude ... we still don't know. If you have purchased any of these kits and can spare the time to drop us a line, we would be interested to hear what attracted you and how you are using them. But whatever it is, 71 kits left the office in February, which included the 32 for Dubai shown in the photo last month.

    In the past month, Ina has also had inquiries about Tasks from Vietnam and China. Our thanks to the many, many, many teachers who are supporting our work and 'talking it up' to their colleagues.

  • Enhancing Maths With Attitude
    In the time since MWA kits were completed for all year levels from 3 to 10, we have continued to develop resources to support the attitude that all students can learn to work like a mathematician in best practice classrooms. Ten tasks have been added to the Task Centre collection. Thirty lessons have been added to the Maths300 library.

    Teachers with Maths With Attitude kits can enhance them further by adding these new additions into the Scope and Sequence charts in the manuals. MWA kits provide 25 weeks of investigative work at each year level, so there is plenty of 'curriculum room' to do this.

    To support you in making these additions, we have created a new link, Enhancing Maths With Attitude, which lists all the 'extras' and their content. See Link List below.

  • Starting a Task Centre
    For almost two years Damian Howison and the staff of MacKillop College, Swan Hill, Victoria, have been creating, and exploring the use of, a Task Centre as the core of their efforts to address the Working Mathematically dimension of the Victorian curriculum. Damian tells a good story.

    In the Link List below he records the experience, and how it has led them into repositioning Working Mathematically as the core of their curriculum - all students learning to work like a mathematician. The story is supported by a PowerPoint developed for workshops he has run on the experience and includes key record sheets and planning tools developed by the staff.

    This is a must read article for those already on a similar journey and those thinking about integrating the use of Tasks and Maths300 into their curriculum. It will be permanently available in the Research & Stories section of the site.

  • Working Mathematically in VELS
    VELS is the Victorian government curriculum document - Victorian Essential Learning Standards. Ian Lowe, Professional Officer, Mathematical Association of Victoria (MAV(), has worked for more than a year to develop VELS-friendly curriculum documents from Years 3-10 which use Maths With Attitude as the core resource. By combining MWA with other MAV resources he has produced a complete syllabus of two 17 week semesters for every year level (3 - 10) ... and there is no need to use a text book for any of them!

    Every aspect of every teaching session is linked to its appropriate VELS standard ... and there is much more. For Victorian teachers this may be the complete way to enhance Maths With Attitude.

    It is a remarkable achievement and we are delighted to be associated with such an important resource for MAV members. These documents are freely available to MAV members and there is also a sample set of pages for non-members to consider. See Link List below.

  • Tasks of the Month
    Two new cameos this month.
    • Back To Back Building develops mathematical language and leads into developing a three dimensional co-ordinate system.
    • Double Staircase is based around the mathematician's question Can I check this another way? and encourages students to look for visual patterns as the source of number patterns, which can then be generalised into algebraic expressions.
    Back To Back Building      Double Staircase

  • Home Schooling with Tasks
    Are you a home-schooler? Do you know someone who is? Carolyn Rutter, is a home-schooling mum from Tasmania who is finding value in using Tasks with her children. She has a plan. A network of, say, 10 home-school families who each purchase two tasks and then post them around a 'ring' on a regular basis. Carolyn would set up a blog for discussion of each task and, she adds:
    I was thinking the kids would use their own individual blogs or their facebook (whatever they probably have already) as the diary portion of a Self-directed Maths Journey and we can all tune into those as well.
    Sounds very workable to us. If you would like to find out more, contact Carolyn at: seachange_au@netspace.net.au
    Find out more about a Self-directed Maths Journey at the link below.

  • Link List

  • Did you miss the February News?
    If so you missed information about:
    1. Professional Development opportunities for 2008
    2. An article on teaching maths all day
    3. Thoughts about why schools seem so interested in Maths With Attitude
    4. A student PowerPoint report on exploring Painted Cubes
    5. CRTRA - hints on administrative practices to make the day to day use of Tasks more purposeful
    6. Iceberg Information about four Tasks of the Month (Tasks 56 - 59)
    7. ...and more

Keep smiling,

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