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Task Centre News

May/June 2008

802 tasks placed in schools during April.
305,303 placed since the project began in July 1992.

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In this month's News you will find:

Tasks of the Month
Task 64, Difference Between Two Squares
Task 65, Shape Algebra
Task 66, Pentominoes
Task 67, Making Solids

Site Map Maths Mat in Sweden Maths300 in Cambodia

No Price Change National Maths Day Workshop Wisdom

Note Paper
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  • Tasks of the Month
    Four new cameos this month.
    • Difference Between Two Squares models, develops and applies and algebraic generalisation that is too often taught as a rule.
    • Shape Algebra makes concrete sense of the algebraic process of using pronumerals and collecting and operating on like terms.
    • Pentominoes is a suite of 2D spatial challenges presented in a story shell which open the door to a much broader collection of challenges.
    • Making Solids is a suite of 3D challenges that encourage students to invent further challenges of their own.
    Difference Between Two Squares      Shape Algebra
    Pentominoes      Making Solids
  • Site Map
    After more than 15 years of development we have built quite a world of alternatives to text-based mathematics education. To help you find your way around it more effectively, we have added a Site Map which acts as a Table of Contents.

    Access it through the Link List below, or from the link on the Navigation Bar at the top of each main page. Try it out as soon as you have read the news. There is a good chance you will discover something you didn't know was on the site.

  • Maths Mat in Sweden
    When Per Berggren and Maria Lindroth from Trädgårdsstadsskolan, near Stockholm, were in Australia a year or so ago for the MAV December Conference, they attended a session by Matt Skoss based around a large Maths Mat. They loved the concept and resolved to find opportunity to make their own mat and use it with Swedish teachers. A district Inspiration Day held at their school near the end of April this year was just perfect for the inaugural workshop.
    A Maths Mat is a resource consistent with our principles of students learning to work like a mathematician in best practice classrooms. A mat generates significant investigations through whole body physical involvement. You can read a translation of Per's report on this very successful day in the Maths Mat section of our Resources link (see below).

  • Maths300 in Cambodia
    As reported in the Maths300 April eNews, Lynne Ord and Dayle Van Zanten from Ivanhoe Grammar School, Victoria, are involved in assisting teacher trainers in Cambodia to develop the local curriculum with more engaging mathematical activities. Several of their demonstration lessons are investigations based on tasks. Lynne has sent photos from their most recent visit and tells us a little more of the story in the article in the Link List below. This report will be permanently available through the Research & Stories link above.

  • No Price Change
    Task prices haven't changed since October 2004 and Ina, our Distribution Manager, tells us that she doesn't expect them to change this year. We think she is a miracle worker. There are over 1000 items in a kit of 100 tasks and they are sourced from dozens of suppliers. Raw material and labour costs rise, so suppliers' prices rise to us - some put up their prices by 5% annually as a matter of course. Ina distributes these rises over all the tasks and cuts costs where she can so that schools invest in alternative mathematics education at the best possible price. You are on a good thing ... but the investment cost must go up some time in the future.

  • National Mathematics Day
    How did you celebrate National Mathematics Day on May 23rd? At MacKillop College, Swan Hill, Victoria, staff were involved in a full day workshop on learning to work like a mathematician. The twist in the tale was the final activity based around Chocolate Chip Digit Cookies. Read more in the link below.

  • Workshop Wisdom
    For your consideration, a couple of interesting comments from recent workshops:
    • Ian Butler, St. Francis Xavier, Berwick, was struck by alternative vision of mathematics education being centred on students learning to work like a mathematician. He realised that the investigation is the purpose of the learning, not the skills used to investigate.
      The text book is the Bunnings of mathematics. It's where you go to get the tools for the real business which is the problem solving.
      Note: Bunnings is a chain of gigantic hardware stores.

    • At Bentleigh Secondary College, I mentioned the invented Swedish word for Tasks - Mattegömmor, which means a place where mathematics is hidden. I commented that we don't have such a word in English and Susie Watt put her mind to work.
      By the end of the session she had suggested Mathemystics and Enigmathics.

  • Did you miss the April News?
    If so you missed information about:
    1. A new way of seeing the solution to Task 11, Lining Up
    2. An article about task workshops in Sweden
    3. Iceberg Information about two Tasks of the Month (Tasks 62 - 63)
    4. Release of a photo-enriched document as a discussion starter for schools thinking about making tasks and investigations the core of their curriculum
    5. ...and more

There will not be a Task Centre News update in June because I will be taking a little long service leave. But please keep your stories coming in so there is plenty to share in July.

Keep smiling,

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