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Task Centre News

April 2009

391 tasks placed in schools during March.
313,785 placed since the project began in July 1992.

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In this month's News you will find:

Two More Activities:
Poly Plug & Tasks

Student Teachers & Tasks:
Charles Sturt University

Maths With Attitude:
Port Glasgow High School

Tasks of the Month
Task 85, Time Swing
Task 86, Thirty-One

Note Paper
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  • Two More Activities: Poly Plug & Tasks
    One of the many uses of Poly Plug is exploring the whole class investigation life of our hands-on tasks. A school with a set of these sturdy, colourful, classroom friendly materials can explore the iceberg of 38 tasks as a community of mathematicians. That makes an investment in Poly Plug extremely good value for money. Two of these explorations have been added this month. Now you can find out how to use Task 235, Tables for 25, and Task 236, Star Numbers, Poly Plug investigations. See Link List below.

  • Student Teachers & Tasks: Charles Sturt University
    Sometimes you come across such a good idea that you wonder why no one has thought of it before. Teachers in training never get enough time with children during their training and schools never get enough time to support their most interested maths students. Tamsin Meaney and her team at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, have taken steps to redress both problems simultaneously. In the Link List below you will find details of a weekly Maths Club, which led to using tasks as a stimulus resource, which led to a workshop day for 80 student teachers, 80 primary children and a few additional adults where everyone was learning to work like a mathematician. The article uses lots of photos to help explain the structure of the day and it has been permanently stored in our Research & Stories link.

  • Maths With Attitude: Port Glasgow High School
    Marc Barry and the team at Port Glasgow High School have been using Maths With Attitude kits in Years 7 & 8 (S1 and S2 in Scotland) since 2006. Recently too they have been working with their feeder primary schools to introduce the resource into P3 to P6 with a view to an integrated approach to learning to work like a mathematician.

    To help teachers become familiar with the breadth and depth of the resource, the High School staff have been mapping one Maths300 lesson per fortnight into their curriculum and one Task lesson per month. Here Marc is showing us the record of that planning.

    Marc has presented twice at the Stirling Mathematics Conference on the school's use of Maths With Attitude and has recently been asked to write an article on the school programme for the Scottish Mathematical Council Journal. This small extract suggests that the school is achieving success with this approach to learning:

    A recent survey of students has shown that the young people of Port Glasgow High school are enjoying their Mathematics and look forward to their next Task session or whole-class lesson. Teachers report that students are now more willing to tackle new or unfamiliar problems.

    We have recently taken the decision to increase the frequency of whole class lessons to once per week in both S1 and S2. We are also attempting to integrate some of these lessons into the S3-S5 curriculum where appropriate. This will allow us to continue the investigative approaches to learning throughout the remainder of the curriculum.

    Following a workshop for staff from Port Glasgow and other local high and primary schools on April 2nd, it was clear that there was lots of enthusiasm for exploring further the opportunity for each school to develop its own form of a Maths With Attitude curriculum. We look forward to hearing more instalments in this story.

    Sphinx at Port Glasgow
    While visiting the school I was invited to participate with 3 S1 classes being introduced to Sphinx for the first time. The three classes were running simultaneously in three separate rooms.

    (Australian teachers should note that the common practice in Scottish high schools is for each teacher to have their own room and for the faculty to have a suite of rooms in the same geographical area. Yes we can!)

    Interactive White Boards (IWB) are a well established tool at Port Glasgow and I was interested to see the Sphinx lesson supported by what was in essence an electronic Investigation Guide for the class built from material on this site (see Link List below). As with many other slide shows used in their curriculum, one teacher prepared the material and stored it on the server for others to use. Perhaps this idea has a place in other schools. Marc did advise though that the IWB is a tool to support the lesson, not the driving energy of the lesson. These photos give some idea of what I saw across the three classrooms.

    Four Sphinxes make a Sphinx. Mmmm, nearly.

    Got it! Ahh, but now can you explain to someone else how to make it with your hands behind your back.

    Now everyone can do it.
    So, as the slide says, where to from here?

    How about four Size 2 Sphinxes
    make the next size, like this.

    Now we are starting to work like a mathematician (see Link List below).
    • Playing with a problem we are interested in.
    • Collecting and organising data.
    • Can anyone see a pattern?
    • What's our hypothesis about the next size? ...and the next?
    And so much more to explore from here. As the teacher of the third class said as the bell rang ... To be continued.

  • Tasks of the Month
    Two new cameos this month.
    • Time Swing is a little more like a science experiment than many of our other tasks, but none-the-less it responds to Working Mathematically. The problem is to determine what it is that affects the motion of a simple pendulum. What can be changed? What measurements can be taken? What does the data suggest?
    • Thirty-One is a fabulous challenge that develops from a game situation. Logical thinking leads to a number pattern which leads to an algebraic analysis and back to more challenges.
    Time Swing      Thirty-One
    Click a photo to access its cameo, or access all current cameos through the Link List below.

  • Did you miss the March News?
    If so you missed information about:
    1. More about teaching in Eritrea
    2. Iceberg Information about two Tasks of the Month (Tasks 83, 84)
    3. Task 35, Crosses, as a professional learning tutorial for a Swedish teacher
    4. Reflections on introducing Maths With Attitude at Lincoln High School, New Zealand
    5. ...and more...

Keep smiling,

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Previous News

February 2009 ... Dec.2008/Jan.2009
November 2008 ... October 2008 ... September 2008 ... August 2008 ... July 2008
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November 2007 ... October 2007 ... August/September 2007 ... July 2007
June 2007 ... May 2007 ... April 2007 ... March 2007 ... February 2007 ... Dec. 2006/ Jan. 2007
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June 2006 ... May 2006 ... April 2006 ... March 2006 ... February 2006 ... Dec. 2005/ Jan. 2006
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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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