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Task Centre News

June 2009

593 tasks placed in schools during May.
314,610 placed since the project began in July 1992.

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In this month's News you will find:

Professional Development
Engineering 'aha' Moments in Algebra

Professional Development
Discussion Lessons

Professional Development
Problem Solving in Eritrea

Integrating Problem Solving

Tasks of the Month
Task 89, Doctor Dart
Task 90, Tricube ConstructionsB

Historic Photograph

Note Paper
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  • Engineering 'aha' Moments in Algebra
    This is one of our six day Maths on the Move professional development courses. It is for teachers of Years 5-10 and although its main content thread is algebra there are excursions into other areas, sometimes revealing an algebraic 'aha' moment for teachers.

    Six Day courses are the most valuable courses we offer in terms of teacher learning, school curriculum review and development of teacher leaders. Testimony to this claim is in the article linked below which is a composite of work from secondary teachers involved in the most recent of these course which ran from late November 2008 to late May 2009.

    The article is substantial, practical and insightful and could be considered compulsory professional reading for secondary teachers, leaders and administrators. It contains many examples showing students learning to work like mathematicians in three secondary colleges.
    Now is the time to be planning one of these courses for 2009/10. The recent course was organised by a cluster of schools and similar courses have been organised at district or system level in the past.

    The equivalent six day course for primary teachers is Engineering 'aha' Moments in Number. Read reflections on this course in the links below to stories by Nic Dale and Cherie Cooper.

  • Discussion Lessons
    Effective professional development happens close to the classroom. In the six day courses the real learning is driven by the structured challenges that are sandwiched between the two day sub-courses.

    A Discussion Lesson is in two parts:

    • In the Lesson part the external leader takes a class and acts out a lesson that has been successful elsewhere. Typically this lesson is 50 - 60 minutes. Teachers observe students learning and take notes about the features designed to generate the learning. It is not often that teachers have the chance to observe their students learning without simultaneously needing to manage them.
    • The Discussion part follows and is typically the same length as the lesson. Another teacher (usually a relief teacher employed for the day) takes the class and the observing teachers meet with the leader to unpack the features of the lesson; prepare themselves to trial the same lesson with another group; consider how the lesson fits in with the school's 'bigger picture' curriculum shift.
    The photos below are samples of discussion debriefs held in 2009 to date.

    Regardless of the language it is easy to see what teachers value.
    To learn more about our range of Professional Development programs see the Professional Development Partnerships link below.

  • Problem Solving in Eritrea
    Aaron Peeters is passing through Australia between engagements; engagements as a volunteer abroad in Eritrea and Ghana. In our February and March issues he briefly recorded early experiences from Eritrea. While biding his time back home he has written a wonderful article that helps us all to see how different and how similar education is in this impoverished country. And helps us reconsider our teaching in our lands of plenty. See the Link List below.

  • Integrating Problem Solving
    Neville de Mestre and Bea Duncan originally thought of tasks as being used in a 'problem solving room' called a Task Centre on a weekly basis. Since their first Task Centre many models and structures have been developed to integrate task use into the overall picture of students learning to work like a mathematician. Two recent models (Mathematician Teams & Pass On Problem Solving) have been added to the Integrating Tasks link this month. See Link List below for this and a link to Neville's story of the first Task Centre.

  • Tasks of the Month
    Two new cameos this month.
    • Doctor Dart is a number puzzle that encourages heaps of basic arithmetic calculation in a video game-like context. It can be solved by guess and check but it can also be solved by making a table or drawing a diagram. Of course, solving the initial puzzle only opens the door to more mystery.
    • Tricube Constructions B presents isometric drawings of 3D objects made from 4 Tricubes and challenges students to construct the actual building. Is there more than one way? Can these buildings be represented in 2D in other ways?
    Doctor Dart      Tricube Constructions B
    Click a photo to access its cameo, or access all current cameos through the Link List below.

  • Historic Photograph
    Do you remember BDC?
    Before Digital Cameras we used film that came in rolls and was processed sometimes days, weeks or even years after the event. The results of this process were also called photos. I happened to be looking through some old ones of mine the other day - they are waiting in a box under the house called 1990s to be placed in albums when I fully retire - and I came across a pivotal moment. A photograph of the two boys, Michael and Tyler, who first asked about the Size 3 Sphinx and went on to solve their own investigation. The way they presented their solution became the inspiration for the Mathematics Task Centre logo.

    Rather than show you the photo here, I invite you to use the link below to see it in the context of their story.

  • Did you miss the May News?
    If so you missed information about:
    1. Task Cameos being used in England
    2. Jumping Kangaroos being used in Sweden
    3. Eric the Sheep being used in USA
    4. Iceberg Information about two Tasks of the Month (Tasks 87, 88)
    5. ...and more...

Keep smiling,

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Previous News

April 2009 ... March 2009 ... February 2009 ... Dec.2008/Jan.2009
November 2008 ... October 2008 ... September 2008 ... August 2008 ... July 2008
May/June 2008 ... April 2008 ... March 2008 ... February 2008 ... Dec.2007/ Jan.2008
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
November 2005 ... October 2005 ... September 2005 ... August 2005 ... July 2005
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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
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December 2002 ... November 2002 ... October 2002 ... September 2002 ... March 2002
December 2001 ... October 2001

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