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Task Centre News

May 2009

232 tasks placed in schools during April.
314,017 placed since the project began in July 1992.

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In this month's News you will find:

Task Cameos

Jumping Kangaroos

Eric The Sheep
United States

Tasks of the Month
Task 87, First Down The Mountain
Task 88, Rice, Rice, Rice

Note Paper
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  • Task Cameos in England
    Four weeks after the annual conference of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM), we received this email. It's great to know that the Task Centre web site is such a powerful back up to our professional development work.
    Hi Doug,
    I attended two of your sessions at the ATM Conference in Swansea. Since returning to school I have tried a few investigations with different classes and it has been really successfully. After showing the students examples from your web site they have produced some excellent work of their own.

    Your sessions were really inspiring and I would just like to say thank you for providing so many useful strategies about how to use the Task Cameos in the classroom.
    Thanks again,
    Claire Donovan

    We hope to see some of the students' work in the near future. See the Link List below to access the current set of Task Cameos.

  • Jumping Kangaroos in Sweden
    In Eskilstuna I was asked to run a workshop for a small group of teachers (Years 1 - 12) on Gathering Assessment Information through Investigations. (You might be interested to know that the workshop ran from 08:30 - 16:30 which is what Swedish teachers normally expect from full day sessions).

    I borrowed from our Maths on the Move program titled Assessment, Recording & Reporting in Mathematics (see Link List below) and began with Jumping Kangaroos.

    I chose this problem as the first example because it has just about everything.

    • It is fascinating, captivating and absorbing (I am sure this is what we really mean when we say we want students to be engaged). Teachers are immediately hooked by the first criteria of a mathematician, which is simply, to be interested in a problem.
    • Exploring the problem uncovers almost all aspects of a mathematician's work and immediately makes it clear that if our curriculum is about learning to work like a mathematician (see Link List below) then processes involved must be assessed with as much vigour as we assess content.
    • The Task Cameo provides an Investigation Guide (and teacher notes) which completes the three lives of the task, each of which can offer assessment information, especially when used in a Replacement Unit (see Link List below).
    • The Task Cameo links to the partner Maths300 lesson and in the Classroom Contributions of that lesson there is an example of an assessment matrix (rubric) one teacher developed to assess student reports based on the Investigation Guide.
    • The Maths300 contribution also includes an example of a student self-assessment tool for this problem.

    If you are wondering about collecting assessment information through investigations, perhaps you should take another look at this wonderful problem as an example of what can be achieved with any task in the collection.

These teachers decided on a novel way to keep track and then recorded their solution.
  • Eric The Sheep in USA
    Year 1 at Hammond Westside Primary, Louisiana, spent an hour investigating Eric (Jacobi) The Sheep. But it wasn't enough. First they acted out the problem a few times to collect some data. Then they:
    • used their Poly Plugs to get more information
    • were surprised because different numbers of sheep in front of Eric gave the same result
    • recorded in their journal so they could come back to the problem the next day.
    The photos below are from their second hour, during which they began to organise their data and seek and see patterns.

    By now all the Year 1 classes at Hammond wanted to try the problem. Some of their journal work has been added to the Task Cameo for Task 45, Eric The Sheep. See Link List below ... and if you wonder why this problem is also suitable for Year 12, try working out a formula to calculate the number of sheep shorn before Eric gets to the front given any number of sheep, any jumping rule and any number of shearers.

Young mathematicians at work.

  • Tasks of the Month
    Two new cameos this month.
    • First Down The Mountain is based on the probabilities associated with rolling two dice and summing the results. It is a game situation with 9 'climbers' pitted against each other on a mountain and it leads to a significant investigation of which climber is more likely to reach the WIN square first.
    • Rice, Rice, Rice is a classroom level application of a type of problem faced by many workers in daily life. How to accurately estimate the number of objects in a large collection when counting each one would be tedious. The task leads to a fascinating way of comparing numbers of people in various situations when each person is equated to one grain of rice.
    First Down The Mountain      Rice, Rice, Rice
    Click a photo to access its cameo, or access all current cameos through the Link List below.

  • Did you miss the April News?
    If so you missed information about:
    1. Two more tasks that can be developed into whole class investigations by using Poly Plug.
    2. Iceberg Information about two Tasks of the Month (Tasks 85, 86).
    3. A great idea from Charles Sturt University for integrating the need for teachers in training to have more experience with kids and the need of primary teachers to find extension opportunities for students interested in mathematics.
    4. Maths With Attitude in action at Port Glasgow High School, Scotland.
    5. ...and more...

Keep smiling,

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December 2003 ... October 2003 ... August/September 2003 ... July 2003
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