Maths All Day

John Eade
Maidavale State School, Queensland

Maidavale is a one teacher school. Twelve students made up of 2 at Year 1, 2 at Year 3, 4 at Year 5 and 4 at Year 7.
John planned a professional development program with Doug. Williams that included a pupil free day with teachers and assistants from surrounding one-teacher schools, and two days doing maths with his children. Maths all day for two days.
The second day, the school population was doubled for half the day with the arrival of all the Years 3 to 7 children, and their teacher, from Millaroo.

Learning Ten Friends from Calculating Changes.

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Douglas decided to start the two days with the children using Task 132, Red To Blue. He chose to convert the task from turning over 4 red/blue counters to turning around 4 students to either face the class or the board. The four students begin facing the class. On each move, all except one must turn around. The problem is to make all four face the board. Douglas takes up the story...

The physically involving start to this investigation works so well. Students have to use classmates' names to tell them who should turn and I thought this would help rebuild relationships in the first hour of this new year. We couldn't solve the problem this way, so moved to making a model with John's Poly Plugs. It took a while, probably 20-30 minutes, and the Year 1s drifted into 'free time' activity, but pairs began to find a solution. Gradually they developed a pattern of movement that solved the initial problem and, while the Year 1s played the calculator game Six Plus (from Calculating Changes) with John, we recorded all we had learnt in our new maths journal.

To round off this first look at the problem Douglas showed them how they could challenge their parents to try the problem and perhaps win some extra pocket money. He explained they should say something like:

I learnt a puzzle at school today Mum. If you have 4 coins I will show it to you. If you can do it, you keep the coins, but if I can do it, I keep the coins.
After morning break the Year 7 students became team captains and had to choose two other people, so the class was now in 4 teams of 3. Douglas introduced Win A Flat. Here was an activity that ran itself in my multi-age class and yet had learning and reinforcement for all students.

The management strategy in the game of one student as the Dice Roller, and the aim being to win the flat and become the Dice Roller, was stunning. Another key is using the calculator after using the wood to keep the on-going tally. The game ran itself and I was released to sit with any group or student and observe and evaluate their place value knowledge.

The teams played for about 30 minutes then we recorded the wood each player had, and whose turn it was, and put the equipment to the side for another time.

We learnt in the Friday session that a rich activity like this can be threaded into the curriculum for a few minutes a day, two or three times a week over several weeks.

The rest of the day included exploring Eric The Sheep (well, Daniel The Sheep in our class), the Years 5 & 7 trying some tasks on their own, and the Years 1 & 3 exploring the Make A Million software from Maths300. It may not have been the intention of the software to use it this way, but it certainly had my children focusing on place value aspects when they were asked to predict what they thought would change on the screen when the space bar was pressed.

Maths all day ... and 3 o'clock came around so quickly!

Next morning, before the Millaroo kids arrived, I reviewed what the children thought they had learnt the day before. In the process the children asked if they could try the problem again with people. Every one of them wanted to show they could do it. They agreed they would introduce it to the other kids at the end of the day. Then, with great confidence, Daniel asked "Can we try it with five?". That was an eye-opener for them. They couldn't do it, and knew that we would come back to this problem again.

I also asked if anyone had challenged their parents. Jodie had won $4! ... and the smile on her face was a delight. After school, her mum admitted that Dad, who loves maths, had stared at the coins for ages before trying the problem. It seems he felt that if she could do it when he couldn't, then Jodie deserved the money.

When the Millaroo students arrived, Douglas used the introduction to the Maths300 lesson Bob's Buttons to mix up the kids and make three groups. Then each teacher took a group for an investigation and after thirty minutes we rotated.

Row Points

Domino Trails

Task 104, Building Views

Between rotations we also explored the Maths300 lesson Chart Strategies together. The software was an eye-opener for the teachers, especially when linked with that of Number Charts. The one problem solving challenge, but regardless of age or experience, it was suitable for all our children. The Millaroo kids had to leave after lunch, but they took with them the challenge of Red To Blue. We hope they will fax us their work.

...the kids were quite disappointed that the next day was not going to be all maths.   Just us again, and the children asked to play Win A Flat. Another 30 minutes of absolute engagement across the room. We rounded off the day by exploring the Building Views software from Maths300, taking turns around the class to place a building. Another thoroughly engaging activity even though we were using one computer and a data projector.

Probably no one would have predicted it, but, the fact is, the kids were quite disappointed that the next day was not going to be all maths.

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Editor's Note

If you are not a member of Maths300, the Building Views software and task are available as part of the Mixed Media kit Points of View which explores the representation of 3D objects in two dimensions.

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