A Good Task
is the
Tip of an Iceberg

Karen Palmer
Numbulwar School, Northern Territory

Karen was one of the teachers involved in the original development of the Task Centre Kit for Aboriginal Students. Here she tells the story of one positive experience in the development stage which, when combined with the successes of other teachers in remote schools, led to the decision to create the kit. The original Northern Territory version was modified later when trialed with Indigenous students in an urban environment. This later kit is now widely used in schools across Australia.

The playing board referred to on the card is six rectangles numbered 0-5.

Green Line

I tried 'Dice Differences' with a Year 4/5 Aboriginal class. The children hadn't had much experience at subtraction, so it was a good chance to introduce the concept. They formed two teams and played the game, initially using fingers to help with answers. Everyone absolutely loved it; the classroom was full of cheers and screams! They played a few times and asked if they could keep the activity to use again.

At the end of the game time we had a discussion about the activity and they wanted to try it with addition. They worked out all the possible answers for a dice and made a game board. It was also suggested we could try it with multiplication.

Next we looked at the picture on the bottom of the task sheet and discovered that the dice was wrong. I gave them cube nets and we made 27 small cubes. These were formed into a 3x3x3 cube and we drew dots on to make it look like a big dice. It was mixed up and the kids tried to put it back together again. They worked out that opposite faces have to add up to seven, and checked with a real dice to see if they were right.

We then played a game that involves rolling a dice and flipping a plus or minus card. The kids were visibly learning about chance and probability. After that we played a game with counters labelled 1- 10. Each group flipped two counters and made all possible combinations of the numerals. This was increased to 3, 4, and 5 numerals, and the kids could easily predict that the total number of combinations would increase. Some kids were able to estimate the final totals.

I was amazed at the amount of work which developed from the kids enthusiasm for one simply presented task. The really exciting thing though was that as they learnt more maths, I learnt more about each of them. I have since discovered the Chance and Data books which have loads more dice based activities. (Chance and Data Investigations, Volumes 1 and 2, Charles Lovitt & Ian Lowe, Curriculum Corporation)

I think we could just about develop a whole term's work from the 'Dice Differences' task. Crazy Animals is another task in the kit that has a direct follow up in Chance and Data. I am looking forward to exploring this sort of richness in all the tasks in the kit.

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