Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Mathematical Chinese Whispers

This is a versatile game based on pictorial consequences. Everyone gets a long thin strip of paper and a pen or pencil and sits in a circle. In the original, everyone draws a picture, then passes their paper to the next person. They write a description of that picture, then fold the paper so that only the description is visible, then pass it on again. The next person draws the description, describes that picture, and so on. At the end you unfold the paper and see how much the picture has changed.

I first adapted this to become "Graphical Consequences", which I played last year with My Lovely Year 10s when finishing up a unit on graphs. I started the pieces of paper off with an equation, which they had to sketch and so on. They made lots of mistakes but loved it.

I have since tried equations/solutions, expanding/factorising, equivalent fractions, and simple question/answer versions, with that class again and this year with year 7. I love that this game gets everyone involved together, and that you get to sit on the floor.

Other ideas (I'm sure there are many many many more that would work):
  • inequalities/solutions
  • inequality/graph on the number line
  • coordinates/point on the number line
  • integration/differentiation
  • decimal/fraction/percentage
  • index notation/expanded notation
  • basic numeral/expanded notation
  • convert between Hindu-Arabic/Roman Numerals/Egyptian Numerals/any other system
  • Trig - between exact values and expressions
  • Simplifying surds

Saturday, 25 February 2012


A Saturday spent renewing myself and my motivation for teaching through the experiences and ideas of others has led me to creating a blog.

I'm so full of new ideas and a desire to improve my teaching, little by little, that I'm challenging myself to try at least one new/different/interesting thing each week with each of my junior maths classes.

Week 1:
Year 7: Offer students a "weekend homework menu", an idea I got from Alycia Zimmerman on Scholastic. This offers student choice, differentiation and potential family involvement. Students choose from options that could include practise worksheets, harder problem or puzzle worksheets, games to play at home with their family, projects, website activities or research. I have a clever little group but some of them have struggled with the puzzles I've presented them, so I'm really looking forward to seeing if this helps. Plus it gives me an opportunity to share fun maths games that we don't often have time for in class.

Year 9: Play "4 strikes and your out", another Scholastic idea, from Marilyn Burns this time. Basically it's maths hangman, enhanced with key questions once they have some information and need to make sensible choices from there. I'm also going to try Fist to Five from the Teacher Channel (although I think I'll just call it Zero to Five) as an instant feedback tool. I liked the idea of Dylan Wiliam's coloured cups but this class doesn't inspire me to give them anything potentially distracting or breakable.

Year 10: Run a Count to a Billion (from Mathsisfun) lesson. I'm a bit sick of doing textbook work with this class, but they often struggle with more open-ended tasks and they are a large class. The unit on time seems like a good opportunity to explore some more interesting ideas. We'll see.