Thursday, 8 August 2013

Counting and Catching with Captain Ball

Coaching a sport has forced me to learn a lot in one of my weaker areas. Our maths faculty is actually quite sporty, but I fit a more standard stereotype!

So learning to coach has been interesting. Just like all areas of my teaching, I like to make it all about games. I've learned to adapt a lot of games to the skills I need my kids to practise.

Recently I tried bringing one of my sports activities into my Numeracy Roll Call.
 The game is Captain ball and if you don't know it, it goes like this:
  • Two or more teams line up. The first player from each team stands facing the rest of the line with a bit of a gap
  • The leading player has a ball (or bean bag, or whatever you have that you can throw and catch)
  • They throw to the first person in the line, who catches and throws it back then sits down
  • The leading player throws to the next and so on until the last player in the line catches the ball
  • The last player runs up to the leading position, the previous leader joins the line at the front and all players stand back up
  • When all players have completed their time as the leader, the whole team sits down to show they are finished
  • First team to finish wins
The Numeracy variation is pretty simple, you just call out numbers in a sequence as you catch. For example, counting by twos, fives or tens would be a good place to start.

Good for a learning activity with kids who are restless and need to move around. I think we all have plenty of those!

What other numeracy or mathematics skills could we adapt captain ball to?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

"Make n" Grids - a numeracy game

Another numeracy game for my roll call group. Right now we are targeting the skill of knowing number combinations for numbers up to 20.

We played a game called "Make 10" from the NSW DET's "Developing Efficient Numeracy Strategies" (DENS) stage 2 booklet.

The grids for that game have numbers from 1-10, and you roll a 0-9 die. Players take turns to roll the die and colour in a square on the grid. Players use different coloured pens and the first to get 4-in-a-row wins. When they roll, rather than colouring the number they rolled, they colour the number needed to make ten from their number. For example, if you roll a 6, you colour in a 4, because 6 + 4 = 10.

These grids extend the game to make use of 8, 12, and 20-sided dice, and 10-sided dice with tens, hundreds, and thousands on their faces.

We played some of these variations today, and they went well. The students can play quite independently, and it's easy to vary the difficulty between different groups by which grid and die you give them.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Telling Equation Stories with Comics

Algebra can get pretty abstract, but I find most kids can get their teeth into a good equation. "What number, if I add 8 to it, gives me 12?" No worries.

When we get to "word problems", when things could get interesting, they tend to get a bit dry instead. Kids have great imaginations, but instead of drawing on that amazing resource, we feed them boring textbook exercises or worksheets. Let's have some fun instead.

Last year with my lovely year 7s, we turned our imaginations to making movies about equations. With year 9 this year, we turned to comics.

Some free online comic generators to use for your lesson:

Marvel Kids - limited characters and a set of props that don't seem to fit your standard superhero story, but a great set of layouts and you can add pages as you go, so you don't need to know an exact plan when you start.

Make Beliefs - a nice simple one, with some cute animal characters and mutliple language options.

Comic Master - Loads of options for layout, backgrounds and characters.

How to use the comic generators in your equations lesson:

  • Brainstorm and work through examples together. Put an equation on the board and talk about what situation it could represent.
  • Get students to have a plan before they start, but not too strict a plan. Working with the comic generators will give students more ideas and they need to be ready to go where the creativity takes them, but they do need to have some ideas so they have direction.
  • Leave more time than you expect. I always forget this one!
  • Demonstrate how to start with whichever technology you choose to use. I showed the class how to get started on a few sites. It was putting random things into the Marvel Kids one that inspired my story about the Hulk smashing lamps.

I may have had too much fun with this one!

What mathematics topics do you think lend themselves to creating comics?

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Numeracy Display on the Door

This term my school's Numeracy Team set up a little competition for a Numeracy Display. This is the second one actually. At the end of last year each faculty had to put up a display about Numeracy in our subject area.

This time the challenge was to pick a classroom door and decorate it with numerical facts or information relating to our subject area and the room number.

Here's my door, courtesy of my year 9 class:

 The secondary idea here is that we'll work towards having displays like this on all the classroom doors, not only promoting numeracy, but making it easy for new students to find their rooms!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Yes/No Game with Numbers

A simple premise, and very adaptable. Plus it gives us a nice opportunity to get up and get moving!

Here's how it goes:
  • Label one area (e.g. one side of the classroom) with "Yes" and another area with "No"
  • Give each student a number.
  • Ask yes/no questions about the numbers.
  • Students have to go to the correct area, holding their number where you can see it to check.

For example, today I played this with my Peer Numeracy roll call (which was extra good because it was a small group and the year 10 mentors helped check and helped the students who struggled). First I did numbers in the hundreds, then in the thousands.

Some questions:
  • Are you even?
  • Are you more than 50?
  • Are you more than 400?
  • Look at your tens digit. Is your tens digit more than 3?
  • Look at your hundreds digit. Is your hundreds digit odd?
  • Add up your digits. This is your digit sum. Is your digit sum even?

And so on. At the end of each set of questions, I got them to line up in ascending order and collected the numbers and gave out the new numbers.

I've also played as revision with year 7 classes, looking at number properties and special numbers, using questions like:
  • Are you odd?
  • Are you prime?
  • Are you a multiple of 3?
  • Is 4 a factor of you?
  • Are you palindromic?
  • Are you a square number?
  • Are you a triangular number?
  • Are you in the Fibonacci sequence?
  • If you add 3 to yourself, are you a multiple of 5?

Some other ideas:
  • Use decimal numbers and ask questions about the digits in certain places, to reinforce place value
  • Use fractions and ask questions about the numerator and denominator (to reinforce those terms)
  • Use algebraic terms and ask about "are you a like term to ...?" or "is .... a factor of you?"
  • Give students shapes and ask questions about their properties

This also makes me think about getting students into groups for group work. Some ideas:
  • Give students algebraic terms and get them to form groups in their like terms
  • Give students numbers and get them to form groups of multiples
  • Give students shapes and get them to find the same type of shape

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Numbers of the Ancient World

Last year my year 7 class began by exploring Numbers in Our World, including making fake papyrus and painting Egyptian numerals on them.

I loved it so much, we did it again this year. Maths in the art room is so much fun!

This time I let them choose which number system to paint numerals from.

I also encouraged them to paint a calculation rather than just a number, which some of them did.

One painted her birth date and time.

Ever wondered what it would look like if the Ancient Egyptians did integration? Now you know.

Someone get this kid some extension work!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Circle Geometry Puzzle

Just a little bit of extra fun in Circle Geometry for my Extension 1 students.

I'd like to try more of this sort of thing, but it was hard work! Maybe the students should make their own as a homework assignment.