Friday, 30 November 2012

Day 6: Circumference and Area of Christmas Baubles

Posting every day? Who's stupid idea was this?

Lucky I am vaguely prepared. Here's one from my first year of Maths teaching:

I'm sure this is a theme which could be expanded on too, but in it's current form at least we have a nice worksheet, some actual measurement in the topic of measurement, and another pretty thing to colour and put on the wall.

Have a good weekend everyone! I'm off to another Katoomba High Girls Night.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Day 5: Christmas Word Clouds

One of the new teaching ideas I tried this year was to use a word cloud to introduce a section of text. My colleague Michael introduced me to this idea from a professional learning course he did about student engagement. Rather than just reading an article or other text, you start with a word cloud created from it. The students have to try to use the words to figure out what the article is about.

I tried this with my year 7 class when we started looking at negative numbers. I'd previously told them about my upcoming holiday to Canada (when we were looking at time differences and planning an overseas holiday) so I thought we would continue that theme. The article for this word cloud is about the weather conditions during different seasons in the town of Banff in the Rocky Mountains.

Pretty quickly they could tell it was about temperatures and seasons and other weather conditions, but they didn't know what Banff was and were confused by some other obscure words that appear rarely, like Aspens. Importantly, they noticed the temperatures including negative numbers that appeared.

I put up the article on the projector and they were actually interested in reading it to find out where the unusual words fit in.

Then we looked at tables of high and low temperatures and talked about temperature difference and comparing the numbers.

Today I read this article about the relative green cred of artificial and real Christmas trees. It contains a few interesting but very specific statistics about carbon use making the trees and also energy use of regular and LED lights.

So I used Tagxedo to create a word cloud for this one. Some points about Tagxedo:
  • I like to copy the text rather than just use the URL so that I can control the input more closely if I need to, and avoid the extra bits and pieces at the end of the article and focus on the central text.
  • You can change the shape of your word cloud. Since my first one was about temperatures, I kept it as a cloud. This one is about Christmas trees, and conveniently that is an option!
  • Colours are changeable too, although we can only print in black-and-white in our staffroom.
  • Under Word/Layout options are some useful features. For articles relating to Maths, an important one is to change it to include numbers. It also includes how many words to use, whether to combine related words and exclude common words.

So first students need to work out what the article is about. From there I'd like to ask some questions like "What are some Maths words that appear in the article?" "What might those words relate to?" "What numbers appear?" "What might the numbers represent?"

They might be interested in some of the names that appear. "Why would a person's name appear a lot in an article?"  It could be a good lead-in to a discussion about acknowledging sources and plagiarism.

On reading the article, I had questions about the Maths. The article says "A study as recent as 2009 (Ellipsos) concluded that a 7-foot cut tree's impact on climate is 60 percent less than a 7-foot artificial tree used for six years. So while cut trees are not carbon-neutral, in terms of carbon-use, they are better than artificial trees."

My question was, why 6 years? And can we extrapolate from that information to work it out for a different number of years? How much might they have rounded the percentage and how will that affect our ability to use that percentage?

Maybe that's it, or maybe this can lead into some research and calculations about environmental issues and Christmas like energy use or wasted wrapping paper. Lots of mathematical potential, and in a very open-ended way.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Day 4: Christmas Colour-by-numbers

These worksheets are only very simply addition and subtraction but great fun and really cute pictures to have to put up around the room as the end of the year approaches.

This is the display from 2010. I remember being surprised at how much my students of all ages loved these! Also featured Christmas sudoku (which I'll mention later) and a turkey (which I won't).

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Day 3: Christmas Maths Worksheets Part 1

A lot of "holiday themed" worksheets are just normal questions with a few themed images around the edges. Which is ok I guess, but I'm looking for my themes to be a little more integrated.

Maths-Drills have a bunch that can be found here, and they range in how genuinely Christmassy they are. They include a few of the lame kind, but they have made a genuine effort with the others, and in any case they are all pretty and well-presented. And free!

Problem contexts include adding presents on Santa's list, ordering numbered baubles, Christmas word problems, reading tables about Santa's route between different cities, number patterns about how many toys the elves make each day, and of course a number plane picture.

Oops! I failed primary school maths :(

Monday, 26 November 2012

Day 2: Christmas Tree Light Up

I love logic games. This one's a great one. Not maths as such I suppose but problem-solving and logic for sure. And a good one because kids can just play around and see what happens or try to strategise.

One way I judge the quality of a game is how much time I spend playing it. This rates pretty high.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Day 1: Ratio Pictures

Let's start with something I actually created myself. Ratios can be a tricky subject for some but concrete or visual things help and make it more fun. For the end of the year, sometimes you need everyone to chill out, relax, and do a small amount of maths mixed in with a large amount of colouring.

I've put the images in pretty massive so they can be downloaded and printed clearly.

Penguins! Drawn by me. Their hats need to be coloured in the ratio described on the sign. The rest of the colouring is free-style.

This one was made using a free gingerbread man font

A four-part ratio, but if you just colour in as you go along the chain it'll still be pretty easy. Drawn by me.

Ratios of candy canes, baubles, present tags and present colours! Drawn by me. The font I used for the text is called Santa's Sleigh, it's one of my Christmas favourites.

A Mathsmas Advent

Get ready for a Mathsmas Teaching Advent Calendar! Prepare for 24 days of maths teaching ideas for the holiday season. I'm starting before December so there's time to get in the 24 days before the end of the Australian school year.

Let me quickly tell you the story of Mathsmas.

Once upon a time, I graduated as a TAS (technology and applied studies) teacher, and accepted a temporary part-time position as a maths teacher instead. An old school friend and I started teaching together at the same school that year (she was a visual arts teacher and had just retrained as a maths teacher). Christmas started to come around and I naturally started to decorate and come up with Christmas ideas.

Mathsmas was born.

Then somehow the two of us ended up in a classroom decorating competition that led to all sorts of crazy goings-on and the use of a lot of coloured paper. In the following years we have stopped competing, but Mathsmas lives on in a variety of classroom activities and decorations.

Over the rest of the school year I'm going to share with you my Mathsmas resources and ideas, as well as links to my favourites from other places.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Classroom decoration updates and open-ended questions

I made a wall decal! Actually, I made a fabric first, then a decal. Spoonflower is awesome. I wish I could wallpaper my classroom, then I would make loads of awesome maths wallpapers. But this will have to do. Inspired by the pencil creature from Donald-in-Mathmagic-Land.

Our faculty recently bought some books on open-ended questions in Maths and I've been using the ideas a lot teaching measurement to year 7. My favourite activities so far involve perimeter and area of letters.

The first one begins by showing a letter drawn on cm grid paper. Telling the kids that the diagonal is approximately 1.4cm, we work out the perimeter of the letter. Then the challenge - write your name on cm grid paper with a perimeter between 98cm and 102cm. This was awfully fun.

It was great to have a project that involved a bit of planning, but lots of checking, trial-and-error, and editing. And looks cool on the wall!

I did one too. As you can see, I'm not shy about working out, unlike a lot of the kids!

Then we looked at area. We tried to make letters with an area of ten square centimetres.

I haven't been posting much, but this weekend I'm starting something special for the end of school year! It's going to be fun.