Fraction War Task

A while ago I wrote a post on embedding atomic skills into tasks so that the basic skills are developed and used as tools of mathematics rather than the ultimate goal of mathematics. I try to develop tasks that follow this framework. I want the student to choose a pathway of thought that enables them to use basic skills, but doesn’t focus entirely on them.Recently, I was reading Young Children Reinvent Arithmetic: Implications of Piaget’s Theory by Constance Kamii and came across one of her games that she plays with first graders in her game-driven curriculum.The game was called double …

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Spinner Data Task

The difference between what should happen and what does happen is a difficult distinction for students. They are so used to finding exact answers in the back of textbooks, that differing experimental results create an sense of uneasiness. At an early age (Grade 9 in my province) we begin to introduce students to the ideas of sampling and experimental probability.  The topic is usually approached with a project or survey of schoolmates. The results are then tallied and then used to create “probabilities” of various things such as favourite sports team, food, or colour. I love the philosophy behind the …

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Dice Sums Task

Dice are familiar tools in most mathematics classrooms. Their use in primary school games allows students to build preliminary notions of number and autonomy. (see Kamii) As the grades progress, dice sums become too simple and the tool is pushed into the realm of probability and chance. There, alongside decks of cards and coloured spinners, it enjoys almost godly status; it seems that there is no better way to calculate odds than to role dice and spin spinners (in outrageous cases—simultaneously). The greatest thing dice have going for them is familiarity. Teachers can use this to upset the thinking of …

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Leaky Faucet Task

This idea is not my own. The only problem is, I don’t exactly know who it belongs to. I remember tweeps talking about about a task where a leaky faucet’s effect was analysed on a water bill. When I encountered the situation at my Uncle’s house, I had to capture the modelling in action. The best part was the conversation from intrigued (and weirded out) relatives as I ducked and dived around the tap to get a good angle. We got into a conversation about teaching, and they were happy to present any questions that came to their minds. The …

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Fair Dice Task

The recent curriculum renewal has placed a (well-deserved) heightened emphasis on counting, set theory, and probability. Just under a half of a Grade 12 “Foundations of Mathematics” course now covers the three topics. This is a huge improvement from the token, disjointed topics strewn around the last courses. It allows teachers to set a different tone–a tone of curiosity that seems inherent in probability. I came across the idea of Grime Dice (named and pioneered by Dr. James Grime @jamesgrime) late last year after I knew I was to be teaching probability this winter. I knew right away this was a …

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Sorting Set(s)

Set Theory, Counting Methods, and Probability are probably my three favourite topics to teach. For the first time under our new curricular framework, I got to teach these topics to a group of seniors. I decided to build up large themes and understandings through introductory tasks; my goal was to create an “unflippable” entry point where students could work together to complete tasks and filter out necessary details such as rules, notation, etc. I began our study of Set Theory with this task.The students were introduced to the idea of what a set is. They also were given some elementary …

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Project Work Scaffold

There are two schools of thought when it comes to PBL: Start with a large-scale project and fit the specific outcomes within it, or Build toward a larger project with smaller tasks. I love the idea of large projects, but also aim to make my work as accessible as possible for those who want to take it and improve on it. I just don’t see option one working within my traditional classroom of 35 students for one hour a day. The existence of an overarching curriculum only further decreases its accessibility. As for option two, there is an art in equipping students for project …

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Gummy Bear Revisited

The giant gummy bear problem has been floating around the blogosphere for a while. When I first saw it, I knew I wanted to use it. I finally have the perfect opportunity in Foundations of Mathematics 20 this year. (Saskatchewan Curriculum). History of the Problem (As far as I know) Originally presented by Dan Anderson here. Included original Vat19 video and driving question about scale. Adapted by John Scammell here. Edited video and new driving question. Dan Meyer provided a 3Act framework for the problem here. Blair Miller adapted his own 3Act structure here. My apologies go out to anyone …

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The Guess Who Conundrum

Every so often, an idea comes out of left field. I woke up with this on my mind–must have been a dream. Back in the day, my family had a dilapidated copy of the game “Guess Who?” My siblings and I would take turns playing this game of deduction. You essentially narrowed a search for an opponent’s person by picking out characteristics of their appearance. http://www.flickr.com/photos/unloveable/2398625902/ I vividly remember playing with my younger sister one time at a family cottage. She–foolishly–chose a female person for me to identify. Anyone who has played the game before knows that the males far …

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Bike Trail Task

There is two hour parking all around University of Saskatchewan. I once went to move my car (to avoid a ticket) and found that the parking attendant had marked–in chalk–the top of my tire. I wanted to erase the mark so began driving through as many puddles as possible. I then convinced myself to find a puddle longer than the circumference of my tire–to guarantee a clean slate and a fresh two hours.  As I walked back to campus, I got thinking about the pattern left behind by my tires. For simplicity, let’s take the case of a smaller vehicle–a …

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