Choose your topic

Had a bit of fun with my Year 9 Maths class this week (MATHS = FUN)!

I challenged each student to choose a Maths topic and then I would give them an impromptu question to answer. They could not use a calculator (or mobile device), and could not use pen or paper. As well, the same topic could not be repeated.

HypotenuseThe first chose Pythagoras’ Theorem and then successfully answered “hypotenuse” to the question “What is the longest side of a right angled triangled triangle”. I then wrote on the board – Students (1) v. Teacher (0).

The next student tried for an easy question: adding whole numbers from 1 to 100. They did not specify how many numbers so I gave: 87 + 39 + 62 + 79. After 10 seconds of intense concentration they gave an incorrect answer. Yeh the teacher strikes back! One all.

DodecahedronThird student: “3D Solids”. Question: “What is the name of the 12 sided regular polyhedron”? I could have launched into a lesson on Platonic Solids here. But the student quickly came back with “Dodecahedron” – he could even spell it!

Fourth student: “Numbers multiplied by one”. I’ve got to give it to these Year 9’s they can be tricky. Not to be outdone, I remembered from my Psychology teaching that people can, on average, retain 7 +/-  2 didits in their short term memory. Question: “839701524 x 1”. Student got one digit wrong in answer, aha teacher strikes back.

Fifth student: “Counting by whole numbers from 1 to 10”. Damn, should have excluded a few easy topics like this. Students get a point.

Triangle_ScaleneSixth student: “2D shapes”. Question: “What is the name of a triangle that has all its side lengths different. Long pause…… Aha – Students (3) v. Teacher (3).

Then the bell went and we packed up and went to lunch.

I was happy with this activity – it was a good opportunity to use Mathematical language, and the format gave the students a good chance to beat the teacher. What do you think?


About webmaths

I have been teaching Mathematics in Victorian secondary schools for 30 years. I use the www to make my maths lessons better. I hope this blog will give other teachers some ideas to try in their own classes.
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