Students + Teachers = Maths

My most enjoyable and successful classes are those where I learn WITH the students. Hence I was pleased to stumble across Max Ray’s blog post: I know I’m doing it right when… Max’s statements nearly all start with: “Students and Teachers …

6) Students and Teachers solve novel problems with a variety of strategies, tools, and representations.

I am always on the lookout for a “rich” problem to engage the students with. Personally, I also love to research and prepare lesson materials. This may simply be taking someone’s idea and “tweaking” it.

Example:Algebra Target Board” by Steve Wright on eMaths.

I wasn’t quite sure how to use this board at first. Then I thought of this:

1. Each students rolls a ten sided die to “choose” their a and b numbers.

2. The student then evaluates each expression on the Target Board.

3. A score is obtained by finding the sum of the 25 numbers.

[At this stage this is simply a skills practice exercise.]

Some areas for investigation:

A. Which numbers will give the greatest total?

B. What are the probability of…….?

C. How could we use Algebra instead of Arithmetic to predict the winner?

D. Change some of the algebraic expressions so that the outcome is less predictable. For example, I changed a – b to (a – b) cubed, which could produce some large negative answers!

E. Ask and test “What If” questions like: “What if different dice are used?”

I think activities like this can help achieve Max’s nine conditions.