Today at school our little ones (year 5 and 6) had a fun filled day of maths puzzles and games. It was an absolutely fascinating day, and brilliant to see them working in groups and having so much fun with maths.
The 7 puzzle experience is a day of activities run by Paul Godding, who is a self-proclaimed "Board Game & Puzzle Inventor".
I have long been a huge fan of his blog, which he populates with at least two new puzzles every day. The puzzles range in type and difficulty, and all are clearly labelled. Students can comment on each puzzle with an answer, and Paul will get back to them telling them if they are right, or they can be done in class. I have used many of them as effective starter activities with all my classes (from Year 7 to A-Level), and they inspired my mathematically possible activity. They have also made great additions to my Puzzle Box, which I use as an extension activity in all lessons.
However, today I saw the full potential of his Board Games in the classroom. He used a variety of activities in each session, with a mixture of some of his own games, and some other mathematical games he sells. The whole session was very much based on working in teams, and working effectively in groups, and this generated some wonderful discussion.
The activities he used varied. We played a game a bit like dominoes (4swm & 3swm), where maximum points must be scored for putting same coloured pieces together, and adding the numbers. We also played a bit of the classic shut the box, where students have roll two dice, and either knock down the number that is the sum, or any pair that make the sum, aiming to be left with the lowest numbers left up after 6 rolls. We also played the excellent Mathematically Possible Board Game, where students had to use tactics as well as their knowledge of order of operations to score as many points as possible. Finally, we had the namesake of the day, the 7 Puzzle Game, which had students use the avaible pieces to cover most of a board, leaving certain things visible (circles, pinks or factors).
Each activity had the students thoroughly engaged for the entire time, and even the staff who were there were getting involved too. They had to use different ideas for each game, but they all incorporated an element of maths, with some problem solving, and also some tactical play (they are competitions after all).
The day as a whole was fantastic, and Paul himself was very inspirational. If you haven't checked out his site, then do have a look, and I really recommend thinking about having him come to your school to do a day like this. If you are a twitter person, then you can also follow him @7puzzle.
After Easter I am introducing my Year 7 class to the idea of how the equation of a graph tells us information about that graph (in essence y=mx+c, but not in that language). We have already seen how to come up with an equation for a line by spotting a pattern between the coordinates, and we shall first be looking at how to draw graphs from equations using a table of values.
I was thinking how best to approach this. Previously I have done this using Autograph (which works very well when they have already met the idea of gradient and intercept), and also getting students to draw out loads of graphs until they spot the different relationships. But this group are a bright bunch, and drawing hundreds of graphs will be of no benefit to them.
I decided I wanted them to do something in groups and to discuss the ideas they cameup with. I came up with the set of sheets shown below (available for download here).
The idea of Non-Transitive Dice has been around for a while. The basic premise is that Red beats Blue, and Blue beats Green, so we expect that Red will beat Green. However, as the Non-Transitive suggests, this is not the case, and actually Green beats Red.
There are many sets of 3 Non-Transitive Dice, and one way to introduce them would be to use the trusty NRICH. This introduces the idea to students, and lets them play around with them a little bit.
However, as interesting as the Dice are in themselves, we want to get at the maths behind them.
The video below is of James Grime of the University of Cambridge. He starts by explaining a 3 Non-Transitive Dice game, and goes on to look at a 5 Dice game that he has invented. There is also his full article on the Grime Dice as well. And you can buy an amazing set of the dice from mathsgear.
I am a maths teacher looking to share good ideas for use in the classroom, with a current interest in integrating educational research into my practice.