I am a huge fan of Treasure Hunt activities (and all the derivatives such as Loop Cards, Tarsia, etc). However, most of the time I am confined to the classroom, and it can get a bit squished with everybody up and about with desks and chairs everywhere. For those that don't know, a treasure hunt consists of having a number of questions up around the room. On each card there is a question, and an answer to a different question. Students can start anywhere, and they write down the card number. They answer the question, and find the card that has this answer on it. They write down this card number, and answer the new question, all the way round to the beginning.
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This is an idea I took from my alltime favourite project, the Build a School Project. This time however, I used it to investigate and discover the Trig ratios. I did this with my Year 9 class, who had met trig in Year 8, but needed a good reminding of what it was about (and after it worked successfully with them, I used it to teach my Year 8 about Trig, using this resource). I started the lesson by asking the simple question "How tall is the school?". We had lots of random guesses (estimatimations as they called them). I then asked "How could we find out?". This again generated lots of ideas such as finding the plans of the school building and finding the height there. "How would we use the plans to find the height?" was my response, and they said that we would measure the height and use the scale. Although a brilliant idea, we did not have access to the plans, so "How could we go about measuring the height of the school?". This is the point when suggestions of climbing on the roof and hanging a tape measure from there to the floor came. "How could we do it without me losing my job?" came my rather sarcastic reply. After a few discussions around the class, one group finally said "Draw a scale drawing!".
Recently I have been developing a series of activities that produce quick puzzle questions that are ideal for using as a starter to any lesson. At the moment there are 3 activities, and they are all loosely based on ideas from 7puzzleblog.com. The first is the Mathematically Possible (QQI). This activity has students find all the possible numbers that can be made using three numbers and any operations. There is a handy hint button, which reveals how many different answers there are, and a answer button that shows all the numbers that can be made. You can generate as many as you like, change the range that the answers must belong to, and even use your own values. This has proven very popular with my classes, and really gets them thinking. They have to be very systematic to make sure they find all the possible answers. It really gets them thinking about the order of operations as well as the different ways to combine numbers. This is probably my favourite of the activities, as it is great at an age range, and across the ability range. Having just had our end of year exams for year 10, as a department we decided to review the exam before giving the exam papers back to them. This decision came about when one member of the department commented on how the students stop listening as soon as they know their mark, and we joked about how annoyed the students would be if we withheld their marks as long as possible. After some more serious contemplation of this idea, we thought about the fact that they do stop listening once they have their papers back, and we decided to actually review the paper as a class before giving the students their individual papers. We all made sure we had an electronic copy of the exam papers, and projected this on to the board. Since we have interactive projectors on to whiteboards, we could then write in the actual answers on the board as if it was on the actual exam. With my group we needed to review almost all the questions on the exam (whereas other sets focussed on a few questions), so I got some students to answer particular questions, and for those that they all struggled with, I showed them how to do it. On reflection, if I did this again, I would get the students to the front of the class to answer questions on the board. The students did not like the idea when I first told them we were going to look through the exam before they saw their papers, but for the majority it was definitely more beneficial to do the review this way than going through it once they have their papers back. One student in another set actually said that although it was annoying at first, she felt she took a lot more from it. This is definitely an approach I would be happy to develop some more, and we shall see if it becomes a part of our department feedback process. I am a huge fan of using videos to aid in teaching, and by far my favourite way to do this is using educreations. A simple and intuitive App for the iPad, you can quickly record videos on anything you like, and upload them to the educreations site, making them available publicly, or just to a particular class. Even better, you can add images and edit them live in the video, and write on them seamlessly. And with the latest update, you can even erase previous work as well! In the run up to the exams, and after doing a final mock with my Year 11, I decided to use this to create a set of videos walking through the mock IGCSE paper they did. There were a few reasons I decided to do this:
My students really appreciated the time and effort that these videos took to make, and they have all commented on how useful they have been in their revision. I also benefitted from not having to go through the same question over and over, as did the rest of my department. They are also there for the students to look back at now that they are on exam leave. This set of videos worked so well, that I also created a set for a Mechanics 1 mock I did. There is also a test available on Coordinate Geometry and Differentiation which has a full set of solutions and a Core 2 paper as well. NOTE: the past paper videos linked here are protected by a password to prevent students accessing them when teachers don't want them to (I will use these again next year, and don't want my current year 10 looking through them before their mock!). The password is currently set as "euler", but may change periodically. If it does, then feel free to contact me for the new one. Having finished the Core 1 and Core 2 course just before Easter, I have been looking for interesting activities to do with my high ability class to keep them ticking over until the exams. One of the best activities I found was a resource on TES which was a Core 1 Jeopardy. On finding this, I also discovered a Core 2 Jeopardy as well. My thanks go to phildb for uploading these amazing resources. For those that don't know, Jeopardy was a popular TV game show in America in the 80's. There are 5 topics, and for each topic, there are 5 questions, each worth a different amount of money (or points). Each team takes it in turns to select a question to answer.
Recently I have been working on transformations with my Year 7 class. We have been doing Reflections, Rotations and Translations (with vector notation), and we spent a couple of lessons in the IT rooms playing around with the various activities on transformations to get their heads round what happens in each case. We had finished in the previous lesson, so in our single last thing on a friday, I decided to use the Find Them All activity with them, to consolidate their learning by working together. We started the lesson by recapping what we need to describe each of the transformations, and then I split them into pairs, giving each pair a copy of the poster sheet (which I printed and then photocopied together into one A3 sheet for them). With this in hand, they hand 20 minutes to find as many single transformations as they possibly could on the grid.

Dan RodriguezClark
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. Categories
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December 2019
