A blog about teaching and learning in a maths classroom.

Thursday, 26 February 2015 | 1 Comment

As a serial organiser, a brain cell explodes when I read on a social network involving teachers, "where can I find?" or "has anyone got?".

Increasingly teachers are part of professional networks built around online social networking platforms, be it Facebook, Yammer, Twitter, Edmodo or Google+. One of the fundamental problems of these networks is the transience of something shared. *Today Mrs Triangle shares a great YouTube clip about percentages on Facebook, next week Mr Polygon recalls that he saw the clip, but can't remember where. Even if he can remember it was on Facebook, the conversation, and the shared clip, have moved on.* Your friendly search engine will not find the clip, at least not where it was shared on Facebook, because it's behind a login in a closed group.

This is one of the problems I tried to solve when creating MathsLinks and MathsFaculty. MathsLinks provides a catalogue of links, a place of permanency for sharing online resources. Similarly MathsFaculty provides that permanency for downloadable resources.

Whilst MathsLinks has over 1000 links and MathsFaculty has over 150 shared resources, there are only a small number of regular contributors.

Yet, on these social networks, teachers **are** sharing... but it's transient sharing.

Clearly, MathsLinks and MathsFaculty are not meeting the needs of people who want to share. It's not as though they have a small userbase - total registered users sits at over 1900 people from all sectors of education, all states of Australia and many countries of the world.

So, I'm asking the many readers of this blog, and my colleagues who reach this post through one of the many social networks I will post it to (irony?), **how can I improve the sites to meet the needs of people who want to share?**

I'm currently thinking there is one key reason that teachers are chosing to share on social networks rather than sharing on MathsLinks and/or MathsFaculty (as a starter before sharing on a social network).

**It's super easy.**

`Type`: "Here is a link I found... http://blah" [`send`].

I get the ease, but this form of sharing is, as I've explained, broken - also, with no key words you have no chance of even searching for the link in the future.

*Possible solution*: I make a **Quick Submit** option. With just a title and link (or file), a resource is posted with the option to share on a social network(s) - a URL for sharing with others is available immediately.

Some time later a moderator (read: me) links the post to topics/syllabus and expands on the description.

Is this all it will take for teachers to share?

Here are some other reasons (summarised from comments received elsewhere) that may contribute to teachers preferring to share on social networks:

**Time** - sharing on the internet takes time.

**Confidence** - not confident enough to share their knowledge and resources; the feeling that they may be judged and that they dont have anything worth sharing; fear of being criticised.

Personally, I understand the problem of **time**. Yet, if as a community we develop a collection of resources, we start to save time.

I have previously heard the suggestion of **confidence** as an impediment to sharing, what I didn't expect was hearing this response from three different people on three different platforms.

Sunday, 22 February 2015 | 0 Comments

A resource I put together for practising rounding using significant figures.

This electronic worksheet (as you answer, you receive immediate feedback) covers rounding whole numbers to 1, 2 and 3 significant figures.

The last page tests all three for the same number. I've made it so that you only see which are wrong and right once you have had a go at all three.

Download from MathsFaculty. It's free of course, the resource is shared under a Creative Commons license.

Sunday, 15 February 2015 | 0 Comments

The Coordimate looks like a great idea, currently 80% funded:

Sunday, 08 February 2015 | 4 Comments

My Year 7s do not have a good grounding in division.

Divide ... and conquer ! | Flickr - Photo Sharing! : taken from - Author: Laura Bell CC BY-NC-ND

As we reviewed division on Friday, they showed me various models of division, grouping, sharing, we were bopping along through problems that used multiplication facts like 48 ÷ 4 – although many students are still referring to printed times tables.

Nearly all of them are relying on Stage 2 (school years 3 and 4) skills,

use mental strategies to divide a two-digit number by a one-digit number where there is no remainder, including: using the inverse relationship of multiplication and division

NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum, Mathematics, MA2-6NA

Then we hit 310 ÷ 5. Stuck. Only 4 students felt they had a strategy to solve this problem.

Stage 3 (school years 5 and 6) presents a number of strategies:

- dividing the hundreds, then the tens, and then the ones
- using the formal algorithm

From Stage 3, the strategy they saw would have been:

300 ÷ 5 | = | 60 |

10 ÷ 5 | = | 2 |

So, 310 ÷ 5 = 62.

From what I saw, though, many of them would not have recognised 300 ÷ 5 = 60.

Instead of a review, I moved into teaching time. The class generally seemed more comfortable with using multiplication, the times tables in particular, so we moved forward with that strategy, *for now*.

**310 ÷ 5**

Breaking up 310, into 300 + 10.

*From the 5 times table, is there a multiplication fact that gives an answer similar to 300?*

There's 5 × 6 = 30. This is ten times smaller than 300.

Let's, instead, multiply 5 by 60.

5 × 60 = 300.

What do we have left over? 10.

5 × 2 = 10.

From this, 5 × 62 = 310.

So, 310 ÷ 5 = 62.

Next, **336 ÷ 8**,

*From the 8 times table, is there a multiplication fact that gives an answer similar to 336?
What if we multiply all the answers in the 8 times table by 10?*

I'm trying to have them visualise the times table as:

8 × 30 = 240

8 × 40 = 320

8 × 50 = 400

Let's use

8 × 40 = 320 that leaves 16 (because 336 − 320 = 16)

and 8 × 2 = 16

So, 336 ÷ 8 = 42.

Looks like we'll be doing lots of division in the next few weeks.

Sunday, 25 January 2015 | 0 Comments

This screencast follows on from the previous Mathematical Symbols in Word for Mac.

In this screencast, I show a fast method for typing mathematical expressions involving basic symbols (like × and ÷). This method doesn't require the mouse to navigate a menu nor does it require an Equation to be inserted.

Continue to all entries from January 2015

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**Simon Job** — ninth year of teaching maths in a public high school in Western Sydney, Australia.

**MathsClass** is about teaching and learning in a maths classroom. more→

@simonjob

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