A blog about teaching and learning in a maths classroom.

@mathslinks — Added to MathsLinks: Geometric Construction 14 Dec ago

“When am I ever going to use this?” Fractal edition

Thursday, 11 December 2014 | 0 Comments

Screenshot from Vol LibreIn a short period with Year 8, we used this template to make a Sierpinski Triangle.

I was asked the inevitable question - When am I ever going to use this in everday life?
I have so many better answers for this question than when I first started teaching.
In this case the "everyday life" is an opportunity to talk about how Mathematics can open up opportunities well beyond "everyday life". The awesomeness of fractals makes it easy to answer the question. I share the story of Loren Carpenter and show them his fractal film, Vol Libre.

Self-checking Christmas Worksheet

Thursday, 04 December 2014 | 0 Comments

Here's a self-checking, simple questions, as you get the answers correct the tree lights up.

Nothing fancy. Just needed something for a computer lab tomorrow.

Download from MathsFaculty:

Sierpinski Triangle

Monday, 01 December 2014 | 0 Comments

Continuing with some design and construction activities for the end of term.

Sierpinski TriangleHere is a template and instructions for creating a Sierpinski Triangle.

For the class I had in mind, this template saves the need for measuring.

Download the template and instructions from MathsFaculty.

For more fractals, there are some great activities on the Fractal Foundation.
I particularly like the Triangle Fractal Cutout.

Pizza, it must be engaging, right?

Saturday, 29 November 2014 | 0 Comments

Recently, I have been considering how to see more fruit in my classroom. As I mentioned previously, the effort factor is significant. The modern idea that students will (or should?) only engage in activities of interest to them goes against everything they will come up against in the future.

Pizza Friday
Pizza Friday | Flickr | Rowen Atkinson | CC-BY-NC

The Conversation has a piece this week, Domino’s square pizza is value for money – with the right toppings. [On MathsLinks for your future reference,]

The article compares the value of a circular pizza vs a square pizza, where the square pizza costs an extra $2.

There is merit in using this problem as an investigation with students, in the comments for the article some folks go further:

Kids respond better to mathematics teaching in real-world scenarios that are of interest to them - this exercise would be perfect! [cite]

What a fun article! This little problem should be offered to every High School!  Kids woukd [sic] love it! [cite]

Whether you're using problem solving, project based learning, whatever, students still need to work hard and exert effort. The problem or project or task we give them can help encourage that somewhat – but I think the choice of task (see the new focus on STEM at the moment) has been given far more attention than it deserves, it does not change student attitude sufficiently. That comes from somewhere else.

From my experience, for many students it will come done to wether they like a puff pastry base or not. Then as a teacher, there's this struggle to get them to over look a personal preference to see an interesting investigation.

For more pizza problems try:

What is the Pizza Theorem? (recently added by Marc) 
74,476 Reasons You Should Always Get The Bigger Pizza

Constructing Triangles

Saturday, 29 November 2014 | 0 Comments

One of the challenges I had this week when students were constructing rectangles and squares using a ruler and set square (drafting triangle) was checking the accuracy of the measurements (sides and angles). I walked around with a ruler and set square checking their drawings.

Making a transparency that could be overlayed on their work for self-checking was one idea, but that would still rely on them checking accurately and wouldn't give me any information about how they were going.

For constructing triangles, I came up with this:

A scaffolded approach to constructing triangles.

For each construction, an accurately drawn triangle should pass through a particular point. In this question (above), the scaffold is checking the angle size.

In the question below, angle size and side length are being checked.

A scaffolded approach to constructing triangles.

Worksheet with answers is available for download on MathsFaculty:

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