January 2015

January 2015

Resources and ideas

Nerf Gun Roulette and Angry Birds!

Well the Christmas brought some great gifts for the classroom! First up - The 6 barrel Nerf Gun was at the top of the list. Apart from being compulsively good fun, this toy provides an excellent opportunity to explore conditional probability. The tricky part for teachers is how close they want to go to grim idea of Russian roulette best demonstrated by the brilliant, but disturbing 'Deer Hunter'. Otherwise, perhaps the context of 'the Carnival game' is a bit less heavy. Either way, the lesson is rich with ToK. Essentially, there is one bullet in the barrel, what are the odds that you will shoot it given three shots? What difference does it make if you spin the barrel in between shots? This and a host of other questions!

Angry birds has come around full parabola (sorry, I couldn't resist!) Much has been made of popular birds who travel on parabolic paths and the mathematics behind them. It is definitely worth checking out this digital mathematics version here. I, however, could not ignore the lure of the physical version of the game. We passed a a very happy moment fling birds across the classroom and then filming the paths using this Vernier Physics app.

Both activities are listed on the quick ideas section of these pages L,S&P Teaching Ideas ​and Functions Teaching ideas ​respectively and come highly recommended. I particularly enjoyed the moment I was asked to explain why I had put in a request for purchase for these items! Of course, that was easily done!

Top 3 from the Web

Three things from the web that Mathematical Studies Teachers should know about.

  1. Logic Lab - This is a terrific site that allows students to put together some simple and complex logic circuits using and, or and not gates, amongst others. It is a perfect and eminently useable context for working with logic statements and truth tables and has, as such, enormous potential. See this blog post for more thoughts.
  2. ToK and Maths - I just wanted to share this wonderful collection of ToK and Maths ideas that people may not have seen. Certainly, anyone who is uncertain about the relationship between the subjects needs to see this. Lots of these ideas are ripe for being developed in to classroom activities. I have written a little piece about teacher reactions to ToK here.
  3. Venn Master - This is a terrific mobile device app for playing with Venn diagrams. I would highly recommend that students have this app while studying and revising the topic on Venn diagrams. It really does provide excellent opportunities for practice.

Feature - Approaches to Teaching and Learning - ATTL

This is on the agenda of every diploma teacher at the moment with new requirements from the IB being Launched this January. This pre-publication is available on the OCC (Log on first) and I do recommend that teachers read it at their earliest convenience. Those that teach the other IB Programs (PYP and MYP) will be familiar with the Five ATL skills categories, Thinking, communication, social, self management and research and much of the rest of the document. For those that only teach diploma, some adjustment may be required. I think a key point for diploma teachers is not to imagine the the IB have just invented 'good teaching' but that they are asking us to audit our practice and, in doing so, highlight any areas in which we might improve. I certainly hope that schools do not implement this as 'something new' but rather use it as an opportunity to improve yet further. Doubtless many schools and teachers are already doing this very effectively in which case I suppose a small exercise in making sure you tick the IB boxes may well be required. Perhaps though, there are schools that will need to consider a shift in their philosophy to accommodate some of these ideas. In short, like all such things, the aim of schools and teachers should be to make all of this work to their advantage and, most of all, to the advantage of their students.

For example, the unit planner exercise could easily serve as a catalyst for teachers and schools to address their 'written curriculum.' Even in well organised schools the notion of 'written curriculum' causes much debate when looking at standards and indicators in the IB self review and others like CIS/NEASC for example.

Approaches to teaching and learning is going to be high on the agenda this year and that doesn't seem like such a bad thing as I read it! Good luck

Have a look

Resources for Teachers of IB Mathematical Studies - This is a website I author for teachers of IB Mathematical Studies around the world. It is packed with great ideas for engaging lessons and resources for making sense of them and practising.There are also big sections on managing the course and dealing with elements like the Internal Assessment. Follow the link to find out more......
Here are two facebook groups for maths teachers that I have set up for teachers to exchange ideas, links, questions and resources. As facebook as common to many of us, it is really easy to keep up to date with lots of great things. Please consider joining! IB Mathematical Studies Teachers and The Mathematics Teacher Exchange
Upcoming workshops - Check out the workshop scheduled for experienced teachers in Barcelona Cat 2, 6 - 8 February 2015
TSM 2015 - Here is notice of the annual TSM - Technology and Secondary Mathematics conference - happening in Keele, UK, 5th to 7th July 2015. Follow the link for details, but this annual conference has been running for a long time and has a well deserved reputation for being both practical and inspiring.
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