NB: This post has been updated twice. Disraeli said that if you want to become acquainted with a subject, write about it!!!! Mathspig’s head nearly exploded writing about this subject. But I’ve got it down to its simplest form now. One that Mathspig finally understands.

The Complaint: Maths is really SCARY!…………….

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The Cause:

Some students think maths is always right or wrong and they are scared of making mistakes.

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The Solution:

Tackle problems that can’t be solved even by a computer. Students can only guess the answer and then test it. Anyone can make a guess. Work in groups. Every member of the group can contribute as students explore this maths.

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The Challenge:……………………………………………………….

Can you crack a security encryption code?….…………………………………………………..

Mathspig thanks Prof Kate Smith-Miles, Prof of Applied Maths, Monash University for the information about Keychains. Kate has used KEYCHAIN exercises with primary school students. They really enjoyed going home and showing their parents how to find a Keychain on the computer.

9. I Hate Answering Questions in Front of the Class

The Cause:

Students worry about getting the answer wrong in front of the class because they believe that maths answers are always either RIGHT or WRONG.

The Solution:

The maths we need in the REAL world often involves open ended questions. Think of finding directions on Google Maps. What is the best way to get from A to B? One route might be shorter but include tollways another might involve longer distances but less traffic.

Text book problems are often repetitive with RIGHT answers at the back of the book. But in the real world maths problems nearly always involve THINKING. eg. A building design might require specific engineering maths. Now add costing! That’s an open question. There are many options. Maybe the costing will then change the engineering. Build 20 stories instead of 25.

Thinking Outside the box in Education: Info and Toolbox: here

Prof Peter Liljedahl, Faculty of Edu, Simon Fraser Uni, Canada, advocatesopen ended questions in the maths classroom.

Here are some of his examples for Year 7 -9 (Download pdf file at the link):

You are in a bike race and have to use a street bike and trail bike, but one bike must be left somewhere on the route.You travel at different speeds depending on which bike you use. What route do you take? (A basic map is included.)

Something inspiring:

Maths is often about playing around with answers. This is how play led a class of 12 year olds to produce a peer reviewed research paper published in a science journal.

The reason for waiting until the bear is 15 ft away is to make sure the spray doesn’t disperse in the air. If the Pepper Spray is too spread out it will not stop the bear.