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Hooray! June is here! You can almost smell the summer holidays!
And soon the testing will be all over (if it’s not already) and the books will be finished (if they’re not already). If you’re a user of Operation Maths 3-6 you are quite likely to be finished your books, as the programme is designed to be completed by the end of May, so as to have it all covered in advance of the standardised testing.
So now you might find yourself looking for inspiration to fill the maths lessons from now until the end of month. Whether you’re an Operation Maths user or not, look no further than the following ideas.
For Operation Maths users:
If you hadn’t had a chance to dip into these specific features of the Operation Maths programme so far this year then why not try these out now?
- Let’s Investigate! These sections are the last one or two pages at the end of the Pupils’ Books ( for third to sixth classes) where the focus is on open-ended problems. Some of these are “big” enough to fill a whole lesson, others might become additions to a lesson or be combined to become a lesson. The children could also select which particular investigation(s) they’d like to explore either a whole class or with individual groups selecting different investigations, with results to be communicated back to whole class when complete.
- Early Finishers Photocopiables: These can be found in your Teachers Resource Book (TRB) and can also be a great way to help deepen the children’s understanding of a topic covered earlier in the year. For 3rd to 6th classes, problem solving is also an integral part of these activities. In the TRBs for Junior Infants to 2nd classes, there are both Early Finishers photocopiables and dedicated problem-solving activities.
- Maths Around Us: If your class has access to recording devices, why not challenge them to make their own Maths Around Us video based on maths content they covered this year. Watch some of the Operation Maths Maths Around Us videos on www.edcolearning.ie for inspiration.
As mentioned in a previous post, don’t feel under pressure to complete all of the above activities, only just what appeals most to you or is most suited to your class.
- Change their attitude to maths generally: Most people have this belief that there is such a thing as a maths brain, a belief which Jo Boaler, among others, strongly challenges. In conjunction with her youcubed team at Stanford University, in 2015 they put together resources, videos etc for a Week of Inspirational Maths and followed that up with a Week of Inspirational Maths 2 in 2016, the latter of which has lessons and activities aimed at infants to 6th, as well as second level. Click on the link for an overview of the activities in Week of Inspirational Math 2, which also includes links to all the required resources.
- Take time to problem-solve: often, during the school year, time is at a premium, yet Dan Finkel argues in this TEDx Talk that “allowing children time to struggle” is one of the Five Principles of Extraordinary Math Teaching. So after watching this video, why not present the images he uses to a 5th or 6th class and give them time to “notice and wonder”. The children could use sentence/questions stems like “I notice that…” and ” I wonder why/how/what ….” to get them thinking and discussing. Read on here for more sources of deep and rich problems.
- Try out a new methodology with your class: It can be a good idea to try out something new in June when there’s less pressure to succeed and you’re familiar with your class, rather than trying out something new in September when you’re trying to get to grips with new class, new books, perhaps new room etc! One initiative I would wholeheartedly recommend is Number Talks. You could do a number talk with your class aimed at their current level or challenge them to do a number talks session aimed at the class they’ll be in next September.
- Do a maths project: In the Maths Curriculum Teacher Guidelines (DES, 1999) maths projects are listed as one of the examples of maths problems that we are encouraged to incorporate into our teaching. It can be difficult to include maths projects earlier in the year when the pressure is on to cover the content, making June an ideal time to explore them. For 10 “awesome” ideas, check out this post from the Mashup Math blog. I particularly liked the idea of the child planning out their ideal holiday; so much real-life maths, costs, budgeting, estimating costs of luggage, time needed to get to the airport, distance from destination to airport etc.
- Financial Maths: In a similar vein to that of the previous suggestion, the NCETM Primary and Early Years Magazine also has suggestions for projects, the first one again focusing on financial education. Here they have links to a fantastic suite of primary resources for Managing Money Week (UK), that are also very applicable to children to children in Ireland. The videos are particularly excellent, as they present a child musing over how he might spend the money he got for his birthday. The videos are designed in such a way that each one presents two possible options; the children select an option, which automatically brings them to the follow-up video for their choice. (Email details etc and a UK postcode is required to view the videos; entering any UK postcode appears to be acceptable)
- Calculator Activities: For any sixth class students transitioning to secondary, it can be a good idea to brush-up on calculator skills; secondary teachers may expect them to be relatively comfortable with this piece of technology. That’s said, calculator activities shouldn’t be just about getting through more calculations in a shorter time; the children should be enabled to use the calculator to explore number patterns, more complicated numbers, real life situations, and to gather evidence to support reasoning, such as in this consecutive numbers concept cartoon.
- Take it outdoors: Another type of maths problem listed in the Teacher Guidelines is maths trails. If the rain stays away for long enough why not get outside and do some maths trails? Or if you teach a more senior class, why not get them to design a maths trail for a junior class based on the school grounds or nearby environment. For more trail ideas read on here.
- Maths is Magic! There is a lot of mathematics behind magic. You could give the children magic tricks to investigate. Check out this article, again from the NCETM Primary and Early Years Magazine for sites to explore.
- Break the code: Explore the maths behind codes and code-breaking. You could ask the children to make up their own codes and crack a friend’s. Click here for links to suitable sites.
- Have a maths game-themed day: Another one of Dan Finkel’s Five Principles of Extraordinary Math Teaching is play. Most games and puzzles are mathematical in nature. Get the children to bring in a favourite game from home, to play in class, that requires mathematical thinking. Alternatively, get them to research a suitable one on the internet.