An old favourite reinvigorates a textbook focused Year 9 class

I have recently made a big move from Coffs Harbour High School to Killara High School on the north shore in Sydney. I made this move for a variety of reasons one of which was the opportunity to teach in a bigger and very high achieving (Mathematically)  school. I have been at my new school for almost 5 weeks now and am loving the new challenge. But…..

One thing is annoying me!

How much Killara students LOVE their textbooks!!!!!

I don’t like rocking the boat to much to start off with  – you know when in Rome do as the Romans do… and all that – but only for a little while!

I have great classes – a lower mixed ability Year 8 class, a top Year 9 (5.3 class) a newly created Year 10 Advanced (5.3) class and a Year 11 General class. The kids are fantastic – they say please & thank you and listen when asked! 🙂

But….they buck a bit when given something out of the norm (i.e not in the textbook). The first topic I did with Year 9 was probability – so lots of fun, less structured activities there – they loved engaging with the birthday paradox and the Monty Hall problem – a great video explanation of the Monty Hall  is here

We then moved onto Polygons. A bit more reluctance to engage with an activity investigating interior and exterior angle size using Geogebra and a great deal of reluctance to do what I thought was  a fun investigation Year 9 Tesselations and Shapes project 2013 looking a tessellation’s using Google SketchUp.

I was then quizzed by a parent at Parent Teacher interviews as to when I was likely to start teaching real maths again – I asked what she meant, to be told – “you know lots of textbook exercises”. Hmmmm……at least the parent was genuinely interested in what their child was doing in Maths!

Next topic Consumer Maths – lots of opportunities to do real life applications. But the kids still reluctant…..I lightened the mood by showing the duck song as a model of how a stall keeper learns to work with his customers.

But then I tried an old favourite (while half the class was away on an excursion)

the kids loved it!  So much so that those who were away yesterday came in demanding to see it.  For some reason they then willing engaged in today’s lesson – investigating deferred payment schemes – they had to find their own on line and look for the hidden costs working out how much it actually costs! So I rewarded them with another of Vi hart’s video’s as a treat just before the bell

on the condition that doodling was to take place more in all other subjects – not so much in Maths! 🙂