Somerset Times

Mathematics is Fun, Exploration and Teamwork

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Somerset Times Edition

Week 4, Term One, 2019

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Within the Somerset College Mathematics Department, we are fortunate to have a team of passionate educators who are genuinely excited by Numeracy, and who are committed to transmitting that enthusiasm to their students. There are several ways engagement is fostered, and these include, teamwork, working with technology, making connections to the real-world and using concrete materials.

In 2018, as part of National Science Week, I attended the Robina Library Auditorium to listen to the 2018 Australian Local Hero Award recipient, Eddie Woo. Eddie Woo is an unlikely hero, who is known mostly for his online maths lessons on his Youtube channel, wootube. His presentation entitled Reimagining Mathematics was based around the question, ‘what is mathematics?’ Eddie posited three answers:

• Mathematics is fun
• Mathematics is exploration
• Mathematics is a teamwork

Mathematics teaching continues to evolve and last year when I wrote about academic excellence in Mathematics, I commented on some of the ways Somerset was actively seeking to create personal connections between students and the subject matter. I referenced the fact that we strive to teach genuine understanding of mathematical concepts and procedures, and we look at the "why" something works, and not only the "how”.

Over the past three years, in Year 7 Numeracy, we are implementing tasks that are fun, provide opportunities for students to explore, and that make connections to real-life situations. One such task requires students to work in architectural teams that are challenged to design as many houses as possible using 4-cubic modules. The resulting designs are drafted, costed and justified as part of a housing development. Embedded in the task is a story about urban developers working within council regulations. For instance, the regulations state that the modules all touch face to face and cantilevered structures are not allowed. As Eddie Woo, suggests, this task incorporates an element of fun working in teams, however, finding the complete set of unique house designs, requires in-depth exploration.

In Year 7 Numeracy, we are balancing the teaching of separate isolated facts and concepts with in-depth inquiries that make connections with the world and with other subject areas. As part of the MYP, (criterion D: applying mathematics in real-life contexts), we ask students to identify how mathematics is applied to an authentic real-life situation and we encourage them to develop appropriate strategies to solve real-life problems. We are continually seeking ways to enrich our maths curriculum and to encourage students to have fun, work in teams and explore.

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