Category Archives: Subject content knowledge

Maths Presentations

This semester we are doing ‘class-based assessment’ as one of our tasks with the junior classes (Year 8 – 10). Basically, they were given either an equation to solve or a simple interest problem and they had overnight to prepare. It was one lesson out from their test (on those topics) so it doubled as a revision task. I didn’t make the questions too difficult and I told the girls that in order to get an A or a B, the explanation they gave to the class would be what would get them over the line.

At first I was worried I made the task too easy, as all the kids seemed to be doing well (including the weaker ones). But I had allocated the questions specifically to ensure they all experienced an element of success, and even if they all did well I don’t mind because they would at least do well on their type of question on the test. So all good.

And it wasn’t perfect – but some were truly outstanding, including checking their answers by substitution (finally they are listening!!)

Maths Presentation image 2 Maths Presentation image 1

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Probability problem of the day

Fantastic probability problem – as told by a genius colleague!

100 patient people are standing in line waiting to get on a plane. All of them have their tickets – except the first person, who has left theirs at home. They board the plane in the order in which they have lined up.

The first person boards the plane, and since they don’t know which seat is theirs, they choose any seat. There are exactly 100 seats, so they have a 1/100 chance of getting their own seat.

The next person boards the plane, and if the first person is sitting in their seat, they randomly choose another seat. The person after that boards the plane, and if their seat is already taken, they also choose another seat.

When the final person boards the plane, what is the probability that they will be sitting in their own seat as assigned to them on their ticket?

Think about it…then give it to your maths classes!

How well do you really know your subject?

I was listening to ABC Classic FM in the car yesterday, and there was a piece that was really bugging me, because I couldn’t for the life of me find the beat! Every time I thought I had it, I knew immediately I was wrong. By the time the piece was over I had worked it out though (with much concentration and effort!) – it was in 15/8! Fifteen quavers to a bar!

That made me realise that now I know how my students who struggle with rhythm and aural skills feel! So I then spent some time reflecting on how I would help explain to these students how to identify a time signature in an unknown piece of music, as well as what strategies I would provide to them.

Most teachers think they know their subject. I know I did. But what I have discovered during my prac placements is that I have great potential to be able to explain my subject effectively, but just because I know something to be true doesn’t mean I can explain it to each of my students (who might all need different information in order to glean their own understanding) or provide pertinent examples to them at the drop of a hat.

So, this summer will be spent revising and collecting a wide variety of examples, with the aim of being well prepared for the new year.

One final thought – I have also realised that many students know, accept and expect that their teachers know how to teach – it is the subject matter knowledge that they sometimes doubt that their teacher(s) have. There are various reasons for this, including outside tuition in specialist areas like music, however we are doing our students are disservice if our ability to convey our knowledge effectively is not up to scratch.