#Mathsconf14 Takeaways

I thought I would use a similar format to my ATM Don Steward takeaways. These are just some quick thoughts. They’re by no means things I’ve thought about for a great deal.

1. My first session was Peter Mattock’s session on averages. It was great, although in sessions like this I worry I talk too much. On our table we kind of basically agreed we should stop using the term ‘average’ as it’s unhelpful. Mean, median and mode are also different skills. ‘Levelling off’ or sharing, centrality and frequency respectively. Maybe they should be taught as different units. I showed Dudamath, which I love as it has a lovely stats module that does ‘levelling off’ well. Here’s a little video:
2. I was in Hinal Dhudia and Dani Quinn’s on ‘Making it stick’. They talked a lot on variation theory and questions that make students think. For instance a set of five questions, instead of looking like
$latex 1. 2a + 3 = 7$
$latex 2. 3a + 10 = 13$
$latex 3. 7a + 5 = 19$
$latex 4. 9a + 1 = 10$
$latex 5. 6a + 3 = 15$You might get something looking more like
$latex 1. 2a + 3 = 7$
$latex 2. 4 + 3a = 16$
$latex 3. 10 = 2a + 6$
$latex 4. 8a + 1 = 5$
$latex 5. 5a + 3 = -2$
I’m not sure how I felt about this. I get that we need student’s thinking more. Students often treat work as their doodle. Something to keep their hands busy. And we can play into that by giving them ‘busywork’. Learning is the residue of thought, and all that jazz. I’m just not sure if this is the way to do it. I worry that too much intervention is required between each question, and I’m not sue where this fits in with variation theory.NOTE: This is not to say I didn’t enjoy Hinal and Dani’s session. Quite the opposite. It gave me lots to think about
3. At lunch I did Martin Noon’s session on braiding. I found it extremely difficult but fascinating.
4. After lunch came Jemma Sherwood’s session on building effective learning. Lots of good practice in this. I use Corbett Maths 5-A-Day with every class, every day. I really think it helps build up long term memory and it’s effective at building routines.
Jemma talked about the idea of a three-part lesson being an issue. We fit things into an hour, even if that’s the appropriate amount of time. Not everything needs a plenary after every lesson. I agree with this generally, but I think the idea of ‘episodes’ of learning is useful. Something to ponder.
5. Last, but not least was Craig Barton’s packed session. The man’s a flipping’ celebrity.
He talked a lot about only varying one aspect of a question to make students predict what was going to happen. Having predictions either confirmed or rejected is powerful. I am thinking of building this into stuff that I do.
He also launched two new websites! https://mathsvenns.com with rich tasks and the amazing SSDD problems, which I think are PHENOMENAL. He’s looking for more. I’ll get writing one this week.

As usual MathsConf was ace. I love the conversations you’re able to have and the enthusiasm of everyone there is inspiring and wonderful.

I’ll be going to MathsConf15. I’ll see you there!

Richard

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