Archive for May, 2011

Recent workshops

May 27, 2011

It’s been a while since I blogged – sorry if you hang on my every word and have missed me, although I don’t think that applies to very many people!

I promised a couple of people a while back that I would share some of the stuff I’ve done at recent conferences and seminars. Here is a powerpoint presentation from a seminar that Charlie and I gave in Nottingham earlier this month. In the session, we aimed to discuss and explain some of the thinking behind a couple of our recent tasks on the site, Opposite Vertices and What’s Possible. In preparing for and giving this talk (as well as our sessions at the ATM and MA Easter Conferences), we’ve been talking a lot about our philosophy of maths teaching and what the secondary NRICH resources should be like.

A few thoughts have emerged from all of this. We have to balance the needs of different audiences when we’re writing rich tasks. Students who come to the site on their own need to be presented with something that gives enough help for them to get started but without giving the game away and robbing them of the joy of mathematical discovery. Teachers who come to the site might prefer to look at the teachers’ notes to see how we think the problem should be used in the classroom. But these can’t be too long, as teachers are busy people. And yet each problem can be used in a variety of ways, for different groups of students, and it’s a shame if our teachers’ notes can’t capture that.

We are starting to experiment with creative ways around these difficulties. One idea is to hide certain sections of a problem or the teachers’ notes, so teachers or students using the site are presented with the bare minimum input but can choose to click for more. We have tried adding video to Teachers’ Notes, as we think it’s probably easier after a long day’s teaching to watch how a lesson might evolve rather than reading a long chunk of text. Of course, it’s not possible to add video support to every single problem, but I get the feeling that if we can share our thinking like this for a few of our problems, it will be easier for people to “get” NRICH and what we’re about.