Friday, 1 April 2011

Maths Movies

Catherine, our head of Maths, went on a course recently which promised to talk about film in Maths lessons but turned out to be about using Movie Maker to create lesson resources.
Catherine and I have been in discussion for a while about using film in Maths. In many ways she is the ideal collaborator. Catherine, as well as being a really nice human being, is an enthusiast for trying out new ideas (especially ones that create a context for maths), has been an ICT co-ordinator and has a room just across the corridor from me. I reckon if you can find ways that use film to support a discipline as abstract as maths, you can be fairly sure it is possible to use it everywhere. We have even discussed the idea of  animated work on ratios...

She has been working with Year 7s and 8s recently on a Maths scenario based on an idea from PFEG

The headteacher has cancelled this year’s prom because the previous year's had made a loss. Some students, in an effort to change his mind have prepared a spreadsheet for their plans showing how they can make a profit...

The spreadsheet is conceptually and mathematically poor and when the (real) students have sorted it out they discover the plans still show a loss. Their task is to improve the spreadsheet plan and create a webcam film to convince the headteacher their plan will work. Mathematically they need to be able to explain the conceptual errors in the initial spreadsheet and how they have corrected them. In addition, they must explain what they will do to make the Prom profitable. Catherine was keen to do something worthwhile which allowed students to unpack some of their mathematical ideas; to 'reflect, reason and justify'. Other specific advantages of using film here are:
  • It supports drama in a limited space
  • Shy students will present their ideas
  • It enables students to revise their ideas easily, to clarify their meaning
  • It is easy to share the mathematical content with a whole class in a non-threatening way
The films have been made but not shared yet. We'll let you know how it went...