Maths - Feed pupils a varied diet

8th February 2013 at 00:00

What it's all about

Last month's Red Nose Day series, The Great Comic Relief Bake Off, made for great viewing, writes Jonny Griffiths. But I recall television cook Delia Smith announcing that the average household possesses cookbooks that contain 1,500 recipes, yet only 35 of them are ever attempted. Of the estimated 171 million cookbooks in Britain, 61 million are said to remain unopened.

In a world where many are starving, that seems somehow sacrilegious, but I'm similar when it comes to lesson plans. I may possess 1,500 at home, yet do I rely on just 35 to get me through most years? I am surrounded by cordon bleu advice for turning my lessons into gourmet maths, but do I usually serve up beans on toast?

No one can teach cordon bleu maths lessons all day, every day. Nor would that be desirable. The preparation time can be huge, and the open-endedness of the outcomes burdensome on the teacher.

A teacher who once worked in a school near to mine aimed to teach maths wholly through investigations. He was hugely popular, but his pupils' exam results were terrible, perhaps because the thinking was not organised into a strong basic structure that informed their day-to-day skills.

Open-ended, investigational problem-solving should be at the heart of my maths classroom, but there is room for other lessons that are less demanding, that allow what is learned in the more adrenaline-filled lessons to be systematised and practised.

What else?

Use algebra for cooking in this activity from Amanda Godard, which introduces formulae for calculating cooking times. bit.lyAlgebraCooking

Pupils use ratios to compare food prices in a real-world activity shared by mrslack_maths. bit.lyBudgetFoodShop.

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