Maths hangman

28th November 2003 at 00:00
When asked by a lower intermediate maths set if they could have fun playing "hangman" during the last lesson before half term, I said yes, provided the words were all maths words, spelled correctly, and they knew what the words meant.

Pupils looked up words in their maths textbooks, checked the spelling and meaning with me - and thought of it all as a game. Words chosen included "hypotenuse", "complementary", "locus". "bisector", "Pythagoras" and "tessellation".

Some were words they were very familiar with - we had recently studied locus and bisectors - others were from last year's work. A pupil would find a word, write the letter blanks on the board, and the rest of the class would guess the letters, trying to beat the "hangman" in the usual way.

At the conclusion, the first pupil had to explain what the word meant and the winning pupil had to find a new word. I asked them to give definitions in their own words so that they couldn't just read them from the book, and if I thought pupils were not sure I asked them to explain with an example or draw a diagram. I enjoyed it as much as the class, and could see that they were learning.

Rosemary Shuttlewood, maths teacher, Wellingborough School, Northamptonshire

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