Maths: My Dream Lesson - Travels with my class

16th December 2011 at 00:00
Asking your pupils to get lost can lead to some amazing journeys

One of my favourite maths lessons is "The #163;500 Getaway". I put my Year 10 students into pairs and "give them" #163;500 and a period of 12 hours in which to spend it. The winning team is the one that is geographically furthest away from the starting point when the 12 hours runs out.

Presenting their plan - including modes of transport, detailed timings, locations and costs - provides lots of functional maths, demands real-life skills and creativity, and is bundled into a lesson that students really enjoy. In my ideal lesson, however, I would love to really release 30 school children into the wild.

Rebecca and Laura would have it all planned. They walk at a brisk pace to the bus stop 350m away, buying two under-16 tickets to Bolton train station. On arrival they visit Aldi to ensure they have plentiful supplies, leaving with a nutritious food bundle costing #163;10.64. They catch the 13.25 train to Glasgow, saving a third of the #163;124 ticket price with their young persons railcards. They arrive in Glasgow at 17.08, where they book themselves on a bus to the coast and then a ferry bound for the Isle of Lewis. A total journey of 488 miles and with #163;68 left to spend on adequate shelter for the night.

Chloe and Beth would not be seen dead on a bus or a train. They take a taxi to the airport, which costs a whopping #163;96 but gets them there in under 30 minutes. From there they hop on a Ryanair flight to Malaga, which costs #163;389 including taxes and luggage allowance and takes just over four hours to travel 1,547 miles. Their remaining #163;15 is spent on fake tan.

Brad and Joe jog the 1.2km to Argos, where they buy a pair of budget mountain bikes for a total of #163;119.98. They confidently estimate that they can sustain a speed of 16mph for the duration of the task, taking a five-minute break every hour to snack on their 20 tubes of Pringles. They calculate that they can travel 178km and - crucially - will have #163;349.52 to spend on Xbox games when they get there.

All the pupils send me a nice postcard from their destinations, addressed to Mr Barton at the Palm Hotel, Barbados, where I have taken myself after siphoning off a few thousand pounds from the budget. I'm not sure Ofsted would approve, but I think the students would get a lot out of it, and I might just end up bumping into Rihanna.

Craig Barton is an advanced skills teacher from Bolton. He is the creator of and can be found on Twitter @mrbartonmaths

What else?

Craig Barton's students may have budgeted well, but what if they can't understand timetables? Tomwatt20's PowerPoint game introduces this topic.

NatWest's "Money Sense for Schools" is a free resource for developing budgets and understanding finance.

Try CIMT's "Money and Time" resource collection for worksheets, lesson plans and activities covering travel, time zones and timetables.

In the forums

In the maths forums, teachers ask "What's the protocol on correcting a colleague's maths?" and debate the plan to ban calculators in primaries.

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