Are you feeling lucky?
A fun way to deliver dry topics such as statistics is to create a casino. The idea of getting something for nothing appeals to pupils, as does the thrill and competitive aspect.
Students explore the types of statistics that can be calculated from a simplified casino game. Using these measures, they must consider two things: “How do casinos decide which games are viable?” and “How can a gambler take advantage?”
In groups, give students a range of casino games, fake money and time to analyse the games and choose which to host as croupiers. Split the groups again so half are gambling and half run the game.
Initial excitement dissipates once they realise they are losing more than they win. Students present their statistical calculations about the games as well as whether these are supported by their winnings.
To avoid creating a generation of gamblers, it’s worth discussing how even the fairest of casino games will have expected losses behind it. The maths supports this and pupils will hopefully gain an appreciation of how the games are rigged. The house always wins, and now they know why.
Miren Jayapal is deputy head of maths at Fortismere School in London
Making fractions a piece of cake
This lesson is a fun way of reintroducing fractions, using a practical approach that develops depth of understanding.
Begin by discussing the meaning of the word “fraction” mathematically and linguistically. The example “Only a fraction of the crowd could see the stage” will help to embed the meaning “a small part of something”.
After discussing and writing about the roles of numerator and denominator, ask children of a certain gender, hair colour or eye colour to stand up. Write statements about the fraction of the class with these qualities on a flip chart.
In groups, ask pupils to divide some cake equally between them, using sugar paper and felt pens to draw and write facts about their cake, as on the flip chart. To enhance their understanding, I let them eat the cake.
Deborah Jenkins is a primary teacher in Twickenham, Greater London
‘Steal’ from their favourite books
To prompt students to think about character traits in more detail, this lesson analyses the text using the Steal method. On the board, write these definitions: Speech: What does the character say? Thoughts: What does the character think? Effects: What effect does the character have on others? Actions: How are their actions described? Looks: How is their appearance described?
Read aloud from a book that students are familiar with and ask them to “Steal” character traits that support the story’s main theme. Discuss, for example, why the character says this (speech), acts like this (actions) or wears this (looks). The activity builds comprehension by focusing on indirect character traits that give the story meaning and depth.
Greg McGrath teaches English language and social studies in New Jersey, US
To access resources for all three lessons, visit: bit.ly/LessonPlanner2Oct