Smallest and Largest

Hi I’m Nik and I’m an Ideas Klepto.

I steal from all over the place. And then fence the ideas to others. This one was something Fawn posted here.

She did it with 6th Graders and I wondered how older students might do. The answer is [spoiler alert]: not much better…

I gave the activity to my GCSE resit groups. I didn’t give them any guidance beyond what they had on the sheet and clarifying that they could use the same number in different questions. I also didn’t restrict them in anyway. Those that wanted to use their calculators were allowed to – apparently it didn’t help that much.

Of 14 students that I gave the sheet to, the best score was a 6. Many students ignored the half completely, and some who used it did so incorrectly. Many students made basic calculation errors particularly when trying to find the smallest. I believe almost no students chaeck their work properly as many did not get the most basic questions correct.

So what does this tell me? Well it tells me that students are not conifdent in dealing with slightly unusual number tasks. It tells me we need to do work on the properties of fractions in multiplication and division. It tells me that I need to reiterate the importance of checking work thoroughly.

So what will I do? We are on break for the next two weeks. I will plan some lessons to address the fractions isssues, I will make another one of these sheets and we will try again. These students should be able to ace this – these number foundations are important, and the way GCSE papers (sigh, exam motivation, but that’s what the students want) are, something random like this could come up.

Thanks Fawn! I agree, this teaching lark is hard….

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3 Responses to Smallest and Largest

  1. Fawn Nguyen says:

    Thanks, Nik, for doing this with your students! What age range are they? I appreciate reading your paragraph on “What does this tell me?” as I had the same reflections — but these came after the immediate thought of jumping out of 80-story high building had subsided.

    I’m thinking of writing a follow-up post to mine as I did have the kids do the task again (using slightly different numbers) after some re-teaching. They did fare better, but not by much. Lots of work ahead for us.

    Thank, Nik!

    • nik_d_maths says:

      Fawn, they are 16-19! However they are all resitting a Level 2 qualification (the course they took at 16). Not sure what that says… I definitely need to readdress the ideas of multiplication and division with fractions. :-/

  2. Pingback: 7 Days of Maths #6 | Solve My Maths

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