An idea for the classroom - Maths in Work
Do your pupils struggle to understand why they study mathematics? You could work through the NCETM professional development activity available here and you could also investigate the NCETM Maths in Work web pages.
The site states:
‘Maths in Work has been designed to offer glimpses of the real world of work via video clips, to help students appreciate not only the relevance of mathematics but its importance in every day life. The clips feature the people who are actually ‘doing the job’ and explain some of the maths processes that they are involved with on a daily basis. There is a brief synopsis of each clip which identifies the maths topics covered, and all clips end with the simple question, “What mathematics would be involved in the work you have just watched?” The teacher is free to approach the viewing in whatever way seems appropriate to his/her circumstances.’
I watched the video Producing fuel from rapeseed. I chose this one because it is something I am interested in, and there is a lot of rapeseed grown around where I live – you see lots of bright yellow fields in the late spring. Choosing the right context is vital for engaging pupils – this could happen by finding a clip that relates to a particular topic or to a teaching and learning context or to an area of work that has a particular relevance.
The clip lasts about six minutes and takes the viewer through the production of the rapeseed crop and then gives details of the process used to extract the oil from the crop.
The text accompanying the clip on the website states that ‘The mathematics involves percentages, decimals, proportion, and money, volume and weight.’ The final frame of the clip asks the viewer ‘What mathematics would be involved in the work you have just watched?’ There is definitely a need for the teacher to control the use of the clip in the classroom perhaps by leading this subsequent discussion or by setting pupils an appropriate task to help them to make the mathematics explicit. For example, you could say that the rapeseed producer wants to appoint an assistant – what mathematical skills would he put on the job description?