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What Makes A Good Resource - Simultaneous Equations

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 08 September 2009 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 03 September 2010 by ncetm_administrator

What Makes a Good Resource

Simultaneous Equations

Resource description:
“Old, Older, Oldest” is a set of 12 puzzle cards from the Book ‘Mathematical Team Games’ by Vivien Lucas. 

Simultaneous Equations - resource example
Teacher comment:
I chose this resource as in the past I have just given students a set of simultaneous equations of varying difficulty to solve in their books and it has in my opinion been quite dull. 

I wanted to use this resource to encourage students to work cooperatively with each other, to discuss their mathematical processes with each other, to persist with a task and to not give up easily when faced with an unfamiliar problem and to promote a healthy competitive edge in the lesson “Which team of four can solve the puzzle first?”   I also hoped for a real buzz for learning in the classroom.

I am always annoyed when other departments have the impression that students do Maths from a text book, they never work in groups, they never discuss their work with other; I hope that this activity goes some way to dispel this myth. 
What I did:
I had already taught in the previous few lessons how to solve simultaneous equations but there had not been much time for consolidation by the students.  I explained that the aims of the lesson were:
  • To practise solving simultaneous equations
  • To work cooperatively in a group
  • To discuss their Mathematical processes with each other
  • To persist with  the task- not give up at the first hurdle
I did a quick starter activity on solving simple equations and then handed out one set of puzzle cards for each group of four students.

I explained that although each card was numbered from 1-12 these numbers did not mean anything other to check that none of the cards were missing. 
I explained that as one of the objectives was to work cooperatively in a group it was up to them to decide how to solve the puzzle – I did not tell them which card(s) were good starting points and also as I wanted them to persist with a task I did not want anyone to put their hands up at all this lesson I would wander around each group helping as and when I felt it was necessary but that I would as I walked each group mark any solutions provided it was backed up with working.

I stated that I would award merits to those teams that worked cooperatively not necessarily to those groups who solved the most equations.     
What happened:
Some students initially wanted to ask for help straight away stating they did not understand the task.  I reminded these students that one of the aims of the lesson was to persist with an unfamiliar task and sure enough within a few minutes all groups sorted themselves out and were able to get on with the task. 

Some students wanted me to confirm whether the answer for say ‘Oliver’s age was 2’ I only did so if they could provide the working.  One group complained that I walked past them without marking their work and I told them that I could not see what to mark this encouraged them to think carefully about how to set out their work it so was obvious whish answers had be found from which workings.

I did encourage a competitive edge to the lesson by shouting out across the room that group ‘X’ had found the ages of four people. 

Only one group finished the task in the allotted time and so I gave them an extension question to tackle on solving a pair of simultaneous equation where they would need to rearrange first; I had not taught them this.  

In the last 10 minutes of the lesson we discussed which were the good starting cards and I also got some students to come up to the board and show the rest of the class how they solved a particular pair of equations. 
This activity worked really well and I felt that the lesson objectives were met.  There was a real buzz to the lesson – yes it was noisy, very noisy at times but all the noise was about solving the equations -I was a little anxious that the Head may appear at the door and wonder what on earth all the noise was!. What did surprise me is how competitive the groups got and after about 30 minutes the lesson got very quiet as each group were being more and more careful to ensure that other groups did not hear how they were solving a problem.   It is important to have some material up your sleeve for those groups that finish earlier than others. Some students were frustrated that they did not finish the puzzle- I don’t know a way around this one but I did point out that the lesson objectives had been met by all students and perhaps next time they could challenge each other to beat the winning group next time we do a similar activity.
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13 September 2019 08:58
Hi deevijayan - the resource is in the book, which you'll need to get hold of. We're not able to reproduce copyright material.
12 September 2019 16:07
is it possible to upload the resource.would like to use it.thank you
By deevijayan
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11 June 2017 13:14
Any chance of getting access to the materials?... Cheers
By pipcouldbe1
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11 June 2017 13:11
Any chance of getting access to the materials?... Cheers
By pipcouldbe1
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14 March 2010 19:28
This is a good stuff. I will try it with my class this week.
I have the resource which I used during maths club but
have never thought to use it in lesson. Worth trying this week
By karolina76
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29 October 2009 21:55
I always noticed that if the task is more challanging and engaging students make extral noise and used the opportunity to help the less able ones. It has happen that when the students are working and the class is too noisy some one entered my class and asked what was happenig and happily I explained that the noise is due to the excitment of the work and is for a good reason. I am sure that you have done extremely well.
By atighehchian
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