Are you a secondary mathematics teacher looking for ideas to enrich the mathematics lessons you teach? Then there are numerous resources on the NCETM portal to help you explore ways in which to develop rich mathematical tasks for your learners to engage in. We have picked out a few and made them quick and easy to find.
What is a ‘rich mathematical task’?
- The concept of a rich mathematical task was introduced in ‘Better Mathematics’ (1987) where a set of criteria for rich mathematical activity was identified.
- The Mathemapedia entry ‘What are rich tasks and why should they matter?’ includes a link to an NRICH article called ‘Rich tasks and contexts’.
- There is increasing debate about whether it is the actual task itself that is rich or the way it is introduced that provides the richness. This debate is explored in the Association of Teachers of Mathematics article ‘What makes a rich task?’ (MT 212, Jan 2009)
Where can I find examples of rich mathematical tasks?
- What makes a good resource? (activities and resources plus teacher accounts of lessons using the resource)
- The NRICH curriculum mapping resource
- Issue 54 of the Secondary Magazine – Focus on... rich tasks
- As the bell goes (audio clips of teachers describing rich lessons)
- The Bowland Maths resource
How can I develop my own thinking and practice in relation to rich tasks?
- The Standards Unit booklet Improving learning in mathematics: challenges and strategies provides both stimulating theory and practical help for promoting rich mathematical activity in the classroom.
- The Mathematics Knowledge Network Starting Point - Developing discussion in mathematics’ offers a wealth of stimuli for using discussion in your classroom to develop rich activity.
Where can I see an example of how a group of teachers developed their work on rich tasks?
- MKN0918: Exploring Rich Tasks is an account of a project carried out by a group of 12 teachers from a number of different mathematics schools in the Berkshire area. It contains useful guidance for teachers who wish to carry out similar projects themselves.
Now that you have looked at some of the resources offered, spend some time reflecting on how you can develop these in your classroom.
- how have these changed your thinking about the tasks you usually give your learners?
- which articles and resources impressed you? Why?
- is it possible for you to adapt them in order to make them rich? How will you do this?
- if you use text books or worksheets, how can you adapt these to make them richer?
You could record your reflections in your Personal Learning Space.
You could use one of our online communities to engage in discussion about this issue with other teachers. For example:
- the Rich Tasks thread in the Maths Café
- the thread Students Selecting Problems to Work On in the Secondary Forum.
Try this activity with colleagues in a department meeting.
Try it with some students in your own classroom.
- is this a rich activity? If so. what makes it rich in your view?
- how would you introduce this activity in your classroom? Are there aspects of teaching style/pedagogy which would make it even more rich?
It has been said by some recently that ‘teachers learn best when they learn from each other’. If you know of another link to an activity or resource on the NCETM website that you think would be useful or appropriate for readers of this guidance, please use the comments box below to let us and them know of your idea.
Several NCETM communities
are used by teachers of ‘A’ level to discuss new ideas and current development. For example, the ICT in Mathematics community
has a thread on effective classroom use of iPods and iPads and another one on Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs).
“Activity by itself is not enough; it is the sense that is made of it that matters” (DRIVER, R. (1983) The Pupil as Scientist?, Milton Keynes, Open University Press.
For the things you have tried out for yourself in your own classroom to become useful pieces of professional learning, there is a need to capture them, reflect upon them and remark on them. The NCETM Personal Learning Space (PLS) allows you to do this.
- Use My Learning Journal to collect your thoughts and reflections as well as to log actions; documents can be attached to your entries. You could do this now by visiting your own PLS.
- Use My Favourites and Notes to take note of and organise interesting things you have found (like this page) and want to return to easily in future.
- Use the Sharing and Contacts facility to share elements of your PLS with colleagues, selecting them from your own list of contacts
- Use the “Request a reminder” function
Find out more details of these and other functions of the PLS.