year nine

Problem I gave to Year 9 a few weeks back: Imagine taking an A4 sheet of paper, and cutting the corners out so it folds into a box. What is the maximum volume possible? Or how I actually presented the problem: I'm sure that any non-metric types could easily adapt…

Near the start of Term 3, I gathered feedback from some of my classes about what they think of the job I do as a teacher. My plan was to write reflections about it shortly afterwards, but this got pushed back as other things got busy. With a week to…

Year 9 and I are working through Pythagoras' Theorem at the moment. After a little shuffling of units around, this is a little earlier than last year. An interesting consequence of this is that this is the first unit I've taught that I've blogged about previously. Getting to go back…

Second last week of the year, and my Year Nines have a serious case of the I-don't-cares. End-of-year activities next week and the fact their reports were written last week have given them the idea that they don't really need to work this week. Unfortunately for them, I see this…

So I ended my last post with the words "I'm excited to see where we end up on Monday". And now it's been a month since I actually taught that lesson, and I haven't blogged since then. Oops. Let's see how I go remembering what we did... Quick recap (though…

So I need to start this post with an admission: I got this activity from our textbooks. In my own defense, I really only took the initial idea from the book, but then made up the rest of the lesson myself. So the idea I "borrowed" today was about rugby…

First day of term 4 (which was Monday - I really am running behind at the moment!) saw the start of our Trigonometry unit with Year 9. I wanted a way to get my students to start thinking about how the angles of a right-angled triangle affect its sides, while…

"Index Laws" is one of the topics that students at my school seem to struggle with. Okay, sure, they can use the laws, and when given an expression they can usually simplify it. But I'm convinced that they actually don't understand indices as well as they think. There seems to…

One of the most exciting things in maths is realising a connection you didn't see earlier. Hopefully this experience is what we're giving students all the time, but as teachers we get it too. And sometimes, the connection seems so obvious (to someone with a maths degree), that's it's a…

(Quick confession: this was actually weeks ago. I'm not sure why it took me this long to get around to blogging it.) Why do textbooks bother trying to explain concepts before each exercise? The kids don't read it, I don't refer to it. And the explanations take all the fun…

Teaching the distributive law is an interesting prospect. Because really, if students know how to multiply numbers with more than one digit they already use the distributive law, even if they don't know it. But if you write this on a board: a•(b + c) = a•b + a&…

While my Year 9 class is starting to move on to Area and Volume, I'm still quizzing them on Expanding and Factorising. At the start of Monday's lesson, I planned to hand out a short set of factorising practice questions to warm up with. At least, that was the intention.…

In my Year 9 textbook, the start of the chapter on area and volume starts with a "review" of areas from past years. And by that, I mean it says something along the line of "you should remember these formulas from Year 8," then proceeds to list the formulas for…

As my students and I are starting to fall into the rhythm of SBG, I'm seeing benefits I didn't predict. Though they found it a little uncomfortable at first, my students are getting their heads around the idea of seeing the quizzes as chances to show what they know, and…

So, I think a lot of people will be familiar with this puzzle. Start with an arrangement like this: The aim is to swap the positions of the green and blue counters. The counters can move either one or two spaces forward, and each space can contain only one counter.…

Today was a good day. Anyone who takes the time to read a blog like this probably doesn't need me to tell them that teaching can be a frustrating job. It often feels as though you're fighting against pressures on all sides, and every time a student doesn't progress as…

I think it's a tough balancing act to find the point where students can investigate mathematical ideas independently. Not enough guidance, and the class will stare at me, wondering what they're supposed to even be doing. Too much help, and they just start guessing at the answer that will get…

Yesterday I wrotes about the reasons I'm experimenting with Standards Based Grading this term. Today I want to show how I'm planning to implement SBG in my classroom. Because I was away in the last week of last term, we weren't able to finish our unit on Pythagoras' Theorem before…

One of the changes I'm experimenting with this term is the introduction of Standards Based Grading. I've never really been satisfied with the systems I've used in the past for assessment. I really hope and believe that SBG could be what I've been looking for. I've seen people claim that…

Okay, I want this post to be as positive as possible. But to do that, I'm going to have to feel sorry for myself for a little bit. Feel free to ignore the next few paragraphs. I'm currently in bed, where I've been for most of the day. I've got…

### author

Shaun used to be maths, IT and ocassional physics teacher at a small P-12 school (primary and secondary) in rural Victoria, Australia. He is currently in the process of starting his career again in the United States.

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### my website

The place where I put other stuff, usually math related coding:

primefactorisation.com

### my other blog

My journey from Australia to the United States:

Dropping the S

### my wife's blog

Sarah is also a math teacher, and she's much better at this blogging thing than I am:

Math Equals Love