As a Maths lead, I am always on the lookout for unique ways of engaging and exciting all children in Maths lessons and at the same time developing their problem solving, understanding of logic and ‘deeper understanding’ of Maths.
Unfortunately, the pressures of SATs mean that, prior to our favourite week of the year, there is a huge focus on meeting the objectives for year 6. Once the yearly ‘quizzes’ are over there is an ideal opportunity to push the children outside of their comfort zone. The children are more relaxed and seem to begin to lack motivation for conventional Maths lessons; they need something different to engage their curiosity and reignite their enthusiasm for the subject. This is where magic comes in.
As a teacher, it is important that we are fully versed in what we are teaching the children so what I am advocating means a touch of extra work, outside of normal hours, but believe me, it’s worth it.
I’m talking about card tricks.
Card tricks follow a range of mathematical principles. Some involve counting sets, some involve complex algebraic equations but all card tricks follow logical maths steps in order for them to work. Plus the added bonus is that children, and other adults, think that they are really cool and you, as their teacher, are some kind of wizard.
It is important that before you unleash them on your children that you practice them until they are second nature, I only do 1 trick for a lesson as the thinking and reasoning process that the children go through usually takes up much of the lesson time. Not only do they need to be practised, but you also need to ensure that you have a secure understanding of the Maths logic that underpins the trick. One of my favourites is shown below…
The great thing about the above video is that the Maths is explained to you so, as a teacher you can be fully prepared and also ready to give hints to the children as they begin to struggle allowing you to inject that extra impetus and continue the flow of the lesson.
Another Youtuber that explains his tricks is Matt Parker the standup mathematician, his Youtube page is ‘standupmaths’. The following link is to a trick that has an algebraic solution that is a little more complex than the one above but can be used with your HA children.
and here is the solution
I have found that although the children complain that their heads hurt and they become incredibly frustrated, they never give up; they endeavour to explain the Maths and will come up with some fantastical reasons as to why the tricks work.
The key, however, is not in getting to the answer, the key is the trial and improvement, the thinking outside of the box and the determination to continue when there seems to be no answer. This, to me, is deeper thinking and, I believe, something that all children can access, no matter what level of ability and be successful.
Who doesn’t like magic?
This is a re-blog post originally posted by Andrew Byrne and published with kind permission.
The original post can be found here.