Great Victorian Coding Challenge

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Over the next few weeks we are working with Scratch to create projects that demonstrate maths concepts using simple drag-and-drop programming. Please make sure you have completed the following steps:

1. Join Scratch with your school Username (eg gow0054) and Password. Being a registered member allows you to save and share your work. Make sure Mrs Gow has recorded your Scratch username.

2. Join the Hawkesdale P12 College Studio and the Victorian Coding Challenge (1, 2 and 3) Studios on Scratch, so you can share your work and see what other students have created.

3. Challenge #1: Create a character that draws a shape and upload to the Hawkesdale P12 College page.

4. Draw your initials, like these students in 5/6 Clark/Smith. Can you translate and reflect your initials so they appear in all four quadrats?

5. Challenge #2: Create a project that explains a maths concept. For example:

  • Draw  your initials in block letters and calculate their perimeter and the area they cover. Use the Cartesian Co-ordinate grid as a background.
  • Explain how to calculate the perimeter of a polygon or circle.
  • Name the parts of a circle (radius, diameter, circumference, sector, arc)
  • Describe different triangles (equilateral, isoceles, scalene, right-angled, acute-angled or obtuse-angled)
  • Explain how the sum of angles in a triangle always equals 180 degrees.
  • Explain how the sum of angles in a quadrilateral always equals 360 degrees
  • Explain how to calculate the area of a polygon (triangle, rectangle, parallelogram, trapezium, kite) or circle
  • Describe right angles, straight angles and complementary (adds to 90 degrees), supplementary (adds to 180 degrees) and equal angles.
  • Describe ‘pi’ and how it can be used to calculate the circumference and area of circles.
  • Describe Euler’s Rule about the faces, vertices and edges of a polyhedron (Faces + Vertices – Edges = 2)

Make sure you add your project to the Hawkesdale P12 College Studio page.

6. Challenge #3: Create a simple game that uses maths concepts. It could be something like this Hungry Fish game. Someone even created a Scratch project for Co-ordinate Grid Battleships.

My favourite Middle Years Maths sites and resources

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This year I will be teaching both Year 7 and Year 8 students Maths in our small, rural school in SW Victoria. With relatively small class sizes and 1:1 BYOD we have great opportunities to engage students with high quality digital resources that help to foster a love of Maths learning.

Or, in the case of some teenagers, make them hate it a little less? Let’s face it, I work with adolescents every school day, and many of them haven’t yet found their passion. They have strong opinions about what they like (“Call of Duty” and One Direction, for example) and what they hate (mostly homework, uniforms and algebra). CoD and ID are much more relevant and useful than…..whatever.

So, to get on with this post, my intention is to share the middle years Maths resources that I find most useful, hopefully because students find them authentic, relevant or just plain fun, while addressing curriculum statements.

My Most Useful Sites and Resources:

  • ABC Splash – high quality resources, aligned to the national curriculum.
    • ConCensus – This game uses data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to allow users to make graphs and diagrams using selected postcodes and categories.
    • Choose Your Own Statistics – This interactive activity has ten different categories (including demographics, weekly wages and homelessness) with infographics and a tool that allows users to visualise the data.
    • Area of a Triangle – a cartoon interactive that assists students to learn and practice the formula for calculating the area of a triangle.
    • Algebra – it’s a piece of cake – a series of eight videos that explain some simple algebraic concepts using a “number crunching machine”, recipes and simple patterns.
  • National Library of Virtual Manipulatives – Huge range of applets across all areas and age groups. (If you have difficulty accessing these interactive animations, try a different browser, update or enable your Java).
  • NRICH – enriching mathematics – Great problem solving activities for a variety of ages.

Hour of Code!


This week is the beginning of the International Week of Computer Science, when tens of millions of students from over 180 countries participate in “Hour of Code”. This is a great activity to introduce students to computer science in a fun, easy and accessible way. Here are some resources to introduce coding in your classroom:

Hour of Code website

Khan Academy Introduction to Hour of Code – video and resources

Make a Flappy Game – a ‘drag and drop’ method to create your own version of the popular flappy bird game.

Code with Anna and Elsa from Frozen


This week we have about 30 students from Year 7 to 9 attending school, while the rest participate in the end of year “Great Hawkesdale Bike Ride”. They enjoyed creating their own Flappy Bird and Angry Bird Games and then constructing Christmas scenes in Minecraft. Which games did you create, which was your favourite and why?

Equivalent fractions with a Fraction Wall

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This week we will continue making our fraction wall and learning how to calculate equivalent fractions. Using your fraction wall, find equivalent fractions for the following: 1/2 (one half); 1/3 (one third); 1/4 (one quarter) 2/3 (two thirds) and 3/4 (three quarters). What are some other equivalent fractions that are “off the scale” – using fifteenths, sixteenths, twentieths or hundredths?

To add or subtract fractions we need to make sure they have the same denominator (bottom number). We can convert fractions so that they have the same denominator by multiplying both the numerator and the denominator by the same number. This interactive from NLVM helps to compare fractions and create fractions with the same denominator.

Here are some links to sites for learning more about fractions:

MInecraft Maths – Surface Area and Volume



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Games based learning has been a hot topic in the last year or so and one of the most popular games in educational use has been Minecraft. Although there has been some debate about the value of learning outcomes, many students would agree that Minecraft is a fun way to learn about surface area and volume. This YouTube video, “Minecraft Math – Surface Area and Volume” describes how to calculate the surface area of rectangular prisms and challenges the viewer to calculate the surface area and volume of a huge tower of TNT blocks! Another YouTube video, from the same user, demonstrates the “Volume of Prisms and Pyramids” in Minecraft and offers a challenge to calculate the area of a prism with a pyramid on top.

We spent last lesson looking at the volume and surface areas of various patterns of ‘minecraft’ blocks. Our assumption is that each Minecraft block is 1m x 1m x 1m – a cubic metre. Next lesson I would like you to create your name in Minecraft blocks and measure the volume and the surface area of your construction. Start by using the first letter of your first name. It should be a minimum of five blocks high and three blocks wide. Make sure you take a screenshot of your construction and send it to me by email.

Fractions Apps on the iPad

Learning Intention: This lesson we will be using three different apps on the iPads to learn about the value of fractions, decimals and percentages.

Success Criteria: Students will understand the value of common fractions (1/2, 3/4, 1/3, 2/3 etc) and be able to order a list of common fractions, decimals and percentages.

1. Motion Math HD – Bounce the fraction ball at the corresponding point on the number line by moving the iPad (10 minutes).

2. Fraction Factory – Move the factory cog to the correct point on the number line (10 minutes).

3. Number Line – Order the fractions, decimals and percentages from smallest to largest (10 minutes).

Please leave a comment below about which app you liked best, why you liked it and what you learnt.

Algebra Games

We have spent the last few weeks learning about algebra – what do we know now, that we didn’t know before?

  • Pronumerals, co-efficients, variables and constants
  • Expressions
  • Backtracking
  • Solving equations

This site, MathsNet has some algebra games you might like to try. Choose the expression or constant that you need to remove from the equation and apply the opposite sign.

Progression Points for Probability

At Hawkesdale College the Numeracy Professional Learning Teams have been looking at the progression points for each of the five strands of mathematics and starting with Number, assigning assessment tasks for each level. During the next five weeks, while Tara is taking the year 8 Maths class, we are studying a unit on Probability, so it is a good opportunity to unpack the progression points for this sub-strand.

Progression Point 3.25 – “use of fractions to assign probability values between 0 and 1 based on symmetry”. All our students have demonstrated the ability to place the chances of specific events occurring on a number line, so they have achieved this level of understanding. Some examples were: randomly choosing a day of the week and getting a weekend day, rolling a dice and getting an even number, using a spinner with five equal sections and getting a specific colour.
Progression Point 3.75 – “simulation of random events” and “calculation and analysis of the stability of a sequence of long run frequencies where the number of trials increases”.
We have used dice, coins and computer and iPod (using the app “iChoose”) simulations of other random events.
Virtual Dice: Simulation of throwing one, two or three dive.

Probability Tree: A bag contains 4 red counters and 7 blue counters. A counter will be taken from the bag, its colour noted and then returned to the bag. Students complete the corresponding probability tree, with uneven chances.
Snakes and Spinners is an assessment activity from the Learning Federation.
The “Dice Duels” series of activities (L2634 to L2640) is also from the Learning Federation.
Podcast about “slot machines” – we call them poker machines in Australia. What do you think is the likelihood of winning the maximum pay out at the pokies?

A Maths Advent Calendar from Plus.Maths


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Follow this link to the Plus.maths site, where you will find a lovely advent calendar, with different activities behind each image.  On Saturday the 4th, there are various Suduko puzzles with a twist. There is also the annual Maths Masters Summer Quiz from The Age to keep you busy. It has thirty questions, ten of each in easy, medium and hard sections. Try some of these and if you work out an answer, tell me in the comment section below.