Monday, 29 October 2012

16.6666666666% Time

I have some very bright and very highly motivated pupils in my top-set year 10 class this year and I feel like my classes are a bit wasted on them. The topics we go through need to be practiced and there is always extension material for them, but they just breeze through it. Last week I completely failed at tried to create a 3D-Graph, following this excellent post by Ashli. Basically I botched the explanation and expected too much to get done in a single lesson. Anyway, it was motivating to some, but others just felt it was another standard maths lesson.

Inspired by Shawn Cornally's Inquiry style of teaching and the idea I first heard from Google of 20% Time for employees, I decided to try out our own version of 20% Time in class:

In a recent survey I did with the pupils, most were happy with the pace of our classes, about 6 felt it was too slow and a couple felt it was too fast. I didn't want to leave that majority out of this, which is why I give them the option to revise topics. I will provide materials for this and it should hopefully help those less confident students.
To start with, my guess is that pupils will not have any idea where to go with this, so I have a few suggested project ideas:

Though I'm dangling these in front of them in the hope that someone will bite, I made it clear that they can really choose any topic they want. There are only two constraints:
  • It must be mathematical and include maths which is currently beyond their knowledge/ability.
  • Success or failure in the project is not so important, but you must aim for the project to be awesome (no powerpoints based heavily on wikipedia, etc. I want outrageous 6ft models and flashing, dancing lights!)

When they have picked a project and started working on it, I will drop a few words like 'game theory' as hints to the directions they could go, and vet their projects for mathematical content and awesomeness. Apart from that though, I hope to sit back and let them explore.

What do you reckon? Do you have any other intriguing/inspiring project ideas I could offer up as bait?