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maths tasks to give students who finish early

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by derekgoforth, Jan 31, 2016.

  1. derekgoforth

    derekgoforth New commenter

    Hey all, first time poster here.

    I am looking for a roledex type box full of mini tasks that students can grab if and when they finish early- just short 5-10 minute tasks that they might see as a bit fun. Has anyone done this or does anyone know of a decent resource I could convert to this type of thing?


  2. rich_m

    rich_m New commenter

    This may not be what you wanted to hear, but if you regularly have students finishing tasks early then the tasks aren't rich or deep enough. Wanting work for those who finish to be "a bit of fun" also devalues what could otherwise be a good learning opportunity to deepen understanding. For those students who are doing better than the majority to see finishing early as a reward to get onto "fun tasks", some students will probably use it as an excuse to rush through regular work and take less care and/or interest.

    Regardless of what age group this applies to, students who are doing better than the majority should be challenged and made to think deeper about the topic at hand, rather than have a selection of unrelated tasks. The longer term result of doing this will be huge, students who are made to think regularly do far better than those who don't.

    nrich is always an excellent resource for finding challenging material for students of all ages, although much of the content is designed for longer than 5-10 minutes, you could adapt some to be used across several lessons to encourage students to look at what they did last time and how it could be improved.
    cach9801 and colinbillett like this.
  3. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    try a bank of questions from JMC/IMC
  4. Owen134866

    Owen134866 New commenter

    I always make sure students have a JMC/IMC/SMC paper in their books in case they need an extension activity :)
  5. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    If children finish early, they should be given extension work that moves their learning on. You should be planning these, not just palming the children off with some time filler nonsense.

    If it happens a lot, then work given in the first place should be more challenging.

    Such boxes of 'puzzles' or 'problems' do look lovely on displays and if you fan out a few it looks great for less than clever SLT. However they don't help with learning.
    cach9801 and colinbillett like this.
  6. Maths_Shed

    Maths_Shed Occasional commenter

    Is it secondary or primary? Are you allowing these fast finishers to self mark their work and where applicable correct themselves? Is there a self checking routine available, e.g. in solving algebra they could substitute their answers into the original question? Is it the type of work where they could make up their own questions?
    Skillsheets and Kartoshka like this.
  7. Tandy

    Tandy New commenter

    The National Curriculum for England from year 1 to year 11 contains very little content. There are around 320 concepts to be addressed across those 11 years and 1600 hours of maths lessons.

    Luckily, and happily, each of those 320 concepts is infinite in its depth. So the notion of a child being 'finished' on anything really doesn't have to arise.

    They may well have completed a set task or got through a bunch of particular questions, but the concept itself is boundless.

    Each school and each teacher, therefore, needs to build a mindset or disposition in the pupils that there is always something more to explore, that they are never finished and that this is a good thing.

    The implications are, of course, that every teacher needs at their disposal a selection of tasks or problems for each of the concepts they are addressing, which are open ended and involve the pupil in getting into the structure of the concept, rather than merely dancing about the superficial level of practice and repetition.

    Decades of great teaching in England (particularly in the 1970s and 1980s), has produced countless tasks and activities that are very intelligently designed for just this purpose, so at least you will not have to reinvent the wheel. You might look, for example, at the work of Nottingham University Shell Centre or materials such as GAIM. The School Mathematics Project also created some excellent materials.

    It is important that these activities remain focussed on the same concept, rather than being a set of disconnected resources for time filling.
    colinbillett likes this.
  8. derekgoforth

    derekgoforth New commenter

    well thanks for the positive input but could have really done without the lectures. I have asked for help for resources for a very specific reason and i actually think there is a huge benifit for students to practice key skills that may have nothing to do with the current subject being taught.

    If you dont have any actual practical help, why bother chipping in with your own unique brand of condescending drivvle?
    vinnie24 and colinbillett like this.
  9. derekgoforth

    derekgoforth New commenter

    yes - self mark, peer assess, construct own questions
  10. derekgoforth

    derekgoforth New commenter

    palming them off? I am sure I have been patronized in this manner before but cant for the life of me remember when.
    colinbillett likes this.
  11. Tandy

    Tandy New commenter

    Actually, I sincerely thought I was being helpful by recommending Shell, SMP and GAIM.

    I clearly am not as bright or experienced as you, so apologies for my drivel.
  12. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Most people did offer practical help. We gave you ideas of what to do instead of your first thought to improve learning. Hey ho!
  13. derekgoforth

    derekgoforth New commenter

    no most people did not give me helpful advice to my actual request,most including yourself saw it as an opportunity to offer a lecture about something you know nothing about,ie my classroom. I asked for ideas for resources- not suggestions on how to extend students,(as my students are extended already)
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Ahhh the age old beauty of message forums...you often get answers you never envisaged. :)
  15. derekgoforth

    derekgoforth New commenter

    lol, indeed-which is why this is my first n last thread- will just ask my goldfish next time, less lectures that way :)
  16. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    Fewer lectures, Derek. Fewer.... ;)
    akcptgrey and Maths_Shed like this.
  17. colinbillett

    colinbillett Occasional commenter

    You gotta laugh, ain't ya. I reckon Derek is a mathematician, and we don't have the word in our vocabulary. We have less than, less than or equal to, greater than, and greater than or equal to. 'Fewer' just don't come into the lexicon. ;)
  18. colinbillett

    colinbillett Occasional commenter

    Here's a serious question. If I made some resources, and shared them TES, would you pay for them? Quid a dozen?
  19. colinbillett

    colinbillett Occasional commenter

    Whoops, that wasn't advertising...
  20. derekgoforth

    derekgoforth New commenter


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