ReMSTEP Maths – Parabolas

This video is one in a series of three that were developed as part of  the REMSTEP Project (http://remstep.org.au/). The videos were produced through collaboration between staff in the Faculties of Education and Science at Monash University. The videos are aimed at pre-service teachers but are just as relevant to practicing teachers of secondary school mathematics. The purpose of the videos is to inspire pre-service teachers to think of mathematics as a beautiful, creative and relevant discipline. We aim to challenge preconceived ideas about what maths is, and isn’t and for the beauty of maths to be appreciated, understood and shared with learners of maths.

A key objective is for the video to provide inspiration for classroom activities that deal with the underpinning concepts, rather than the technical and computational aspects, of mathematics. For further information see the Mathematical Association of Victoria’s publication – Common Denominator, term 3, 2017, pg15.

Acknowledgements

These videos were produced as part of the ReMSTEP Project. We are grateful to the following people who made these videos possible; Norman Do, Rebecca Cooper, Jo Burke, Magnolia Lowe Film Communications, Owen Kazula, Chris Nagy, Greg Lancaster and the pre-service and in-service teachers who provided us with feedback.

Dr Norman Do is a self-proclaimed mathematics geek, and lecturer at Monash University. He loves to study and teach mathematics and aspires to engage people in study mathematics and to appreciate the diverse and varied jobs that exist for mathematicians. His main research interests lie in geometry and topology, including knot theory.
Norman believes “We need to encourage people to take on challenges, do hard things and gain a sense of self-worth from learning,” he adds “We need to celebrate our mathematical heroes like Terry Tao and we need to understand that if you’re a mathematician you can work behind the scenes in jobs as varied as biochemistry, animation and finance.” View Dr Do’s profile.

There are place markers in the video labelled ‘Stop & Think’. This gives the viewer opportunities to pause the video and to complete some related activities. These are accessed using the Tabs across the bottom of the video. They are designed to assist pre-service teachers to appreciate the concepts, attitudes and contexts of contemporary mathematics and their relevance to classroom teaching.

Before Viewing the video

1) Consider –

  • What do you consider to be Mathematics?
  • Why is it important to teach it?
  • What is the purpose of Maths in the lives of your students?
  • How might Maths influence what happens in the real world?
  • How do you justify the inclusion of Mathematics in the school curriculum?
  • Can you think of examples of doing Maths which don’t involve numbers?

2) Which of the choices below do you consider to be the best metaphor and why? Can you think of a better one?

How is an excellent teacher of mathematics like a …?

  • Social Worker
  • gardener
  • orchestra conductor
  • actor
  • doctor
  • librarian
  • missionary
  • sculptor
  • games show host

Stop & Think (1)

  1. ‘Brainstorm’ examples and contexts where you are likely to encounter ‘parabolas’ in the real world.
  2. What are your memories of learning about ‘parabolas’ in secondary school?
  3. Where in the Australian Curriculum or Victorian Curriculum do students learn about the origins and applications of ‘parabolas’?
  4. How would you answer the common student question “When am I ever going to use this?”

Stop & Think (2)

  1. Would you ever use this activity in your classroom? Why? When? Where? and How?
  2. Would you ever use this segment of the video to show your students in your classroom? Why/Why not? When? Where? and How?
  3. Where do you see this activity best fitting into a unit on ‘parabolas?’
  4. Why would this task be useful for students to do?

Stop & Think (3)

  1. How do you think this idea is related to ‘parabolas?’
  2. Can you see where Norman might put another point?

Stop & Think (4)

  1. Would you use this activity in your classroom? Where? When? Why? How?
  2. Would you use this segment of the video to show your students in your classroom? Where? When? Why? How?
  3. Where do you see this activity in a unit on parabolas?
  4. Why would this task be useful for students to do?

Stop & Think (5)

  1. What links are made to other learning areas here?
  2. Would you use this segment of the video to show your students in your classroom? Where? When? Why? How?
  3. Would you use this video in your classroom? Where? When? Why? How?
  4. Where do you see this activity in a unit on parabolas?
  5. Why would this task be useful for students to do?

After viewing the Videos consider;

  1. Each video contains a story of human endeavour in mathematics. Whilst watching the series, consider how this might be a useful perspective to adopt in mathematics education.
  2. This video series is presented by a Mathematics lecturer and researcher, Dr Norman Do – does his specialist knowledge and expert understanding make a difference when you are watching the video? Do you think it would make a difference to your students?
  3. Complete each of the sentences below…
  • I used to think that a mathematician was … now I think a mathematician is …
  • I used to think a maths teacher was … now I think a maths teacher is …
  • I used to think a maths learner was … now I think a maths learner is …

Links
1. Australian Curriculum – mathematics
The Australian Curriculum – mathematics, the documentation of the mathematics curriculum for F-10.

2. Victorian Curriculum – mathematics
The Victorian Curriculum – mathematics, the documentation for the mathematics curriculum for F-10.