Maths Murder Mystery
After a long, fun and rewarding weekend away with year 9 students to develop their Numeracy and Literacy skills alongside general confidence, team building and social skills. I now have chance to write a blog about Maths Murder Investigations and where they can lead.
After being originally tasked with the challenge of designing a 2-3 hour session to make an impact on Maths levels and student confidence for a residential, it took me a while to decide what to do. I wasn't sure whether to do lots of basics numeracy work, which they get a lot of in school or to challenge them and do something creative and slightly different.
Anybody who knows me knows I am always up for a challenge and being creative. So, I came up with a suitable murder investigation with the level of work going up to level 7. This really would be a challenge for the students, bearing in mind 90% of the students on the residential are currently on a 5c or below and are not meeting expect progress targets. Now I bet you’re thinking I’m mad… why did I pitch the work so hard?
The whole weekend was about reaching for the stars, and aiming high. We were attempting to give them confidence and show students they can achieve when they set their mind to a task. This links in with trying to get the students into a growth mind set. With many of the students completing the 10 meter high leap of faith before lunch, the students were raring to go and ready for the maths portion of the weekend.
To begin with I carried out a small numeracy warm up using mini whiteboards and group discussions. (Unfortunately, I made a balloon treasure hunt but forgot to pack them, so as any good teacher does I thought on my feet). I then placed the students into mixed ability groups and set the scene and challenge. The students were to work independently in their groups to find out which teacher was the murderer and what the weapon was. They had to justify their reasoning for eliminating teachers after each piece of evidence and their final conclusion. It was made very clear that the prize wouldn't go to who was the quickest group, rather it would go to which group had the most detail and accuracy.
The students took to this like ducks to water and worked hard for the full three hours completing the task. They were challenged and pushed, but it also got them coming to me and asking how to do certain aspects of maths for help when a full team was stuck. This meant they wanted to learn and were inquiring about new maths concepts, instead of being lectured that they need to know and learn it. The students thoroughly enjoyed the activity and all students completed it.
I was very aware that the weakest may be dragged along, instead of being supported by their team so I made it clear I was doing spot knowledge checks on random students. Selected students were asked to explain the; who, what, when and why of that piece of evidence and how they completed the maths task to come to that conclusion. The students achieved and were successfully, the buzz in the room was electric and I feel all the students are taking away positive experiences of maths as well as the feeling of being successful. The work completed should help them in their up and coming Maths assessments and hopeful will have a positive impact on the students’ long term engagement within Maths.
The following day the students learnt about Newspaper articles and how to write one. Each student was then tasked with using their murder mystery investigation results to be creative and write their own Newspaper Articles and be creative with the details. Some examples can be seen below.