Maths in the Library: The Roald Dahl Maths Puzzle

Roald Dahl 2015 was a big event in the Joseph Wilson Library Resource Centre and this year the library got our Maths Department and our new S1s involved.

Most are incredulous when I say we have a maths puzzle in the library. Maths and the library? What an odd combination! But really it’s just another creative way of promoting literacy and getting another department within our school community to utilise the library and the librarian’s skills to meet the department’s literacy needs.

Mark Dorris, Principal Teacher of Maths commented,

The department was delighted to get involved in the Roald Dahl Maths Puzzle as it gave pupils the opportunity to develop their problem solving skills. Pupils worked as part of a team taking the information given to complete the task. The emphasis was not only on getting the correct answer but being able to explain in detail step by step how the puzzle was solved.

The puzzle was inspired by characters from the ‘The Twits’ and ‘James and the Giant Peach’ because these were the books being celebrated this year by the Roald Dahl Trust and our library.

To begin this activity, pupils were put into groups of five and asked to solve the puzzle as a team. Each group nominated a member from their group to read the puzzle aloud. On the table there was a copy of the puzzle, a bundle of scrap paper for possible answers (very important!), pens, pencils and a larger piece of paper for their final answer.

Both Cathy and myself, firstly began by reading the puzzle aloud to the group. We briefly discussed the books that had inspired the puzzle and then it was left to the group to work as a team to solve the problem. This year, I have been fortunate enough to have a group of Sixth Year pupils helping and because the group was large enough a senior pupil was assigned to each table. This allowed our new First Years to meet and work with some of senior pupils and hopefully inspired them. It also really shows the newest members of our school what a wonderful community we have here!

Both the teacher and librarians were also able to walk around the various tables and guide pupils when answering the question. Once the groups began finding the answer, they used larger poster paper to create a colourful and artistic solution sheet.

I was really pleased by how well the activity went and the fact that some of our Sixth Year pupils were involved. This was a useful and different approach to the activity but it worked well.

The sixth year pupils stated:

This was a very rewarding and enjoyable activity. It helped us show the new First Years, that the Sixth Years are an approachable and friendly bunch here at Taylor High.

I would definitely recommend this type of event to other librarians and encourage them to be fearless when it comes to being creative with what the library can offer their school community. Trust me, as someone who would naturally shy away from anything maths related, I would say please don’t worry. If I can do it, so can anyone!

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Categories: Mathematics, Numeracy | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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