Tasks and Their Place in Mathematics Teaching and Learning

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This article, from the Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM) publication ‘Mathematics Teaching’, and is taken from MT231.

Jenni Back, Colin Foster, Jo Tomalin, John Mason, Malcolm Swan and Anne Watson set out to resolve the issue of ‘Tasks and their place in mathematics teaching and learning’ by ‘doing tasks’ in a variety of formats. These two articles detail the findings from a workshop with the theme ‘Tinkering with Tasks’ which explored how teachers develop and adapt tasks for use with their students.

In part one, one of the big questions considered is whether school mathematics can be separated from the tasks used to teach it. Task adaptation, the purpose of the task and tasks with a low threshold; high challenge are also considered.

Part two considers the format of tasks and what changes have the potential to optimise the outcomes for both teacher and learner. The reasons why teachers tinker with tasks and five different genres of task are discussed along with strategies that may be employed to develop tasks and the context of the task.

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