Date: March – June 2010
Partner: Lindsey School, Grimsby
Funder: Creative Partnerships
Goals: To make mathematics more exciting and engaging, inspire teaching staffing to tackle curriculum subjects and new, exciting ways
The school had been having difficulties with maths with their students and wanted to explore ways of tackling this. We came up with the idea of using story and play as a way of bringing excitement to maths. The idea was using in-character improvisation to tell a group story; we wrote a story about Space Pirates, the workshop leader was the pirate leader and the class were the new recruits, hired because of their genius mathematical skills.
As the story moved forward each problem the team faced was a mathematical problem – Budgeting for new ship parts; how much fuel do we need if we’re going to this planet and fuel burns at a certain rate? On a new planet we get bitten by bugs, we find the antidote which is a complex algebra formula to solve.
We delivered this project to every class in every year of the school (7-11) and adapted the difficulty of the puzzles to match their skill levels (with consultation with teaching staff) and this project proved hugely successful with all participants enjoying and engaging in mathematic exercises. The nature of the concept is that multiple stories can be written and adapted to suit the group; and the puzzles easily adaptable to cater for all skill levels; the main outcomes from the project was that taking maths out of the abstract and contextualising them helps (defeating the common complaint of “what’s the point?” and “How is this useful in life?”) and also how play and creative approaches can really breakdown the barriers to traditional learning.
In feedback we were aware that everyone engaged because it was something new and exciting, and with a drama practitioner, but also that ultimately it was successful and could be replicated and catered towards specific curriculum goals, and also how it can be more flexible in the classroom, recording the videos and missions to be screened, meaning it could be done in the classroom without the need of an experienced drama leader; and also used amongst all classes for use into the future. The project could also be adapted in other curriculum areas – history, geography, English, absolutely any curriculum or thematic area could be explored in the same way.
Quote: Maths Teacher “It made maths exciting for the pupils, something for some I didn’t think was possible. Not only that, but low achievers in maths fared just as well when taught in this way. Advanced maths taught in a creative accessible way.”