One of the new members introduced me to Tarsia (Free and easily accessible here) which is a marvelous technology which can allow us to pivot problem solving.

Essentially the software converts a series of equations (shown in table form below)

Each piece is a triangle (with 3 expressions along each side). The goal is to pair the expressions, so the pieces become a shape (typically either a triangle or a hexagon)

In my class I wanted to use this activity to practise what we had learnt about surds and index laws.

I decided I wanted to ensure this activity did not 'crowd out' the quiet students, so I enforced a silent work.

*(There is little in this world more beautiful than watching students yearning to discuss their mathematically reasoning)*

As puzzles were solved, there were fist pumps and muffled cheers (shhh!!) but perhaps more fun was the smiles of pride of completing a puzzle. As students completed, I allowed them to naturally swap desks, most moved up to the harder puzzles.

I feel that the limitations of silence and only having 4-5 students per desk, were key to encouraging collaboration and group problem solving.

As I researched this software further I found that Mr Barton's website and blog, provided a wealth of further development ideas.

Why not put in a mistake,

or an omission on one side,

or faux equations around the edges of the shape,

or multiple possible solutions.

Oh the opportunities to develop a simple activity a more thorough and robust learning experience.

I look forward to the next topic where I can explore this program further and try some more advanced applications of the triangle.

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