# Modelling tasks – simple ideas to get you started

#### The problem:

Many teachers that I have met think that modelling means either: “showing kids how to solve a problem”, or sometimes “making something 3D”. As these everyday uses for the term modelling are at significant odds with the AC9 meaning, it is likely to take significant effort for schools to understand the new requirements. In this article, we will talk about what modelling means and provide some simple ideas for getting started.

Think more in terms of “covid modelling”… using mathematical processes to predict the best time to reopen borders so that we could keep people safe. The situation is real, not contrived, and actually needs a solution. It’s probably messy and hard to define, with multiple possible solutions depending on what you think is important. Just like the decision to reopen borders, the mathematical modelling process describes in AC9 involves a number of steps and processes.

#### The modelling process should include:

1. Start by identifying a real-world situation that needs solving (note: it has to be actually real, not contrived).
2. Formulate a mathematical problem to solve (note: translate the real world scenario into maths, including defining any assumptions, using estimation and rounding…)
3. Analyse the situation and plan an approach: advanced compare/contrast to look for patterns, ways forward, similarities to what we already know and decide what to do
4. Solve the mathematics and check that it works. This is probably an iterative process, meaning that we will have to experiment and change our minds a bit.
5. Interpret the results back into the original context – do they make sense? What are their strengths and limitations? Can the results or the model be generalised? Justify any decisions and evaluate the effectiveness of the model.
6. Communicate the results in a way that can be understood by the people with the original problem (note: there should be someone who cares about the solution, so priorities communicating with them in a way that they understand)

In a way, modelling is like super-advanced investigating, except that it has to be actually real rather than shoving content into a context. This means that when assessing modelling, we should prioritise looking for the processes, capabilities or proficiencies evident in students’ work rather than the content. Look out for some adaptable criteria in our next newsletter or download them now from Back to Front Maths.

#### Here are a few simple ideas for tasks to get you started:

• Are you having a pizza lunch for your junior primary class? Why not have them tell you how many of each type of pizza to order so that everyone’s needs are met?
• Grocery bills are really high at the moment. Is there a way to reduce your family’s grocery costs by choosing meals that cost less? Why not come up with a class recipe book or similar?
• School P&Cs tend to organise gift stalls for events (Mother’s day, Christmas, Book fair…). It can take classes a long time to get through the stall as they are often poorly organised. How would you fix that?
• Is your current desk structure in the classroom working? How could you make it better? (note: try out the leading designs for a week or so each and then redesign to make use of the best features)
• Lots of time gets lost in the average school day by activities such as waiting in lines, walking between rooms, marking the role etc. Is there a way to cut this down to a minimum, or perhaps to better use this time for learning?
• Schools have a requirement to do a certain amount of fitness training with kids. Is there a way that we could design this time to improve our fitness objectively? What would we look at? How would we use the time (e.g., one big block or 10 mins per day)? How would we know that it worked

We run training days on creating modelling tasks, and also have many examples built into the lessons bank for each year level.

Why not share your own ideas with us?

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