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What is it?
I have a certain long-standing fondness for mathematical Taboo as I used it in a lesson observation at the interview for my first job 10 years ago. And I have returned to it at fairly regular intervals ever since. Fir those of you who have never played the non-mathematical version of the game… well, firstly you have never lived, and secondly, give it a go because it a brilliant. Basically, one person needs to describe a word to their team, but they must do so without saying any of the key words on the card. So, you might need to describe “stamp” without saying letter, post, class or queen. Tricky right? But throw some mathematical words into the mix, and you have an engaging activity that is incredibly beneficial to students in a number of different ways.
How can it be used?
I have regularly used Taboo as a starter activity. It is crucial in maths that students are familiar with the key words in a topic and know exactly what they mean. What better way to do this than to challenge students to describe these words using the Taboo format? So, can you describe “acute” without using angle, 90, less and degrees? It really tests students’ knowledge of the meaning of the word, and the associated properties of the concept they are trying to describe. But that is only half the fun. I have found it incredibly useful to challenge the students to create their own Taboo cards. So, give them a word like “parallel” and ask them to come up with four Taboo words to make that as difficult to describe as possible. This really get them thinking about the concepts involved. Swap these student created cards around so other groups can learn from each other. Literacy in maths is sorted. Ideal stuff!
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