For some people, they are a scourge in the playground – leading to fights and friendship strange. To others, mainly boys – big and small! (probably) they are a normal part of growing up.
Match Attax cards are the annual ‘in-thing’ in the playground – a combination of Football stickers and Top Trumps. They are the one thing that boys in my class collectively become obsessed about for the football season. They regularly carry their folder of precious card memorabilia around the playground – looking for fellow collectors to trade their ‘Doubles’ with. They hunt down the missing piece in their team puzzle – learning how to strike the best bargain. They can also be the scourge of the younger children as they are regularly ‘fleeced’ by the older boys who know how to trade on the naivety of younger children (or in my own son’s case – fleecing the older children!!) And if it isn’t Match Attax, it is another collecting obsession – currently Yu-Gi-Oh cards.
Hitting on an Idea
It was in conversation with our brilliant Primary 5 teacher, that we hit upon an idea for using the cards in the classroom. If you are not familiar with them have a look at the image. As you can see they are a goldmine of data for older children. Our teacher loves the idea of the cards teaching the children the concept of trading and bartering as well as encouraging face-to-face engagement that can be sometimes missing in our technological revolution. He came up with some ideas for his class – I then went had had a think about my older and more advanced children.
Handling the Data
First task is getting the children to organise a team of players and ‘mining that data’ from the cards. We organised the data about the players into groups, created a tally table and then converted that data into a bar graph that represented the spread of the abilities in the team. A great activity that gave the children an introduction into using the data.
I also have some very weak children in my class. To accommodate them, their task was to organise the data in the cards into ascending order for each player. This task is simple but from looking at the card again, you can see for some children this organisation of data and working memory could be quite tricky. It also gave those children a bit of a head start in a later activity.
Mean, Median and Range
The second activity for the cards was to organise the data and apply these three concepts to it. This is a topic that the children do cover in class, but at times it can be quite dry – book focused and removed. In this case, it was anything but, the children were able to take the same data for each of the cards and apply three different Data Handling concepts to them. Again, there was complete engagement in the activity – a paired activity for the children as they were then able to check each other’s answers. What also worked for my weaker children was that they were already aware of the lowest and highest values on the cards and were able to participate in finding the range of data. In each of these cases – Mean and range – the children used calculators to get the answers (the focus was the finding of the concept as opposed to spending a lot of time doing written calculations).
Where on the pitch?
The third activity has involved letting the children create a formation of players on the pitch. They then take this formation and plot it on a pitch that I have created. The higher ability children work in 4 quadrants; with a group working in one quadrant and a final group plotting in the first quadrant of letters and numbers coordinates.
I have extended some of the higher ability children by asking them to find fraction probability data – for example, what is the chance of getting a player with a speed score below 50 from your outfield players? By keeping this to the outfield players, the children are working in base ten – ensuring that the answers can be kept relatively simple. This is then further enhanced by getting these children to then convert their answers into a smallest equivalent fraction then into a percentage equivalent.
There has been excellent engagement from all of the children throughout the activities and it has certainly brought the children’s interests into the classroom – something that is at the heart of the NI Curriculum. Even if children are not interested in collecting the cards or in football necessarily, they are engaged in the idea of using the cards in this way. The paired activity also helps engage and support children who otherwise might have difficulties. As well as this, the work can be very easily differentiated up as well as down to meet the needs in the classroom. I’m also fortunate to have a young son who is also interested in the cards and has quite a collection from last year. This is certainly a way to get cards into the classroom because you can be assured that there are quite a pile of discarded cards lying around houses!!!!
It’s amazing what comes from simple conversations!
Final activity in the week was the open ended task I gave the children – use data (a la Moneyball) where the children looked at player statistics and decided if the value of the player matched the statistics.
Top group used averages whilst main group used total score (level 5 against Level 4). It was a very simple task – recommend 1 player from each position from a choice of five by comparing statistics. It was a very open-ended task that gave the children the opportunity to actually put the data into a ‘real life’ situation – Using Mathematics – where they had to recommend a player based on their research by comparing the statistics. Again, I’m left impressed by what my class can do. I pre-emptied the activity by referring to the thinking skills posters that I permanently display in class and they fully bought into the idea of what they were doing.