I’ve never thought about devoting a lesson to significant figures before. Partly because it’s a non-topic and partly because it’s possible to cover this topic through teaching other topics. If I think about it though, a large proportion of my students have had trouble with writing numbers correct to 3.s.f, even the IB and A-Level students.
Anyhow, after looking in the textbooks that the year 10 classes use at my new school, there is a full exercise devoted to significant figures. My first thought was to skip the topic and do what I’ve always done but then I started to think about some of the questions and have come to realise that there’s more to it then I’ve ever realised before.
For example, imagine a student trying to write the numbers below to 3 significant figures.
Definite opportunity for confusion here!
With this in mind, I’ve decided to devote a lesson to it and see how it goes. It could certainly be worth it for all the times in the next four years of their education when they get confused by it.
Here’s the lesson plan and the resources that I’m going to use. I’d massively appreciate some feedback on this with it being the first time that I’ve ever devoted a lesson to it. (E.g. Should there be more work with number lines?)
45 minute lesson – Lesson Plan
Starter: Introduce the lesson via PowerPoint (only first slide) and use geogebra number line to zoom in on 2 examples.
Main: Get them to work in pairs on a worksheet (questions on front page, answers on the back). They derive their own rules about 3 significant figures. We discuss these rules as a class and write them on PowerPoint slide 2.
Go through the worksheet questions as a class (PowerPoint slides 3 and 4) – randomly pick students to check understanding.
They do questions on last slide whilst I walk around and mark their work.
Plenary: Introduce homework task – Tarsia significant figures puzzle (not made yet).